RAMSAY, Hon. John (1775-1842), of Kelly, Forfar.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 21 Apr. 1775, 4th s. of George Ramsay, 8th Earl of Dalhousie [S], and bro. of Hon. William Maule*. m. 19 Apr. 1800, Mary, da. of Philip Delisle of Calcutta, 8s. 6da.

Offices Held

Ensign, 9 Ft. 1793; lt. Marlay’s ind. co. Ft. 1793, 57 Ft. 1793; capt. 100 (later 92) Ft. 1794, maj. 1803; half-pay Clanalpine fencibles 1804-30; brevet lt.-col. 1810, brevet col. 1819; maj.-gen. 1830; col. 79 Ft. 1841-d.; lt.-gen. 1841.


Ramsay bought a commission on the outbreak of war in 1793 and served in Holland, where he was wounded. He was stationed in Ireland in 1798, married in Edinburgh in 1800 and proceeded to Egypt, where he was again wounded at the battle of Alexandria, 13 Mar. 1801. Later in the year John Ramsay of Ochtertyre met him when he visited the family of a close friend who had died in the battle:

My namesake is a very sensible, well behaved young man who in a short time has seen a great deal of service and much of life and death which will afford him ample matter for discourse many years hence.

A visitor to Kelly, where he carried out extensive improvements, described him in 1806 as ‘a clever and sensible young fellow’.1 Ramsay, who may well have been seriously debilitated by his wounds, evidently saw no more active service and it seems likely that he was confined to staff duties for the rest of his military career.

He was put up for Aberdeen Burghs in 1806 by his brother William Maule, a devoted Foxite, who commanded the votes of Brechin and Arbroath. On 24 Sept. 1806 Maule solicited Lord Grenville’s support, observing that his brother’s success would ‘give additional support to your lordship and your colleagues in office’.2 Grenville had already promised that he would not intervene personally against the sitting Member, but the Scottish Whigs worked strenuously for Ramsay, whose success was assured when the key burgh of Montrose declared for him.

On 30 Dec. 1806 Maule told William Adam that Ramsay, who was ‘getting better but slowly’, would be unable to attend the opening of Parliament,3 but he was in his place to vote for Brand’s motion condemning the ministerial pledge on Catholic relief, 9 Apr. 1807. He is not known to have spoken in the House. He sought re-election for the burghs in 1807 and the Whigs had high hopes of his success, but Montrose transferred its allegiance back to the former Member.4

Ramsay, who seems to have made no further attempts to re-enter Parliament, died 28 June 1842.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Letters of John Ramsay (Scottish Hist. Soc. ser. 4), iii. 66; Archibald Constable, i. 82-83.
  • 2. Fortescue mss.
  • 3. Blair Adam mss.
  • 4. Fortescue mss, Adam to Grenville, 30 May 1807.