Gibraltar Governor James Fergusson (Sir) (1787-1865), army officer, the son of Charles Fergusson and his wife and cousin, the daughter of Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch in Dumfriesshire (and maternal grandniece of the second earl of Stair), was born on 17 March 1787. He entered the army as an ensign in the 18th Royal Irish regiment on 20 August 1801. From the 18th he was soon transferred to the 43rd Monmouthshire light infantry, then training under Sir John Moore at Shorncliffe with the 52nd and 95th. These regiments formed the light division in the Peninsular War. Under the patronage of Moore, Fergusson was promoted lieutenant on 9 February 1804 and captain on 1 December 1806, and in 1808 accompanied the 43rd in the expedition under Sir Arthur Wellesley to Portugal. He was at Rolica, at Vimeiro (where he was wounded), and in the retreat of Moore to Corunna, where the 43rd was in the reserve division.
Fergusson next served in the Walcheren expedition in 1809. In March 1810 he again arrived with the 43rd in Portugal, and served through the Peninsular War without taking leave, except for wounds. He was with the 43rd, and shared in the forced march before Talavera, in Craufurd’s action on the Coa, at the battle of Busaco, in the retreat before Massena, in the pursuit after Massena (including the engagements of Pombal, Redinha, Foz d’Aronce, and Sabugal), and at the battle of Fuentes de Onoro. In the two assaults on Badajoz and the assault on Ciudad Rodrigo Fergusson accompanied the storming parties of the 43rd as a volunteer, and was wounded at both places. He received a gold medal for the capture of Badajoz as senior surviving officer of the light division storming party, and after being present at the battle of Salamanca he was for his bravery promoted major without purchase into the 79th regiment on 3 December 1812. He at once exchanged into the 85th, and served in the 4th division in the passage of the Bidassoa, the battles of the Nivelle and the Nive, and the investment of Bayonne.
On 16 May 1814 Fergusson was promoted without purchase lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd battalion 3rd regiment, the Buffs; his battalion was reduced in 1816, and he had to go on half pay, but he obtained leave to study at the Royal Military College at Farnham for three years. In 1819 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 88th regiment, from which he was removed in 1825 to the 52nd. He commanded it, until 1839, in England, Ireland, Nova Scotia, Gibraltar, and the West Indies.
While with the 52nd Fergusson was appointed an aide-de-camp to William IV, promoted colonel on 22 July 1830, and made a CB in September 1831; on 23 November 1841, two years after his retirement from the 52nd, he was promoted major-general. His health suffered from his Peninsular wounds, which prevented him from accepting any command abroad, but he was colonel of the 62nd foot from 9 March to 26 March 1850, of the 43rd from 26 March 1850, and lieutenant-general from 11 May 1851. In 1853 he accepted the post of general commanding the troops at Malta. For his services there to troops going to and from the Crimean War, and his zeal in forwarding medical comforts, he was publicly thanked by the duke of Newcastle, the secretary of state, and made a KCB on 5 July 1855. On 28 August 1855 he was appointed governor and commander-in-chief at Gibraltar (salary £5000), from which post he resigned in 1859. He was promoted general on 21 February 1860, and made a GCB on 21 May 1860. He took up his residence at 14 Marlborough Buildings, Bath, where he died on 4 September 1865. He was buried in Locksbrook cemetery, Bath, where a handsome monument was erected to his memory.
H. M. Stephens
Sources R. G. A. Levinge, Historical records of the forty-third regiment, Monmouthshire light infantry (1868) + Hart’s Army List + W. F. P. Napier, History of the war in the Peninsula and in the south of France, 6 vols. (1850) + GM, 3rd ser., 19 (1865) + C. W. C. Oman, Wellington’s army, 1809-1814 (1912); repr. (1968) + Boase, Mod. Eng. biog. + Dod’s Peerage (1858) + CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1865)
Archives NA Scot., corresp. with Lord Panmure + NAM, corresp. with Lord Raglan + NAM, letters to Sir George Wetherall + NL Scot., letters to Sir George Brown + U. Nott. L., Pelham MSS, corresp. with duke of Newcastle
Wealth at death under £14,000: probate, 28 Sept 1865, CGPLA Eng. & Wales