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George Ramsay (English Army officer)

Lieutenant-General George Ramsay (1652 – 5 September 1705) was a Scottish professional soldier who served with the British Brigade in the French army from 1674-1676, then with the Dutch Scots Brigade from 1676-1691.

Lieutenant-General, the Honourable George Ramsay
Lt Gen George Ramsay.jpg
George Ramsay by Sir John Baptist Medina
Dalhousie Castle
Died2 September 1705 (aged 52–53)
Allegiance Kingdom of France 1674-1677
Dutch Republic Dutch Republic 1676-1691
 England 1691-1705
Years of service1674 - 1705
RankLieutenant-General February 1703
UnitThe Royal English Regiment, British Brigade 1674-1677
Third Scots Regiment, Dutch Scots Brigade 1678-1688
Scots Footguards, 1691-1705
Commands heldCommander in Chief, Scotland May 1702 - September 1705
Battles/warsFranco-Dutch War; French service
Entzheim, 1674; Altenheim, 1675;
Franco-Dutch War; Dutch service
Cassel 1677, Saint-Denis 1678
First Jacobite Rising 1689-1692
Killiecrankie 1689
Nine Years' War 1688-1697
Steenkerque, 1692; Landen, 1693; Namur, 1695;

In November 1688, he went to England with William III and fought in the 1689-1692 Jacobite Rising in Scotland. He returned to Flanders in 1690 during the Nine Years War, was promoted Brigadier General in March 1691 and Colonel of the Scots Footguards in September. After the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Scotland in 1702 and died at Edinburgh in September 1705.


Ramsay's birthplace, Dalhousie Castle

George Ramsay was born in 1652, third son of George Ramsay, 2nd Earl of Dalhousie (1618-1674) and his wife, Anne Fleming. Two of his brothers also served in the military; Robert, who died in 1678 and John, a Captain in the Dutch Scots Brigade, killed in 1694.[1]

He married Anna Boxel, the daughter of a Dutch army officer. Her mother, Johanna van Rielen, in 1683 remarried Sir Charles Graham, who later succeeded Ramsay as Colonel of the Third Scottish Regiment of the Scots Brigade.[2] Ramsay and Anna Boxel had one daughter, Johanna, who died shortly after her father.[3]


France and Holland; 1674-1688Edit

The 1638-1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms created strong resistance in Scotland and England to a professional army and those who wanted a military career had to do so abroad.[4] Foreign soldiers were widely used in all armies; in 1672, 12 out of 58 French infantry battalions were recruited outside France, as were 9 of its 87 cavalry regiments.[5] Loyalties were often based on religion or personal relationships, with officers moving between armies; French Marshall Turenne (1611-1675), perhaps the best general of his time, served with the Dutch from 1625-1630.[6]

From 1674-1675, Ramsay served in the Rhineland under Turenne, often considered the best general of his time

In the 1670 Treaty of Dover, Charles II of England agreed to support a French attack on the Dutch Republic and provide 6,000 troops for the French army. Louis XIV paid him £230,000 per year for this, a secret provision not revealed until 1775.[7] With the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1672, Ramsay joined the Royal English Regiment, raised as part of the brigade. Considered unreliable if asked to fight the Protestant Dutch, during the Franco-Dutch War it served in the Rhineland against the Holy Roman Empire.[8]

William of Orange, Ramsay's commander in the Scots Brigade and post 1688.

Many transferred to the Dutch Anglo-Scots Brigade after the Anglo-Dutch War was ended by the February 1674 Treaty of Westminster.[9] The Franco-Dutch War continued until 1678 and to retain his subsidies, Charles encouraged others to remain in French service.[10] Ramsay was commissioned into the second battalion of the Royal English and served in Turenne's 1674-1675 campaigns. He fought at Entzheim in 1674 and Altenheim in 1675, where the Brigade suffered heavy losses as part of the rearguard.[11]

It proved impossible to replace losses from battle and disease, while service in the French military was extremely unpopular; of 500 men recruited for one regiment in 1678, 213 deserted within two months.[12] The Brigade was formally dissolved and Ramsay transferred to the Anglo-Scots Brigade; this had served with the Dutch army since the late 16th century and normally contained three Scottish and three English regiments. Withdrawn in 1672, its English units were restored, while the proportion of Scots in the others was markedly increased.[13] Ramsay joined the Third Scots Regiment or 'Colyear's,' fighting at Cassel and Saint-Denis, where he was badly wounded.[14]

The war ended with the 1678 Treaties of Nijmegen but French expansion continued and Ramsay was promoted Major in early 1685.[15] In June, William sent the Brigade to help his father-in-law James II suppress simultaneous rebellions in Scotland and England; these quickly collapsed and it returned without seeing action.[16] In early 1688, James demanded William repatriate the entire Brigade; he refused but used the opportunity to remove officers of doubtful loyalty.[17] Among them was Ramsay's Colonel, John Wauchope, who became a senior Jacobite commander in the 1689-1691 Williamite War in Ireland.[18] As Lieutenant-Colonel, Ramsay commanded the regiment when it accompanied William to England in the November 1688 Glorious Revolution and was appointed Colonel in December.[19]

Scotland and Europe; 1688-1705Edit

The Camerons overwhelm Mackay's line at Killiecrankie, July 1689

James went into exile on 23 December after his army deserted him and on 4 January 1689, William appointed the Scots Brigade senior officer Hugh Mackay, commander in Scotland. Ramsay's regiment went with Mackay and after James landed in Ireland on 12 March, another former Scots Brigade officer, John Graham, Viscount Dundee, launched a Scottish rising in his support. Despite their victory at Killiecrankie in July, Dundee's death and lack of reinforcements prevented the Jacobites exploiting it; after their defeat at the Battle of Cromdale in May 1690, the campaign largely focused on minor policing actions, carried out by locally-raised troops.[20]

Carriden House, Ramsay's home post 1697

Ramsay spent the rest of the Nine Years War in Flanders; in March 1691, he was promoted Brigadier-General, and commanded a Brigade containing six battalions of British foot.[21] In September, he took over as Colonel of the Scots Footguards, after its commander and his former colleague James Douglas died of fever.[22]

Ramsay was present at the battles of Steenkerque in 1692 and Landen, or Neerwinden in 1693, being promoted Major-General in March 1694. During the recapture of Namur in 1695, he led the attack on 3 July that captured the Heights of Bouge, with the assault force suffering over 4,000 casualties.[23] After the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, the regiment returned to England, before moving to Scotland in 1699.[24]

Ramsay and his wife took up residence at Carriden House, in Falkirk, after selling Anna's Dutch possessions in 1697, mainly landholdings in Zeeland.[25] When the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1702, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Scotland; Marlborough described him as 'a very brave man and a good officer.'[26] Promoted Lieutenant-General in February 1703, he died in Edinburgh on 7 September 1705.[27]


  1. ^ Balfour Paul, James (1910). The Scots Peerage, Volume III. pp. 100–101.
  2. ^ city archive Tilburg, notary Cloosterman, will of Johanna van Rielen, 17 October 1696.
  3. ^ Balfour Paul, p.101. Balfour gives her name as Jean.
  4. ^ Chandler, David, Beckett Ian (editor), Childs, John (1996). The Restoration Army in Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0192803115.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Childs, John (1984). "The British Brigade in France 1672-1678". History. 69 (227): 386. JSTOR 24419689.
  6. ^ "Turenne 1611-1675". Musée virtuel du Protestantisme. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  7. ^ Kenyon, JP (1983). History Men. Littlehampton Book Services Ltd. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0297780816.
  8. ^ Childs, John (2014). General Percy Kirke and the Later Stuart Army (2015 ed.). Bloomsbury Academic. p. 16. ISBN 978-1474255141.
  9. ^ Davenport, Frances (1917). European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies. Washington, D.C. Carnegie Institution of Washington. p. 238. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  10. ^ Childs, The British Brigade in France 1672-1678, p. 387
  11. ^ "The English Brigade in the French Service 1672-1678". League of Augsburg. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  12. ^ Childs, The British Brigade in France 1672-1678, p. 388
  13. ^ Miggelbrink Joachim (2002). McKilliop, Andrew; Murdoch, Steve (eds.). Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900. Brill. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-9004128231.
  14. ^ Hollandse Mercurius. Haerlem, Gedruckt by P. Casteleyn, 1651-77, A. Casteleyn. 1678. p. 184.
  15. ^ Childs, John. "Ramsay, George 1652-1705". Oxford DNB. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001 (inactive 19 August 2019). Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  16. ^ Childs, General Percy Kirke and the Later Stuart Army, p.72
  17. ^ Childs, John (1984). "The Scottish brigade in the service of the Dutch Republic, 1689 to 1782". Documentatieblad Werkgroep Achttiende Eeuw.: 61. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  18. ^ Spiers, Edward M (ed), Crang, Jeremy (2014). Military History of Scotland. Edinburgh University Press. p. 315. ISBN 978-0748694495.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Childs, Ramsay, George 1652-1705, Oxford DNB Online
  20. ^ Mackay, Dr James (1999). Scottish History. Bath: Parragon. pp. 228–229. ISBN 0-75253-038-0.
  21. ^ Cannon, Richard (1846). Historical Record of the First, or Royal Regiment of Foot: Containing an Account of the Origin of the Regiment in the Reign of King James VI of Subsequent Services to 1846 (2012 ed.). Forgotten Books. p. 69.
  22. ^ "Colonels in the 3rd Regiment of Footguards". British Empire. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  23. ^ Walton, Clifford (1896). History of the British Standing Army (2010 ed.). Nabu Press. pp. 293–294. ISBN 978-1149754764.
  24. ^ Folker, Martin. "3rd Foot Guards (Or Scotch Guards)". War of the Spanish succession. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  25. ^ regional archive Voorne-Putten, a series of deeds tagged George Ramsay.
  26. ^ Childs, John (2004). "Ramsay, George ca 1652-1795". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/66559. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. ^ Balfour Paul, p.101.


  • Balfour, Paul; The Scots Peerage, Volume III;
  • Cannon, Richard; Historical Record of the First, or Royal Regiment of Foot: Containing an Account of the Origin of the Regiment in the Reign of King James VI of Subsequent Services to 1846; (2016 ed.);
  • Childs, John; General Percy Kirke and the Later Stuart Army; (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014);
  • Childs, John; The British Army of William III, 1689-1702; (Manchester University Press, 1987);
  • Childs, John; The British Brigade in France 1672-1678; (Journal of History, Volume 69, Issue 227, 1984);
  • Dalton, Charles; The Scots Army 1661-1688; (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1909);
  • Davenport, Frances; European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies; (1917)
  • Glozier, Matthew; Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour; (Brill, 2004);
  • Harris, Tim; Scott [formerly Crofts], James, duke of Monmouth and first Duke of Buccleuch (1649–1685); (Oxford DNB);
  • Kenyon, JP; The History Men; the Historical Profession in England since the Renaissance; (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1993);
  • Lynn, John; The Wars of Louis XIV, 1667-1714 (Modern Wars In Perspective); (Longman, 1996);
  • Mackay, Dr James; Scottish History; (Bath: Parragon, 1999);
  • Miggelbrink, Joachim (author) McKilliop, Andrew and Murdoch, Steve, eds; Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900; (Brill, 2002);
  • Spiers, Edward M (ed), Crang, Jeremy; Military History of Scotland; (Edinburgh University Press, 2014);
  • Walton, Clifford; History of the British Standing Army; (1896, Nabu Press, 2010 (ed);

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Livingstone, Viscount Teviot
Commander-in-Chief, Scotland
Succeeded by
David Leslie, Earl of Leven
Preceded by
Hon. James Douglas
Colonel of the Scots Regiment of Foot Guards
Succeeded by
The Marquis of Lothian
Preceded by
John Wauchope
Colonel of the Third Scottish Regiment, Dutch Scots Brigade
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Graham