Ramsay, William (fl.1356-1360) (DNB00)

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For works with similar titles, see William Ramsay.

RAMSAY, WILLIAM, of Colluthie, Earl of Fife (fl. 1356–1360), was descended from a Fifeshire family who possessed the lands of Colluthie and Leuchars-Ramsay. On his marriage about 1356 to Isabel, countess of Fife, and daughter of Duncan Macduff, earl of Fife, he was invested with the earldom of Fife by the cinctus of the belt and sword. Either this Sir William Ramsay or possibly Sir William Ramsay of the house of Dalhousie accompanied the Earl of Douglas to France in 1356, and fought against the English under Edward the Black Prince at the battle of Poitiers on 19 Sept. 1356. Ramsay is stated to have succeeded in effecting the escape of Archibald de Douglas, brother of the knight of Liddesdale, who was taken prisoner at the battle, by pretending to rate him soundly for having killed his master and decked himself out in his clothes (Wyntoun, ed. Laing, ii. 496).

On 27 June 1358 a papal dispensation was granted for the marriage of David de Berclay to Elizabeth, countess of Fife. Burnett, in a preface to the ‘Exchequer Rolls of Scotland’ (vol. i. p. clvii), assumes that the lady here referred to was Isabel, Ramsay's wife, and suggests that her marriage with Ramsay must have been dissolved by divorce; but, if so dissolved, it does not seem to have been dissolved at so early a date, for he is mentioned as earl of Fife—a title which he bore in his wife's right—in March 1359–60 (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, i. 602, 603, 606, 608). It is more probable that Countess Elizabeth was Ramsay's daughter by a former marriage (Complete Peerage, ed. G. E. C., sub ‘Fife’). Ramsay either died or was divorced some time about 1360; for in this year the Countess of Fife married a second husband. The Lord William Ramsay of Colluthie who subsequently appears in numerous entries in the ‘Exchequer Rolls,’ was doubtless Ramsay's son by a former marriage (Exchequer Rolls, i. 609). The line of the Ramsays of Colluthie ended in Eliza- beth Ramsay who married David Carnegie, who through her gained possession of the lands of Leuchars-Ramsay and Colluthie. Carnegie by a second marriage had two sons, John and David, who were raised to the peerage by the titles respectively of Earl of Northesk and Earl of Southesk.

[Wyntoun's Chron.; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vol. iv.; Complete Peerage by G. E. C.; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 516.]

T. F. H.