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Rear Admiral Robert Aitchison


1795 - 1861

Naval commander. Born in Musselburgh and brought up there and then at the nearby Drummore House (Prestonpans), Aitchison's father owned the St. Clement's Well distillery which once lay just to the southeast of Wallyford. His maternal uncle was the engineer John Rennie (1761 - 1821). Aitchison joined the navy in 1808 and served for 40 years under commanders such as Sir David Milne (1763 - 1845) and Sir Alexander Cochrane (1758 - 1832). He was involved in two significant campaigns; namely the ill-fated Battle of New Orleans (1814-5) and the rather more successful Battle of Algiers (1816). His memoir (published as 'A British Eyewitness at the Battle of New Orleans' in 2004) provides a unique perspective on these campaigns and the life of an 19th century naval officer. Aitchison witnessed the arrival of Napoleon in Plymouth on board HMS Bellerophon, commanded by Frederick Maitland (1777 - 1839).

Aitchison retired at the rank of Captain in 1849 and was given a post-retirement promotion to Rear-Admiral in 1854. He settled with his family in Dorset and is remembered in the East Window in St Michael's and All Angels Church, Lyndhurst (England).


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