This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002
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RAMSAY BROTHERS: Marmaduke Francis (1860-1947), Robert Christian (1861-1957) and Edward Lauderdale (1865-1941), graziers and sportsmen, were born on 8 December 1860 and 20 December 1861 at Cheltenham, England, and on 27 March 1865 at Five Dock, Sydney, three of ten children of Robert Ramsay, a London-born pastoralist, and his wife Susan, née Lindsay Carnegie, who came from Scotland. Frank and Robert attended Ipswich Grammar School, Queensland, until 1874 when the family moved to England. The three boys were sent to Elstree Preparatory School, Berkshire, and Harrow School, Middlesex; Frank and Robert went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, but neither graduated.
Frank returned to Queensland in 1880. He gained pastoral experience at Wellshot station, near Barcaldine, before taking over management of Eton Vale, near Toowoomba. Robert joined him in 1883. When Lauderdale returned in 1886, they formed the Ramsay Bros partnership to manage the stations they had acquired with (Sir) Arthur Hodgson in north-west Queensland: Oondooroo and Elderslie (near Winton), Charlotte Plains (near Hughenden), Burleigh (on the Richmond River) and Disney (near Clermont). About 1887 Ramsay Bros acquired Hodgson's share of the 1027-sq.-mile (2660 km²) Oondooroo; 'regardless of cost', Robert developed it into the most progressive run in north-west Queensland by introducing private telephone-lines, shearing machines, Humber motorcycles and Serpollet steam-motorcars.
In 1893 the Hodgson-Ramsay partnership in Eton Vale was dissolved. Frank managed the Ramsay share of the property, appropriately named Harrow, and acquired interests in other stations on the Darling Downs. These holdings, including Harrow, were to be gradually resumed for closer settlement after 1897. On a visit to England, Frank married Alice Katherine Angélique Waterfield on 6 June 1895 at Canterbury Cathedral, Kent; they were to have six children. About 1908 he retired to England, settling at Lee Priory, Littlebourne, Kent, near his father's estate, Howletts. Harrow was then managed by Robert Ramsay who, on 23 October 1907 at St James's Cathedral, Townsville, had married 20-year-old Olive Zillah Voss; they were to have two sons and four daughters. When Harrow was sold in 1927, Robert also retired to Howletts. Lauderdale, who never married, remained in Queensland, acquired (1927) a small portion of Harrow station and named it Banchory.
Each brother was an avid sportsman. Frank had played senior cricket and football for Harrow, and cricket for Cambridge. He played—not 'as often as the locals would have liked'—for Toowoomba and the Darling Downs throughout the 1880s and 1890s; he represented Queensland against an Australian team in 1884, against an English XI in 1885, and against New South Wales in 1893, 1894 (as captain) and 1899. An indifferent right-hand batsman, he proved an economical right-arm, medium-pace bowler, but his action was sometimes questioned by critics. His greatest triumphs came in November 1897 when, as captain of a Toowoomba XVIII which played against A. E. Stoddart's touring English XI, he took five wickets for 71, including that of K. S. Ranjitsinhji for a duck, and in November 1899, when playing for Queensland against New South Wales, he captured Victor Trumper on 77. In later life Frank bred racehorses, and became a keen golfer and fisherman. Noted for his business ability, honesty and personal charm, he was best remembered as a cricketer, for 'no Queensland team was complete without him at least up to 1900 and possibly later'. He died on 31 December 1947 at Lee Priory and was cremated; his wife, their four daughters and one of their two sons survived him. Their elder son John Marmaduke died of wounds in World War I.
Robert also excelled at cricket (as a slow bowler) at Harrow, and at Cambridge where he was awarded a Blue in 1882. That year he took twelve wickets against a touring Australian team and was selected to play for the Gentlemen of England against the Australians. After going down from Cambridge, he represented Somerset. Although he played for Queensland against Australia in 1884, his pastoral pursuits precluded further representative or first-class engagements. A fervent imperialist, he was a founding member (1910) of the Brisbane group of the Round Table. He was a member of the Queensland Recruiting Committee from 1914, but resigned in August 1917 over conscription and became president of the Queensland Reinforcements Referendum Committee. He died on 25 June 1957 at Howletts and was cremated.
Less adept at cricket, Lauderdale played only in Toowoomba club competitions. He was a long-term patron (until 1939) of the Toowoomba Cricket Association. Encouraging the development of tennis, football, hockey, vigoro and basketball, he gave £500 to the Darling Downs Lawn and Hardcourt Tennis Association to build a complex at Toowoomba. He supported the local branch of the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland and the Toowoomba Choral Society. His main love, however, was horse-breeding and racing. At Banchory, he established a successful racehorse stud, mainly with stock imported from the family estate, Howletts. In the 1930s his horses won races at Toowoomba, and in Brisbane and Sydney. He was a member (1899-1941) of the Queensland Turf Club and a trustee of the Clifford Park (Toowoomba) racecourse.
Lauderdale died on 6 December 1941 at Toowoomba and was buried with Anglican rites in the local cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £211,232. He left money to various charities, relations and friends, £200 to every Banchory employee, £100 to each of his trainers, and £50 to each member of staff at the Queensland Club, to which he, like his brothers, had belonged. All debts owing at the time of his death were 'forgiven and released'.
M. French, 'Ramsay, Robert Christian (1861–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ramsay-robert-christian-12096/text20477, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 20 December 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002