Clan Ramsay

An obscure German Pirate the progenitor of the Ramsay’s follows William the Conqueror to England. This is the  origin of the Ramsay Black Eagle battle emblem.

1090

He or probably his son joined Malcom III of Scotland and lived by robbing the natives!

1140

Simundus de Ramseia a French nobleman, also served with Alexander III and was the first to have landed at Dalwolsie (now Dalhousie). The Ramsay’s became notorious border raiders and were always in demand when throats were to be cuts

1140-1280

The Ramsay’s acquired large estates through marriage with the heiress of the Maules, a family of Norman mercenaries who had also been hired by King David and who had secured royal grants of land in Midlothian and the Carse of Gowrie.

1280

Ramsay de Dalwolsey builds the inner Keep with Vaults and the bottle dungeon.

1296

 Edward I of England stays at Castle before Battle of Falkirk when Sir William Wallace was defeated.

Ragman Roll

Edward I ordered the stone of Destiny on which the Scottish kings were crowned also the Holyrood and all documents and papers that might show that Scotland had at once been an independent kingdom to be taken to England.

Last of all Edward made those who had land in Scotland sign their names or have them signed in a list to show that they recognised him as their king. If the names were not entered in the list their lands were to be taken from them.

The list of names is called the Ragman roll. The names have been printed in a book and they can be still read today. There are about 2000 names and they are the chief names in Scotland, amongst them is Ramsay and Robert the Bruce

 1302

  THE BATTLE OF ROSLIN  23/ 24 Febuary

Late in the year 1302, arrangements were well in hand for the wedding of Lady Margaret Ramsay of Dalhousie to Sir Henry St Clair of Rosslyn. These tidings were learned by Sir John Seagrave in Eng­land which caused him intense fury and he had little difficulty in per­suading Edward to order yet another punitive expedition into Scotland from his base at Carlisle to destroy the castles of Borthwick, Dalhousie and Rosslyn. About the middle of February 1303, an English army of some 30,000 men crossed the border under cover of darkness, without the warning invasion beacons being lit on the Border hills, and made their way north via Melrose. It was here that the English army made what was later to transpire as a fatal mistake by splitting into three parts, each of about 10,000 men, with Sir Robert Neville heading for Borthwick, Sir Ralph Confrey making towards Dalhousie and Sir John Seagrave, accompanied by Ralph de Manton or "Ralph the Cofferer" as he was known as the English paymaster, setting out for Rosslyn.

The invading forces managed to approach reasonably close to their ob­jectives before warning was sent to Prior Abernethy of Mountlothian who immediately sent riders to alert such important leaders as Sir Wil­liam Wallace near Paisley, Sir John Comyn near Glasgow, Somerfield of Carnwath, Lockhart of Lee, Sir Symon Fraser of Nidpath, Flemming of Cumbernauld and the Knights of St John at Torphichen urging them to muster with all speed at Biggar and by the afternoon of 23 February 1303 some 8,000 Scots had assembled there. Overall command of the Scottish forces was offered to Sir William Wallace but he declined in view of what had happened to him previously at Falkirk, so Sir Symon Fraser was appointed as supreme commander. The Scots moved out to Carlops where they were fed by the monks and Prior Abernethy said Mass.

On arrival near Roslin the English force under Sir John Seagrave en-camped on high ground just south of the river North Esk and relatively close to the river and Rosslyn Castle. A monk, under a flag of truce, was sent to the castle demanding the immediate surrender of Sir Henry St Clair and Lady Margaret Ramsay. This mission was greeted with derision and the unfortunate monk was hanged from the highest point of the castle in full view of the English army, whereupon Seagrave ordered that scaling ladders and battering rams were to be prepared for a direct assault on the castle early on the following morning.

During the night of 23/24 February 1303 the Scots moved out from Carlops under the guidance of Prior Abernethy who was very well acquainted with the entire countryside, and made their way across difficult country until they arrived at the river Esk somewhere between Penicuik and Roslin. Some 3,000 Scots under Sir John Comyn went into hiding in the woods on the west bank of the Esk where we know that an important gunpowder factory was later situated in 1804. The remaining 5,000 Scots crossed the river and circled to the south east un­der the command of Sir Symon Fraser and his guide Prior Abernethy. The right wing was led by Sir William Wallace, the centre by Lockhart of Lee and the left wing was under Somerfield of Carnwath forming a large crescent to envelop the English camp, gradually contracting and concentrating as they moved in.

 The very early morning was dark and cloudy so that the Scots were able to get very close to the English camp before being challenged, where-upon the order was given for a full scale charge and the Scots fell upon the enemy as they were awakened from their slumbers. The raucous yells and cheers of the attackers caused the English to imagine that they were being assaulted by a vastly superior force and in the darkness and confusion the English sustained very severe casualties. In the melee, some part of the English force rushed to make an escape through the pass in the forest towards the south west but they were confronted by Sir John Comyn and his men who had emerged from ambush on the haugh, which was to be used in 1719 as a bleachfield, and many of the fugitives were drowned in the linn of the river.

 The English losses were so terrible that Seagrave soon realised that fur­ther resistance, or indeed escape, were out of the question. He surren­dered himself to Sir William Wallace and pleaded for quarter for the mangled rem­nants of his force. The Eng­lish troops followed the ex-ample of their leader and threw down their arms. The prisoners were herded into

outhouses near the chapel of --St Matthew under guard while the wounded Scots were tended in Rosslyn Castle and Seagrave was placed in the custody of Bill Clelland, his former page. Thus ended the first stage of the Bat­tle of Roslin, with an overwhelming victory for the Scots at only mar­ginal cost to themselves in the form of casualties. The bodies of the dead, including that of Ralph de Manton (the Cofferer), were buried in the sandy slope of the west bank of the river Esk which is still referred to by some of the older residents of Roslin as "the soldiers' grave."

Since it was probable that a few of the survivors of the first phase of the battle had fled towards Dalhousie and Borthwick to warn their comrades of this initial defeat, Sir Symon Fraser arranged for a hasty meal to be provided for his men from Rosslyn Castle and then formed a line of battle on the top of sloping ground to the west of Roslin, possibly where Langhill Farm is situated now, some little way beyond a stream flowing from south to north. All this had scarcely been accomplished when an English force was observed approaching across the plain at Rosewell, having abandoned the siege of Dalhousie Castle.

This fresh army passed through the site of the earlier battle and up the narrow pass until coming to a halt on the eastern side of the stream fac­ing the Scots. Without delay and without reconnoitering the layout of the terrain, the English army charged towards the Scots but were met with volleys of arrows from the Scots archers so that the attacking ranks were broken up and thrown into confusion. The scene quickly became one of tremendous noise and carnage, forcing Sir Ralph Confrey to veer his force towards the north without realising that he was headed for a steep ravine and burn where very many English horsemen plunged to their deaths until the burn became choked with dead men and horses

 The English prisoners in St Matthew's Chapel outhouses heard the noise of the conflict and broke out of confinement by overpowering the meagre guards and rushed towards the scene of battle, picking up such weapons as they could find. However, a strong Scottish force turned on them and the majority of the escapers were slain. Sir John Seagrave and his custodian Bill Clelland witnessed this carnage and Seagrave pleaded with Clelland for his release, promising that never again would he return to Scotland but would intercede with Edward to cease from further aggression. This was a difficult decision for Clelland to make because he and his wife had been protected by his former master since the start of the siege of Rosslyn Castle, but eventually Clelland agreed to help his former master to escape. This was the conclusion of the sec­ond phase of the Battle of Roslin, where once again, a superior English army was completely defeated with only minimal losses by the Scots.

  By this time the small Scottish army had been on the move all throughout the previous night to complete long and arduous forced marches over very rough territory and had fought two engagements with the minimum of food and rest. They were nearly exhausted and faced with yet another battle against 10,000 fresh English troops from Borthwick under Sir Robert Neville. Prior Abernethy of Carlops had anticipated such an eventuality and had earlier dispatched a small num­ber of his brother monks with ropes and axes on a special mission to the top of the Pentland hills.

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The Scots moved about a mile further north along the edge of the stream and took up position near the edge of a precipitous escarpment overlooking the river Esk and a small area of flat ground where the vil­lage of Polton was eventually built. The Prior made an impassioned address to the weary Scots, reminding them of the miseries endured by Scotland at the hands of Edward and the insults perpetuated on the Church. On seeing that the stage was set for his exhibition, he com­manded the Scots to turn about and look towards the top of the Pentland Hills where a huge wooden cross had been erected for all to see. The location of this cross was later named "Abernethy Hill" but is now known as Carnethy Hill. The place where the Prior delivered his ora­tion was named "Monks Miracle" or "Monks Marle" and is now known as Mountmarle in honour of the Prior. The spectacle of this cross put fresh heart into the Scots who, once again, took up battle formation to await an onslaught.

 All the looters from the surrounding area who had gathered to retrieve the spoils were herded under cover of the woods at the top of the ravine along with a large detachment of the Scots army. The Scottish casual-ties were replaced by Sir Edward Ramsay of Dalhousie and Sir Gilbert Hay of Borthwick together with a retinue of armed retainers and tenants of the monks of Newbattle. In the early afternoon the third English force was seen approaching from the direction of Rosewell having given up the siege of Borthwick Castle and for the third time on this memorable day another fierce battle was joined.

 Once again the Scottish archers created havoc in the English ranks with the looters emerging from hiding in the woods. This spread confusion and despair among the attackers who attempted to break away towards the east but, being unfamiliar with the terrain, they found themselves too late careering towards the precipitous ravine of the river Esk over which very many perished. The English casualties were so horrendous that the Scottish commanders called a halt to the slaughter and allowed the battered remains of the invaders to make their escape. The location of this engagement was named "The Hewan" and the hollow near the Esk where so many horses and men were buried became known as the "stinking rig." Thus ended the third phase of the battle of Roslin with a crushing defeat of a vastly superior English army by a small Scottish force.

 The place of carnage of the second phase was named "Dreadful Den" or "Dreeden" and a mansion was later constructed by Lockhart of Lee on the estate which was called Dryden. So many bones were subsequently turned up during ploughing in the area to the west of the stream that the name Shinbanes Field marks it to this day, while the stream itself in which so many died is now known as the Kill Burn. The large wooden cross from the top of the Pentland Hills was carried down the glen of the Logan Burn and put on display at "Glen Cross" or as it is known today Glencorse. Prior Abernethy of Carlops caused three elegant crosses to be erected on top of the hills above Carlops in memory of the three Scottish victories but no trace of them now remains. Pilgrims car­ried large stones to the site of the wooden cross on Carnethy hill and created a rough cairn but, although some of the stones were replenished over the following years, there is little now left to mark the spot. A Camethy Hill Race is held annually and is said to commemorate the march of the Scottish army from Biggar to Roslin.

As a follow up to the history of the Battle of Roslin it may be of interest that on 1' March 1303 Sir Henry St Clair and Lady Mar­garet Ramsay were married. In 1304 Edward once again attempted an invasion of Scotland but was unable to subdue Sir William Wallace by force of arms although shortly afterwards Wallace was betrayed by Sir John Monteith, a name that has gone down in Scottish history as that of an arch-traitor. As a result Sir William Wallace was captured and taken to London where he was tortured and subjected to a mock trial before being executed in 1305.

A year later Sir Symon Fraser was taken prisoner at the Battle of Meth­uen and taken to the Tower of London. Legend asserts that Sir Symon Fraser was substituted for a common felon by the brother of Bill Clelland who was a senior warder of the Tower and that Sir Symon was smuggled across to France and thence to Rome where he passed the re­mainder of his days in quiet seclusion.

Sir John Comyn (The Red) laid claim to the crown of Scotland but was slain by Sir Robert the Bruce at Dumfries in 1306. Sir Robert the Bruce assumed the mantle of Sir William Wallace and was crowned King of Scotland in 1306, thus uniting the nobles of Scotland and enabling an overwhelming defeat to be inflicted on the English at the Battle of Ban­nockburn in 1314 and bringing to a halt the lengthy Wars of Scottish Independence.   With Thanks to the Roslin Heritage Society    

1314

24th June William Ramsay joins forces with King Robert the Bruce to defeat Edward II of England at Bannockburn.

1320

William Ramsay - Signatory to the declaration of Arbroath where Scottish Barons appealed to the Pope against the oppression of the English.


The Declaration of Arbroath

"For as long as but one hundred of us remain alive,

we will never on any conditions

submit to the domination of the English.

It is not for glory nor riches, nor honours

that we fight, but for freedom alone,

which no good man gives up except with his life".


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