Ramsay, Andrew (1620?-1688) (DNB00)

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RAMSAY, Sir ANDREW (1620?–1688), baronet and lord provost of Edinburgh, of Abbotshall and Waughton, was eldest son of Andrew Ramsay [q. v.] Bred a merchant, he was during Cromwell's government lord provost of Edinburgh from 1654 to 1657; was knighted by Oliver Cromwell in 1655, and by Charles II on 17 July 1660 (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 114). At the Restoration he gained the favour of the Duke of Lauderdale by prevailing on the city to give 5,000l. to the government for the superiority of Leith, and other 5,000l. for the new imposition granted to the town by the king on wine and ale (Mackenzie, Memoirs, p. 246). Under the auspices of Lauderdale he was elected lord provost of Edinburgh in 1662, and he retained that office until 1673. He was also chosen to represent Edinburgh in parliament in 1665 and 1667, and from 1669 to 1674. In 1669 he was created a baronet. In 1671 he was named a privy councillor, and on 21 Nov. admitted an ordinary lord of session by the title of Lord Abbotshall—a promotion which, with that of three others who like him ‘had not been bred lawyers,’ rendered ‘the session,’ according to Sir George Mackenzie, ‘the object of all men's contempt’ (Memoirs, p. 240). In recognition of Ramsay's services to the government, Lauderdale prevailed on the king to settle on the provost of Edinburgh 200l. a year. During his term of office Ramsay came into conflict with the university, the dispute, it is said, having been originally occasioned by the fact that his son had been corporally chastised—not then an uncommon case—by one of the regents. At Ramsay's instance the town council, on 10 Nov. 1667, resolved ‘that the lord provost, present and to come, should be always rector and governor of the college’ (Grant, History of the University of Edinburgh, i. 211); and moreover ‘the town, in a competition between them and the college of Edinburgh, got a letter from the king in 1667 by Sir Andrew Ramsay's procurement determining their provost should have the same place and precedency without the town's precincts as was due to the mayors of London and Dublin, and that no other provost should be called lord provost but he’ (Lauder of Fountainhall, Decisions, i. 400). By his corrupt and tyrannical procedure as lord provost, especially by the creation of offices and employments to oblige those who supported him, Ramsay became obnoxious to many of the citizens. A motion to supersede him, made in March 1672, was lost by only two votes, and, it having failed, an action was raised in 1673 against his right to hold the lord-provostship, on the ground that, as a senator of the College of Justice, he held higher rank than a merchant. After long pleadings a compromise was arrived at, the council agreeing to pass an act that no provost, dean of guild, or treasurer should in time coming hold office for more than two years (Lauder of Fountainhall, Historical Notices, pp. 57–81). In the same year articles of impeachment were also given in against Ramsay by the Earl of Eglinton, on the ground that he had obtained a letter from the king to ‘thrust Mr. Rockhead out of his employment as town clerk of Edinburgh without a formal and legal sentence,’ and that he had ‘represented to his majesty that the town had risen in a tumult against the king, and had thereupon procured another letter commanding the privy council to proceed against the chief citizens as malefactors’ (Mackenzie, Memoirs, pp. 250, 261, 262). Dreading the results of the impeachment, Lauderdale prevailed on Ramsay to resign the offices both of provost and of lord of session.

In 1685 Ramsay was named a commissioner of trade. He died at Abbotshall on 17 Jan. 1688. Ramsay purchased the estate of Abbotshall, Fifeshire, from the Scotts of Balwearie, and obtained the estate. of Waughton, Haddingtonshire, by marriage to the heiress of the Hepburns. He was succeeded in the baronetcy and estates by his son Andrew.

[Lauder of Fountainhall's Decisions, and Historical Notices (in the Bannatyne Club); Sir George Mackenzie's Memoirs; Grant's Hist. of the University of Edinburgh; Wilson's Memorials of Edinburgh; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice.]

T. F. H.