Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ramsay, William (1806-1865)

RAMSAY, WILLIAM (1806–1865), classical scholar, born in 1806, was the third son of Sir William Ramsay, the seventh baronet, by his wife Agnata Frances, daughter of Vincent Biscoe of Hookwood, Surrey. Sir George Ramsay [q. v.] was his elder brother. He was educated at Edinburgh and Glasgow, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1831 and M.A. in 1836 (Grad. Cantabr.) In 1831 he was elected professor of humanity in Glasgow University, and between 1833 and 1859 published several useful educational works. Among these the ‘Extracts from Tibullus and Ovid’ and the ‘Manual of Roman Antiquities’ went through several editions. In May 1863 Ramsay resigned his professorship through failing health, and spent the following winter in Rome, collating the most important manuscripts of Plautus, whose works had long engaged his attention. He died at San Remo on 12 Feb. 1865.

He married Catherine, daughter of Robert Davidson, LL.D., professor of civil law in Glasgow University, by whom he had a daughter, Catherine Lilias Harriet, who married Colonel James Wedderburn-Ogilvy. Ramsay was a sound classical scholar, a conservative, and an episcopalian. His principal publications are:

  1. Hutton's ‘Course of Mathematics, remodelled by W. R.’ 1833, 8vo.
  2. ‘An Elementary Treatise on Latin Prosody,’ Glasgow, 1837, 12mo; revised 1859, 8vo.
  3. ‘Elegiac Extracts from Tibullus and Ovid,’ with notes, 1840, 12mo, and other editions.
  4. ‘Cicero Pro Cluentio,’ edited with prolegomena, 1858, 8vo.
  5. ‘An Elementary Manual of Roman Antiquities,’ with illustrations, London and Glasgow, 1859, 8vo, and other editions.
  6. ‘The Mostellaria of Plautus,’ with notes, 1869, 8vo (posthumous).

Ramsay also wrote a ‘Manual of Roman Antiquities’ in the third division of the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana’ (1848, &c.), and contributed to William Smith's dictionaries of Classical ‘Antiquities,’ ‘Geography,’ and ‘Biography.’ His article on ‘Cicero’ in the last-named was especially noteworthy.

%#91;Gent. Mag. 1865, i. 652; Foster's Baronetage and Knightage; Glasgow Univ. Cal.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

W. W.