Henry Ramsay (Indian Army officer)
General Sir Henry Ramsay, KCSI, CB. (1816–1893) was a general in the Indian Army, Commissioner of the Kumaon and Garwhal districts. He is regarded as one of the great soldier-administrators of British India. General Hon. Sir Henry Ramsay was born on 25 August 1816. He was the son of Lt.-Gen. Hon. John Ramsay and Mary Delise. He married Laura Lushington (daughter of the previous Commissioner of the Kumaon) in 1850 and together they had five children. He died on 16 December 1893 at the age of 77.
In 1840, Ramsay was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Kumaon, when a colonel in the Bengal Army. Ramsay was amongst the most able of the British officials posted to the Kumaon district, and came to enjoy the respect and support of the people. His modest and genial approach ensured the region remained loyal to the British. In 1856 Ramsay became Commissioner and worked another 28 years in the Garhwal and Kumaon.
The Commissioner was based in Almora, but moved the administration 23 km to the cooler Binsar during the summer. In 1866, Ramsay bought land measuring about 26 acres (110,000 m2) at Binsar from Sri Jai Sah of Almora. It was known as Binsar Estate, situated in Pargana Baramandal District, Almora (formerly called Kumaon District), now a heritage property named The Grand Oak Manor. Here he built his residential bungalow having a ball room, a private chapel and staff quarters from which he used to administer the region. The civil and criminal courts were also held here. He also bought another property near Binsar known as ‘Khali’, meaning empty, where a bungalow was built along with orchards though he never lived there. Khali is now a resort. After retiring in 1884, Ramsay had hoped to live in Binsar, but had to return to England. In the 1930s Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister lived in the house at Khali.
For his services in the Kumaon Ramsay was invested as Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India (K.C.S.I.) and later as a Companion of the Order of the Bath (C.B.). According to P Whalley, "Henry Ramsay not only consolidated the earlier gains (of previous Kumaon Commissioners' Traill, Gardner, Batten & Lushington) but propelled Kumaon-Garwhal into the mainstream of modern India".