Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ramsay, Charles Aloysius

RAMSAY, CHARLES ALOYSIUS (fl. 1689), writer on stenography, descended from a noble Scottish family, was probably, like his father, Charles Ramsay (d. 1669), born at Elbing in Prussia. He received a liberal education, and studied chemistry and medicine. He was living at Frankfort-on-the-Maine in 1677 and at Paris in 1680.

He became widely known as the publisher of a system of shorthand in Latin, with a French translation. This appeared in 1665 according to Fossé, and in 1666 according to Scott de Martinville. It was the second French work on shorthand, that of the Abbé Jacques Cossard, 1651, being the first. It seems probable that Ramsay first learnt Thomas Shelton's Latin ‘Tachy-graphia,’ which was published in 1660, and, having slightly modified the system, put it forth as his own. A later edition of Ramsay's work is entitled ‘Tacheographia, seu Ars breviter et compendiose scribendi methodo brevissima tradita, ac paucissimis regulis comprehensa,’ Frankfort and Leipzig, 1681, 8vo; another edition has two title-pages, the second, in French, being as follows: ‘Tacheiographie ou L'Art d'Ecrire aussi vîte qu'on parle. … Par le Sieur Charles Aloys Ramsay, Gentilhomme Écossais,’ Paris, 1683. One half of this edition is occupied with a fulsome dedication to Louis XIV. An adaptation of Ramsay's system to the German language appeared under the title of ‘Tacheographia, oder Geschwinde Schreib-Kunst,’ Frankfort, 1678; Leipzig, 1679, 1743, and 1772.

Ramsay also translated from German into Latin ‘Johannis Kunkelii, Elect. Sax. Cubicularii intimi et Chymici, Utiles Observationes sive Animadversiones de Salibus fixis et volatilibus, Auro et argento potabili, Spiritu mundi et similibus,’ London and Rotterdam, 1678, 12mo; dedicated to the Royal Society of London.

[Biogr. Universelle, xxxvii. 58; Faulmann's Grammatik der Stenographie, pp. 185, 307; Gibson's Bibl. of Shorthand, p. 184; Jöcher's Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexikon, iii. 1894, and Rotermund's Supplement, vi. 1314; Lewis's Hist. of Shorthand; Nouvelle Biographie Générale, xli. 566; Scott de Martinville's Hist. de la Sténographie, p. 42; Ziebig's Geschichte der Geschwindschreibkunst, p. 389, pl. 7.]

T. C.