RAMSAY, Sir ALEXANDER (d. 1402), of Dalhousie, was the son of Alexander Ramsay of Carnock, eldest son of Sir Patrick Ramsay of Dalhousie. He succeeded his grandfather in 1377, and is described as ‘Dominus de Dalwolsey, miles,’ in a charter of Robert II to Margaret, countess of Mar, on 2 Jan. 1378. In 1400 his house of Dalwolsie was attacked by Henry IV of England, but, according to Wyntoun, Henry ‘tynt fere mare thare than he wan’ (Chronicle, ed. Laing, iii. 77). Ramsay was killed at the battle of Homildon Hill on 14 Sept. 1402. He made a donation to the abbacy of Newbattle, Midlothian, for the welfare of his soul and that of Catherine, his wife (Registrum de Neubotle, Bannatyne Club, p. 234). He was succeeded by Robert de Ramsay, who was probably his son.
Sir Alexander Ramsay (fl. 1450), probably his grandson and son of Robert de Ramsay, obtained a safe-conduct on 3 Feb. 1423–4 until 30 April 1424 as a hostage of James I at Durham (Cal. Documents relating to Scotl. vol. iv. No. 942). At the coronation of James I in 1424 he was made a knight. Along with the Earl of Angus and Hepburn of Hailes he, on 30 Sept. 1435, completely routed the English commander Sir Robert Ogle at Piperden. On 14 Aug. 1451 he was named one of the conservators of a truce with England (ib. No. 1239). He died before 19 March 1464–5 (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1424–1513, No. 829). He had four sons: Alexander, who predeceased him, leaving a son Alexander, to whom the baronies of Foulden and Dalhousie were confirmed by James III on 22 March 1473, and who was slain at Flodden in September 1513; Robert, ancestor of the Ramsays of Cockpen; George of Hallhouse and Legbernarde, Midlothian; and William. By charter dated 3 April 1456 he executed an entail of his estate in favour of Alexander, his grandson, and heirs male of his body; which failing, to his second son Robert, his third son George, his fourth son William, and heirs male of their body.
[Chronicles of Wyntoun and Fordun; Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, vol. iv.; Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1424–1513; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 403–4.]
RAMSAY, ALLAN (1686–1758), Scottish poet, was born on 15 Oct. 1686 at Leadhills, parish of Crawford, Lanarkshire. He was descended from the Ramsays of Cockpen, Midlothian, a collateral branch of the Ramsays of Dalhousie. ‘Dalhousie of an auld descent’ he proudly addressed as ‘my chief, my stoup, my ornament.’ His father, Robert Ramsay, the son of an Edinburgh lawyer, was manager of Lord Hopetoun's lead-mines in Crawford Moor. His mother, Alice Bowyer, was the daughter of a Derbyshire man, resident at Leadhills as instructor of the miners; her grandfather was Douglas of Muthil, Perthshire, and Ramsay was consequently able to call himself ‘a poet sprung from a Douglas loin.’ His father died while Allan was an infant, and his mother married a second husband, a small landholder in the neighbourhood, named Creighton. Ramsay was educated at the Crawford village school till his fifteenth year, when his mother died. Next year, in 1701, he was apprenticed by his stepfather to an Edinburgh wig-maker. There is an unsupported legend that Ramsay desired to devote himself to art.
Ramsay soon started in business as a wig-maker for himself, married in 1712, and speedily became a substantial citizen. Prudence in money matters, resourcefulness, and love of personal independence characterised him through life. Very early in its career he joined the Jacobite ‘Easy Club,’ founded in 1712, and he entertained his fellow-members with his earliest poetical effusions. An address by him to the club is dated 1712, and elegies on Maggy Johnstoun and Dr. Pitcairne followed; the latter, on account of political allusions, did not appear in his collected works. Under a rule directing that the members should adopt pseudonyms at club meetings, Ramsay figured first as Isaac Bickerstaff, and afterwards as Gawin Douglas. On 2 Feb. 1715 the club made him its laureate. In the course of the year its existence terminated, owing to political disturbance. One of its latest minutes (dated 10 May 1715) avers that ‘Dr. Pitcairn and Gawin Douglas, having behaved themselves three years as good members of this club, were adjudged to be gentlemen.’
After 1715 Ramsay regularly exercised his gift of rhyming. Occasional poems, issued in sheets or half-sheets at a penny a copy, were readily bought by the citizens, and it was soon a fashion to send out for ‘Ramsay's last piece.’ Between 1716 and 1718 he abandoned wig-making in favour of bookselling, and quickly formed a good connection at his house, under the sign of the Mercury in the High Street, where he had previously exercised his handicraft of wig-maker. About 1716 he published from the Bannatyne MS. ‘Chrysts-Kirke on the Greene,’ supplementing it with a vigorous and rollicking second canto. This he reissued in 1718 with a further canto, and the work thus completed reached a fifth edition in 1723. In 1719 he issued a volume of ‘Scots Songs,’ which was