Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Edward Pierson Ramsay (1842–1916)

The death took place on Saturday at his residence, Truro, Croydon Park, of Dr Edward Pearson Ramsay, who was for many years curator of the Sydney Museum. The late Dr. Ramsay was a son of the Dr. David Ramsay who was one of the early settlers in Australia, and the owner of the Dobroyde estate, Ashfield. Deceased was born at Dobroyde House 74 years ago. He was educated at St. Mark's School, Macquarie Fields, and afterwards at Darling Point under the Rev G. S. Macarthur. Later young Ramsay was trained at the King's School, Parramatta, and subsequently entered the Sydney University. For a time Dr. Ramsay was engaged in managing the Dobroyde Nursery on the estate of his father, but he and his brothers finally entered upon a scheme of sugar growing in Queensland, in which undertaking they were successful.

Following in the footsteps of his father young Ramsay showed great interest in natural history study. When Dr. Pittard was the curator of the Australian Museum in Sydney, Ramsay travelled in New South Wales and Queensland in search of specimens suitable for the Museum. In 1874 the curatorship of the Museum was vacant, and Dr Ramsay was appointed to the position, a post he filled with much success until 1895, when he was compelled to retire through ill health. He was then appointed consulting ornithologist to the Museum, a position he held until his death.

While natural history was the chief branch of his scientific research, Dr. Ramsay took a keen interest in the advancement of science generally. His early love for botany found expression in the Dobroyde new plant nursery, through which a large number of plants were first introduced to Australia. Bird and animal life also largely claimed his attention and he worked in collaboration with the late Sir Richard Owen (England) on the extinct animals of Australia, among which were discovered the giant kangaroo and marsupial lion. On another occasion Dr. Ramsay was requested by John Gould to guard his Australian interests in his famous folio work "Birds of Australia."

In the work of furthering the advancement of science in Australia, Dr. Ramsay was, together with Sir William Macleay, one of the founders of the Linnean Society. When quite a lad he was also the treasurer of the old Philosophical Society, which final Society, which finally emerged into the Royal Society of today. As a reward for his labours in this direction Dr. Ramsay was created a life member of the Royal Society. Dr. Ramsay was closely associated with scientific societies in Great Britain. He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of England, a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, a corresponding member of the Zoological Society of England, and a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

In 1883 he was appointed Commissioner for New South Wales and Tasmania at the great International Fisheries Exhibition, held in London, and while he was there the University of Edinburgh conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. At that time he was also created a life member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Italian Government made him a Knight of the Crown of Italy.

Dr. Ramsay was one of the early trustees of the parks of Sydney, and with the late Dr. Cox and other prominent citizens he did much in the way of beautifying the lungs of the city. Dr. Ramsay was fond of music, and did a great deal to advance this branch of art in Australia; in fact, his whole life was devoted to the furtherance of art and science in this country, and his contribution to technical literature of the various branches he was interested in were of great value. His genial nature, and keen sense of humour, won him many friends. In 1876 Dr. Ramsay married a daughter of Captain Fox, of Evandale, Burwood. He leaves a widow, two sons, and four daughters. The funeral will take place this afternoon at the family cemetery at Haberfield.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Ramsay, Edward Pierson (1842–1916)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


3 December, 1842
Ashfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


16 December, 1916 (aged 74)
Croydon Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations