52 Ancestors : Week 3 – Long Line

52 Ancestors : Week 3 – Long Line

The writing prompt for Week # 3 is Long line…

Well, there is a long line of the name Ramsay in my husband’s family tree. That is probably the longest line that I have been able to trace back so far in our trees.

In carrying on the family tradition, we used the name Ramsay as a middle name for our son. At the time (almost 19 years ago) all that I knew was that it was my husband’s grandfather’s middle name. A man that he looked up to and talked about often.

Ramsay is also the Scottish Clan that his family belongs to.

So far, I have been able to track the Ramsay line all the way back to the 1200’s ! So I thought, that’s appropriate for “long line.”

My disclaimer here is that the information is only as good as the internet is reliable…lol. There is much left to confirm and discover.

Sir Edmund de Ramsay 1255-1312 (23rd great-grandfather)

William de Ramsay 1290-1338 (22nd GGF)

Patrick Ramsay 1315-1377 (21st GGF)

Alexander Ramsay 1335-1377 (20th GGF)

Alexander Ramsay 1360-1402 (19th GGF) *killed at Homildon Hill*

Alexander Ramsay 1388-1459 (18th GGF)

Sir Alexander Ramsay II 1413-1456 (17th GGF)

Alexander Ramsay III 1438-1483 (16th GGF)

Alexander Ramsay 1465-1513 (15th GGF) *slain at Flodden*

William Thomas Ramsay 1480-1499 (14th GGF)

John Ramsay 1520- (13th GGF)

John Ramsay 1541-1618 (12th GGF)

Robert Ramsay 1594-1672 (11th GGF)

Robert Ramsay 1620-1687 (10th GGF)

James Ramsay 1648-1736 (9th GGF)

William Ramsay 1685- (8th GGF)

James Ramsay 1714-1786 (7th GGF)

James Ramsay 1740-1781 (6th GGF)

Robert Ramsay 1774- (5th GGF)

James Ramsay 1803- (4th GGF)

Robert Ramsay 1826- (3rd GGF)

Robert Ramsay 1854-1923 (2 x GGF)

Robina Ramsay * 1884-1965 (Great Grandmother)

Robert Ramsay Rodger * 1912-1990 (Grandfather)

Lorna Evelynne Rodger 1945-2018 (Mother)

My Husband – You are the son of Lorna Evelynne Rodger

Ramsay Motto – ORA ET LABORA (Pray and Work)

I still have so much more research to do… sometimes it’s fun to see just how far back you can go!! I feel what I need and want to work on is filling in all of the information. Tying it in with history is what makes family history even more exciting to me. Where were your relatives during important moments in our history? What role did they play? Where did they live and work? What were their lives like?

Tantallon Castle, North Berwick, Scotland

Tantallon Castle, North Berwick, Scotland

In July of 2017 we went on a family adventure to the United Kingdom. We landed in London, rented a car and headed for Scotland. We wanted to make our way up to Scotland as quick as we could and then just take our time exploring. We knew that my husband’s grandfather was born in Kirkcaldy and my grandmother was born in Helensburgh. We had a few sites picked out that we wanted to find and research as far as family history goes.. but mostly we were just happy to drive around, spend quality time together, explore and visit as many castles and historic sites as we could!

We were headed north on the A1 and decided to stay as close to the coast line as possible. It was just so breathtaking. So we detoured up highway A198 and stumbled upon our first castle in Scotland. We met a nice couple of gents that worked in the Visitor Centre… I was beyond excited to learn that one of them worked as an extra on my favourite TV show… Outlander. Eek! He showed me a picture on his cell phone of Sam Heughan and himself. OMG.

Anyhow… we learned that Tantallon Castle was built in the mid 14th century by William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas. That’s about 670 years ago.

Tantallon Castle looks out over the Firth or Fourth (say that five times fast) and directly out at Bass Rock.

Unfortunately, we didn’t know any of the history beforehand of this castle when we visited it. As I said, this stop wasn’t planned, however we were just amazed by the construction and age. I’d never seen anything like it at all back home in Canada. We bought an explorer pass right there and then with the intention of visiting as many castles as we could along the way. Let the adventure begin!

It wasn’t until several months after we were back home in Canada that we were able to make the connection between my husband’s family and the Douglas Clan that held this fortress so long ago. As it turns out the very same William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas is my husband’s 20th Great-Grandfather!! Seriously.

We made a breakthrough in his family tree and were able to connect the Ramsay side of his family with the Douglas family lineage. Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie (my hubby’s 16th Great Grandfather) married Isobel Douglas and well, as they say, the rest is history. And what a history it is…in there I found a Sheriff of Edinburgh, Sir James the Good – friend and deputy of Robert the Bruce, various Lords and Ladies, Knights and Countesses. I have so much learn and so much more to share. Stay tuned. I think another trip to Scotland is in our future.

Just a man in his family castle…no big deal.
Art, Peace and Hope

Art, Peace and Hope

My paternal Grandmother, Margaret Hope Newitt was born in Helensburgh, Scotland. I wrote a bit about her growing up just north of there in Shandon in my previous post The Abandoned Mansion.

She passed away in September of 1985 which unbelievably was 34 years ago. Despite having lost her so long ago I have lots of really beautiful memories and art surrounding me to reflect on her. If I had to think of one word that described her best for me I would say that she was an artist. She taught art for years in Burnaby, British Columbia where she lived for most of her adult life. How I wish I could go back in time and be a student in one of her classes. My fondest memories are of listening to her whistle (inwards) while she painted.

The View From Nelson Island

Her gifts were almost always homemade, which to me are the best kinds of gifts. She made scrapbooks of family photos that she detailed with her own drawings or paintings. She passed on her love of the arts, I hope that she would be proud that I also like to make homemade cards and create scrapbooks to pass on our memories. It’s something I hope to work on more.

She was always creating…she even had a loom in her living room at one point. She was a collector of owls, I’m lucky enough to have a few of them around. She also collected fossils, dinosaur bones and rocks. How cool is this for a Grandma?! Every visit to her home in Burnaby where she lived included a trip to the basement where my brother and I felt like we were on an adventure Indiana Jones style. She was a rock hound and it was this hobby that gave her the unusual nickname “Gramma Rocks.” And rock, she did.

Like all of my grandparents, I wish that I knew her when she was younger, before she became Gramma Rocks. I’ve been told that she worked for a while for James Joyce the author, I believe in his office in Paris. During the Second World War she joined the ATS. This was the Auxillary Territorial Service … which was the women’s branch of the British Army. She reached the rank of Lieutenant which meant that my Grandfather, Walter Edmund Apps who was a pilot and Staff Sgt. (in the Glider Pilot Regiment of the Royal Air Force) would have had to salute her. Gawd, I love this thought.

At the end of the war she and Poppa and their young son left England forever, embarking on their new lives in Canada. They dedicated the rest of their lives rallying for Peace. And why wouldn’t they, hadn’t they seen enough violence and death with all the war in their lives? She lost 3 uncles in WW1. Poppa lost a brother and countless friends in WW2. Any glider pilot that was lucky enough to have survived D-Day would likely go onto Arnhem. So. Many. Lives. Lost.

An Appeal to the Mothers of the Whole World

“She was a veteran of World War II and always worked for world peace and harmony through her art and poetry.”

James Rodger

James Rodger

This is a blog post that I have been working on for quite some time now. I was struggling to post it because I want to have it all right, somehow I feel responsible to make sure that the information I put out there is correct and complete. However, something I’ve re-learned in the past week helped me get over that hang up. I will never have all the answers, but sharing what I do know may help somebody else learn. I recently received a message on Ancestry from a cousin of my husbands who is excited to learn more about the Ramsay and Rodger side of her family. She is just beginning on her journey to trace her family history. I also want to learn more, everything that I can and fill in all the blanks, so hopefully sharing this will help us both! Please enjoy my (not yet complete) post about a very special man.

Below is a photo of my husband’s maternal great grandfather, James Rodger.

James Rodger 1884-1944

Those eyes of his are so familiar to me, my husband and his mom have the same big brown eyes.

He was born in Crail, Fife, Scotland on August 9, 1884.

Then in the 1919 Scotland Electoral Registers (below) we see he and his wife Robina living on 3 South Street, Leven, Fife.
His occupation is listed as soldier.

At this point they already had 4 children as follows:
William Fletcher Rodger born 1909,
Jemima Rodger born 1911,
Robert Ramsay Rodger (my husband’s grandfather) born 1912 and
James Ramsay Rodger born 1918.

So, my next question was how did James and his family end up in Canada?

This is what I was curious about. So, I did a bit of research and discovered that in the interwar years, the Overseas Settlement Committee provided assistance to ‘suitable people,’ many of whom were Scots, who wanted to settle in one of Britain’s dominions. There was promise of plenty of land, jobs and opportunities in Canada. Recruiters were sent with attractive posters and pamphlets to entice emigrants with free passage.

On the below “Declaration of Passenger to Canada” we can see that the ship name is the S.S. Metagama.

The date of sailing was July 1st, 1921. James’ age is listed as 36. His intended occupation is a farm labourer and his intention is to settle in Canada. His passage was paid by “Overseas Settlement.”

This is a scan of the actual postcard that James sent back to his wife, Robina in Scotland.
The inscription on the back of the postcard is so sweet.
July 1921 Arrived all safe at Liverpool as you will see – making ready – it is about 1/2 past ___ Yours faithfully. J.R.”

I know that the following year, his wife Robina and their children also came to Canada to join him. Then in 1923 the youngest child was born, Charles Rodger.

I wish I knew more about his life here in Canada. Someday I hope to learn more. What I do know is that the decision he made to come here affected many generation of Rodgers, Ramsays and Wrights and I, for one am grateful for his bravery! For me, telling his story and passing it onto future generations keeps his memory alive.

There was so much information on this “Certificate of Registration of Death” that was new to me. I was unsure of James Rodger’s parents names, as there are a few on Ancestry. But here they are listed as William Rodger and Annie Wallace. This was a new last name for me to trace! So exciting! I also learned that his occupation was listed as a janitor for Hydro Electric. Sadly, James was only 59 years old when he passed away from Coronary Thrombosis.

He was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario. I have a request in with Find A Grave for a photo. ***Update – thanks to my brother-in-law who went to Mount Pleasant this morning, cleaned up the marker stone and sent out a picture for me. Family is the best.***

Gone is the face we loved so dear,

silent is the voice we loved to hear;

Too far away for sight or speech,

But not too far for thought to reach.

Sweet to remember him who once was here,

And who, though absent is just as dear.

Lovingly remembered by his Wife and Family.

The Abandoned Mansion

The Abandoned Mansion

Postcard (circa 1910)

This amazing building pictured above is where my Grandmother lived as a young girl. Can you imagine?! It is located in Shandon, which is a small town approximately 50 km north-east of Glasgow, Scotland and was appropriately named “Shandon House”. It was originally built in 1849 “in the Scots Baronial style by eminent architect Charles Wilson, whose work included many of the renowned buildings on Glasgow’s Woodlands Hill”. It is quite the sight to see.

In 1910, Shandon House was bought by John Richard Hill Newitt, my Paternal Great-Grandfather, who was a Cambridge University graduate. He had come to Helensburgh, Scotland in 1900 as headmaster of Larchfield School.

Glasgow Herald Aug 24 1900

Some years later, he made the decision to set out on his own. He bought the property in Shandon, which had been lying empty for some time. His wife, my Great-Grandmother, Florence Lilian (Carre) Newitt was also a schoolteacher. Together they opened up Shandon House – Preparatory School for Boys.

I’ve always known that my grandmother, Margaret Hope (Newitt) Apps was born in Helensburgh, Scotland (about 5km south of Shandon). What I never really understood though, until now, was why she was born in Scotland because both the Newitt and Carré families are from England and France, respectively.

My Grandmother is the young child in the centre of the bottom photo, sitting on my Great-Grandmother’s lap. (Taken in 1915)

It seems the property in Shandon had changed hands quite a few times, before and after the Newitt’s lived there. I also found this article about the property in the Glasgow Herald from 1882 (see below). It give me an idea of size of the property that they had to maintain. I’m sure it was quite the task to keep up with the house, property, starting up and running a school. They also had 3 daughters born in 1909, 1914 and 1916. Life must have been busy for the Newitt family.

Glasgow Herald Jan 20 1882

Also, lest we forget…World War I broke out on July 28th, 1914 and lasted for four years until November 11th, 1918. During that time, my Great-Grandmother lost 3 brothers to the war – Maurice Tennant Carré in 1915, Edward Mervyn Carré in 1916 and Gilbert Trenchard Carré in 1917. It would seem that the Newitt family did indeed have their fair share of struggles as I’ve also found a petition of Sequestration of his estates in the Edinburgh Gazette on August 8th, 1916. Then in 1918, I found a record of them living in East Grinstead, England. I’ve read that they were forced to file for bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, this beautiful building has been sitting empty for many years. Some years ago it was purchased by the Ministry of Defence likely due to its proximity to Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde. From what I could read, it was to form a new barrack for Royal Marines charged with guarding the base. It has also been listed on the Buildings at Risk register.

When our family went to Scotland in 2017, this site was most definitely on our list of things to see. We “may or may not” have gone to take a closer look. It was an amazing site to see, but it was also frustrating. It’s crazy to think that this beautiful building is left to just sit and deteriorate year after year.

Another interesting thing to note; directly in front of the derelict Shandon House property is the Faslane Peace Camp. This is a permanent peace camp that has been present in the same area since 1982! According to their website this is “the worlds longest running active protest site and a frontline in the fight against nuclear weapons of mass destruction”. They are protesting the “United Kingdom’s Trident nuclear program”.