Ramsay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Ramsay comes from the place-name Ramsey, which is derived from the Old English words "hramsa" and "eg," which mean "wild garlic" and "island." Thus, the original bearers of the surname came from an island where wild garlic was grown.

Early Origins of the Ramsay family

The surname Ramsay was first found in Huntingdon, where the first record of the name was Simund de Ramesie who witnessed the charter by Turstan filius Leuingus of the church of Livingston to the Abbey of Holyrod (c. 1153-1156.) [1]

In 1196, Simon's son (or grandson) witnessed a charter to the Church of Coldingham and in the following century many branches of the Clan began to emerge. About 1216, Sir Nessus Ramsay was noted for settling local disputes, and he put his seal on a Charter of King Alexander II of Scotland. William Ramsay was one of the signatories of the Ragman Rolls, when two thousand Earls and Barons were forced to swear fealty to Edward I of England, during the latter's brief conquest of Scotland.

But later, in 1320 William Ramsay swore allegiance to King Robert the Bruce of Scotland when he, a Campbell, a Cameron, a MacDuff, a Fergusan and a Murray signed the 'Declaration of Independence' in Arbroath, asserting to the Pope that Scotland would never again be subject to English rule.

Sir Alexander Ramsay (died 1342), of Dalhousie, Scottish patriot, was descended from the main line of the Scottish Ramsays, the earliest of whom was Simundus de Ramsay, a native of Huntingdon in England, who received from David I of Scotland a grant of lands in Midlothian. "Sir Alexander is supposed to have been the son of Sir William de Ramsay, who, for his lands of Dalwolsie or Dalhousie, Midlothian, and of Foulden, Berwickshire, swore fealty to Edward I in 1296." [2]

Early History of the Ramsay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ramsay research. Another 477 words (34 lines of text) covering the years 1335, 1618, 1633, 1700, 1574, 1695, 1620, 1688, 1672, 1674, 1682, 1624, 1696, 1673, 1684, 1689, 1646, 1686, 1758, 1686, 1743, 1619, 1688, 1659, 1658 and are included under the topic Early Ramsay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ramsay Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Ramsay, Ramsey and others.

Early Notables of the Ramsay family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Andrew Ramsay (1574-1695), Scottish divine and Latin poet, son of David Ramsay of Balmain, Kincardineshire; Sir Andrew Ramsay (c. 1620-1688) Scottish Baronet and Lord Provost of Edinburgh, of Abbotshall and Waughton, was eldest son of Andrew Ramsay; William Ramsay, 1st Earl of Dalhousie (d. 1672); George Ramsay, 2nd Earl of Dalhousie (d...
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ramsay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Ramsay family to Ireland

Some of the Ramsay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 90 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Ramsay migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Ramsay Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Margaret Ramsay, who settled in Barbados in 1663
Ramsay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Ramsay, who settled in Maryland in 1716
  • Andrew Ramsay, who settled in St. Kitts in 1716
  • George Ramsay, who settled in America in 1748
  • John Ramsay, who settled in Virginia in 1751
  • Elizabeth Ann Ramsay, who landed in America in 1760-1763 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Ramsay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Andrew Ramsay, who arrived in America in 1800 [3]
  • Alexander Rafalsky, who immigrated to New York in 1854 [3]
  • Hugh Ramsay, aged 29, who arrived in New York, NY in 1804 [3]
  • John Ramsay, aged 27, who landed in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Cuthbert Ramsay, who landed in New York in 1819 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Ramsay migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Ramsay Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Ann Ramsay, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mr. Henry Ramsay U.E. who settled in Willoughby [Niagara Falls], Ontario c. 1780 he served in Butlers Rangers, discharged in 1779 [4]
  • Mr. William Ramsay U.E. who settled in Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 listed with the Loyalists and Disbanded Soldiers whose names appear as Passamaquoddy New Brunswick Loyalists [4]
  • Mr. David Ramsay U.E. who settled in Home District [York County], Ontario c. 1784 [4]
  • Ms. Esther Ramsay U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784 smember of the Cape Ann Association [4]
Ramsay Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Catherine Ramsay, aged 7, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833
  • Jane Ramsay, aged 22, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833
  • John Ramsay, aged 22, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • Matthew Ramsay, aged 28, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Prudence" in 1838
  • Matty Ramsay, aged 18, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Prudence" in 1838

Australia Ramsay migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Ramsay Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Ann Ramsay, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lord Goderich" in 1838 [5]
  • William Ramsay, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Indus" in 1839 [6]
  • Mr. Charles Ramsay, (Griffin,), Scottish convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Barossa" on 27th August 1841, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • Samuel Ramsay, aged 47, a tinsmith, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Navarino" [8]
  • Mary Ramsay, aged 25, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Charlotte Jane" [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Ramsay migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Ramsay Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Ramsay, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 18th August 1859 [10]
  • Mr. John Ramsay, Australian settler travelling from Melbourne, Victoria aboard the ship "Dunedin" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 12th March 1860 [10]
  • Andrew Ramsay, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1863
  • Charles A. Ramsay, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1863
  • James Ramsay, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Berar" in 1865
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Ramsay (post 1700) +

  • Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916), Scottish chemist who discovered the noble gases, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904, Matteucci Medal (1907), Elliott Cresson Medal (1913), Leconte Prize (1895), Barnard Medal for Meritorious Service to Science (1895) and the Davy Medal (1895)
  • John T. "Jack" Ramsay (1925-2014), nicknamed "Dr. Jack," American basketball coach, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Francis Munroe Ramsay (1835-1914), US Navy Officer and Chief of Bureau of Navigation
  • William Norman Ramsay (1782-1815), Scottish major in the royal horse artillery, eldest son of Captain David Ramsay, R.N. (d. 1818), and belonged to the family of the Ramsays of Balmain in Kincardineshire
  • Robert Ramsay (1842-1882), Scottish-born, Australian politician, son of A. M. Ramsay, a minister of the United Presbyterian church, born at Hawick in Roxburghshire; his father emigrated in 1847 to Melbourne
  • John Ramsay (1802-1879), Scottish poet, born in Kilmarnock
  • James Andrew Broun Ramsay (1812-1860), tenth Earl and first Marquis of Dalhousie, Scottish colonial governor, Governor-General of India
  • James Ramsay (1786-1854), Scottish portrait-painter who first appeared in the catalogue of the Royal Academy exhibition for 1803
  • James Ramsay (1733-1789), Scottish divine and philanthropist, born at Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, descended from the Ramsays of Melrose, Banffshire
  • George Ramsay (1806-1880), twelfth Earl of Dalhousie, Scottish admiral, second son of John, the fourth son of George Ramsay, eighth earl of Dalhousie
  • ... (Another 20 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. Ernest Wilson Ramsay (1918-1941), Australian Able Seaman from Wiluna, Western Australia, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [11]
HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Royal Oak
  • William David Ramsay (1915-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [13]


The Ramsay Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Ora et labora
Motto Translation: Pray and work.


  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LORD GODERICH 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838LordGoderich.htm
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) INDUS 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Indus.htm
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/barossa
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) NAVARINO 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Navarino.htm
  9. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CHARLOTTE JANE 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/charlottejane1852.shtml
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  12. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  13. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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