Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/296

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
There was a problem when proofreading this page.
Rankin
Rankine
 

of the extensive range of barracks in the Karabelnaia, in Sebastopol, known as the White Buildings. General Codrington in his despatch wrote that ‘this excellent and gallant officer … lost his life from eagerness to complete the work entrusted to him.’ Ranken was buried on 2 March 1856, at the Right Attack burial-ground of the royal engineers, where eleven of his brother officers had been buried. A stained-glass window has been placed to his memory in the church of Valcartier, north of Quebec, a church towards the building of which he had largely contributed. A monument has also been erected in the cathedral of Quebec.

Ranken was unmarried. He kept a journal when in the Crimea, from which extracts were selected by his brother, W. B. Ranken, and published in 1857 under the title of ‘Six months at Sebastopol’ (London, 12mo). This volume contains an engraved portrait of Ranken from a photograph.

[War Office Records; Despatches; Porter's Hist. of the Corps of Royal Engineers; Ranken's Journals as above.]

R. H. V.

RANKIN, THOMAS (1738–1810), methodist divine, and friend of John Wesley, was born in Dunbar, Haddingtonshire, in 1738. His early home training gave his mind a religious bent, but, on the death of his father in 1754, he grew dissipated. Shortly afterwards a troop of dragoons, some of whom had come under the influence of methodist preachers, came to Dunbar, and held religious meetings in the morning and evening. The strangeness of the proceeding brought crowds to the services, and Rankin was greatly influenced by them. Removing to Leith, he heard Whitefield preach his farewell sermon at Orphan-house Yard, Edinburgh, and finally decided to become a preacher. Circumstances delayed the fulfilment of his design. After spending a few months in Charlestown, South Carolina, as agent for a firm of Edinburgh merchants, he was induced by a Wesleyan itinerant preacher in 1759 to visit some methodist societies in the north of England, and during this tour Rankin preached his first sermons. For two years he endured much mental trouble and uncertainty, and at Morpeth, in 1761, sought the counsel of Wesley. After another interview with Wesley in London, Rankin's doubts were removed, and in that year he was appointed to the Sussex circuit. For twelve years he moved through the country, at times accompanying Wesley himself (1769–70). Between the two a close friendship arose, Wesley in his letters always addressing Rankin as ‘My dear Tommy.’

Meanwhile Wesley had become dissatisfied with the conduct of his friends in America, and on 9 April 1773 Rankin left England, specially chosen and commissioned by his chief to reform American methodism. As ‘general assistant and superintendent,’ he called the first conference of American methodist societies in Philadelphia on 4 July 1773. But the jealousy of those whom he had supplanted and his own brusque manners rendered him unpopular, and after the disputes with the American colonies had begun, and there was considerable ill-feeling stirred against Englishmen, he prudently returned to England in October 1777.

In England he resumed his old labours until 1783, when he retired from active work, and was appointed supernumerary of the London district. He was one of those who, after considerable dispute, and with some hesitation on Wesley's part, received ordination at the hands of Wesley in 1789. His uncompromising character again brought him into conflict with some of the methodist leaders, including Charles Wesley, but his sterling honesty was always recognised, if his defective education was never forgotten. The last years of his life were spent in London, where he died, 17 May 1810. He was buried near to Wesley in the City Road Chapel.

[M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclop. Bibl. Lit. viii. 907; ‘Autobiography,’ Armenian Magazine, 1779; Gorrie's Episcopal Methodism; Tyerman's Life and Times of John Wesley.]

J. R. M.

RANKINE, WILLIAM JOHN MACQUORN (1820–1872), civil engineer, son of David Rankine (d. 1870), engineer, by Barbara, daughter of Archibald Grahame, banker, of Glasgow, was born in Edinburgh on 5 July 1820. He was educated at Ayr academy in 1828–9, and at the high school of Glasgow in 1830. From 1836 to 1838 he was a student in the university of Edinburgh, where he gained the gold medal for ‘An Essay on the Undulatory Theory of Light,’ and the extra prize for ‘An Essay on Methods in Physical Investigation.’ After assisting his father, who was superintendent of the Edinburgh and Dalkeith railway, he in 1838 became a pupil of John Benjamin (afterwards Sir John) MacNeill [q. v.], surveyor of the north of Ireland under the railway commission. For four years Rankine was employed on surveys and schemes for river improvements, water-works and harbour works, and on the Dublin and Drogheda railway. While thus engaged he contrived a method of ‘setting out curves’ by chaining and angles at the circumference, since known as ‘Rankine's method.’ His