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Many thanks to the Australian Ramsay, s for the following information.

There are many pages from Australia’s Ramsay’s, Ramsey’s I hope you can find a connection somewhere.

The Australian Ramsay Clan

Chapter 1   



Dalhousie Castle

The Ramsay's of Dalhousie have reason to be proud of their heritage and their long links with Scottish History. They held possession of Dalhousie longer than any other family has retained possession of a Castle in Scotland. The castle is eight miles from Edinburgh on the Esk River and dates from the 13th Century. Over the succeeding years many parts have been added and altered but the basic structure still exists.

Originally, as with all such Castles, it was surrounded by a moat with an entrance via a drawbridge. It is only in recent times that that this was dismantled but the drawbridge structure is still preserved in the building.

This building suffered many sieges and from time to time it also housed many noblemen including Kings of England and Scotland as well as Oliver Cromwell.

In latter times it has been utilized for a myriad of purposes including a Private Boarding School. In 1972 it was converted to a very up-market hotel and renovated to the highest standards in keeping with its former glory and its highly respected history.

Important information about the contents of this publication:

Order of Contents:

This book attempts to follow the chronological order of persons' births. Thus Robert the eldest member of William and Janet's family comes first and this is followed by the next eldest member of the family and so forth.


When a name is enclosed in brackets, this is the name by which that person was normally known.

To understand the family trees. An i against a name refers to that person's family further down the chart. E.g. iv check down to the next iv and the descendents of that person will be shown.

Place Names in Ireland

Barry Beg commonly called ‘The Berries’ is area North of Athlone, in the County of Roscommon, where William & Janet Ramsay lived, Kiltoom is a mile or so north again, where the Church baptisms and marriages were   recorded.


Due to the restrictions of privacy laws, it is impossible to include recent dates of births and marriages. Many of these are available and can be obtained by the person concerned by contacting the authors of this book. However, before providing such material, strict guidelines will be observed to ensure that the information provided is only to those who are so entitled.

Author and Contacts

Alistair Ramsay

Irene Ramsay

Don Ramsay

Al Ramsay


This book is dedicated to those courageous immigrants from the United Kingdom, who one and a half century ago, left their homes, their villages and their families and took the extremely grave risks of travelling many thousands of miles in basic sailing ships, half way around the world, to a little known and remote country called Australia. A country whose very existence was unknown some 70 years previously until discovered by an intrepid British sailor Captain James Cook.

Here in this strange, isolated and forbidding land, plagued by droughts, fires and floods, they encountered animals, reptiles, insects and pests completely unknown to them. With basic tools, and rudimentary shacks for houses they, with great perseverance and by the sweat of their brow, tamed this harsh land. They cleared the scrub, cut down massive trees, cultivated fields, bred animals and made a home for themselves and their families in what had been, until then, a complete wilderness.

Far from their homeland and with only their basic family for support they, in time, created a substantial colony which over many years, as a result of their persistence and dedication, developed and became a great nation.

Their fortitude, their endurance and their tenacity finally resulted in the growth of a country which is to-day envied world-wide and which is one of the leaders in all aspects of every day life.

To all of them, we owe a great debt of gratitude and look back in wonder at not only what their sterling qualities have given us to-day but all the great privileges we now enjoy from their labours.

We are very proud to be their descendants and we humbly give them our highest honours.

Contribution Dedication

This book is also dedicated to the memory of the late Athol Ramsay and also to his loving wife Irene who, over very many years, at their own expense researched the history of the Ramsay’s not only in Australia but also in Ireland, Scotland and England. Without their complete dedication, and the detailed results they recorded over very many years of research, this book would not have been possible. Also, the Editor acknowledges that, without the ready and constant help of Irene, her regular reading and correcting of drafts, this book would never have been completed.

Full tribute is also paid to the many other members of the Clan who helped in innumerable ways and their contribution to this history is deeply appreciated. One deserving very special mention is Don Ramsay from Brisbane who has undertaken detailed research of the family history over many years. He is also the initiator of this project and has helped in innumerable ways to bring it to fruition. Deserving of special mention also is Malcolm Ramsay of Ipswich Queensland, Frances Longworth

(Nee Ramsay) from Ireland and Mervyn Reger from the Western Australian Clan. Honourable mention must be made of Herbert Ramsay, the son of John Ramsay born 1876. Herbert at a time when no one was interested in family histories wrote many pages about life in the colonies and also in 1933 about the Ramsay families both here in Australia and also in Ireland.

Our sincere thanks to you all. It is hoped that this brief history of the Ramsay Clan meets your expectations.

Alistair Ramsay Editor


The Ramsay Origins

William and Janet Ramsay-The Beginning

Robert Ramsay 1807-1887 (The W.A. Clan)

William Ramsay 1838-1927

James Ramsay 1809 -1875 (Frances and Irene)

James Ramsay 1845-1910    Emmaville

William Ramsay 1847-1917

John Ramsay 1850-1919 Malcolm)

Catherine Ramsay 1855-1905 (Mrs Wm Byrnes)

David Ramsay 1861-1935

John Ramsay 1811-1878

Janet Ramsay Cross 1844-1908

Catherine McLeod (Nee Ramsay) 1849-1932

John Ramsay 1852-1926

Herbert William Ramsay      1876-1945

Cecil Ramsay 1899-1962

Herbert Chalmers Ramsay 1902-1975

Lachlan Ramsay 1906-1968

Cameron Ramsay 1908-1986

Ivan Ramsay 1913-1063

Stewart Ramsay 1917-2002

Margaret Isabel Ramsay 1922-

John David Ramsay 11879-1933

Allan   Ramsay 1881-1955

Colin   Ramsay 1888-1954

Malcolm Campbell Ramsay 1890-1973

Ethel Elizabeth (Mrs John Beaton) 1887-1973

Hannah I (Annabel) Ramsay (Mrs J Nelson) 1894-1966

Elizabeth Ramsay (1813-1885) Wm Kellion Families

George Ramsay 1816-?

William George Ramsay 1841-1919

Catherine Ramsay (Mrs J. O'Neill) 1818-?

Thomas Ramsay 1820 -1886


The Ramsay Origin

The Ramsay Clan has spread by migration to all parts of the English speaking world and probably much further afield.

It is extremely difficult to determine how the name "Ramsay" came into being as it has no obvious connotations, as do many other surnames. Research has failed to find a fully satisfactory answer.

One expert claims that it relates to the Kings of Egypt, the Rameses, and has suggested that descendants of this Egyptian tribe could have come to Britain with the invasion by the Roman in the very early centuries. Another historian suggests that the original Ramsay was an obscure German Pirate who followed William the Conqueror to England in 1066. It is reported that the Black Eagle depicted was the battle standard of this Ramsay. It is claimed that he, or probably his son, joined David 1 of Scotland and lived by robbing the natives. However, as all this is pure conjecture we have to live with the knowledge that no proven origin of the name has been satisfactorily explained.

The most original research reveals that the Ramsay’s, when we hear of them first, were of Anglo-Norman origin. Simon de Ramesie came to Scotland with David 1 who granted him lands in Lothian. From Simon descended the Ramsay’s of Dalhousie. In 1296, William signed the Ragman Roll, swearing fealty to Edward I of England in 1296 but later became a strong supporter of Robert the Bruce. He was also one of the Scots Lords who in 1320 signed the famous letter to the Pope (The Declaration of Arbroath) asserting the independence of Scotland. The name over the years, due to common usage, became changed to Ramsay, the name we know to-day.

The Earldom of Dalhousie was conferred upon the Ramsay’s by Charles 1. The Ramsay’s were at the forefront of many wars against the English. In 1355 Sir William Ramsay defeated the English at Nisbet Moor. In 1400 Dalhousie Castle withstood a six-month siege by King Henry 1V.

During three centuries the Ramsay’s because of their proximity to England were prominently engaged in Border Wars which resulted in long and savage raids into England. In 1618 George Ramsay of Dalhousie was created Lord Ramsay of Melrose and a short time later this title was altered to Lord Ramsay of Dalhousie. This still exists as the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland.

Over the years the Ramsay’s produced very many well-known soldiers and public servants that continued down to the present day. They all served in all the great campaigns of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries on the Continent in such countries such as Austria, Spain and France as well as in Canada and India.

Members of the Clan held many very high positions such as Earl James Ramsay who was appointed Governor General of India at the age of 36. Lord Curzon, representing the British Government on India, gave this comment on his life. 'No man ever gave his life to his country, more completely or with more consuming devotion'. Members of this Clan held many other high positions such as the Baronetcy of Nova Scotia, which was conferred in 1666, Governor of Canada and others particularly in the Army where members of the Clan held such responsibilities as Colonel of the Scots Guards.

The Ramsay’s of Bamff, Perthshire, are descendants from Adam de Ramsay of Bamff, a baron in the thirteenth century.

It has proved impossible to trace the lineage of our William Ramsay Clan to these well-know personalities but it is assumed that they are related in one way or another, even if there is no direct proof of this connection to these ancestors.

It is also very interesting to note that the Christian names of the more recent Ramsay’s follow closely the names of the more prominent Ramsay’s of earlier times such as William, George, John, Thomas and James to name but a few.

Whatever their ancient history be it good or bad, over the centuries the Ramsay’s have made great progress in all professions, trades and commerce and have contributed very considerably to all countries where they have taken up domicile. In fact, they have been so successful in all their endeavours that the name Ramsay is respected and revered everywhere world-wide.

Following is an attempt to trace the history of the Ramsay Clan from its roots in Scotland and Ireland to Australia and to show how they have multiplied and progressed over the centuries.

It is interesting to note that there were three major migrations of the Ramsay family to Australia. One to Perth, Western Australia and the other two to New South Wales. Although all of these families will be covered, the major emphasis in this document will be on the Eastern Ramsay Clan, which is much more extensive than the other. There were also three other minor migrations from the grandchildren of William of Athlone, the Patriarch of the Clan Ramsay, which have developed large families in Australia, one to the Macleay area, one in Emmaville Northern New South Wales and the other in Queensland.

Naturally, all the information sought over many years has not been obtained, so regrettably this history is incomplete and on occasions will contain errors but it the best that can be compiled with the material available. Please excuse any mistakes, which occur.

The motto of the Ramsay Clan is a Unicorn's head, couped at the neck, argent, manned and tufted. The words inscribed thereon are 'ORA ET LABORA" which interpreted means by prayer and work.

The Chief of the Clan is The Earl of Dalhousie.

The Clan seat is Dalhousie Castle, Midlothian.

The Plant is the Hairbell.

William and Janet Ramsay- The Beginning

The ancient family of Ramsay is of Anglo-Norman origin and figured prominently in the history of Scotland from the year 1140 AD. Originally from Huntingdonshire in England the Ramsay’s were granted land in the Lothian area and built Dalhousie Castle, which is situated about 12 kilometres from Edinburgh on the South Esk River. The seven- hundred- year old castle is the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland.

Since the twelfth century the family has expanded and members of the clan spread far and wide, not only in Scotland but also to other parts of the world, including Australia.

One of the numerous descendants of Scots extraction was a William Ramsay who was born 1779 into a family living a short distance from Edinburgh but the exact location is uncertain. It was from this branch that all of the branches of the Ramsay line became established in Australia in the early nineteenth century.

Information received from various sources indicates that William joined the army in 1794 in the 100th Foot Regiment. Later this Regiment changed its name to the 92nd Highland Regiment and William was serving at Athlone at the turn of the 19th century, where the Regiment had been sent to put down the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

William did not elect to return to Scotland, instead he settled at Roscommon near Athlone, on the Shannon River, which was one of the major centres of Ireland at that time. Here property fronting Lough Ree, part of the Shannon River system, was granted in lieu of payment as a soldier. Athlone was a military town with farmers supplying produce to the barracks.

Kiltoom which is frequently mentioned is a Townland in the Parish of Kiltoom. Barony of Athlone, County Roscommon, Ireland.

In c 1802, William married Janet White, born in 1777 and whose father, William was a weaver. Apart from that, no further information on her family has been located. It is known that these two lived at Barry Beg (The Berries) from 1805 as the children were baptised at the Church at Kiltoom, a few miles north of The Berries. This house was lived in by the family until approximately 1973 when it was left vacant and the beautiful thatched roof subsequently caved in. The Berries are to this day still owned by the Ramsay family remaining in Ireland.

William was a Land Steward for Lloyds, a position, which was passed down through the family for several generations. This involved the collection of rents from the various houses, farms and businesses in the area. In 1837 William resigned as a church vestryman with the church of Ireland, stating he was a signatory for the building of the Scots Church, which was being constructed near the Lock on the waterfront. Much later this church was disbanded and the building became a Factory. The magnificent spire was removed and placed on another Church.

William and Janet had a family of nine children. The eldest was Annabella born 1803, William born 1805, Robert born 1807, James born 1809, John born 1811, Elizabeth born 1813, George born 1815, Catherine born 1818 and Thomas the youngest born 1820.

Over their years in Ireland the Ramsay’s retained their association with Scotland. In 1809 when William’s health was declining, he took sick leave from the Army and visited Scotland.  Later in 1839 his (4th) son John visited Scotland and subsequently married a local girl Margaret Lun Lyall b. 1815 from (Elie) Fifeshire, Scotland. Her father was David Lyall b.1781, who was also a Land Steward. He had been a soldier in the 5th North British Militia and he married an Elizabeth White on 4th December 1800. Margaret as stated above was born 16th June 1815 and baptised 12th July 1815 in Elie, Fifeshire. There is most likely a close connection between Elizabeth and Janet White, William’s wife. However, this relationship has been impossible to determine.

William died in 1841 and Janet in 1854 and both were buried in the old graveyard at St Peter’s Church at Athlone. This Church was built as the Church of Ireland; it closed its doors 100 years later in 1940, after which it was used as a hall.

In more recent times it has been taken over by a right-wing Catholic sect and is used for the celebration of their traditional mass. Today the graveyard no longer exists and in 1985 was made into a park. The tombstones are stacked against the wall of the old church and are difficult to examine. Fortunately, the inscriptions on the tombstones were recorded and are kept in the Athlone Library in Ireland. The new graveyard is located about one kilometre outside Athlone on the Ballymahon Road.

William and Janet Ramsay's Children were:

Annabella born 1803 was the eldest. Banns were called once for her marriage to Henry Greenwood from the Royal Artillery. No further information is available on this family except that he died aged 65 years in 1851.

William born 1805 was baptised at Kiltoom, as were most members of this family, and enlisted with his brother Robert b. 1807 in the Royal Artillery. He served 21 years and 104 days with this Regiment of which 9 years and 7 months were in the West Indies. He was discharged in 1846 and died in March 1558 at West London. His discharge was the result of illness he experienced while serving as a solider where he reached the rank of Sergeant. The opinion of the Medical Officer John Webb 9th March 1846 states. 'After a careful examination I am of the opinion that William Ramsay is unfit for service and likely to be permanently disqualified for military service but able to contribute something to his livelihood.' William died 12 years later at the age of 53 years.

Robert born 1807 joined the Royal Artillery on the same day as his brother William. He served 22 years and 194 days in a variety of places including Gibraltar and the West Indies. He married Mary Jane Wilson in 1835 and had a family of 4 males and 3 females. See chapter Robert Ramsay and the Western Australian Clan.

Interesting enough his son William, at an early age travelled to New South Wales from Western Australia, quite probably with his Uncle Thomas who was passing through on his way to Sydney and joined up with his Uncle John's family in Dungog. He became an integral part of that family. This is chronicled under John Ramsay 1811- 1878.

James born 1809 took up residence next door in The Berries on land, which he farmed there. He was also a Land Steward for Lloyds, and a Vestryman for the Church of Ireland. Most unfortunately he choked on a bone while eating his evening meal at Knockcrokery and is buried at the Old Kiltoom Cemetery. James married Rose Mannion in 1844 and again in 1845 and they had a family of 7 males and 2 females. Two of their sons went to America and later five of their grandchildren also migrated there. One of his sons, James Ramsay, came to Australia and married and raised a family at Emmaville in north-eastern New South Wales. See chapter James Ramsay 1845-1910. (Another son see Chapter John 1850-1919 migrated to Queensland and lived at Emerald.)

One of 1809 James' descendants Frances Ramsay married Tom Longworth and remained in Ireland. She has maintained very close contact with the Australian Ramsay Clans over many years. This and other information about the family is detailed under a Chapter entitled James Ramsay 1809-1875.

John born 1811 a major player in the establishment of an Australian Clan, married Margaret Lun Lyall in 1839 in Elie, Scotland. The year following their marriage in 1840, John and Margaret immigrated to Australia on the vessel "Mary Ann". They were the first of the Ramsay’s to come to Australia.

There was no future in Ireland, the economic situation and the potato famine were terrible and the family farm could not support many of the family, so most of the Ramsay’s migrated to Australia, America or joined the Army.  The full history of this family and its descendants are included in Chapters entitled John Ramsay 1811- 1878 and also subsequent ones, such as John Ramsay 1952-1926.

Elizabeth (Betty) born 1813 married William Kellion, in 1841 at Athlone in the Scots Church. Little is known of the background of the Kellion family. His father Francis Kellion was in the British Army and his mother was Mary Thompson. William (Billie, as he was known) was born in 1812 and attended school in Dublin, Ireland, where he proved a good scholar. Later he became a boot maker by trade, and after a very interesting career in other fields, he died in Australia in 1882.

The family sailed for Australia shortly after their marriage and arrived in Sydney December 1841 on the ‘William Jardine’. The complete story of the Kellions and the marriages between that family and the Ramsay’s and their work and movements within Australia are chronicled in the in various chapters but in particular that entitled The Kellions.

George 1816- ? Married Margaret Hynds and it is thought that they then immigrated to America. The only known son, William George Ramsay 1841-1919, migrated to Australia in approximately 1859 and married his first cousin Mary Jane Kellion 1843-1904. They lived in proximity to other Ramsay’s on the Macleay on a farm at Glenrock Plains, Towal Creek and later inherited and farmed land at Warneton. He married Mary Smith in 1905, a year after his first wife's death, and became the Caretaker at Warwick Race Track at Kempsey. From his first marriage he had 7 females and 5 males. More information is found under the chapter entitled William George Ramsay 1841-1919.

Catherine 1818- Married Jacobum (James) O'Neill in 1840. They had 8 known children. It is thought this family remained and worked in Ireland. (See details of family under Family of William Ramsay 1779-1841)

Thomas 1820-1886 Commenced work as a tenant farmer with his brother James close to the Berries. In 1854 - 56 he immigrated to Australia. It is believed that he first visited his brother Robert at Fremantle, Western Australia and then travelled by coastal ship to Sydney. In 1856 he purchased 40 acres of farming land at Belgrave (now called Aldavilla) on the Macleay River where he farmed until his death. He married Sarah Ann Stanford, in 1857, whose father purchased 40 acres of land next door to George. These properties remained in the Ramsay family until the 1990's. Thomas' family was 8 males and 5 females from these extensive families developed. Full details of the activities of this Clan are covered in detail in the chapter entitled Thomas Ramsay 1820-1886

Family of William Ramsay 1779-1841                                                Back to Top

 William Ramsay xe "Ramsay: William" b. 1779 m. Janet Whitexe "White: Janet", b. 1777, d. 7 Oct 1854, William died 29 July 1841 and is buried St Peters, Church of Ireland Cemetery Athlone.     c 1985 this area was made into a Park.

Children of William & Janet Ramsay

Annabella Ramsay xe "Ramsay: Anabella" b. circa 1803, The Berries, Ireland, possibly married   Henry Greenwoodxe "Greenwood: Henry". 1786-1851

William Ramsay xe "Ramsay: William" b. 1 Feb 1805, The Berries, Roscommon, Ireland.        d.15 Mar 1858 London.

i           Robert Ramsay xe  "Ramsay: Robert"          b. 6 Feb 1807.

ii          James Ramsay  xe  "Ramsay: James" b. Apr 1809.

iii         John Ramsay xe   "Ramsay: John" b. 28 May 1811.

iv         Elizabeth xe   "Ramsay: Elizabeth"  b. 1 July 1813.

v          George Ramsay xe   "Ramsay: George"    b. 29 April 1816.

vi         Catherine Ramsay xe  "Ramsay: Catherine" b. 1 June 1818.

vii        Thomas Ramsay xe  "Ramsay: Thomas" b. 29 Nov 1820

Second Generation

i    Robert Ramsay xe "Ramsay: Robert" b. 6 Feb 1807, The Berries, Roscommon Ireland, m. mid 1830's, Mary Jane Wilson xe "Wilson: Mary Jane", b. 1813, d. 18 May 1873, Fremantle W.A., buried: 1873, Skinner St Cemetery Fremantle W.A.  Robert died 12 Feb 1887, Fremantle W.A, buried: Skinner St Cemetery Fremantle.

See chapter Robert Ramsay 1807-1887

ii      James Ramsay xe "Ramsay: James" b. Apr 1809, The Berries, Roscommon Ireland, m. 26 Feb 1844, Church of Ireland Kiltoom, then second marriage 23 Jan 1845 in the Roman Catholic Church in Kiltoom Roscommon Ireland, Rose Mannionxe "Mannion: Rose", d. 11 Mar 1895, buried: Kiltoom, Roscommon Ireland.  James died 1875, Knockcrokery north of the Berries, buried: 1875, Old Kiltoom Cemetery.

(Jacobum and Roseam)

See chapter James Ramsay 1809-1875

iii       John Ramsay xe "Ramsay: John" b. 28 May 1811, The Berries, Ireland m. 30 Nov 1839, in Elie, Fife.  Scotland, Margaret Lun Lyallxe "Lyall: Margaret Lun", b. 16 June 1815, Elie Fifeshire Scotland, (daughter of David Lyallxe "Lyall: David" and Elizabeth Whitexe "White: Elizabeth") d. 20 Oct 1870, Dingo Creek Manning River NSW, buried Wingham NSW.  John died 20 Aug 1878, ‘Lang Green’ Dingo Creek. Manning River, buried Wingham Cemetery.

See chapter John Ramsay 1811-1878

iv     Elizabeth Ramsay xe "Ramsay: Elizabeth" b. 1 July 1813, The Berries, Ireland, m. 21 Apr 1841, in Athlone Ireland, William Kellion xe "Kellion: William", b. C 1812, Athlone Westmeath Ireland, (son of Francis Kellion xe "Kellion: Francis" and Mary Thompson xe "Thompson: Mary") d. 20 Jan 1882, Turners Flat Macleay River NSW.  Elizabeth died 4 Oct 1885, Turners Flat. Both are buried in the West Kempsey Cemetery, C of E.

See chapter The Kellion Family.

v     George Ramsay xe "Ramsay: George" b. 29 Apr 1816, The Berries, Ireland, m. (1) Margaret Hyndsxe "Hynds:Margaret", b. Ireland.

See chapter William George Ramsay 1841-1919

vi                     Catherine Ramsay xe "Ramsay: Catherine" b. 1 June 1818, The Berries, Ireland, m. 14 Jan 1840 in Kiltoom & Camma, Roscommon Ireland, Jacobum (James) O'Neillxe "O\"Neill:Jacobum ( JAMES )".


Susannam O’Neill     b.1849

Annabellaxe "O\"Neill: Annam Bella (Annabella )"   O’Neill    b.1851

Elizabetham O’Neill  b.1854xe "O\"NEIL:ELIZABETHAM (ELIZABETH )"

Sarahxe "O\"Neil:Saram ( SARAH )"  O’Neill            b.1854 (d. by 1862)

Thomas xe "O\"Neil:Thomas" O’Neill         b.1856

John O’Neill          xe "O\"NEIL:JOHN" b.185

Robert   O’Neill      b.1858

Sarah O’Neill          b. 1862xe "O\"Neil: Robert vii Thomas Ramsay xe "Ramsay: Thomas" b. 29 Nov 1820, The Berries, Ireland, m. 7 August 1857, in Kempsey NSW, Sarah Ann Stanford xe "Stanford: Sarah Ann”, b. March 1839, Kempsey NSW, d. 13 Dec 1896, West Kempsey NSW. Thomas died 22 Apr 1886, Belgrave Macleay River NSW. Both are buried in the West Kempsey Cemetery, Presbyterian Section.

See chapter Thomas Ramsay 1858-1935

Robert Ramsay 1807-1887 - The Western Australian Clan Compiled by Mervyn Reger

Robert Ramsay was born at Kiltoom in 1807.  He was William and Janet’s third child. Following a career in the British Army he arrived at Fremantle in 1851 as a guard for convicts transported from England.  Robert and his family received free passage to Australia in return for his role guarding the prisoners.  The voyage from Plymouth on the ship ’Minden’ took 85 days to complete.  His interest in migrating may have been partly triggered by economic necessity, perhaps health reasons or partly by the knowledge that his brother John, born 1811, and sister Elizabeth b 1813 had come to Australia.  A nephew William George born 1841, brother Thomas, born 1820, were other relations from Ireland who likewise were pioneer settlers in Australia.  Successive generations of Ramsay’s have since produced descendants in the hundreds throughout the Australian States.

Robert saw no future in staying to live in Ireland.  The farm was too small to support many people and economic conditions were poor throughout the country.  In that era, it was expected that at least one son from every family would enlist for army service. In 1825 at Athlone, Robert and an older brother William joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery.  This was the start of a twenty-two-year period in the army where Robert moved through the ranks from gunner to sergeant.  He served a four-year term in the West Indies where piracy was a problem to the British, and seven and a half years at Gibraltar.  The latter, a fortress location, relied upon artillery for its defences.  The balance of his time was in England and Ireland.  In 1847 he was discharged on medical grounds with rheumatism and deafness of the right ear.  Robert’s discharge papers stated that during his service his conduct was exemplary.

In the mid 1830s Robert married Mary Jane Wilson, born 1813.  Her background is unknown.  Robert’s wife and children went with him to his military postings.  They had a family of six children before coming to Australia.  Some evidence has been found that two of Robert and Mary’s children were born at Gibraltar.  A son and daughter, John and Phoebe were born in England.  The former's birthplace was Woolwich suggesting that his father, an artilleryman, may have been stationed at the Royal Arsenal at that time.  This depot over the centuries remained as one of the main military bases in that country and was the home of the Royal Artillery.  However, verification of most of the children’s birthplaces has yet to be made and thereby the locations in which Robert served in those years.

Robert and Mary Jane accompanied by their children arrived at Fremantle, W.A. on 18 October 1851.  Before the voyage out, they all lived at or near Deptford, England, where Robert drew a military service pension of one shilling and ten pence a day.  It appears that in being accepted for a pensioner guard role there was an improvement in Robert’s health since his army discharge four years earlier.  The 'Minden' a quite new square-rigged ship of 916 tons, carried a consignment of 302 convicts guarded by men such as Robert Ramsay.  These warders were military pensioners ex British Army.  The story of these veterans, as Broomhall described them, is well summed up by Ray Oldham, Royal West Australian Historical Society President 1983-1985, in the forward to the former’s book.

'The Enrolled Pensioner Force consisted of soldiers who came as guards on the convict ships which, between 1850 and 1868, transported almost 10,000 prisoners from the gaols of the United Kingdom to tpensions for long service and good conduct, for wounds or for meritorious service.  Of an average age of 40 years, an average height of 5 feet 9 inches, they were strong and healthy, well disciplined, loyal and of good conduct; and, spread through the thinly-populated districts, were a welcome addition to the labour force as warders, police, postmen or mailmen, tradesmen or agricultural labourers.'

A good account of the voyage out on the 'Minden' was kept in the diary of an ex-soldier describing shipboard life, as the Ramsay’s must have experienced it.

After arrival, Sergeant Ramsay commenced duties as an assistant warder at the convict establishment, Freemantle and the North Freemantle Station for a short period.  This entitled him to quarters and rations for his family.  Accustomed in the past to this style of living, Robert and Mary would have found little difficulty in settling again in an army type facility for the family.  They must have liked living at Freemantle because both Robert and Mary stayed there for the rest of their lives.  Robert’s superiors had soon recognized his worth because he quickly advanced after a series of promotions to the position of Principal Warder in 1855 at the convict establishment, Fremont.  In 1858, he was put in charge of the prison hospital and in 1859 his colony; many remained as settlers after their military duties were finished.  They were soldiers who had served the previous twenty years in Britain’s wars in China, the Crimea, the Kaffir wars, in India before and during the Mutiny, in Persia, the Maori War and Afghanistan.

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