Ramsay, William (fl.1660) (DNB00)

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For works with similar titles, see William Ramsay.

RAMSAY or RAMESEY, WILLIAM, M.D. (fl. 1660), physician and astrologer, son of David Ramsay [q. v.], the clock-maker, was born at Westminster on 13 March 1626–1627. He spelt his name Ramesey (which, he said, meant ‘joy and delight’), because he thought his ancestors came from Egypt. His mother was of English birth. After passing through several schools in and about London, he was to have gone to Oxford, but was prevented by the civil war. Accordingly he went to St. Andrews, where his studies were broken by the war; he then betook himself to Edinburgh, was driven out by the plague, and returned to London in April 1645 (Astrologia Restaurata, 1653, pref. pp. 28 sq.)

By the end of 1652 he had graduated M.D. at Montpellier, and was living with his father in Holborn. On 31 July he was admitted an extra licentiate of the London College of Physicians. He was physician in ordinary to Charles II, and was living at Plymouth, when he was admitted M.D. at Cambridge by royal mandate in June 1668 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1667–8, p. 407). His last publication is dated 1676, after which he disappears.

He published: 1. ‘Lux Veritatis; or, Christian Judicial Astrology vindicated,’ &c., 1651, 8vo (in reply to Nathaniel Holmes or Homes, D.D. [q. v.]; answered by W. Rowland, M.D.). 2. ‘A Short Discourse of the Eclipse of the Sunne,’ &c., 1651, 8vo. 3. ‘Vox Stellarum,’ &c., 1652, 8vo. 4. ‘Astrologia Restaurata … an Introduction to the Knowledge of the Stars,’ &c. 1653, fol. (portrait by Thoms Cross). 5. ‘Ὁ ἄνθρωπος κατ' ἐξοχὴλ [sic], or, Man's Dignity and Perfection,’ &c. 1661, 8vo (holds a traducian doctrine of the origin of the soul). 6. ‘De Venenis; or, a Discourse of Poisons,’ &c. 1663, 12mo (written in 1656; dedication to Charles II, dated 26 Oct. 1660); another edition, with title ‘Life's Security,’ &c. 1665, 8vo. 7. ‘Helminthologia; or Some Physical Considerations of Wormes,’ &c. 1668, 8vo. 8. ‘The Gentleman's Companion. … By a Person of Quality,’ &c. 1676, 8vo; also 12mo (anon.; dedication to Earl of Dalhousie, dated 15 June 1669).

In a paper of unknown authorship in the revived ‘Spectator,’ No. 582 (18 Aug. 1714), a ‘whimsical’ passage, ascribing the production of darkness to ‘tenebrificous and dark stars,’ is cited from ‘William Ramsay's Vindication of Astrology.’ This is the running title of the first book of No. 4 above; but no such passage is to be found in any of Ramesey's works above enumerated, nor does it tally with his ideas. A portrait of Ramsay, in a hat, is prefixed to his Helminthologia (cf. Granger, iii. 131). Three other engravings are mentioned by Bromley.

[Ramesey's Works; Munk's Coll. of Phys. 1861, i. 285 sq.]

A. G.