Abercrombie, John

, a horticultural writer of considerable note, and to whose taste and writings the English garden is considerably indebted, was the son of a respectable gardener near Edinburgh, and descended of a good family. The father, having early discovered a predilection in the son for that profession in which he was himself allowed to excel, afforded him every encouragement; and, as his mind was solely bent on this delightful pursuit, his proficiency in horticulture, &c. soon outstripped his years. To increase his knowledge in the different branches of gardening, he came to London at the age of eighteen, and worked in Hampton court, St. James’s, Kensington, Leicester, &c. gardens. His taste in laying out grounds, and his progress in botany, were so highly appreciated, that he was advised to publish something on those subjects; but his extreme diffidence for a long time counteracted the wishes of his friends. At length he was induced to commence author: having submitted his manuscript to Mr. Griffin, bookseller, of Catherine-street, in the Strand, Mr. Griffin candidly told him he was not a judge of the subject, but, with permission, he would consult a friend of his who was allowed to be so, Mr. Mawe, gardener to the duke of Leeds. Mr. Abercrombie consented. Mr. Mawe bore testimony to the merit of the production, and prefixed his name to the publication, in order to give it that celebrity to which it was so justly entitled, for which he received a gratuity of 20 guineas. The work was published under the title of “Mawe’s Gardener’s Calendar;” the flattering reception which it experienced induced the real writer to publish another work under his own name; “The Universal Dictionary of Gardening and Botany,” in 4to. This was followed by “The Gardener’s Dictionary,” “The Gardener’s Daily Assistant,” “The Gardener’s Vade Mecum,” “The Kitchen Gardener and Hot-Bed Forcer,” “The HotHouse Gardener,” &c. &c. Some of these are hasty compilations, without much display of botanical knowledge; but they were in general popular, and most of them were translated into French, German, &c. Mr. Abercrombie’s industry enabled him to bring up a large family, and to give them a good education; but he survived them all, except one son, who has more than once distinguished himself at sea in the service of his country. He died at his apartments, Chalton-street, Somers Town, in the 80th year of his age, 1806.