Sir Charles Ross, 9th Baronet
Sir Charles Henry Augustus Frederick Lockhart Ross, 9th Baronet (4 April 1872 – 29 June 1942) was a Scottish inventor and commercial entrepreneur who invented the innovative and often controversial straight-pull actioned Ross rifle.
Ross was born at Balnagown Castle, the son of Sir Charles William Frederick Augustus Lockhart-Ross, 8th Baronet and his second wife, Rebecca Sophia Barnes of Tufnell Park. He inherited the Baronetcy on the death of his father in 1883 when he was aged 11. He was educated at Eton College and while he was there his mother's indulgences on him included "a magnificent ocean-going steam yacht, a large sailing yacht, the most superbly appointed and biggest steam launch for river use on the Thames, and a coach and four". When he came of age he instituted a lawsuit against his mother for having, during his minority, spent more of the revenues of his estates than she was entitled to by law or by the terms of the will. He was then at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1894 he rowed in the Cambridge boat in the Boat Race. He was known as a capable sharpshooter and big game hunter.
Ross became a lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders and served in the Second Anglo-Boer War. He designed the Ross rifle, which was initially used by his own Machine Gun Battery during the Boer War. He was a captain in Lovat Scouts Yeomanry from 1904 to 1913. He was an advisor on small arms to the Canadian Government and he designed and built the plant of the West Kootenay Power and Light Co. on the Kootenay River at Bonnington Falls. During World War I his Ross rifle was mass-produced for the Canadian army. Sporting rifles bearing the Ross name were also popular for a time after the First World War, as was the .280 (approximately 7 mm) Ross sporting rifle cartridge.
Ross was said to have been Britain's largest landowner, possessing Scottish lands extending to an estimated 366,000 acres (1,480 km2), with 3,000 tenants. At one point, in an attempt to evade United Kingdom taxation on the income from his arms manufacturing, Ross declared his Easter Ross, Scotland estate of Balnagown to be a territory of the United States of America, which led to his being branded an outlaw for a time by the British Government.
Ross married thrice: first to Winifred Berens (marriage dissolved in 1897); then to Patricia Ellison, who divorced him in 1930; and, in 1938, to his American secretary Dorothy Mercado. Dorothy inherited Balnagown Castle on Ross's death aged 70 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Balnagown Castle, not far from the north shore of the Cromarty Firth near Invergordon, and adjacent parts of the once-extensive Ross estate of Balnagown have been owned since 1972 by billionaire businessman and Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, who has restored the castle.
- Phillips, Roger F.; Dupuis, François J.; Chadwick, John A. (2002). The Ross Rifle Story. Toronto, Ontario: Michael W. Leonard. ISBN 978-0-9732416-0-0.
- Ward, John (17 August 2014), Why Canadians ditched Ross rifle during First World War: It’s ‘murder to send out men with such a weapon’, Canadian Press, retrieved 30 October 2014
- Leigh Rayment Baronets
- "Ross (post Lockhart-Ross), Sir Charles Henry Augustus Frederick Lockhart, Bart (RS891SC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Hartzell, Scott Taylor (26 November 2003). "Locals saw Sir Charles as brilliant, but 'a stinker'". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
- "Balnagown Castle: Site history". Historic Scotland Data Services. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
- von der Schulenburg, Fritz (1998). Balnagown: Ancestral Home of the Clan Ross – A Scottish Castle Through Five Centuries. Brompton Press. ISBN 978-1-900055-07-9.