EDWARD PEARSON RAMSAY
Edward Pearson Ramsay was born on the Dobroyde Estate, Sydney, on the 3rd December, 1842, and died in Sydney on 16th December, 1916. He was educated at the University of Sydney ( he studied Medicine from 1863 to 1865), and received an Honorary LLD, St Andrews University, Scotland, in 1886.
Edward Ramsay was the first Austrlian born Curator of the Australian Museum, (1874 to 1894), and had an early interest in natural history, especially in ornithology. As well as this special subject, Ramsay 's interests included the areas of icthyology, herpetology, mammalogy, and botany.
Under Ramsay's curatorship, the museum's collections expanded considerably; he added 17,600 bird skins, including the Dobroyde Collection made by the Ramsay brothers. His 'Catalogue of the Australian Birds in the Australian Museum" appeared in 4 parts between 1876 and 1894. Ramsay started the "Records of the Australian Museum" in 1890. Between 1878 and 1888 scientific staff at the Museum increased from one to eight.
In 1866 he went on a collecting expedition for the Rufous Scrub-Bird in the Richmond and Clarence Rivers area. He established the New Dobroyd Plant and Seed Nursery in 1867-68, and was the owner of the Lindah Sugar Plantation , Maryborough, Queensland from 1868 for several years.
The Museums ethnological and technological collections were lost in the Garden Palace fire in Sydney on 22 September 18982; the Garden Palace had housed the Sydney International Exhibition on 1879. Ramsay actively worked to build up the collections again. During Ramsay's time, the 3rd floor was added to the Museum, and a new hall for ethnology was built.
He was a trustee for Hyde, Phillip and Cook Parks from 1878, and a trustee for the Zoological Station at Watson's Bay from 1879. He was the founding Treasurer of the Entomological Society on NSW in 1861; a member of the Philosophical Society (NSW) in 1865; a corresponding member of the Zoological Society of London in 1866; and a founder of the Linnean Society of NSW in 1874.
In 1880 E P Ramsay was a member of the Royal Commission on the Fisheries on NSW, as well as a member of the NSW Commission for the Melbourne International Exhibition the same year. He was Commissioner for NSW and Tasmania at the Great International Fisheries Exhibition, where he received a gold medal, and negotiated the purchase of Dr Francis Day's collection of Indian fish for the Museum.
He was a member of the Imperial Zoological and Botanical Society of Vienna in 1883; and a Corresponding Member of the Italian Anthropolical Society in the same year. In 1884 he was made a Knight of the Crown of Italy. At the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886, he received a medal for exhibits. Ramsay was made a Life Member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a Member of the Irish Academy.
In 1893, Edwrad Ramsay took extended sick leave, and resigned on 31 December 1894. From 1895 to 1916 he was consulting ornithologist to the Museum.
EDWARD P RAMSAY'S FAMILY
On 17th November, 1876, Edward Ramsay married Ellen Eliza Fox, the daughter of henry Thomas Fox and Isabel pilmore Williamson. They had 6 children.
Sarah Beatrice married Rev George Brown; Edward Henry Pearson, known as Piers, married Ellen Warren Fuller; Margaret Isobel, known as Margery, married James McCallum and secondly, Leslie Coates; John Simeon Pearson married Ethel may Thomas; Mary edith married Frederick Daniel; and Neroli Gabrielle married Robert Lowe.
The pictures on this page are reproduced from those in the collection of Mr John Pearson Ramsay, with thanks.
Most of the biographical information came from the Bright Sparcs Web Site and the Australian Museum site at