Ramsay, Andrew Michael (DNB00)

RAMSAY, ANDREW MICHAEL (1686–1743), known in France as the Chevalier de Ramsay, was the son of a baker in Ayr, where he was born on 9 July 1686. He was educated at a school in Ayr and at the university of Edinburgh. After leaving the university he acted as tutor for some time to the two sons of the Earl of Wemyss, and about 1706 he went with the English auxiliaries to the Netherlands during the Spanish succession war. While on the continent he made the acquaintance of the theological mystic Poiret, and his religions views having, through Poiret's influence, undergone a change, he, after having left the army, went in 1710 to pay a visit to Fénelon, archbishop of Cambray. By the persuasion of Fénelon he entered the catholic church, and having gained Fénelon's special friendship, he remained with him till his death in January 1715. Fénelon left Ramsay all his papers. On Fénelon's death he went to Paris, became tutor to the Duc de Chateau-Thierry, and was made a knight of the order of St. Lazarus. While at Paris he also worked at his ‘Vie de Fénelon,’ which was published at the Hague in 1723, and was at once translated into English by N. Hooke. Its appearance brought him under the notice of the Pretender, James Francis Edward, who had been on terms of friendship with Fénelon. At the Pretender's request, Ramsay in 1724 went to Rome to be tutor to the Pretender's two sons, Prince Charles Edward and Henry, afterwards cardinal of York. He remained there for about a year and three months, the Pretender's alienation from his wife being probably the occasion of his resignation. After his return to Paris a proposal was made to him to become tutor to the Duke of Cumberland, third son of George II, but this he declined. In 1728, with the special permission of George II, he, however, undertook a journey to England, when he was chosen a member of the Royal Society, and received the degree of LL.D from the university of Oxford, being admitted of St. Mary's Hall. After his return to Paris he was appointed tutor to the Vicomte de Turenne, son of the Duc de Bouillon. He died at St. Germain-en-Laye on 6 May 1743.

Ramsay was also author of ‘Discours de la Poësie Epique,’ originally prefixed to an edition of ‘Telemaque,’ 2 vols. Paris, 1717; ‘Essai philosophique sur le Gouvernement Civil,’ London, 1721, reprinted as ‘Essai de Politique,’ and in English, London 1722 and 1769; ‘Le Psychomètre ou Réflexions sur les differens Caractères de l'Esprit, par un Milord Anglais,’ an essay on Lord Shaftesbury's ‘Characteristics;’ ‘Les Voyages de Cyrus, avec un Discours sur la Mythologie des Payens,’ Paris, 1727, London, 1728, and with additions, 1730, 1733, in English by N. Hooke, London, 1730, 1739, and with additions, Glasgow 1755, and London, 1763, 1795, and 1816, written in imitation of Telemachus and the work on which his reputation chiefly rested; ‘Poems,’ Edinburgh, 1728; ‘Plans of Education for a young Prince,’ London, 1732; ‘L'Histoire du Vicomte de Turenne,’ Paris, 1735, The Hague 1736, and in English, London, 1735; ‘Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion, explained and unfolded in a Geometrical Order,’ Glasgow, 1749; ‘Two Letters in French to M. Racine, upon the fine Sentiments of Pope in his Essay on Man,’ in ‘Les Œuvres de M. Racine le Fils,’ ii. 1747. His ‘Apology for the Free and accepted Masons,’ published at Dublin in 1738 and London in 1749, was burnt at Rome on 1 Feb. 1739.

[Chambers's Eminent Scotsmen; Swift's Works; Andreas Michael Ramsay by G. A. Schiffman, Leipzig, 1878; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. F. H.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.230
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
238 ii 4f.e. Ramsay, Andrew M. : for 1730 read 1728
239 i 23 for 1795 read 1795 and 1816
30 for National read Natural
36 after 1747. insert His 'Apology for the Free and Accepted Masons,' published in Dublin in 1738 and London in 1749, was burnt at Rome 1 Feb. 1739.