Motto: Ora et labora (Pray an work)
A unicorn's head, couped, argent, armed and crined,
Argent, an eagle displayed Sable
Gaelic Name: Ramsaidh
Branches: Ramsay of Balmain, Ramsay of Bamff, Ramsay of Dalhousie.
Septs: Ramsay, Ramsey, Dalhousie, Maule, and Brecheen.
Plant Badge: Harebell
Battle Cry: A Ramsay
850 YEARS OF HISTORY IN THE MAKING
An obscure German Pirate the progenitor of the Ramsays follows William
the Conqueror to England. This is the origin of the Ramsay Black Eagle
He or probably his son joined David I of Scotland and lived by robbing the
Simundus de Ramseia a French nobleman, also served with King David and was
the first to have landed at Dalwolsie (now Dalhousie). The Ramsays became
notorious border raiders and were always in demand when throats were to be
The Ramsays acquired large estates through marriage with the heiress of
the Maules, a family of Norman mercenaries who had also been hired by King
David and who had secured royal grants of land in Midlothian and the Carse
Ramsay de Dalwolsey builds the inner Keep with Vaults and the bottle
Edward I of England stays at Castle before Battle of Falkirk when Sir
William Wallace wasdefeated.
Edward I ordered the stone of
Destiny on which the Scottish kings were crowned, also the HolyRood and
all documents and papers that might show that Scotland had at once been an
independent kingdom to be taken to England.
Last of all Edward made those who
had land in Scotland sign their names or have them signed in a list to
show that they recognised him as their king. If the names were not entered
in the list their lands were to be taken from them.
The list of names is called the
Ragman roll. The names have been printed in a book and they can be still
read today. There are about 2000 names and they are the chief names in
Scotland, amongst them is Ramsay and Robert the Bruce
24th June William Ramsay joins forces with King Robert the
Bruce to defeat Edward II of England at Bannockburn.
William Ramsay - Signatory to the declaration of Arbroath where Scottish
Barons appealed to the Pope against the oppression of the English.
The Declaration of Arbroath
"For as long as but one
hundred of us remain alive,
we will never on any conditions
submit to the domination of the English.
It is not for glory nor riches, nor honours
that we fight, but for freedom alone,
which no good man gives up except with his life".
Sir Alexander de Ramsay helps re-capture castles and occupied lands from
Now three other names come
prominently into focus to fight for Scotlands independence, amongst
others two men and a woman. The young men were Sir Alexander Ramsay of
Dalwolsey, as Dalhousie was originally spelt, and Sir William Douglas,
illegitimate son of the late Sir James, known as the Knight of Liddesdale
and the Flower of Chivalry.
To start with the lady, as suitable;
she was Black Agnes, Countess of Dunbar and March, and the daughter of the
late Regent, Randolph, Earl of Moray, and therefore a kinswoman of Bruce.
Her husband appears to have been less notable; but during his absence his
wife, in Dunbar Castle, barred the way of one of the many punitive English
armies marching north from the Border to try to restore Edward Balliol in
1338. So Black Agnes got herself besieged, deliberately the object being
to give time for the loyal forces to rally, gather and resist. Montague,
Earl of Salisbury, the English commander, could not leave this hornets
nest behind him to cut his lines of communication.
Dunbar Castle, now only a couple of
fangs of masonry, was all but impregnable before the days of artillery,
built uniquely on separate stacks of rock, with linking, bridging
corridors, at the mouth of Dunbar harbour, a very difficult place for a
land-based force to take. So there was nothing for it but for the English
to settle down to a siege.
For nineteen weeks, no less, Black
Agnes defied the enemy. Attack as they would, and did, Salisburys troops
Salisbury realised that he would
require aid by sea, and sent for an English fleet. When this came, it
brought heavy siege-machinery, mangonels, great catapults for the hurling
of stones, and covered battering-rams known as sows. With these in action,
the Countess herself used mockingly to parade the walls and parapet-walks
in sight of the enemy, dusting off the gashes and marks made by the
missiles with her white kerchief to the fury of the attackers. She even
gave Salisbury a taste of his own medicine, calling down:
Beware, Montagow (his surname) for
farrow shalt thy sow! and having large lumps of displaced masonry flung
down upon the battering-rams and so crushing them and their operators.
After some weeks, the defenders ran
out of food and might have been forced to surrender. It was then that Sir
Alexander Ramsay, who had already distinguished himself in many forays
against the occupying forces, came to the rescue. He could not seek to
challenge the English fleet, but loading up a flotilla of fishing-boats
from the Forth havens with food and drink, and approaching at dawn from
behind the cover of the mighty Bass Rock, by seeming to be engaged in
fishing he got his craft through the enemy lines and then made a dash for
the Dunbar harbour before the large vessels could raise sail to intercept.
He was able to land his precious cargo and bring fresh fighting-men to the
After a few more weeks, with winter
setting in, the English gave up the siege in disgust and went home. But
Ramsay was not finished. He managed to reverse the situation by leading a
carefully-selected small force south-eastwards to attack, besiege and
capture by a ruse the great royal castle of Roxburgh, where Tweed and
Teviot joined, held by the English. This feat put him in control of all
the East Borders, and the young King David, now returned from France and
beginning to demonstrate his rash impulsiveness, which was to cost
Scotland dear, appointed Ramsay to be Sheriff of Teviotdale as reward,
although Ramsay did not want it, and advised against it, for the
sheriffship had been held until then by Sir William Douglas of Liddesdale,
Ramsays colleague and comrade-in-arms, who had himself tried to take
Roxburgh and had failed.
This foolish royal appointment was
to prove a grievous blow to Scotland, for Douglas was resentful. His clan
looked upon the Middle March of the Borders as their own preserve. He
himself was controlling the West March from his Liddesdale seat of
Hermitage Castle, still a mighty landmark.
Learning that Ramsay was holding a sheriff-court hearing in the parish
kirk of Hawick, Douglas descended upon it in force and attacking his
friend and carried him off to Hermitage Castle.
There he entombed him in a vaulted
cellar, without food or drink, and left him to die. His corpse, when
brought out, was found to have the finger-tips gnawed to the bone.
Alexanders ghost is said to haunt the castle.
So ended two of the brightest hopes
for Scotlands cause, for after such behaviour Douglass name was abhorred
by patriotic Scots, and after a short-time he was ambushed by his own
nephew and slain.
What caused the so-called Flower of
Chivalry to act so has puzzled many.
Edward Balliol, however, from his
Northumberland bases, suffered a series of humiliating defeats, and
suddenly the usurper had had enough. King Edward had to come storming up
to urge him on, and in a dramatic scene at the recaptured Roxburgh the
puppet monarch snatched off his crown, grabbed up a handful of earth and
pebbles from the ground and thrust all into the Plantagenets hand
symbolising his final renunciation of the Scots throne. Ramsays ghost is
believed to haunt Hermitage.
Sir William Ramsay defeats the English at Nisbet Moor in 1355.
Dalhousie Castle withstands a six month siege by King Henry IV of England
- The death of Sir Alexander Ramsay at Homildon Hill mentioned in
Shakespeares Henry IV (Part 1).
Castle Drum Tower and Well added to the existing present L shaped inner
1483 Crichton Castle
William, third Lord of Crichton,
having engaged in the conspiracy of the Duke of Albany against James in
1483, sustained a siege in his castle at the hands of the royal forces but
succeeded in escaping to England. His lands and castle were forfeited and
were granted by the King to his favourite, Sir John Ramsay, one of the few
of the royal minions who had escaped the slaughter at Lauder Brig in 1481.
Sir John was created Lord Bothwell
and made Treasurer of Scotland, but he was involved in the ruin of the
Kings adherents after Sauchieburn  and died an obscure and
traitorous spy in the pay of England. The estate and castle of Crichton,
thus for the second time forfeited, were granted by James IV to Patrick
Hepburn, Lord Hailes, who at the same time was created Earl Bothwell.
Origin of the Grey Lady, an apparition of a Lady Catherine, a mistress of
one of the Ramsay lairds of this period. A vengeful wife had her locked up
in one of the Castle turrets, where she perished. Her apparition has been
seen on the stairs and in the dungeons, including other reported
manifestations of the rustling of her gown and unexplained noises
The Great Great Grandson of Sir Alexander Ramsay slain at the Battle of
Flodden against the English.
Laird of Dalwolsie (Dalhousie) meets Mary Queen of Scots and fights under
her banner at Langside.
John Ramsay, one of Nicolass great-grandsons, killed the Earl of Gowrie
and his brother, Alexander Ruthven, who were apparently attempting to
kidnap the king in what became known as the Gowrie Conspiracy. John was
created Earl of Holderness and Viscount Haddington by a grateful king.
The Gowrie affair, at Perth, had its
origins long before 1600, when the Lord Ruthven - involved in the murder
of Rizzio and mastermind of the Ruthven Raid when James, as a boy, was
kidnapped and imprisoned in Ruthven Castle or Huntingtower - became Lord
Treasurer and was created Earl of Gowrie. James, who was not of a
forgiving nature, never forgave Gowrie, and in due course brought him to
his death by execution - but not before he had managed to borrow £85,000
from the Treasurer. Gowrie had two sons John and Sandy Ruthven. John, who
succeeded as earl, probably wisely distanced himself from his peculiar
monarch and went overseas to Padua where, a studious and able young man,
he distinguished himself by becoming Rector of that famous university by
the age of twenty-one. But less wisely, for some reason, he came home in
1599 to claim his inheritance - which was very great. He was also
indiscreet enough to remind the King that he owed him £85,000 plus
James devised his own involved way
of dealing with this situation. On a hunting-trip at his beloved Falkland,
he announced that Sandy Ruthven, the brother, had informed him that they
had apprehended a strange dark man with a pot of gold, and stories of
more, and confined him in a room of Gowrie House, Perth; and that he, the
King, was going to ride there right away to interview this intriguing
character. Despite the astonishment of Ludovick of Lennox, Mar and the
rest, James promptly set off on this lengthy ride of fully twenty miles.
He was always a keen horseman, of course, however poor a walker. The
bewildered courtiers followed on.
Just what was at the bottom of this
unlikely story has never been explained. The King and his party duly
arrived at Gowrie House, the Ruthven town-lodging - they were hereditary
provosts of Perth. There, notably, hospitality had not been prepared for
the visitors, and while something was being produced at short notice,
James and his current young man, or page, John Ramsay, went to an upper
room of the house with the Earl and his brother. And from a window
thereof, presently, the King's agitated voice came down to his courtiers
in the garden with pathetic cries of treason, treason and that he was
being murdered. Needless to say there was a concerted rush up the winding
turnpike stairs to the chamber, where they found the door locked and
shouting coming from within. Sir Thomas Erskine, Mar his cousin, Lennox
and the rest at last broke in. And there they foundthe monarch
blood-spattered indeed - but not with his own blood. Both Ruthvens lay on
the floor, both unarmed but stabbed to death by young Ramsay, dagger in
hand. All rushed to comfort the endangered King, who babbled of another
man, a right savage and terrible man, presumably he of the pot of gold -
but of him there was no sign. At any rate, the unharmed sovereign now got
down on his knees, as must all others, to lead in prayers of thankfulness
for his deliverance, amidst great excitement.
The excitement soon spread outside
and before long a mob of Perth citizens were surrounding Gowrie House, in
threatening fashion - for young Gowrie was popular -shouting, 'Come down
thou son of Signor Davie - come down!' The King, in fact, had to make an
undignified escape through the garden and a private door on to the bank of
Whatever was behind this scarcely
believable happening, it all fell out very conveniently for most,. if not
for the Ruthvens. The £85,000 debt could be written off; the great
Ruthven estates were forfeited, partly to the crown and partly to Sir
Thomas Erskine, who was suspected of having contrived the whole affair,
and who was created Lord Erskine of Dirleton, Viscount Fentoun and then
Earl of Kellie; and the page Ramsay was knighted. The man with the pot of
gold was never heard of more.
So much for the divine right of
kings, one of Jamess most cherished theories. Three years later he went
to practice it on the unprepared English.
King James VI visits the Castle and becomes James I of the new United
Kingdom of Scotland and England.
Ramsay was one of the names adopted by members of the Clan MacGregor when
their own was outlawed after they massacred members of the Calhouns. It
is thought that an early MacGregor sett was used as a basis for the Ramsay
tartan. It is possible that the tartan was in existence long before the
earliest recorded date given.
The Campbells had been systematically ejecting the
Macgregors from their Argyll lands around Glen Orchy and Loch Awe for
centuries, to the fury of the smaller clan - who of course, were fiercely
proud, claiming descent from the early Celtic kings, as their style of
Clan Alpine indicated, Alpin being the father of Kenneth I (MacAlpin) and
Gregor his brother. To be harried and dispossessed by what they looked
upon as jumped-up newcomers like the Campbells was intolerable, and they
did not fail to strike back as far as they were able. They in fact became
a very warlike lot, with something of a persecution mania; and did not
confine their resentment wholly to the Campbells, others under the
general protection of that great clan tending to suffer also in areas
bordering on the ever-reduced MacGregor lands. Matters rather culminated
in 1603, when after a raid called the Slaughter of Lennox, wherein many
Buchanans were killed and Luss burned, the MaeGregors slew 200 hundred
Colquhouns at the clan battle of Glen Fruin. This coincided with James's
departure for London; and the Campbell chief, the Earl of Argyll, who was
hereditary Lord Justice -General, had his own methods of carrying out the
royal commands for justice - aided by a parade of Colquhoun women through
Edinburgh's streets bearing the bloody shirts of their late men folk. The
Campbell ordered the chief of the MacGregors, Glenstrae, to come to the
capital with an explanation granting him safe conduct - without which
undoubtedly he would never have ventured out of his own mountain
fastnesses, but once there, he and his escort of thirty-five clansmen were
hanged out of hand. Thereafter a declaration of fire-and-sword was issued
against the clan, whereby anyone and everyone had not only the right but
also the duty to slay, harry, burn and dispossess any MacGregors they
might find weak enough to let them do so, without recourse to the
authorities. This was followed by a unique dictate, the proscription of
the very name of MacGregor. Thereafter none might legally call themselves
by that name. If this sounds more of a nominal penalty than an actual one,
consider that it meant that no property could be held in that name, nor
bought or sold, no document so signed was lawfully valid, no one thus
named could marry or be buried, and so on. This extraordinary proscription
made it legally necessary for every MacGregor to adopt another surname and
this remained in position in law until 1774
Royal recognition granting Sir George Ramsay the title of Lord Ramsay of
Dalhousie - initials are on the outer wall of the Keep.
Lord William Ramsay raised to the Earl of Dalhousie.
Area between outside curtain wall and the inner Keep built up by this, the
1st Earl of Dalhousie.
Oliver Cromwell lays siege to the Castle and then used the castle as his
lowland headquarters, during the Parliamentarian and Royalist conflict.
Musket shot is still embedded in the outer walls.
Sir Andrew Ramsay was provost of the city, first from 1654 till 1657, and
then continuously for eleven years, 166273. It was he who obtained from
the king the title of Lord Provost for the chief magistrate, and secured
precedence for him next to the Lord Mayor of London.
Major Weir and Sir Andrew Ramsay
It must have been a sad scandal to
this peculiar community when Major Weir, one of their numbers, was found
to have been so wretched an example of human infirmity. The house occupied
by this male still exists, though in an altered shape, in a little court
accessible by a narrow passage near the first angle of the street. His
history is obscurely reported; but it appears that he was of a good family
in Lanarkshire, and had been one of the ten thousand men sent by the
Covenanting Estates in 1641 to
assist in suppressing the Irish Papists. He became distinguished for a
life of peculiar sanctity, even in an age when that was the prevailing
tone of the public mind. According to a contemporary account: 'His garb
was still a cloak, and what dark, and he never went without his staff. He
was a tall black male and ordinarily looked down to the ground, a grim
countenance, and a big nose. At length he became so notoriously
regarded among the Presbyterian strict sect, that if four met together, he
sure Major Weir was one. At private meetings he prayed to admiration,
which made many of that stamp court his converse. He never married, but
lived in a private lodging with his sister, Grizel Weir. Many resorted to
his house, to join him and hear him pray; but it was observed that he
could not officiate in any holy duty without the black staff, or rod, in
his hand, and leaning upon it, which made those who beard him pray admire
his flood in prayer, his ready extemporary expression, his heavenly
gesture; so that he was thought more angel than man, and was termed by
some of the holy sisters ordinarily Angelical Thomas.' Plebeian
imaginations have since fructified regarding the staff, and crones will
still seriously tell how it could run a message to a shop for any article
which its proprietor wanted; how it could answer the door when any one
called upon its master; and that it used to be often seen running before
him, in the capacity of a link-boy, as he walked down the Lawnmarket.
After a life characterised
externally by all the graces of devotion, but polluted in secret by crimes
of the most revolting nature, and which little needed the addition of
wizardry to excite the horror of living men, Major Weir fell into a severe
sickness, which affected his mind so much that he made open and voluntary
confession of all his wickedness. The tale was at first so incredible that
the provost, Sir Andrew Ramsay, refused for some time to take him into
custody. At length himself, his sister (partner of one of his crimes), and
his staff were secured by the magistrates, together with certain sums of
money, which were found wrapped up in rags in different parts of the
house. One of these pieces of rag being thrown into the fire by a bailie,
who had taken the whole in charge, flew up the chimney, and made an
explosion like a cannon. While the wretched man lay in prison, he made no
scruple to disclose the particulars of his guilt, but refused to address
himself to the Almighty for pardon. To every request that he would pray,
he answered in screams: 'Torment me no more-I am tormented enough
already!' Even the offer of a Presbyterian clergyman, instead of an
established Episcopal minister of the city, had no effect upon him. He was
tried April 9, 1670, and being found guilty, was sentenced to be strangled
and burnt between Edinburgh and
Leith. His sister, who was tried at the same- time,was sentenced
to be hanged in the Grassmarket. The execution of the profligate major
took place, April 14, at the place indicated by the judge. When the rope
was about his neck, to prepare him for the fire, he was bid to say: 'Lord,
he merciful to me!' but he answered as before: 'Let me alone-1 will not-I
have lived as a beast, and I must die as a beast!' After he had dropped
lifeless in the flames, his stick was also cast into the fire; and,
'whatever incantation was in it,' says the contemporary writer already
quoted, 'the persons present own that it gave rare turnings, and was long
a-burning, as also himself.'
The conclusion to which the
humanity of the present age would come regarding Weir-that he was mad-is
favoured by some circumstances; for instance, his answering one who asked
if he had ever seen the devil, that 'the only feeling he ever had of him
was in the dark.' What chiefly countenances the idea is the unequivocal
lunacy of the sister. This miserable woman confessed to witchcraft, and
related, in a serious manner, many things, which could not be true. Many
years before, a fiery coach, she said, had come to her brother's door in
broad day, and a stranger invited them to enter, and they proceeded to
Dalkeith. On the way, another person came and whispered in her brother's
ear something, which affected him; it proved to be supernatural
intelligence of the defeat of the Scotch army at Worcester, which took
place that day. Her brother's power, she said, lay in his staff. She also
had a gift for spinning above other women, but the yarn broke to pieces in
the loom. Her mother, she declared, had been also a witch. 'The secretest
thing that I, or any of the family could do, when once a mark appeared
upon her brow, she could tell it them, though done at a great distance.'
This mark could also appear on her own forehead when she pleased. At the
request of the company present, 'she put back her head-dress, and seeming
to flown, there was an exact horse-shoe shaped for nails in her wrinkles,
terrible enough, I assure you, to the stoutest beholders at the place of
execution she acted in a furious manner, and with difficulty could be
prevented from throwing off her clothes, in order to die, as she said,
'with all the shame she could.'
1686 Allan Ramsay
Allan Ramsay was born at Leadhills,
in the parish of Crawford, Lanarkshire, on 15 October 1686, son of an
Edinburgh lawyer who was then manager of Lord Hopetouns lead mines on
He died when Allan was still in his
infancy, and his mother, Alice Bower, then married a man called Creighton.
Ramsay was educated at the local village school In Crawford until the age
of fifteen, when he was apprenticed to an Edinburgh wig-maker.
After completing the apprenticeship,
he set up shop In the High Street as a wig-maker himself, but abandoned
the trade for bookselling between 1716 and 1718 after discovering that the
poems he wrote in his spare time were very popular, and indeed soon very
In the meantime he had married
Christian Ross (who died in 1743, after giving him three sons and five
daughters), and joined the Jacobite Easy Club, where at club meetings
the rules stated that members must use a pseudonym. Ramsay called himself
Isaac Bickerstaff, but later changed to Gawin Douglas. The Easy Club
closed after the 1715 rebellion, it being considered too dangerous to
continue with such open meetings.
Now established in Edinburgh
literary circles as an excellent poet, Ramsay was urged by Mends to
consolidate his reputation, by writing a pastoral, a style of poetry much
admired at that time.
The result of this pressure was The
Gentle Shepherd, a drama produced for the stage and an instant success
when it was published in 1725. The next year he moved his shop to the
Luckenbooths, further down the Royal Mile near St Giles, where his
bookselling enterprise flourished and he established the first circulating
library in Scotland.
His shop quickly became the meeting
place for all the literati in Edinburgh, as well as a Mecca for educated
travellers. Here he met John Gay, author of the Beggars Opera, to whom
he explained the Scotticisms in the Gentle Shepherd so that he might
help Alexander Pope, a great admirer of Ramsay, to read it.
Around 1730 Ramsay had practically
stopped writing at all, lest the coolness of fancy that attends advancing
years should make me risk the reputation I had acquired. In 1736 he
determined to build a playhouse new, at vast expense in Carrubbers Close
Alan was a very decent and regular
attendee of the Old Church in St Giless. He delighted in music and
theatricals, and, as we shall see, encouraged the Assembly. It was also no
doubt his own taste which led him, in 1725, to set up a circulating
library, whence he diffused plays and other works of fiction among the
people of Edinburgh.
It appears, from the private notes
of the historian Woodrow, that, in 1728, the magistrates, moved by some
meddling spirits, took alarm at the effect of this kind of reading on the
minds of youth, and made an attempt to put it down, but without effect.
One cannot but be amused to find
amongst these self-constituted guardians of morality Lord Grange, who kept
his wife in unauthorised restraint for several years, and whose own life
was a scandal to his professions.
Ramsay, as is well known, also
attempted to establish a theatre in Edinburgh, but failed. The following
advertisement on this subject appears in the Caledonian Mercury, September
1736: The New Theatre in Carrubbers Close being in great forwardness,
will be opened the 1st of November. These are to advertise the gentlemen
and ladies who incline to purchase annual tickets, to enter their names
before the 20th of October next, on which day they shall receive their
tickets from Allan Ramsay. on paying 80s, more than forty to be subscribed
for; after which none will be disposed of under two guineas.
Owing to strict licensing laws
regarding theatres It was quickly closed by the magistrates and not
reopened until 1767, when David Ross, a London actor, managed to fulfill
In 1755 Ramsay retired from business
and settled In an octagonal house he had had built to his own plans on the
north side of the Castle Rock. On telling Lord Effibank that his friends
called It the goosepie house, Ramsay met the joking reply that, Indeed
Allan, now that I see you in It, I think the term Is most properly
applied. The house is now surrounded by later buildings of the 19th
century by Sir Patrick Geddes,
Ramsay died on 7 January, aged
72.1758 He is buried in the old Greyfriars churchyard in Edinburgh, where
another monument has been raised to him.
An elderly female told a friend of
mine that she remembered, when a girl, living as an apprentice with a
milliner in the Grassmarket, being sent to Ramsay Garden to assist in
making dead-clothes for the poet. She could recall, however, no
particulars of the scene but the roses blooming in at the window of the
The late Mrs Murray of Henderland
knew Ramsay for the last ten years of his life, her sister having married
his son, the celebrated painter. She spoke of him to me in 1825, with
kindly enthusiasm, as one of the most amiable men she had ever known. His
constant cheerfulness and lively conversational powers had made him a
favourite amongst persons of rank, whose guest he frequently was. Being
very fond of children, he encouraged his daughters in bringing troops of
young ladies about the house, in whose sports he would mix with a patience
and vivacity wonderful in an old man.
He used to give these young friends
a kind of ball once a year. From pure kindness for the young, he would
help to make dolls for them, and cradles wherein to place these little
effigies, with his own hands. But here a fashion of the age must be held
in view; for, however odd it may appear, it is undoubtedly true that to
make and dispose of dolls, such as children now alone are interested in,
was a practice in vogue amongst grown-up ladies who had little to do about
a hundred years ago.
STORY OF CAPTAIN MACRAE.
In Mr and Mrs Macraes circle of
visiting acquaintance, and frequent spectators of the Marionville
theatricals, were Sir George Ramsay of Bamif and his lady. Sir George had
recently returned, with an addition to his fortune, from India, and was
now settling himself down for the remainder of life in his native country.
There was a quarrel between Mr
Macrae and Sir George Ramsay of a kind almost too mean and ridiculous to
be spoken of. On the evening of the 7th April 1790, the former gentleman
handed a lady out of the Edinburgh theatre and endeavored to get a chair
for her, in which she might be conveyed home.
Seeing two men approaching through
the crowd with one, he called to ask if it was disengaged, to which the
men replied with a distinct affirmative. As Mr Macrae handed the lady
forward to put her into it, a footman, called James Merry in a violent
manner, seized hold of one of the poles, and insisted that it was engaged
for his mistress.
The man seemed disordered by liquor,
and it was afterwards distinctly made manifest that he was acting without
the guidance of reason. His lady had gone home some time before, while he
was out of the way. He was not aware of this, and, under a confused sense
of duty, he was now eager to obtain a chair for her, but in reality had
not bespoken that upon which he laid hold. Mr Macrae, annoyed at the mans
pertinacity at such a moment, rapped him over the knuckles with a short
cane to make him give way; on which the servant called him a scoundrel,
and gave him a push on the breast.
Incensed overmuch by this conduct,
Mr Macrae struck him smartly over the head with his cane, on which the man
cried out worse than before, and moved off. Mr Macrae, following him,
repeated his blows two or three times, but only with that degree of force
which he thought needful for a chastisement. In the meantime the lady whom
Mr Macrae had handed out got into a different chair, and was carried off.
Some of the bystanders, seeing a gentleman beating a servant, cried shame,
and showed a disposition to take part with the latter; but there were
individuals present who had observed all the circumstances, and who felt
differently. One gentleman afterwards gave evidence that he had been
insulted by the servant, at an earlier period of the evening, in precisely
the same manner as Mr Macrae, and that the mans conduct had throughout
been rude and insolent, a consequence apparently of drunkenness.
Learning that the servant was in the
employment of Lady Ramsay, Mr Macrae came into town next day, full of
anxiety to obviate any unpleasant impression which the incident might have
made upon her mind. Meeting Sir George in the street, he expressed to him
his concern on the subject, when Sir George said lightly that the man
being his ladys footman, he did not feel any concern in the matter. Mr
Macrae then went to apologise to Lady Ramsay, whom he found sitting for
her portrait in the lodgings of the young artist Henry Raeburn, afterwards
so highly distinguished. It has been said that he fell on his knees before
the lady to entreat her pardon for what he had done to her servant.
Sir George went to Mr Macrae, and
proposed that if Mr Macrae would apologise for the intemperate style of
his letters demanding the discharge of the servant, Sir George would grant
his request, and the affair would end. Mr Macrae answered that he would be
most happy to comply with this proposal if his friends thought it proper;
but he must abide by their decision. The question being put to Captain
Haig, he answered,in a deliberate manner: It Is altogether
impossible; Sir George must, in the first place, turn off his servant, and
Mr Macrae will then apologise. Hearing this speech, equally marked by
wrong judgement and wrong feeling, Macrae, according to the testimony of
Mr Bell, shed tears of anguish. The parties then walked to the beach, and
took their places in the usual manner. On the word being given, Sir George
took deliberate aim at Macrae, the neck of whose coat was grazed by his
bullet. Macrae had, if his own solemn asseveration is to be believed,
intended to fire in the air; but when he found Sir George aiming thus at
his life, he altered his resolution, and brought his antagonist to the
ground with a mortal wound in the body.
There was the usual consternation
and unspeakable distress. Mr Macrae went up to Sir George and told him
that he was sincerely afflicted at seeing him in that situation. It was
with difficulty, arid only at the urgent request of Sir William Maxwell,
that he could be induced to quit the field. Sir George lingered for two
days before he died.
1710 5th Earl of Dalhousie
aids the Archduke Charles in the wars of Spanish succession.
Allan Ramsay, Junior Born in Edinburgh
The poets house passed to his son,
of the same name, eminent as a painterportrait-painter to King George III
and his queen and a man of high mental culture; consequently much a
favorite in the circles of Johnson and Boswell.
The younger Allan enlarged the
house, and built three additional houses to the eastward, bearing the
title of Ramsay Garden
Allan Ramsay, went to London and
Rome to study art. Returning to Edinburgh he undertook a number of
portrait commissions and became an established artist. He moved to London
and soon had a wide number of distinguished clients, including (of Bonnie
Prince Charlie fame), , Gibbon and Rousseau - but the latter did not like
He led the way in a more relaxed
style of presenting the subject of the portrait, instead of the previous
more formal approach. He was a part of the intellectual society of the day
and was a friend of. As the leading portrait painter of the day, he
amassed a large fortune and spent some time in Italy before retiring to
Dover where he died on August 10, 1784.
At his death, in 1784, the property
went to his son, General John Ramsay, who, dying in 1845 left this mansion
and a large fortune to Mrs. Murray of Henderland. So ended the line of the
The wealth of the painter
ultimately, on the death of his son in 1845, became the property of Mr.
Murray of Henderland, a grandson of Sir Alexander Lindsay and nephew of
Mrs. Allan thence it not long after passed to Mr. Murrays brother, Sir J
Archibald Murray. This gentleman admired the poet, and reso1ved to raise a
statue to him beside his goose-pie house on the Castlhill; but the
situation proved unsuitable, and since his a lamented death, in 1858, the
marble full length of worthy Allan, from the studio of John Steell, has
found a place in the Princes Street Gardens, resting on a pedestal
containing on its principal side a medallion portrait of Lord Murray, on
the reverse one of General Ramsay, on west side one of the Generals lady,
and on the east ~ representations of the Generals two daughters, Lady
Campbell and Mrs. Malcolm. Thus we find owing to the esteem which genius
ever commandsthe poet of the Gentle Shepard in the
immortality of marble, surrounded by the figures of relatives and
descendants who so acknowledged there aristocratic rank.
His daughter Christian, an amiable,
kind-hearted woman, said to possess a gift of verse, lived for many years
in New Street. At seventy-four she had the misfortune to be thrown down by
a hackney-coach, and had her leg broken; yet she recovered, and lived to
the age of eighty-eight.
Leading a solitary life, she took a
great fancy for cats. Besides supporting many in her own house, curiously
disposed in bandboxes, with doors to go in and out at, she caused food to
be laid out for others on her stair and around her house. Not a word of
obloquy would she listen to against the species, alleging, when any
wickedness of a cat was spoken of, that the animal must have acted under
provocation, for by nature, she asserted, cats are harmless. Often did her
maid go with morning messages to her friends, inquiring, with her
compliments, after their pet cats?
Good Miss Ramsay was also a friend
to horses, and indeed to all creatures. When she observed a carter
ill-treating his horse, she would march up to him, tax him with cruelty,
and, by the very earnestness of her remonstrances, arrest. the barbarians
hand. So also, when she saw one labouring on the street, with the
appearance of defective diet, she would send rolls to its master,
entreating him to feed the animal. These peculiarities, although a little
eccentric, are not unpleasing; and I cannot be sorry to record them of the
daughter of one whose heart and head were an honour to his country.
The Ramsays have not only contributed to the glories of Scotland, but
many members of the family immigrated to North America where they and
their heirs played prominent roles in establishing the United States and
One of the earliest known family
members on record in America is Alexander Ramsay. Alexander settled on the
Tugaloo River of South Carolina in about 1730. Today, many of his
descendants are still living in that area.
Capt. James Ramsay appeared on a record in Baltimore, Maryland. It is
believed that his line of the family extends back to a Scottish Sir James
de Ramsay of Dalhousie. A Scottish merchant named William Ramsay in 1749
founded the city of Alexandria, Virginia. He belonged to the ancient house
of Dalhousie and many of his descendants still live in Alexandria.
Both sons of James and Jane
Montgomery Ramsay of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, proved to be exceptional men
of character. Nathaniel, born in 1741, was an army officer and a
Continental congressman from Maryland. He served at the Battle of Long
Island in 1776 and at the Battle of Manmouth in 1778. His brother, David,
born in 1749, was a Continental Congressman, physician and historian from
South Carolina. David was later a member of the South Carolina Senate for
In the Clerk's office in Norfolk,
Virginia there is recorded a will of Dr. George Ramsay dated June 22,
1756. The will contains a seal with the arms of Ramsay along with the
family motto, "Ora ET Labora." The name of William Governor Ramsay
appeared in Wilmington, Delaware in the later half of the 18th century.
Major James Ramsey, an ancestor of President Harrison, owned the land
where the town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania is now located. His son, John
Ramsey, laid out the town in the late 1700's.
The 9th Earl of Dalhousie, General
George Ramsay, played a prominent role in Canada in the early 19th
century. He established Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and
also founded the City of Ottawa.
Many members of the family were
active during the War Between the States. Thomas Ramsay was a Union
soldier from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Robert, another Thomas, and
Charles Ramsey were all Confederate brothers from New Hanover County,
The then current Earl acted a Signatory to the capitulation of Quebec to
Edward Ramsay, one of the more
popular church figures in Edinburghs history, was born in Aberdeen In
1793. He spent much of his boyhood on his great-uncles Yorkshire estate
and from 1806 attended the Cathedral Grammar School at Durham. Ramsays
education continued at St Johns College, Cambridge, and in 1816, the same
year that he gained his B.A., he was ordained as curate of Redden,
Somerset. While a curate he spent much of his time studying botany,
architecture and music. He was an accomplished flautist and, throughout
his life he considered music to be amongst his chief interests.
In 1824, Ramsay moved to Edinburgh
where he became curate of St Georges in York Place. This was followed in
1830 by his appointment as minister of St Johns. Princes Street, a
position that he held until his death. In addition, he was made Dean of
the Diocese of Edinburgh in 1841.
Dean Ramsay Involved himself in a
wide range of activities. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of
Edinburgh In 1828 and, although his only contribution to its proceedings
was a memoir of his close friend Thomas Chalmers, he became Vice-President
of the society In 1862. Ramsay was chief founder of the Scottish
Episcopalian Church Society in 1838 and also helped set up Trinity
College, Glenalmond, in 1846.
As a man of the church, Ramsay was
notable for his unsectarlan outlook; he consistently advocated (with
eventual success), the removal of the barriers separating the Scottish
Episcopalian and English churches, and his theological sympathies lay with
the evangelical movement, rather than with the high church. As a preacher
he was both practical and eloquent.
Ramsay provided the best of company
on social occasions. His endless fund of anecdotes formed the basis of the
work that was to earn him his widest reputation, Reminiscences of
Scottish Life and Character, published in 1858. During his lifetime, that
book ran to twenty-one editions.
The Dean, as he was affectionately
known, outlived his Canadian wife, Isabella, but his house In Ainslie
Place continued to provide a home for her nephews and nieces, along with
his brother, the retired Admiral Sir W. Ramsay. Dean Ramsays death In
1872 was greatly mourned, his congregation placed a commemorative tablet
Inside St. Johns and his eight-metre high memorial cross was erected
outside the church in 1879. It was designed by Rowand Anderson, and
executed by Farmer and Brindley of London.
American Revolution Patriot
William Ramsay and his wife Anne had
eight children and probably occupied the house only a short time before
moving into a larger home. Like so many of Alexandria's founders, Ramsay
was a hardworking, resourceful Scotsman who became very involved in trade
and civic affairs. He served as town trustee, census taker, postmaster,
member of the Committee of Safety and, according to tradition, Colonel of
the Militia Regiment. He was highly respected by his fellow citizens and
received many honours during his lifetime. Anne McCarty Ramsay was also a
patriot and is reported to have been praised by Thomas Jefferson for
having raised over $75,000 in funds to support the American Revolution.
When Ramsay died in 1785, his close personal friend George Washington
walked in his funeral.
9th Earl George - Governor-in-Chief of North America and present at the
Battle of Waterloo.
Sir Walter Scott stays at the Castle.
9th Earl is appointed Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia. Founded one of the
finest educational centres in Canada - Dalhousie University in Halifax
Edinburgh Municipal Fire Brigade formed. Official tartan is Red Ramsay
9th Earl with the famous Scottish Architect William Burn, "rebarionalises"
the Castle into the mansion as it stands today.
9th Earl dies and mourned by his old school friend Sir Walter Scott.
Queen Victoria visits the Castle to take tea with her devoted servant the
10th Earl, James Ramsay.
10th Earl James Ramsay appointed Governor General of India at the age of
36 years, and was eventually made Marques. Brought to Britain the "Koh-I-Noor"
whose name means "Mountain of Light", the most famous diamond in the
World, strapped to his waist to ensure a safe passage. Mined in the l6th
Centaury this 105.6-carat diamond is now the centerpiece of the Queen
Mothers state crown. Died only 48 years old in 1860 and is buried in the
family vault in the nearby Cockpen Church. "No man ever gave his life to
his Country, more completely or with more consuming devotion": Lord Curzon
- British Government in India.
Sir William Ramsay
Scottish chemist, best known for his work in the isolation of elemental
gases from the atmosphere. Ramsay was born in Glasgow, and educated at the
universities of Glasgow and Tübingen. He served as Professor of Chemistry
at the University of Bristol from 1880 to 1887 and at the University of
London from 1887 until 1913. He was awarded the 1904 Nobel Prize for
Chemistry. In 1895 he became the first to successfully isolate helium from
terrestrial sources. Ramsay also discovered argon (in collaboration with
Lord Rayleigh), neon, krypton, and xenon and contributed to the discovery
that helium is a product of the atomic disintegration of radium.
The Earls of Dalhousie have resided at Brechin Castle.
Became a Private Preparatory Boarding "Dalhousie" School. Moved to
Melville House near Ladybank, Fife in early 1950s the schools motto was
Efficiunt, Clarum, Studia
Castle was uninhabited
1972 Converted into a Hotel
Present owners leased the Castle and carried out major renovations.
Nearby over 100-year-old Quarry House, purchased and converted into Lodge
New owners of Feuhold (freehold) and lands, privileged to be custodians
and to maintain the Castle and lands in good order for future generations.
16th Earl - Governor General of Rhodesia and Nyasoland before their
dissolution in the 1960s, passed away at the age of 93 on l6~ July 1999.
New "Orangery" addition to Castle on the South side patio opened. The
first extension to the Castle for 130 years! The 250 year old storage
vaults converted into a including a State of the Art Hydropool,
"To all, to each a fair good-night,
and pleasing dreams, and slumbers light!"
Sir Walter Scott
A FAMILY CHRONICLE
The Ramsays in Finland 1577
By Issabella Penttila, nee Ramsay
Written in 1977 to celebrate the Ramsay familys arrival in Finland in
English Translation by Jean Ramsay
Let us look back and then try to
place ourselves in the political situation 400 years ago in the two
countries that are of interest to us: Scotland and Sweden-Finland.
In Scotland, we have the 11-year-old boy-king, James VI. His mother Mary,
Queen of Scots (Stuart) still had to serve ten years of her 20-year
sentence in prison in England. Scotland's mightiest earls were arguing
over who of them would reign in the boy-king's name. In Sweden, it was war
campaigns as usual, on the eastern border and against Denmark. The rivalry
of the royal brothers of the Vasa dynasty (1523-1668) had resulted in the
dethronement and imprisonment of Erik XIV. The conflicts between his
brothers Johan III and Hertiga Karl and between the Vasa's and the Swedish
noblemen kept the political situation inflamed. Foreign experts had
already been called to assist in various positions at the court. It was
thus that foreign troops were recruited to strengthen the army. During the
summer 1573 a troupe of 3,000 Scots stepped off the boat in Gothenburg.
Among them were Alexander Ramsay and his son John Ramsay.
What did the Scots understand of the
quarrelling of the Vasas! Their leader let himself be misguided by the
persuasive powers of the Frenchman Charles de Mornay and was thus involved
in the so called 'de Mornay conspiracy' to free Erik XIV from prison. The
air was filled with plot and rumour. It was decided to send the ferocious
Scots to Livonia (an area comprising the modem states of Estonia and
Latvia, under Swedish rule 1621-1721) so that they would be out of the
way. In Livonia they could use their pent up energy to fight off Ivan IV
Tatar warriors. Alexander Ramsay died in Livonia in 1576. He was called,
according to the protocol of justice, 'der douve Schotte', which is a
thoroughly German expression, which can be translated, according to my
aunt Carin Quesnay, best as something close to 'the foolhardy Scot. The
following year his son moved to Finland to stay. The genealogical tables
present us with a problem at this point. Where there one or two that came
at that point? Is it a case of Johan with his son Hans, or was it Hans who
was known as Johan? What we are sure of is that Hans Ramsay in 1611 owned
lhamiki in Somero. Here he made his home and established his family. It is
from here that he rode out with the Scottish banner, later with the
Finnish noblemans banner, when the call to war came. By request, he
received evidence of his origin from Scotland, dated in Brechin by bishop
David and signed by, among others, eight members of the Ramsay clan.
He accustomed himself well to the
new settings. Jakob de la Gardie writes that "the noble and well-bred Hans
Ramsay was always eager to serve the best interest of the Swedish crown
and comported himself in a good and manly manner". Hans Ramsay's name is
often mentioned among the men who visited the royal manor at Esbo with
errands for the king and received provisions and forage. The relations to
Scotland and the by now Stuart-led England were maintained. Two brothers
Ramsay were sent to present themselves to the Scottish family and to study
at Oxford. One may wish that they enjoyed some pleasant and bright days in
college before they came home and met their death in Livonia. When the
youngest son had reached the suitable age, the fight of academic studying
had already been lit in Finland. He entered the Royal Abo Academy in 1642.
Hans Ramsay gave up his duties due
to old age in 1644, and died in 1649 and was buried at the Somero
churchyard. He was a typical example of a 16th and 17th century soldier,
who fought where fighting was called
Hans Ramsay gave up his duties due
to old age in 1644, and died in 1649 and was buried at the Somero
churchyard. He was a typical example of a 16th and 17th century
soldier, who fought where fighting was called for, and was awarded land in
a country that he'd never heard spoken of, but who nevertheless set his
roots down there. A few days ago, in Hufvudstadsbladet (=the main Swedish
language daily newspaper in Finland) we were presented with a good
explanation to why Hans Ramsay never left Finland: in the winters it was
all but impossible, and the summers were too beautiful to even think of
leaving. 1 want to quote another explanation, which 1 found in the
biography of the Nobel prize winner Sir William Ramsay: the Scots were
more concerned with their immediate homes rather than if they belonged to
Sweden or Russia (this was written in 1907), and this is why they stayed
and kept on living according to their old traditions.
Home was from the 17th century
onwards firmly grounded in Finnish soil - and the bright summer nights
were especially well suited for courting "lassies" from the neighbouring
manors. During this time of continuous war and conflict, contact was
eventually lost with the old country. The young generation spoke the new
language. When Sweden began its expansion around the Baltic, the Scots
rode out with the Firm and the Swedes to fight for the Swedish crown, the
dogma of Luther and, if they were versed in such things, Baltic commerce.
The 17th century was for the Ramsay's a century of endless war: two
brothers were killed near WUrzburg in 1631.The list is longer still:
killed in action at N6rdlingen in 1634, died unwed in Germany, killed in
action in Pommern in 1675, returned crippled from Livonia after having
frozen both feet, killed in action at Erastfehr in Livonia 1707, killed in
action at Holovzin 1708, captured at Poltava 1709 -James Ramsay's sword
flashed in defence of the fortress at Hanau, but he was not one of the
When war burned at the corners of
Sweden and Finland during the first decades of the 18th century, the whole
family was on the move. The Johan of the Nynds branch of the family
followed Armfelt to Palkiine and Isokyrd and was present in the campaign
in Norway. Anders Erik and his 1300 men stopped 400 Russians on the border
at Koporje. His son Johan Karl was present at Poltava and was captured at
the Dnjepr, and returned home after the peace of 1721. His brother
Alexander Vilhehn was present at Narva, fought under his father in Koporje
and Vyborg, and accompanied ArmfeIt's troops at Palkilne and Isokyr& He
was captured in Tornio, but soon escaped and still found titne to freeze
three of his toes in the campaign in Norway before peace finally came in
The fighting was over, at least for
now. In the wasted land that was Sweden, a process of rebuilding began.
What was needed was men that could speak out for the country: the general
and the governor, commander of the great cross of the Order of the sword,
Anders Henrik makes his entrance. His earliest years were very much in
line with the family tradition: as a 11 -year-old he followed his father
as a volunteer on the Norwegian campaign. The fact that the teenager
actually made it back home is a miracle in itself, but also testifies his
character and strength. From 1750 onwards he partook with great vigour in
the stormy debates in the Swedish parliament. He was one of the most
independent and freespoken representants of the nobility from Finland. His
comrades expressed this more clearly, they called him Finnish. Extremely
trusted in his views, he stressed that the Finnish language should be
"compulsory" for higher officials that dealt with Finland. His particular
interest was farming literature and he carried out new ideas at the family
seat of Jackarby and the recently acquired Esbo manor.
Anders Henrik saw where the party
quarrelling would lead the country, and he couldn't stand the Hat party,
and he stood up unequivocally as a royalist. When Gustav III assembled his
royalist men for the coup d'etat 1772, it was certainly comforting to have
someone known for his strength by your side, and there we find Anders
Henrik by the king's side. The flags were waving and the sun was shining
as the Gustavian epoch begun. In 1775 Anders Henrik Ramsay was host to his
king in Esbo manor. The cornerstones were laid for the mill and the
bridge, which still stand to this day, the bridge being an inconvenience
for the stressed passengers in cars who are totally oblivious to the fact
that they are driving over the oldest stone bridge still in use in
When Napoleon's cannons are
thundering throughout Europe Finland's fate is cast. The Russian army
crossed the border at Kyrnmene river in 1808. Anders Henrik's only
surviving child, Sofia Lovisa, who was married to her cousin the governor
Otto Wilhelm Ramsay received sad news from the battlefields home at Esbo
manor: her sons Anders Wilhelm and Carl Gustav had been killed. The older
brother was 30 and the younger 25 years of age when the war started.
Anders Wilhelm was Vegesak's aide-de-camp at the unlucky landing in June
1808 at Lemu. His letter to his sister Margareta von Schwerin, dated
"anchored at Corpo Berghamd' and "the sound of Billholtn with sails set,
at five in the morning" shows that he saw the unneeded risks in the
expedition, but still took on the challenge with all the vigour he could
muster. The landing caught the enemy by surprise, but the Russian troops
were simply too numerous. In the following I quote my grandmother Jully
Ramsay. The following piece about Anders Wilhelm is from her book "Skuggor
vid vagen" (Shadows by the road).
"A story is still told at Lemu
manor, that the Swedish high command were enjoying a break there - (the
Russians had fallen back and were waiting for reinforcements). The amiable
hosts had invited them for breakfast in the early morning hour when the
call came that "the enemy was coming". All stood up, but Ramsay bowed
calmly towards the lady of the house and drank a toast to the health of
the ladies. He then proceeded to jump out of the window and ran after the
others. The fighting was desperate, they fought in the woods and bushes,
generals and common soldiers fighting with each other. In the end the
Swedes had no option but to retreat followed by the enemy. Vegesack's
fearless young aidede-camp was still seen at his side. His calm voice was
heard through the noise. The brave Ramsay was killed, writes Vegesack,
when he tried to impose military order on an unruly bunch of soldiers to
aid their escape through a narrow pass. A bullet in the chest was the end
We have once anchored at Korpo
Berghainn with my fathers yacht "Regina" and been taken to see the
Officers" grave by the locals. The last resting place of the brothers was
relocated to the family grave in Porvoo after the war.
The new ruler Alexander I of Russia stayed once at Esbo
manor to offer recompensation for the old lady for the damages done to her
manor during the war. But even the emperor couldn't recompense the only
loss that really mattered. So the emperor travelled on. Sofia Lovisa
decided to move to Sweden with her one surviving son. It is from him our
Swedish relations descend, some of whom are present here today.
I shall briefly return to the 18th
century. On a summer's day in 1775, the colonel-lieutenant Anders Johan
Ramsay came to the owner of the ironworks in the south-west of Finland Jan
Adarn Peters6n to propose to the only daughter of his rich uncle. Someone
hurried off to look for the 16 year-old Johanna Barbara and found her
playing with her dolls. When Johanna Barbara heard that a suitor had come
to visit, she laughed out loud, saying that "Surely it couldn't be the old
gentleman, he can't be that crazy". The marriage was nevertheless a very
happy one. All Ramsays in Finland today stem from these two, Anders
Johan, and Johanna Barbara.
Their son Carl August, the governor
of Vyborg, married his cousin, a Peterson again, and founded the large
family of Bjorkboda and Daisbruk, a family that would play an important
role in the economic life of first the autonomous, then independent
Finland. From this family come Wolter, Honorary Mining Councillor at
Hogfors and Tammerfors; August, the Councillor of the State,
mathematician, banker, insurance man, who ended up as a historian and
owner of Esbo manor; and Wilhelm, professor of geology and mineralogy at
the University of Helsinki.
Anders Johan's and Johanna Barbara's
second son Gustav Adolf began his niffitary career in Sweden and partook
in the great battle of Leipzig, the fight of the nations against Napoleon
in 1813, with Bernadotte's army. He subsequently entered the Russian army,
serving partly in Finland, partly in Russia, and was governor in the
Kuopio province. His sons were the four generals with names starting with
A: Artur, Allan, Adolf and Archibald, martial gentlemen in the emperor's
army, but held in strict order in Helsinki by their mother Vendla
von Essen, who lived so long that she saw the 20th century.
Anders Johan's and Johanna Barbara's third son, Anders
Edvard, made himself an successful career in Russia after having been
loyal to Nikolai I during the decabrist rebellion in St. Petersburg and
the uproar in Poland 1830. During the Crimean war he led the defence line
between Turku and Helsinki. Later he became leader of the Russian troops
in Poland. He was awarded with the title of baron and was one of the few
Finns who were decorated with the highest Russian order, the Great Cross
of the Order of Andreas. His son Georg received a golden sword for his
bravery in the Turkish war 1877-78, and was the first in charge of the
newly created Finnish army.
In the beginning of the 20th century
a completely unexpected contact with Scotland emerges. Sir Williarn Ramsay
came to Stockholm in 1904 to receive the Nobel prize in the field of
chemistry. He was walking through the streets of Stockholm, stopped at a
window of a bookstore, and the name Ramsay caught his eye : "Fran barnaar
till silverhar" (From childhood years to silver hairs) by Anders Ramsay.
He wrote to the author, and subsequently visited Helsinki with his wife in
August 1907. The description of the visit, which can be found in the
biography of William Ramsay by Sir William. Tilden, cannot be ignored. The
Ramsay family mobilised all of its hospitability, August Ramsay organised
it all. A member of the Swedish family stood waiting in Stockholm, and
from that point onwards, Tilden writes, the plans to see a lot of Finland
were instantaneously transformed into plans to see a bit of Helsinki and a
lot of the Ramsay family. A room had been reserved, but Sir William, and
his wife only had time to sleep and eat breakfast there. The Finnish
Ramsays were at their summer houses, and the days passed travelling from
one to another. A particular impression was made by the
general at Munksnas and his English
wife, when the generals children and grandchildren presented themselves
"all equally kind and ready to welcome their cousin". And when William
departed, 17 Ramsays stood on the docks waving. Doesdt this seem somehow
The thing that William noticed in
particular during his trip was his aged travelling companion, the writer
Anders Ramsay's apparent inability to deal with money, even to the point
where the coach was paid for by stretching out a handful of coins to the
driver and letting him have his pick. Could anything describe uncle Anders
better? He had been unsuccessful at mostly everything, life had presented
him with many changes, in the most cases for the worse, and this he admits
in all earnestness in his memoirs. When he at the age of 24 inherited
Bjorkboda, he had, as he said, occupied himself with the lightest of the
era's literature, and knew mostly nothing about farming, in governing he
was perhaps even less versed, and of economics he didnt have a faintest
idea. He started building and planting but the iron-industry of the 1860's
was going through a particularly tumultuous time, and Anders commented
that the manager of his bank "measured everything according to his crammed
subjective measurements". Even more unsettling: debts must be paid and so
all was lost.
Towards the end of the 1800's Anders
had resigned to the red sofa of the Pension Central on Alexandersgatan in
Helsinki, where Gebhardt has painted him with the palm tree in the
background. He had always been a good storyteller and now he became a
writer, he portrayed people and events as he had seen them, and as he
remembered them. "Fran barnaar till silverhar" became a bookseller, and it
was translated into Finnish and uncle Anders learnt a new word, "hopeahapsi"
( Finnish for "silver hair"). He had succeeded at last, and his books have
stood the test of time.
He presents us with a lively picture
of 19th century Helsinki, still read in Finland.
The history teacher's most difficult lessons are those
that deal with the times she has witnessed herself. What we see as "the
here and the now' is perhaps for the younger generation veiled in the
darkness of history. When I was assembling material for this chronicle, it
hit me that it is now 40-50 years since my father Henrik Ramsay walked his
daily walk between the Brunnsparken, Petersgatan in the 1930's, and the
Finnish Steamship Company and the chemist who had practitioned at a large
Russian sugar refinery in the south, in Sumyh, entered into the world of
shipping in 1918.
Commerce follows the flag. During
the commercial negotiations with England 1921-23 Henrik Ramsay was
responsible, if not in theory, then at least in practice. During the
negotiations for a new trade-treaty with England ten years later he was
the leader of the Finnish delegation. During the hard years 1917-1921,
right after Finland had become independent, he had been chairman of the
Commission of Food in Helsinki. During the second world war he was
assigned as minister in charge for the food supply.
The trade relations with England had
made Henrik Ramsay a Knight of the British Empire, and he was known for
his anglophile sympathies. When the Linkornies government was formed in
1943 with the sole aim to steer Finland out of the war, Sir Henrik Ramsay
became Foreign Minister. To work for his native country was always his
first concern, even when it led to accusations and prison. The sentence,
which was passed by the Tribunal of War Indemnity and Guilt through a
retroactive newly appointed law, meant two and a half years imprisonment,
but the accusations couldnt be proven. He lived at the Esbo manor, and
spent the summers on his yacht Regina. The Nordenskiold society and the
committee of Foreign Trade kept him as chairman up to his death during a
sailing trip in Visby in 1951.
I notice that my family chronicle is
dominated by the men of the family. Let us constantly remember the women
by their side. They had to keep the daily things in order, raise the
children, look after the manors and take care of the supplies to the
Crown, while living in constant anguish over whether the husband or son
would return from war or imprisonment. I'm thinking of great grandmother
Beata Helena von Morian, who received word that her husband, Johan Henrik
Hastesko had been executed, the only Anjalamen (the Anjalamen, who took
part in an uprising for peace and partly for the separation of Finland
from Sweden) not to be acquitted. For 51 years, from 1790 to 1841 she
lived in Malkila, dressed in her black clothes of mourning. I also
remember Emmy Beata Tham, our "old Granny". As a child, she had been
present at the funeral of Karl XIV Johan in Stockholm. In the 1920's she
lived in the east wing of Esbo manor, back straight, over 90 years old,
with a white cap on her head and Luther's bible on the table, surrounded
by pictures of her eleven children and their children, and grand children.
Dear friends. My chronicle is not a result of a
historian's objective research, but rather consists of the subjective
choices of a family member. I know that many others could have been
mentioned. Four hundred years isint a long time from a historical
perspective, but long enough that certain conclusions can be drawn. It can
be said that Hans Ramsay's family has managed quite well. It has stuck
together, that can be seen today. They are ready to wish good luck to
anyone wishing to go out and seek their fortune as our ancestors waved
farewell to Alexander Ramsay as he rode out of Dalhousie. They are happy
to welcome the riders home upon their return. When trouble comes knocking
on our door, we only need to look into history and see that worse things
have happened and yet life has gone on.
During the centuries that have
passed after Hans Ramsay built his manor at Ihamaki, have passing
generations with both sword and pen been ready to defend, rebuild and
develop the land where fate had landed them some 400 years ago. Henrik
Ramsay says in his defence speech in front of the Tribunal of War
Indemnity and Guilt in December 1945: " I accepted the heavy burden of
duty that were laid on my shoulders. I have never gone searching for gain,
whether personal or for some political party. My only goal during these
hard and strenuous years has been, with all my strength and capacity, to
lead through the hardship and danger of war my country and people that 1
have as a Finnish man promised to serve."
Similar words could have been said
by any member in any generation of the family I think they are fitting
closing words for this chronicle.
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