George Ferguson (April 1788 – 15 March 1867) was a Scottish officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, rising to the rank of admiral. A Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1832 to 1837, he was the fifth laird of PitfourEstate in the Buchan area of north-east Scotland, home to James Ferguson of Badifurrow, the first Laird of Pitfour, and two generations of his family. in Aberdeenshire from 1821 until his death in 1867.
Ferguson was the illegitimate son of George Ferguson George Ferguson (1748 – 29 December 1820) was the fourth Laird of Pitfour, a large estate in the Buchan area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland which became known as The Blenheim of the North. (1748–1820), the fourth Laird of Pitfour, a large estate in the Buchan area of north-east Scotland. His father was usually referred to as “the Governor”, and Ferguson inherited the sizeable estate, money and also property in Trinidad and Tobago. As he shared the same name as his father, to help differentiate the two, he is generally known as the “Sailor” or the “Admiral”, an acknowledgement of his naval career. Ferguson was the fifth laird of Pitfour, holding the title from 1821 until 1867. He enjoyed a lavish lifestyle and squandered much of his inheritance gambling. In 1812 he married the heiress Elizabeth Holcombe, receiving an annuity from her wealthy father, John Woodhouse of Aramstone in Hereford. She died a few weeks after giving birth to their only child, a daughter, in early 1814.
His second marriage on 7 April 1825 was to Elizabeth Jane Rowley, the eldest daughter of Clotworthy Rowley, 1st Baron Langford and a niece of the Duke of Wellington. The couple had five children: four daughters – Frances Harriet, Georgina Harriet, Elizabeth Ann and Emily Ann – and a son, George Arthur6th and final laird of the Pitfour estate in Aberdeenshire, the Blenheim of the North.
In 1798, aged ten, Ferguson volunteered to join the navy but never actually served on HMS Vestal. He was midshipman on HMS Hussar, a 38-gun frigate before continuing his career on HMS Loire. At 17 years of age he was promoted to lieutenant. He continued to rise through the ranks until he left the service in September 1815, aged 27.
In November 1811 Ferguson was commander of the sloop HMS Pylades. Together with HMS Fly, the Pylades had towed two damaged ships to Peterhead harbour. Ferguson then went to visit his father at Pitfour. But early the next morning, while Ferguson was still ashore, the Pylades broke anchor and was grounded on rocks. Local inhabitants helped throw all the guns overboard and cut away the mast, which successfully re-floated it. The Admiralty refused Ferguson’s request for a court-martial to clear his name.
Ferguson went back to sea after his first wife died shortly after giving birth in early 1814, and served on HMS Spey. He rose to the rank of rear-admiral in 1849, vice-admiral at the beginning of 1856 and admiral in February 1861, by which time he was 72 years of age.
Electoral reforms were scheduled to be enacted in 1832; Ferguson sought election for the Banffshire constituency in 1831 when only landowners were eligible. The seat was, however, retained by the sitting candidate. At the 1832–1833 general election Ferguson was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Banffshire, holding the seat until 1837.
Death and legacy
Ferguson died in March 1867 at 37 Charles Street, in Berkeley Square, London, a mansion he had purchased from the Marquess of Bute a number of years earlier despite his financial difficulties. He is buried in a family vault at Kensal Green Cemetery. His second wife and two unmarried daughters are also buried there. His estate passed to his son, George Arthur.