Thomas Ramsay

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Thomas Bridgehill Wilson Ramsay (2 July 1877 – 20 October 1956) [1] was a Scottish Liberal Party, and National Liberal Party politician and Member of Parliament (MP).

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade-supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.

The National Liberal Party, known until 1948 as the Liberal National Party, was a liberal political party in the United Kingdom from 1931 to 1968. It broke away from the Liberal Party, and later co-operated and merged with the Conservative Party.

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Family and education

Ramsay was the son of A. W. Ramsay of Ayr. He was educated at Edinburgh University where he read law, obtaining MA and LL.B degrees. [2] He does not seem to have ever married.

Ayr town and former Royal Burgh situated on the west coast of Ayrshire in the Scotland

Ayr is a town situated on the southwest coast of Scotland. It is the administrative centre of the South Ayrshire council area and the historic county town of Ayrshire. With a population of 46,490 in 2015, Ayr is the largest settlement in Ayrshire and the 14th largest settlement in Scotland. The town is continuous with the smaller town of Prestwick to the north.

The degree of Master of Arts (MA) in Scotland typically refers to an undergraduate degree in humanities or social sciences awarded by one of the ancient universities of Scotland plus the University of Dundee and Heriot-Watt University. The first two years of the Scottish Master of Arts consist of ordinary Bachelor level courses; however, after these, students who are accepted to pursue the Honours route will complete more advanced subjects and write a dissertation in their fourth year. Students who choose to do a "general" degree will complete their third year at a lower level of specialisation, and receive a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or MA without Honours. For the postgraduate degree referred to in other places as "Master of Arts", Scottish universities usually award the degree of Master of Letters (MLitt) or Master of Science (MSc). Generally, non-ancient universities in Scotland, award arts degrees as Bachelor of Arts.

Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate law degree in England and most common law jurisdictions—except the United States and Canada—which allows a person to become a lawyer. It historically served this purpose in North America as well but was phased out in favour of the Juris Doctor degree. Bachelor of Laws is also the name of the law degree awarded by universities in Scotland and South Africa.

Career

Ramsay practiced law in London and was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1910, [3] where he was sometime president of the Debating Society [4] and as his practice developed he came to specialise in appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. [5]

Grays Inn one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, a person must belong to one of these Inns. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray's Inn Road in Central London, the Inn is both a professional body and a provider of office accommodation (chambers) for many barristers. It is ruled by a governing council called "Pension", made up of the Masters of the Bench, and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. The Inn is known for its gardens, or Walks, which have existed since at least 1597.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Judicial body in the United Kingdom

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories and Commonwealth countries. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Council, the Privy Council formerly acted as the court of last resort for the entire British Empire, and continues to act as the highest court of appeal for several independent Commonwealth nations, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories.

Scottish heritage

According to reports Ramsay was always a keen proponent of his native country, its institutions and traditions. He was sometime President and Chief of the Scottish Clans Association of London; a trustee and Elder and Session Clerk of St Columba’s Church, in Pont Street, Knightsbridge and was Treasurer and Convener of the Maintenance of the Ministry Fund of the Church of Scotland in England. [6] He was also a life member of many Scottish Societies. [7]

Scottish clan kinship group among the Scottish people

A Scottish clan is a kinship group among the Scottish people. Clans give a sense of shared identity and descent to members, and in modern times have an official structure recognised by the Court of the Lord Lyon, which regulates Scottish heraldry and coats of arms. Most clans have their own tartan patterns, usually dating from the 19th century, which members may incorporate into kilts or other clothing.

St Columbas Church, London Church in London

St Columba's Church is one of the two London congregations of the Church of Scotland. The church building, designed by Sir Edward Maufe, is located in Pont Street, Knightsbridge, near Harrod's department store. It was given Grade II listing by English Heritage in 1988.

Knightsbridge district in central London

Knightsbridge is a residential and retail district in central London, south of Hyde Park. It is identified in the London Plan as one of two international retail centres in London, alongside the West End.

Politics

Ramsay’s first attempt to enter Parliament came at the 1922 general election when he stood as a Lloyd George National Liberal candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency.

Parliament of the United Kingdom Supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament or Westminster Parliament, as well as domestically simply as Parliament or Westminster, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign (Queen-in-Parliament), the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

1922 United Kingdom general election

The 1922 United Kingdom general election was held on Wednesday 15 November 1922. It was the first general election held after most of Ireland left the United Kingdom to form the Irish Free State, and was won by the Conservatives led by Bonar Law, who gained an overall majority over Labour, led by J. R. Clynes, and a divided Liberal Party.

David Lloyd George Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, was a British statesman and Liberal politician. He is best known for his roles in mobilising British resources in the First World War, and then for leading Britain to victory over Germany.

Ramsay did not stand for election at the general elections of 1923 or 1924 but was adopted as candidate for the Liberal seat of Western Isles at the 1929 general election when the sitting MP Alexander Livingstone announced he was standing down. [8] At the election Ramsay faced a three-cornered contest against Labour’s John Macdiarmid, a retired railway auditor and Unionist candidate Captain Ian Moffat-Pender, a former Scottish Rugby international. Ramsay held the seat for the Liberals with a majority of 1,288 votes over Labour, with the Tories in third place. [9]

1923 United Kingdom general election

The 1923 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 6 December 1923. The Conservatives, led by Stanley Baldwin, won the most seats, but Labour, led by Ramsay MacDonald, and H. H. Asquith's reunited Liberal Party gained enough seats to produce a hung parliament. It was the most-recent, so far, UK general election in which a third party won more than 100 seats, or received more than 26% of the vote.

1924 United Kingdom general election

The 1924 United Kingdom general election was held on Wednesday 29 October 1924, as a result of the defeat of the Labour minority government, led by Ramsay MacDonald, in the House of Commons on a motion of no confidence. It was the third general election to be held in less than two years.

1929 United Kingdom general election General Election in the UK

The 1929 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 30 May 1929, and resulted in a hung parliament. It was the second of four general elections under the secret ballot and the first of three under universal suffrage in which a party lost the popular vote but gained a plurality of seats—the others of the four being 1874, 1951 and February 1974. In 1929 that party was Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party, which won the most seats in the House of Commons for the first time, but failed to get an overall majority. The Liberal Party led by David Lloyd George regained some of the ground it had lost in the 1924 election, and held the balance of power.

Ramsay seems to have been an assiduous member of the House of Commons. It was reported in The Times newspaper that he put in the most attendances at divisions for the Liberal Party in 1930 with 441 attendances out of a possible 484. [10]

National Liberal

In 1931 an economic crisis led to the formation of a National Government led by Labour prime minister Ramsay MacDonald and initially supported by the Conservative and Liberal parties. However the Liberals were increasingly divided over the issue of the National Government, particularly over the issue Free Trade. The official party led by Sir Herbert Samuel became more and more worried about the government’s stance on Free Trade and worried about the predominance of the Conservatives in the coalition. However a group of Liberal MPs led by Sir John Simon who were concerned to ensure the National Government had a wide cross-party base formed the Liberal National Party to more openly support MacDonald’s administration. Ramsay became one of the founder members of this group [11] and thereafter sat in the House of Commons as a Liberal National.

He held his seat at the 1931 general election in a straight fight with Moffat-Pender for the Conservatives. [12] At the 1935 general election, Ramsay was not opposed by an official Liberal candidate or his Unionist coalition partners, but he was faced by Labour's Malcolm Macmillan and an Independent candidate representing the Scottish National Party, Sir Alexander MacEwen. Macmillan won the seat with a majority of 1,345 votes and at 22 years of age became the youngest member of the House of Commons. [13]

Ramsay was one of the possible National candidates for the by-election which occurred in Ross and Cromarty when Sir Ian Macpherson announced he was to stand down on medical advice. [14] In the event the constituency chose Malcolm MacDonald the son of the Prime Minister to contest the by-election. Ramsay did not stand for election again.

Death

Ramsay died in London on 20 October 1956, aged 79 years. [15] A memorial service was held for him at St. Columba’s Church in Pont Street on 13 November 1956 at which his sister was the chief mourner and which was officiated by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland the Right Reverend Dr R F V Scott. [16]

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References

  1. http://www.leighrayment.com/commons/Wcommons2.htm
  2. Who was Who, OUP 2007
  3. The Times, 27 January 1910 p4
  4. The Times, 26 October 1911 p12
  5. The Times, 23 October 1956 p13
  6. Who was Who, OUP 2007
  7. The Times House of Commons 1931; Politico’s Publishing 2003 p120
  8. The Times, 6 May 1929 p11
  9. The Times House of Commons 1929; Politico’s Publishing 2003 p131
  10. The Times, 15 August 1930 p14
  11. David Dutton, Liberals in Schism: A History of the National Liberal Party; I B Tauris, 2008 p40
  12. The Times House of Commons 1931; Politico’s Publishing 2003 p119
  13. The Times House of Commons 1935; Politico’s Publishing 2003 p147
  14. The Times, 24 December 1935
  15. The Times, 23 October 1956 p4
  16. The Times, 14 November 1956 p12

Sources

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alexander Livingstone
Member of Parliament for Western Isles
19291935
Succeeded by
Malcolm Macmillan