Re-thinking the Ramsays of Barnton

Ramsay of Barnton Pedigree

I made contact with Mel Goldman on Ancestry, as I noticed that he had the Ramsays of Barnton on one of his trees there. Turns out he’s been helping one of the Garst family with their family tree, and they have 30′ x 10′ Ramsay of Barnton Pedigree that’s about 120 years old. So it’s too big to upload here, but it has made me re-think Ramsay of Barnton ancestry not least because the tree starts with a Peter Ramsay. This is interesting because as mentioned before Jana Ramsay Best sent through Old Parish Registers records for Births & Baptisms of Peter Ramsay (b. 15 Feb 1727) and William Ramsay (b. 2 August 1732), sons of George Ramsay Stabler in the Canongate and his spouse Agnes Thom.

Peter Ramsay OPR Birth & Baptism Record
William Ramsay OPR Birth & Baptism Record

She couldn’t find a marriage for George and Agnes, but mentioned that new entries are always turning up at the GRO as they unearth and scan old documents. She also sent me the names and dates of births of all the siblings: Peter 1727, Isobell 1729, William 1732, John Ramsay 1733, Christian 1735 and Agnes 1739. There may have been another brother as I’ve found another reference to a George Ramsay Stabler in Canongate from The Commissariot of Edinburgh, Consistorial Processes and Decreets 1658-1800, as follows:

“Process of Adherence – Elizabeth Paterson, later mantua maker in Edinburgh, now in Dundee, and spouse of George Ramsay, staymaker in Canongate, son of the deceased George Ramsay, stabler in Canongate, against the said George Ramsay, married at Edinburgh 1751XI 15 Apr. 1763″

The Garst Ramsay of Barnton Pedigree doesn’t list include the Dates of Birth for Peter and William Ramsay and also mentions a sister called Janet who married James Stear. This Janet is not included in the children of George Ramsay and Agnes Thom who Jana has identified so far. So there’s now a question about whether the father of William Ramsay 1st of Barnton is Peter or George Ramsay. Mel Peter think it’s the Peter identified by the unknown professional who produced the Ramsay Pedigree. He also thinks there’s a miniature oval painting and written description of one Peter Ramsay born 1707, which would make him 25 when William Ramsay was born in 1732. George Ramsay would have been 41, which he thinks is unlikely.

I think the date of birth and death for George Ramsay (1661-1751) comes from the List of Burials excerpted from Register in possession of the Registrar of the Canongate. (Collection: Midlothian: Edinburgh – The Commissariot Record of Edinburgh, 1701-1800) or at least that’s what I have listed on Ancestry. Would be interesting to check this. I have his wife Agnes Thom as being born in 1694 and dieing in 1758, and these dates are from the probate records on Ancestry. I have not checked the primary source though. This would make her 33 when she had Peter in 1727, which is not impossible and the Baptisms certificate sent by Jana for William Ramsay being born in August 1732 does seem to tally with other information about William Ramsay of Barnton. I also  found  the following snippet on Google Books from Stage-coach to John O’groats‎ by Leslie Gardiner (1961) that mentions that William Ramsays father was a stabler in Canongate:

“One was William Ramsay of Barnton, whose father, years ago, had made a small fortune out of inns and stabling in Edinburgh’s Canongate and whose brother had more recently cornered a a useful slice of the cornered a useful slice of the stage-coach and mail business on the Dumfries and Carlisle roads.”

This tallies with the George Ramsay Stabler in Canongate mentioned in the birth certificate for William Ramsay born in 1732. Maybe there was a Peter Ramsay who was also a stabler in Canongate that had a son called William who was born in 1732, or maybe Leslie Gardner is mistaken about William Ramsay being the son of a stabler in Canongate. However, I can’t help thinking that it’s the unknown professional who produced the Ramsay Pedigree that’s mistaken about Peter Ramsay being the father of William, Peter and Janet Ramsay.

It did have some doubts about the George Ramsay and Agnes Thom theory as I had seen the following post by Janna Ramsay Best on Rootsweb from June 2000:

“… George Ramsay, Merchant and Stabler in Edinburgh who married Agnes Thom about 1745. They were the parents of the banker, William RAMSAY of Barnton.”

This doesn’t tally with Peter being born in 1727, but then I remembered that when Jana actually contacted me she said she couldn’t find a marriage for George and Agnes (see above) and the only mention I can find for the 1745 marriage date is on another family tree on Ancestry without a citation. So this is probably a red herring.

Another reason for doubting the Pedigree is that it’s not complete. For example, the Pedigree only mentions Peter and William as being children of Peter Ramsay (brother of William Ramsay of Barnton). It doesn’t mention his daughter Margaret, the widow of Captain Mansfield (see following snippet from Cassell’s Old and new Edinburgh : its history, its people, and its places ([1881-83?]) by James Grant):

“He  [Peter Ramsay] has left one son, William Ramsay, jun., Esq., banker in Edinburgh, and one daughter, the widow of Captain Mansfield, of the South Fencible Regiment, who lost his life at Leith in 1779, when attempting to quell a mutiny.”

Margaret Ramsay (b. 1756) married James Mansfied on 16 SEP 1770:

Mansfield, James, captain lieutenant in 7th regiment of Dragoons, and Miss Margaret, d. to Mr. Peter Ramsay of Wariston in county of Midlothian, in Tolbooth p. 16 Sep 1770. Book: Volume 5. The Register of Marriages. (Marriage). Collection: Midlothian: Edinburgh – Register of Marriages, 1751-1800

Hamish Bain who was in touch last year (see here) mentioned that the baptism of three of Peter Ramsay the stabler’s children can be found in the Old St Paul’s registers, printed in Northern Notes and Queries. I found a James born Feb. 15th 1753 (not mentioned on the Pedigree), a Peter born April 5th 1754 (tallies with Pedigree) and a William born April 1st 1759 (tallies with Pedigree). It also mentions his wife as ‘MacKenzie’, which tallies with the Pedigree. Mel Goldman has her listed as Margaret Clare Mackenzie on Ancestry, but there’s no citation for this.

My point being that the Pedigree should really be treated as the basis for suggesting possible lines of enquiry for further research, rather than as fact, given that it spans over 200 years of ancestors and doesn’t include any citations. Anyway, probably needs someone far more forensic than me to figure this all out, and someone who knows where to find primary sources.


7 thoughts on “Re-thinking the Ramsays of Barnton

  1. he thinks it should be 1691 for date of birth?
    Also Margaret Ramsay (b. 1756) doesn’t work. This would make her 14 on marriage – horribly young. Her baptism not mentioned in Old St Paul’s registers, though brothers on either side of that date are there. I suspect she was born before her parents called on Mr Harper of OSTPS for christenings – 1750-52?

    He also found the following from the book of the Old Edinburgh Club, 12, 1923. Charles B. Boog Watson “Notes on the names of the closes and wynds of old Edinburgh:

    “Ramsay’s Close … From the property acquired from the representatives of John Hunter, Abbeyhill, by George Ramsay, stabler Canongare, and inherited by his son William Ramsay, banker … ”

    Could this be evidence of the parentage of William of Barnton?

    1. Would you know the children’s names for Captain James Mansfield and Margaret Ramsey. I’ve read they had six children over the short period together before his death in 1779? (marriaged 1770). I can confirm two via BDM, Jennet (1776) & Sibbella (1777).

      My 4 xG grand father is named William Mansfield born about 1779 Scotland (no proof). Was a member of the 72nd Highland Regiment married to Hannah Tyre (Nairn Scotland) travelled to Australia in 1810 – dead 1814 aged 35 at Liverpool Sydney.

      Would love to know more…


      Neil Christie

      1. Hi Neil … thanks for your email. I have to admit that I’ve struggled with the Mansfield family. You’ve got further than I have with the daughters of James and Margaret. I did a read a few things about his death in Leith in 1779, when attempting to quell a mutiny. What I couldn’t do was link him to my ancestor James Mansfield of the banking family who’s daughter Janet married William Ramsay of Barnton. William Ramsay was the brother of Peter Ramsay who was the father of Margaret who married Captain James Mansfield. I bought a copy of The Book of The Old Edinburgh Club that showed Peter Mansfield and Alisone Hutchisone were the parents of James Mansfield the banker.

        James Mansfield the banker married Janet McIntosh, and had the following Children:

        Lauchlan (b. 27 Nov 1730) became ship’s chandler in Leith (Creighton and Mansfield)
        Janet (b. 27 Nov 1730) married William Ramsay who eventually took over running her father’s bank after his death
        John (b. 20 July 1734) married married Mary Rannie, daughter of James Rannie (Wine Merchant), died of fever in 1760, had issue*
        Margaret (b. 12 Feb 1752)

        *James Mansfield was the son of John Mansfield and Mary Rannie. He married Marion Dalrymple-Horn-Elphinstone, daughter of General Robert Dalrymple-Horn-Elphinstone of Horn and Westhall and Mary Elphinstone.

        I’m guessing that the Captain James Mansfield who married Margaret Ramsay is a relation of James Mansfield the banker who’s daughter Janet married William Ramsay of Barnton. Maybe he was the son of Lauchlan Mansfield.

        Best Justin

      2. Hi Justin

        It’s a pleasure to get your reply.

        It looks as though I can not attach documents here. What’s your email address? If you are interested, I will send you copies of the birth certificates for Jennet and Sibbella. Secondly, I’ve acquired the WILL of Captain James Manfield (7 pages). Sadly, this document helps little with what we are after. I am waiting on the Death Certificate for William Mansfield. Hopefully this may shed some light on his parents.

        I am working on the assumption that William followed in his father’s footsteps? (as was the case for a lot of professions around this era) is my main source of info plus google searches for other members of our family tree. The latter has been my most fruitful for whenever I get stuck on family connections.

        For William mansfield, I am search for a website which lists the members for the 73rd Regiment on Foot. Again, this may help with his parentage.

        Talk more soon



      3. Neil … Just a quick note to say that Hamish Bain has been in touch and has found some information on Capt. James Mansfield through the Edinburgh Burgess Rolls. It turns out that he was son of James Mansfield the banker whose daughter married William Ramsay (later of Barnton). William took over the bank after his father-in-law died. William was the uncle of Margaret, Capt. James Mansfield’s wife.

        So James was brother of John and Lauchlan Mansfield.

        Best and cheers


        Edinburgh Burgess Rolls


        James, m[erchan]t be r[ight] of Peter, M. B[urgess] 7 Sept 1776

        John, mt B[urgess] & G[uildbrother] by r of James M, mt, late bailie, B & G. 27 Aug, 1760

        Lauchlan, mt, B & G in rt of dec. fr. James M, late bailie, B & G 27 Aug 1760

        Mr James, capt-lieut of 7th Regt of Dragoons, B & G in r. of dec, fr. Baillie James M., gratis by act of C[ouncil] 5 Sept 1770

  2. Hi, a bit off subject –
    One of my ancestors – Mary Ramsay (Forsyth) lists on her marriage record the reputed father (she was the illegitimate daughter of Mary Bonnar Forsyth) being “William Ramsay of Barnton”. She was born about 1847 probably in Saint Ninians, Sterlingshire. Any idea which William Ramsey it might have been? Perhaps the son of George Ramsay and Jean Hamilton?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s