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The Abercromby Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: PETIT ALTA (He aims at high things)

Let me share with you the fascinating history of your family name, Abercromby. It traces back to the former barony of Abercrombie, situated near St Monans, on the scenic coast of Fife. The name itself carries the meaning of ‘Crooked Marsh’, depicting the geographical origin of your ancestors.

The earliest known mention of the Abercromby surname can be found in the Ragman Roll of 1296. It records the homage paid by William de Abercromby, your ancestor, to the invading Edward I of England in exchange for his lands. The senior line of your family, known as Abercromby of that Ilk, unfortunately, ceased to exist in the early seventeenth century. However, the representation of the family was then passed on to another branch that had settled in what is now Aberdeenshire.

In 1546, James Abercromby of Pitmedden met a tragic fate due to a feud with the neighboring Leslie family. Under the cover of night, the Leslies set fire to his ‘tower’, causing his untimely demise. Robert Abercromby, a passionate Jesuit, vehemently opposed the ongoing Reformation. He is even credited with influencing the conversion of Anne of Denmark, the wife of James VI, to Catholicism. In 1586, Alexander Abercromby of Ley passed away suddenly after the birth of his son, and his untimely death was attributed to witchcraft.

Your ancestor, Alexander Abercromby, earned the epithet of the ‘grand falconer’ due to his hereditary position at the court of James VI. His son, also named Alexander, received the lands of Birkenbog in Banff as part of his marriage settlement. Later, he was honored with the title of Baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I. Despite this royal favor, he staunchly opposed Charles I’s attempts to enforce Episcopacy in the northern kingdom as a fervent Covenanter.

Abercromby Family History

Patrick Abercromby of Fetterneir, the third son of the Laird of Fetterneir, served as a physician to James VII, showcasing the intellectual and medical prowess within your family. Another brother enjoyed royal favor and was granted a peerage, becoming known as ‘Lord Glassford’. However, in 1681, Sir Alexander Abercromby faced severe financial difficulties, leading to the unfortunate sale of all family estates in Aberdeenshire.

Meanwhile, a younger son of the first Abercromby baronet of Birkenbog inherited estates in Tullibody, located in Clackmannanshire. This branch of your family produced several notable individuals, including two esteemed generals and a distinguished High Court judge. Sir Ralph Abercromby, born in 1734, is particularly renowned as one of the great military reformers. His pivotal role in restructuring the army played a crucial part in defeating Napoleon. Moreover, during the nineteenth century, your family came to own Airthrey Castle, which now serves as the esteemed site of the University of Stirling.

Sadly, Birkenbog Castle was devastated by fire in 1790, but some of its architectural elements still endure, integrated into a farmhouse that was constructed soon after. The rich and storied history of your family, the Abercrombys, holds numerous tales of valor, accomplishments, and enduring legacies.

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Family Crest Motto: PETIT ALTA (He aims at high things)

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