The name originated from a place in Huntingdonshire and Sir Symon de Ramesie was one of the many Norman knights who accompanied King David I> when he returned to Scotland in 1124. Sir Symon was granted land in Midlothian but by the 13th century the family had become established not only in Fife, Dalhousie, Midlothian but also in Angus and Banff (on the Moray Firth). Neis de Ramsay Bamff (near Alyth in Perthshire) was a physician to King Alexander II in the first half of the 13th century. William of Dalhousie was one of the signatories to the Declaration of Arbroath> in 1320.
Sir Alexander Ramsay successfully defended Dalhousie Castle against King Henry IV of England in 1400 and, in 1513, another Alexander Ramsay died at the Battle of Flodden. His son, Nicolas, supported Mary Queen of Scots and also King James VI. John Ramsay (a grandson of Nicolas) killed the Earl of Gowrie when they appeared to be attempting to kidnap King James VI in what became known as the "Gowrie Conspiracy" in 1600. As a result of this service, John was created Earl of Holderness. His son, who was created Earl of Dalhousie, fought at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644 during the Civil War.
In the 18th century, Allan Ramsay>, originally a wig maker in Edinburgh, established what was probably the first lending library in Britain. He became a poet and collector and publisher of early Scottish poetry and built a house on Castle Hill which is now part of Ramsay Gardens>, overlooking Princes Street in Edinburgh. The illustration here shows the statue to the poet standing in Princes Street Gardens, below Edinburgh Castle. His son, also Allan, became a famous portrait painter.
In the 19th century, the 9th Earl of Dalhousie was Governor General of Canada from 1819 to 1828 (and, later, commander-in-chief of India). His son was Governor General of India from 1847 to 1856. Sir William Ramsay was a distinguished chemist and discovered several new gases and was awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1904. Dalhousie Castle> is now a hotel and the seat of the Ramsay chief is Brechin Castle in Angus.
There is a clan Ramsay Web site here.
The Ramsay clan motto is "Ora et Labora" which means "Pray and Work".
Return to Index of Clans/Family Histories.
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar 2014>
Places to Visit>