Edward Ramsay

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Dean Ramsay

Rev Edward Bannerman Ramsay FRSE LLD (1793– 1872), usually referred to simply as Dean Ramsay, was a clergyman of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and Dean of Edinburgh in that communion from 1841, has a place in literature through his Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character, which had gone through 22 editions at his death. It is a book full of the personality of the author, and preserves many traits and anecdotes.


9 Darnaway Street, Edinburgh
Dean Ramsay's grave, St Johns

He was born in Aberdeen on 31 January 1793, the fourth son of Sir Alexander Ramsay (Baronet of Balmain and Fasque) and his wife, Elizabeth Bannerman.[1]

He spent much of his early life in Yorkshire, attending the Cathedral Grammar School in Durham from 1806.[2] He then attended St Johns College in Cambridge University, graduating in 1816. He was then appointed Curate of Redden, Somerset. In 1824 he came to Edinburgh to serve as Curate to St George's on York Place before being appointed minister of St. John's Episcopal Church on Princes Street in 1830, where he then remained until death. This appointment followed the death of Bishop Daniel Sandford, founder of the church. His house from this period was a very large townhouse on the edge of the Moray Estate, 7 Darnaway Street, only five minutes walk from his church through Charlotte Square.[3]

In 1838 he formed a new branch of the church, thereafter known as the Scottish Episcopal Church. In 1841 he was elected Dean of the Diocese of Edinburgh.

Over and above his religious activity he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1827, his proposer being Sir David Brewster. He served as the Society's Vice-President from 1859 to 1862.[4]

He was also one of the founders of Glenalmond College.[5]

He died in Edinburgh on 27 December 1872. His memorial service was led by Rt Rev Henry Cotterill. He was buried in the eastern enclosure attaching the church.

His public memorial, an imposing 7.3m high Celtic cross in Shep granite with bronze sculpted panels, is on Princes Street in the grounds of Church of St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh facing Castle Street. It was designed by the architect Rowand Anderson and built by Farmer and Brindley of London. The bronze panels are by F.A. Skedmore. It was erected in 1879.[6]


The Episcopal Church still runs a charitable trust, The Dean Ramsay Fund, in his name.


He co-wrote "Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character" with his friend Cosmo Innes. It was only published in 1875 after his death.


His brother was Admiral William Ramsay KSB (1798-1871).

He married Isabella Cochrane, daughter of Thomas Cochrane, Speaker of the House of Representatives in Nova Scotia, in 1829. They had no children.


The Dean Ramsay Memorial on Princes Street
  • A Catechism Compiled and Arranged for the Use of Young Persons (1835)
  • The Christian's Almoner (1840)
  • Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character (1858)


External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource