Ranken, Alexander (DNB00)

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RANKEN, ALEXANDER (1755–1827), author, was born in Edinburgh on 28 Feb. 1755. At the age of fifteen he entered the university of his native town, and, after graduating in arts, began to study divinity in 1775. On 28 April 1779 he was licensed to preach, and in the same year became assistant to the pastor of St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh. Here he remained two years, when he was appointed minister of the parish of Cambusnethen, Lanarkshire. On the invitation of the provost and magistrates of Glasgow he removed to the church of St. David in that city in July 1785, and there he remained until his death on 23 Feb. 1827. ‘His style in preaching was distinguished by the utmost perspicuity, chasteness, and simplicity.’ In April 1801 Glasgow University gave him the degree of D.D., and in 1811 he was appointed moderator of the general assembly of the church of Scotland. He married in 1782 Euphemia Thomson, who predeceased him, leaving a son and daughter.

Ranken's chief work was ‘The History of France from the Time of its Conquest by Clovis to the Death of Louis XVI,’ London, 1802–22, in 9 vols. The work is inaccurate and badly arranged, and the first three volumes drew a vigorous criticism from Hallam in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ April 1805. His other published works include: ‘The Importance of Religious Establishments,’ Glasgow, 1799, and ‘Institutes of Theology,’ Glasgow, 1822.

[Hew Scott's Fasti Ecclesia, ii. 26, &c.; Allibone's Dict. of English Lit.; Funeral Sermon by the Rev. J. Marshall.]

J. R. M.