1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dalhousie, James Andrew Broun Ramsay, 1st Marquess of
DALHOUSIE, JAMES ANDREW BROUN RAMSAY, 1st Marquess and 10th Earl of (1812–1860), British statesman and Indian administrator, was born at Dalhousie Castle, Scotland, on the 22nd of April 1812. He crowded into his short life conspicuous public services in England, and established an unrivalled position among the master-builders of the Indian empire. Denounced on the eve of his death as the chief offender who failed to notice the signs of the mutiny of 1857, and even aggravated the crisis by his overbearing self-consciousness, centralizing activity and reckless annexations, he stands out in the clear light of history as the far-sighted governor-general who consolidated British rule in India, laid truly the foundations of its later administration, and by his sound policy enabled his successors to stem the tide of rebellion.
He was the third son of George Ramsay, 9th earl of Dalhousie (1770–1838), one of Wellington’s generals, who, after holding the highest offices in Canada, became commander-in-chief in India, and of his wife Christina Broun of Coalstoun, a lady of noble lineage and distinguished gifts. From his father he inherited a vigorous self-reliance and a family pride which urged him to prove worthy of the Ramsays who had “not crawled through seven centuries of their country’s history,” while to his mother he owed his high-bred courtesy and his deeply seated reverence for religion. The Ramsays of Dalhousie (or Dalwolsie) in Midlothian were a branch of the main line of Scottish Ramsays, of whom the earliest known is Simon de Ramsay, of Huntingdon, England, mentioned in 1140 as the grantee of lands in West Lothian at the hands of David I. A Sir William de Ramsay of Dalhousie swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296, but is famous for having in 1320 signed the letter to the pope asserting the independence of Scotland; and his supposed son, Sir Alexander Ramsay (d. 1342), was the Scottish patriot and capturer of Roxburgh Castle (1342), who, having been made warder of the castle and sheriff of Teviotdale by David II., was soon afterwards carried off and starved to death by his predecessor, the Douglas, in revenge. Sir John Ramsay of Dalhousie (1580–1626), James VI.’s favourite, is famous for rescuing the king in the Gowrie conspiracy, and was created (1606) Viscount Haddington and Lord Ramsay of Barns (subsequently baron of Kingston and earl of Holderness in England). The barony of Ramsay of Melrose was granted in 1618 to his brother George Ramsay of Dalhousie (d. 1629), whose son William Ramsay (d. 1674) was made 1st earl of Dalhousie in 1633.
The 9th earl was in 1815 created Baron Dalhousie in the peerage of the United Kingdom, and had three sons, the two elder of whom died early. His youngest son, the subject of this article, was small in stature, but his firm chiselled mouth, high forehead and masterful manner intimated a dignity that none could overlook. Yet his early life gave little promise of the dominating force of his character or of his ability to rise to the full height of his splendid opportunities. Nor did those brought him, and a proclamation annexing the province was therefore issued on the 13th of February 1856.
Only one important matter now remained to him before quitting office. The insurrection of the half-civilized Kolarian Santals of Bengal against the extortions of landlords and money-lenders had been severely repressed, but the causes of the insurrection had still to be reviewed and a remedy provided. By removing the tract of country from the ordinary regulations, enforcing the residence of British officers there, and employing the Santal headmen in a local police, he ensured a system of administration which afterwards proved eminently successful.
At length, after seven years of strenuous labour, Dalhousie, on the 6th of March 1856, set sail for England on board the Company’s “Firoze,” an object of general sympathy and not less general respect. At Alexandria he was carried by H.M.S. “Caradoc” to Malta, and thence by the “Tribune” to Spithead, which he reached on the 13th of May. His return had been eagerly looked for by statesmen who hoped that he would resume his public career, by the Company which voted him an annual pension of £5000, by public bodies which showered upon him every mark of respect, and by the queen who earnestly prayed for the “blessing of restored health and strength.” That blessing was not to be his. He lingered on, seeking sunshine in Malta and medical treatment at Malvern, Edinburgh and other places in vain obedience to his doctors. The outbreak of the mutiny led to bitter attacks at home upon his policy, and to strange misrepresentation of his public acts, while on the other hand John Lawrence invoked his counsel and influence, and those who really knew his work in India cried out, “Oh, for a dictator,” and his return “for one hour!” To all these cries he turned a deaf ear, refusing to embarrass those who were responsible by any expressions of opinion, declining to undertake his own defence or to assist in his vindication through the public press, and by his last directions sealing up his private journal and papers of personal interest against publication until fifty years after his death. On the 9th of August 1859 his youngest daughter, Edith, was married at Dalhousie Castle to Sir James Fergusson, Bart. In the same castle Dalhousie died on the 19th of December 1860; he was buried in the old churchyard of Cockpen.
Dalhousie’s family consisted of two daughters, and the marquessate became extinct at his death.
The detailed events of the period will be found in Sir William Lee-Warner’s Life of the Marquis of Dalhousie, K.T.; Sir E. Arnold’s Dalhousie’s Administration of British India; Sir C. Jackson’s Vindication of Dalhousie’s Indian Administration; Sir W. W. Hunter’s Dalhousie; Capt. L. J. Trotter’s Life of the Marquis of Dalhousie; the duke of Argyll’s India under Dalhousie and Canning; Broughton MSS. (British Museum); and parliamentary papers. (W. L.-W.)