Ramsay, John “The Yankee”

Birth Name Ramsay, John “The Yankee”
Gender male
Age at Death about 54 years


John is said to have been the second son of John Ramsay Sr and Margaret Taylor, born in Ugadale, Scotland. There was only one baptismal record found for John, son of John Ramsay in the Scottish records that are available online, and it doesn't seem to be this John. Other trees say that he must have been born after the family's arrival on the Island, but then he would have been serving as a private in the British army when he was 10 years old - that seems a bit young to be anything but an ensign.

The Ramsay family definitely left from Campbellton, Argyll, Scotland, arriving in Malpeque, Prince Edward Island in 1770, on the Annabella. John Ramsay Sr. was said to have brought 11 people with him, which would easily include John.

It is said that John Ramsay left the Island, to fight in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), and his service with the Royal Highland Emigrants and the LOYAL AMERICAN REGIMENT is documented. Depending on how old he was when he signed up - say somewhere between age 15-20 - then he was born sometime between 1755-1760.

His daughter Mary was fifteen when her father died. Some of her reminiscences were recorded. One story was that her father "was marching through a town in America. A young child was observed running along the street before the soldiers. The sight was sufficient to have awakened pity in any one possessing the ordinary feelings of humanity yet a ruffian was about thrusting the child through with his bayonet when Ramsay interposed. Taking the child in his arms he was carrying it along with him when he met the father seeking it with anxious solicitude. On receiving his child from the arms of the soldier he slipped a guinea into his hand and went away with his treasure rejoicing." Another was from the storming of Fort Montgomery, where Ramsay's hearing was impaired. "On some occasions during the war he said the blood of the slain used to run in over their low-mouthed shoes."

In 1787 John Ramsay made a petition to the Council and Governor of PEI. He said he had been a soldier in the Loyal America Regt. commanded by Bevely Robertson, Esq. and that he "has applied often for his rights with little satisfaction, and cannot understand why they have not been granted", so it seems likely that he is the John Ramsay on the 1841 list of PEI Loyalists. He was given the nickname "The Yankee".

Given that there is no baptismal record for John, and no passenger list for the Annabella, it is also possible that John was a Scot who had emigrated to the United States, and who came to the Island after the revolution, with no close connection to the other Ramsay families in Prince County. Although, why settle on the Island after the war if he had no connection?

After the war, he became an adjutant in the Prince County Regiment of local militia.

According to the histories of Hamilton, and Malpeque, PEI, John married Catherine McKay of Malpeque. His grandson said the same in his memoirs. Their children were Mary, Nellie, Donald, Christie Ann, John, Alexander, Jennie, and Sarah, which agrees with the Thomas Ramsay booklet published in 1920.

The Island Register Ramsay family tree says: Mary, born 1789; Donald, 1794; Christie Ann, 1798; John, 1800; Jennie, 1802; Sarah, 1804; Nellie, 1805; and Alexander, 1806. Nellie's daughter Elizabeth, and Doanld's daughter Sarah both said their grandfather Ramsay served in the revolutionary war, and John's son Alexander's obituary said his father was a soldier, born in Scotland, as well. So there is no question about Alexander, Donald, Mary, and Nellie.

One thing that bothers me about the children in this family is that so few of them named a daughter Catherine, after their mother, at a time when this would have been a common practice - almost a rule - especially for the daughters. Granted, children died young, and there aren't a lot of baptismal records from that time on the Island. But was this the name of his wife? Could John have had a second wife? Or was Catherine actually Christie?

He is probably the John Ramsay in Princetown in 1798, with a household of 5 - 3 children and 2 adults.
John Ramsay 1 1 -- 2 1 -- 5. This fits with the ages of Mary and Christy, and Donald.

John died in 1804.

This was only one baptismal record found in Argyl, Scotland for a John, son of John Ramsay in this time period.
Name John Ramsay
Christening Date 06 Nov 1743
Father's Name John Ramsay
Mother's Name Elspeth Kilkison or Gilkson
Citing this Record "Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XYZ5-68K : 2 January 2015), John Ramsay, 06 Nov 1743; citing CAMPBELTOWN,ARGYLL,SCOTLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,041,004.

See Descendants of John(The Yankee) Ramsay by Elaine Howes, on the Island Register.
An Island Refuge: Loyalists and Disbanded Troops on the Island of Saint John, edited by Orlo Jones and Doris Haslam, page 228-229.
PEI Archives, RG5/S4/2 (1)/2.
The last martyrs of Eromanga : being a memoir of the Rev. George N. Gordon and Ellen Catherine Powell, his wife



Event Date Place Description Sources
Birth about 1750 Scotland    
Death about 1804 Lot 16, Prince County, Prince Edward Island, Canada when his daughter Mary was age 15  


Relation to main person Name Birth date Death date Relation within this family (if not by birth)
Father Ramsay, Johnbefore 1728before 1798
Mother Taylor, Margaretbefore 1798
    Brother     Ramsay, Donald - Lot 13 May 1748 April 1798
         Ramsay, John “The Yankee” about 1750 about 1804
    Brother     Ramsay, Neil Neill - Lot 18 May 5, 1751 before April 1812
    Brother     Ramsay, Archibald - Lot 18 about 1755 March 17, 1839
    Brother     Ramsay, Malcolm “Moccasin Mac” - Lot 16 &17 about 1757 1841
    Sister     Ramsay, Janet about 1760 before 1766
    Brother     Ramsay, Angus September 1, 1764
    Sister     Ramsay, Jenat Janet June 29, 1766


Family of Ramsay, John “The Yankee” and McKay, Catherine

Married Wife McKay, Catherine ( * + ... )
Event Date Place Description Sources
Marriage 1788 Prince Edward Island, Canada not listed with the marriage licences for 1787 and 1788 in the Cash Book  
Name Birth Date Death Date
Ramsay, Maryabout 1789September 24, 1872
Ramsay, Donald -Lot 131794December 30, 1871
Ramsay, Christy Christie Annabout 1798February 22, 1879
Ramsay, Johnabout 1800April 21, 1830
Ramsay, Jennieabout 1802
Ramsay, Sarahabout 1804before 1881
Ramsay, Nellie Helen - Lot 16May 24, 1805
Ramsay, Alexander - Lot 13about 1806April 25, 1899