Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Clan Ramsay
An account of the Clan by Eddie Ramsay

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


1066 An obscure German Pirate the progenitor of the Ramsay’s follows William the Conqueror to England. This is the origin of the Ramsay Black Eagle battle emblem.

1090 He or probably his son joined David I of Scotland and lived by robbing the natives!

1140 Simundus de Ramseia a French nobleman, also served with King David and was the first to have landed at Dalwolsie (now Dalhousie). The Ramsay’s became notorious border raiders and were always in demand when throats were to be cuts

1140-1280 The Ramsay’s 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 of Gowrie.

1280 Ramsay de Dalwolsey builds the inner Keep with Vaults and the bottle dungeon.

1296 Edward I of England stays at Castle before Battle of Falkirk when Sir William Wallace was defeated.

Ragman Roll

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

1314 24th June William Ramsay joins forces with King Robert the Bruce to defeat Edward II of England at Bannockburn.

1320 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".

1342 Sir Alexander de Ramsay helps re-capture castles and occupied lands from the English.

Now three other names come prominently into focus to fight for Scotland’s 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 hornet’s 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, Salisbury’s troops were repulsed.

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 garrison.

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, Ramsay’s 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.

1342 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. Alexander’s ghost is said to haunt the castle.

So ended two of the brightest hopes for Scotland’s cause, for after such behaviour Douglas’s 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 Plantagenet’s hand — symbolising his final renunciation of the Scots throne. Ramsay’s ghost is believed to haunt Hermitage.

1355 Sir William Ramsay defeats the English at Nisbet Moor in 1355.

1400 Dalhousie Castle withstands a six month siege by King Henry IV of England - The death of Sir Alexander Ramsay at Homildon Hill mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Part 1).

Circa 1450 Castle Drum Tower and Well added to the existing present L shaped inner keep structure.

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 King’s adherents after Sauchieburn [1488] 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.

Circa 1500 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’

1513 The Great Great Grandson of Sir Alexander Ramsay slain at the Battle of Flodden against the English.

1568 Laird of Dalwolsie (Dalhousie) meets Mary Queen of Scots and fights under her banner at Langside.

1600 John Ramsay, one of Nicolas’s 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 interest.

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 found the monarch blood-spattered indeed - but not with his own blood. Both Ruthven’s 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 Tay.

Whatever was behind this scarcely believable happening, it all fell out very conveniently for most,. if not for the Ruthven’s. 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 James’s most cherished theories. Three years later he went to practice it on the unprepared English.

1601 King James VI visits the Castle and becomes James I of the new United Kingdom of Scotland and England.

1603 Ramsay was one of the names adopted by members of the Clan MacGregor when their own was outlawed after they massacred members of the Calhoun’s. 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 Campbell’s had been systematically ejecting the Macgregor’s 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 Campbell’s 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 Campbell’s, 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

1618 Royal recognition granting Sir George Ramsay the title of Lord Ramsay of Dalhousie - initials are on the outer wall of the Keep.

1633 Lord William Ramsay raised to the Earl of Dalhousie.

Circa 1635 Area between outside curtain wall and the inner Keep built up by this, the 1st Earl of Dalhousie.

1648 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.

1654 Sir Andrew Ramsay was provost of the city, first from 1654 till 1657, and then continuously for eleven years, 1662—73. 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 Scottish

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 beholder’s 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 Hopetoun’s lead mines on Crawford Moor.

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 fashionable.

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 Giles’s. 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 Carrubber’s 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 Ramsay’s dream.

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 death-chamber.

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.


In Mr and Mrs Macrae’s 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 man’s 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 man’s 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 lady’s 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.

1713 Allan Ramsay, Junior Born in Edinburgh

The poet’s house passed to his son, of the same name, eminent as a painter—portrait-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 the result!

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 poet.

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. Murray’s 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 General’s lady, and on the east ~ representations of the General’s two daughters, Lady Campbell and Mrs. Malcolm. Thus we find owing to the esteem which genius ever commands—the 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 barbarian’s 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.

1730 The Ramsay’s 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 Canada.

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.

1735 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 three terms.

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, North Carolina.

1759 The then current Earl acted a Signatory to the capitulation of Quebec to General Wolfe.

1778 Dean Ramsay

Edward Ramsay, one of the more popular church figures in Edinburgh’s history, was born in Aberdeen In 1793. He spent much of his boyhood on his great-uncle’s Yorkshire estate and from 1806 attended the Cathedral Grammar School at Durham. Ramsay’s education continued at St John’s 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 George’s in York Place. This was followed in 1830 by his appointment as minister of St John’s. 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 Ramsay’s death In 1872 was greatly mourned, his congregation placed a commemorative tablet Inside St. John’s 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.

1785 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.

1795 9th Earl George - Governor-in-Chief of North America and present at the Battle of Waterloo.

1808 Sir Walter Scott stays at the Castle.

1816 9th Earl is appointed Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia. Founded one of the finest educational centres in Canada - Dalhousie University in Halifax

1824 Edinburgh Municipal Fire Brigade formed. Official tartan is Red Ramsay

1825-1828 9th Earl with the famous Scottish Architect William Burn, "rebarionalises" the Castle into the mansion as it stands today.

1832 9th Earl dies and mourned by his old school friend Sir Walter Scott.

1840 Queen Victoria visits the Castle to take tea with her devoted servant the 10th Earl, James Ramsay.

1847 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 Mother’s 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.

Early 1900’s The Earls of Dalhousie have resided at Brechin Castle.

1925- 1950’s Became a Private Preparatory Boarding "Dalhousie" School. Moved to Melville House near Ladybank, Fife in early 1950’s the school’s motto was Efficiunt, Clarum, Studia

Early 1950’s-1972 Castle was uninhabited

1972 Converted into a Hotel

1994 Present owners leased the Castle and carried out major renovations.

1997 Nearby over 100-year-old Quarry House, purchased and converted into Lodge bedrooms.

1998 New owners of Feuhold (freehold) and lands, privileged to be custodians and to maintain the Castle and lands in good order for future generations.

1999 16th Earl - Governor General of Rhodesia and Nyasoland before their dissolution in the 1960’s, passed away at the age of 93 on l6~ July 1999.

2000 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


The Ramsay’s in Finland 1577 – 1945
By Issabella Penttila, nee Ramsay
Written in 1977 to celebrate the Ramsay family’s arrival in Finland in 1577
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 nobleman’s 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 Finnish Ramsays.

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 172 1.

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 Finland.

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 of him."

We have once anchored at Korpo Berghainn with my father’s yacht "Regina" and been taken to see the Officer’s" 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 Ramsay’s 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 Ramsay’s 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 Ramsay’s stood on the docks waving. Doesdt this seem somehow familiar?

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 didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 isin’t 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.

Web site

Return to Clan Ramsay Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus