Ramsays revisited part 1

My great grandmother Elsie Maitland (see photo below) seems to connect me to so many royal and noble families throughout the UK and Europe, that I’m actually at a bit of loss as far as where to go with my research. Truth is, I started this enquiry because there were a few mysteries about my family’s ancestry, and still are, particularly on the Kirby side (see more here). As a result there were a number of myths that I thought it would be interesting to explore, and possibly try and document along with other family stories.

That’s how this blog came about as it seemed like a good way of keeping track of what I found out along the way. Many of the families that Elsie connects me to are well documented on the likes of The Peerage and Stirnet.com sites. Obviously, their histories are interesting although probably not enough for me to want to pay to join their clans.

What’s more interesting for me is those families which aren’t so royal and noble, simply because they are less well documented. So it was great when Rafael Alberto Madan sent me the Ahnentafel explaining my connection to the Madan family (see more here). What’s also been interesting me lately is the Ramsays of Barnton who pop up all over the place, but aren’t documented as a family like the Maitlands or McDonnell’s of Keppoch.

Elsie Maitland
Elsie Maitland

I’m connected to the Ramsay family via Susan Ramsay. She died in September 1831 and was the daughter of George Ramsay of Barnton. She married Alexander Maitland in 1819 and I’m descended from their son George Ramsay Maitland.

The first Ramseys of this family I’ve found mentiond are a Mr Peter Ramsey, a vintner at Cowgate Port, and his brother William, “the first proprietor of Barnton”:

Brother to William Ramsay, Esq. the first proprietor of Barnton, and father of the late William Ramsay, Esq. banker. Ramsay’s Inn was an establishment of great respectability in its day. The “Traditions of Edinburgh” mention that ” General Paoli was its guest, in 1773 ;” the same authority adds, as illustrative of the more homely manners of former times, ” that the sows upon which the late Duchess of Gordon, and her witty sister (Lady Wallace) rode, when children, were not the common vagrants of the High Street, but belonged to Peter Ramsay, the celebrated stabler in St Mary’s Wynd, and were permitted to roam abroad. The two romps used to watch the animals as they were let loose in the forenoon from the stable-yard, and get upon their backs the moment they issued from the close.” The late Mr William Ramsay, of Charlotte Square, took great pleasure in talking of his father, and used to affirm that he was the best judge of horses and dogs in the kingdom.

A Series of Original Portraits and Caricature Etchings
By John Kay
Published by H. Paton, Carver & Gilder, 1838

I’m pretty certain that the William who was the “original proprietor of Barnton” mentioned above is my ancestor, because of some bits and pieces I picked up on the Ratho Local History site. They mention that he was “an Edinburgh banker, and a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland” who bought what is now called Castle Gogar for £37,000 in 1789. I’ve blogged about this here, but here’s the snippet from Ratho Local History which makes me think I’m connected to this William via George Ramsey of Barnton:

In April 1792 Mrs Ramsay and her son, George, later known for his hunting and coaching exploits, went out to look over Gogar house and were ‘pleased with the grandeur and substantial appearance of the Place’. Later in that year William observed that ‘the beauty and value’ of Gogar far exceeded his expectations. In 1791 George married Miss Jean Hamilton of Wishaw and between 1793 and 1804, their children were born at Gogar. William’s brother Peter died at Gogar and is buried in the churchyard.

I’m guessing they are referring to Peter the Vintner, but sorting out the various Williams and Peters has been confusing. So has sorting out which Ramsey married which Hamilton and when, as well as trying to figure out how they might be related, but I’ll tackle that in my next post. In the meantime, I thought I include a little story and illustration about the stable sweeper at Peter Ramsay’s Inn from the book above:

Thomas Fraser - a natural
Thomas Fraser - a natural

THIS is another of those ” Characters” for which Edinburgh was so much famed some fifty or sixty years ago. Tom was a thorough mountaineer, and extremely found of the ” dew.” He would do any thing for a sip of his favourite beverage — dance, sing, run, fight, carry a load, or perform any thing at all, only promise him ” a dram and a sneeshin.” He is here represented as in possession of what seemed to him the very essence of human bliss — a glass of whisky — bestowed by his kind hostess, to whom his attitude and eye are significant of the most heartfelt gratitude. Tom was employed as a sweeper about the stables of Mr Peter Ramsay, vintner, at the Cowgate Port, where he constantly resided ; and at night, a little straw, in one of the stalls, formed the shake-down of the poor natural. In short, the stable, as the song has it, ” Served him for kitchen, for parlour, and hall.” He never partook of any thing in the house, except when called in for the entertainment of a company, to whom, for a glass of whisky, he would either exhibit himself in a Highland reel, or sing a song, in which he could ingeniously accompany himself with a very harmonious bass, produced by his fingers upon the table or pannel of the door. — Thomas died in 1789.


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