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Mr George Ramsay Ogilvy

George Ramsay Ogilvy of Westhall. Sheriff-Substitute of Forfarshire at Dundee. Married to Mary Christina Bucher. Their only child, Ann Mary Ramsay Ogilvy, died aged 11 years. Followed a year later by his untimely death at 44 years.

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Personal details and history

Full name

George Ramsay Ogilvy

Date of birth


Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

Mary Christina Bucher[2]


Ann Mary Ramsay Ogilvy[3]

Home address

15 Springfield

Age at death:


Place of death:

15 Dublin Street, Edinburgh[5]

Date of death:

22-11-1866[5] from Hepatic disease[6]



Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Uncertain, - marriage conducted by Rev. I. A. White of St James Episcopal Chapel, Leith [2]; funeral at Murroes family burying ground, following services in the Sheriff Court Buildings conducted by both Established Church and Free Church ministers[8].

Political affiliation

Clubs / societies

Interest in the Albert Institute.[9] Committee member of the Dundee Chess Club.[10]

Public offices

"Morgan Hospital. Board of Govenors. Ex-Officiis - The Provost of Dundee, Sheriff Ogilvy,"[11] Committee member of the Dundee District of the Forfarshire Prison Board.[12] Chairman of the Committee of Trustees and Managers of National Securities Savings Bank[13]

Related subscribers

Career and worklife




Employee of the Crown

Place of work

Sheriff Court - Dundee District[15]

Work address

Court House Building
West Bell Street

Career to date:

Advocate[16], Sheriff-Substitute of Forfarshire at Dundee[5]

More information

The Sheriff-substitute of Forfar

“We have pleasure stating that George Ramsay Ogilvy, Esq., M.A., has been appointed Sheriff-Substitute for the Forfar District. Mr Ogilvy is a native of the county, and proprietor of Westhall, in the neighbourhood of Dundee. He passed advocate in 1844, and has reported the decisions of the Inner House for the Jurist for number of years—a training highly valuable for his present position, and affording an extensive knowledge of law, to which he has added by unwearied study. Although his forensic practice has not been large, Mr Ogilvy is much esteemed by his professional brethren; his reports have been marked by fine powers of analysis ; and we believe that he has been selected by Mr Sheriff Logan for this appointment in the confident expectation that he will discharge its duties with credit to himself and satisfaction to the community. Under these circumstances we are sure that Mr Ogilvy will receive courteous welcome from the local bar.”[16]

Mr George Ramsay Ogilvy   “…has, during the week, taken his seat as Sheriff-Substitute in Dundee, vacant by the resignation of Sheriff Henderson.”[14]

Mr Ogilvy “…took his seat on the bench for the first time on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1860. From that period he discharged the onerous and important duties of his office, so as to earn for himself a high reputation, both as a Judge, and as a man of great legal ability.  His judgments gave general satisfaction, and very few of them were reversed on appeal by the Supreme Court. His disposition was singularly lenient, and the sentences he pronounced against delinquents were, in general, extremely mild.  For about a year before his death, he had been in failing health ; and after a sojourn in Italy, of about three months, by the advice of his medical adviser, he withdrew from all professional business. He contemplated another journey to Italy, but had only got as far as Edinburgh, when his illness increased; and after undergoing an operation for dropsy, he died there on Thursday, Nov. 22, 1866.

Mr Ogilvy was possessed of strong human sympathies, and had the amelioration of the great masses of the people warmly at heart. The interest he took in the Albert Institute, and the close attention he gave to the county business, testified to the enlightened character of the public spirit by which he was actuated. He was held in the deepest respect by all classes of the community.”[9]

George Ramsay Ogilvy of Westhall  “The learned Sheriff was the son of  the late James (sic)[17] Ramsay, Esq., S.S.C., and assumed the name of Ogilvy  upon succeeding to the property of Westhall, which was left by his aunt, Miss Ogilvy.”[18] ‘Westhall’ not actually being left to George Ramsay Ogilvy, but acquired by descent, -i.e. he was eldest living male relative of Miss Ann Ogilvy of Westhall, his great aunt.

This newspaper report also wrongly names George’s father as “James”, but he was actually named John Ramsay Esq., Writer.[17]

The late Sheriff Ogilvy

“A meeting of the Faculty was held yesterday in the Library, Court Buildings.  There was a large attendance of members, and Mr John Boyd Baxter, the Vice-President, occupied the chair. Mr Baxter said that it a melancholy occasion which had called them together to-day—the not altogether sudden, but certainly unexpected death of Sheriff Ogilvy. It would be long before his eminent legal attainments and his many estimable qualities were forgotten by the members of the bar, whose duty had brought them before him. It would be well if any gentleman was prepared to bring a motion before the meeting embodying the regret of the Faculty at his death and their sympathy and condolence with his poor widow.  Mr David Mitchell said—Mr Preses, I quite concur with what you have said as to the propriety of our expressing our sorrow at Sheriff Ogilvy’s death, and our sympathy with his widow and relations.  I am very sure we all feel the occasion of our meeting to be sad and an unexpected one.  It is but a brief period since we saw Mr Ogilvy engaged in dispensing justice in another part of this building, and still shorter since we saw him walking our streets—certainly not in good health, but yet not like a man whose life was soon to be terminated; and more recently he had gone to Edinburgh for the sake of regaining health, no one expecting this result. It is, however, one of those visitations for which we should be prepared in our frail state—that are daily occurring, and would be well that we took more note of them. It is not necessary for me to speak of Sheriff Ogilvy at any length in your presence. In Forfar and here, he conducted himself and the affairs entrusted to him in every respect in a satisfactory and becoming manner. He had a thorough legal and general education, had an excellent training in Edinburgh, and we had every reason to be satisfied with his fitness and his judicial conduct on all occasions. But it is unnecessary for me to enlarge upon his qualities. He will be long remembered in our hearts. This must be felt as a very trying occasion by his widow and his mother. They, as well as he, were formerly tried by a very severe domestic affliction about a year ago—the loss of his only and truly beloved daughter. He was in some degree prostrated on that occasion, and I am afraid has never thoroughly recovered from the effects of that calamity.  Not to detain the meeting further, I would just say that we would be wanting in our duty now, if we did not suitably express our regret, and wish his widow and mother every consolation in their great sorrow, and I therefore beg to submit the following resolution:- “That the Faculty record their deep sorrow at the death of George Ramsay Ogilvy, Esq., Master of Arts, Sheriff-Substitute of Forfarshire at Dundee, who has performed the arduous and responsible duties of that important office since his appointment to it, six years ago, in such a way as to secure for him the highest respect of the bar, whose sympathies with literature and science, no less than his professional attainments, have been of much advantage to this community from the interest he always took in any measures for their promotion in Dundee, and who has been prematurely cut off at a period of life when the public, the Faculty, and his friends might have looked for his being spared to them for many years to come.  That the Faculty also respectfully express their very deep and sincere sympathy and condolence with his afflicted widow and his mother in their most painful and trying bereavement, and that the Secretary be requested to send an extract of this minute to each of these ladies.” Bailie Hay said that Mr Thomson, although his senior, had asked him to second the motion. In doing so he begged to express his appreciation of the high character and actings of the late Sheriff in Dundee.  He was a man of legal and classical attainments, and discharged the duties of his important office in an independent and impartial manner. He was of a kindly disposition; and, although often sorely tried, never returned an angry word.  Besides discharging in a satisfactory manner his judicial duties, he took great interest in the amelioration of the poor, more particularly the juvenile portion. Instead of sending these poor creatures to prison, his kindly sympathy prompted him to promote for their benefit the institution of reformatories and industrial schools. He also devoted considerable time to literary pursuits, and to the raising of the status of the people. It was with this view that he was one of those who were foremost in inviting the British Association to Dundee. His funeral was to take place at the Murroes on Monday, and he hoped that the profession would testify their respect to his memory by following the funeral procession from Dundee.

The motion was then put to the meeting and unanimously adopted.”[7]

It is also recorded that “…being the leading speaker at the meeting in the Town Hall  …August 14th, 1862, when on his motion, it was resolved “to request the Town Council to make an early application to have the British Association to meet in Dundee at the earliest possible date.”[19]  (the British Association met in Dundee in 1867).  Further, “…he took much interest in the proposal for the erection of a Children’s Hospital, and was one of the gentlemen who called together an influential meeting on the subject…”[19]

Funeral of the late Sheriff Ogilvy

Yesterday afternoon, the remains of the late Sheriff Ogilvy were consigned to their resting place in the family burying ground at Murroes. The deceased was held in the deepest respect by all classes of the community, and yesterday that respect was especially marked in large numbers of our leading and influential citizens, and the gentlemen of the bar, who joined the funeral procession. From the Chamber of Commerce, the Post Office, and other public buildings, flags were displayed in a mourning position, and an hour after mid-day the town bells were tolled. As our readers are aware, the deceased expired in his mother’s house in Edinburgh, his burial place being at the Murroes, the return of his remains to Dundee was rendered necessary. They arrived at East Dock Street Station yesterday morning about half-past nine o’clock, and were conveyed in a hearse to the Sheriff Court Buildings here, where they lay in the Superindent’s room till the time of the starting of the procession. The outer coffin was of beautifully polished oak, on the lid of which a plate bearing the name and age of the deceased was placed. Shortly before twelve o’clock the members of the Legal Faculty began to assemble in the Library Room, as well as several of the members of the legal profession belonging to Forfar, where the deceased occupied the seat of Judge for some years; and about the same time the other gentlemen invited to attend the funeral began to in Sheriff Heriot’s Room. Shortly after twelve o’clock services appropriate to the occasion were conducted by the Rev. D. Macgregor, the pastor of St Peter’s congregation, of which the late Sheriff was for some years a member, and the Rev. A. Taylor, the latter officiating in the Library Room, and the other in Sheriff Heriot’s Room. At about twenty minutes to one o’clock the coffin, borne on the shoulders of six men, was carried out of the Court House and placed in the hearse; and thereafter the procession was formed and moved off in the following order:- The Hearse. (On foot) The Legal Faculty of Dundee.  Members of the Legal Profession in Forfar. (In Carriages) Rev. D. G. D. Ramsay, Kirriemuir, and other relatives of the deceased. Provost Parker, the Bishop of Brechin, &c. The Sheriff-Substitute. The other gentlemen invited. The mournful cortege had a most impressive appearance, and was witnessed by hundreds of spectators who had assembled in front of the Court House to see its departure. There were about twenty carriages in the procession, and it was therefore of considerable length.  The route to Murroes was by Ward Road, Meadowside, Panmure Street, Cowgate, King Street, Princes Street, Arbroath Road, and the Pitkerro turnpike ; and along the whole line, until the suburbs of the town had been reached, immense crowds were gathered to witness the sad spectacle. Through respect for the deceased, many of the shopkeepers along the route of procession shut their shops while the procession was passing, and the window-blinds of the large mill Messrs Baxter Brothers in Princes Street were also drawn down. The Murroes was reached about two o’clock, and on the procession arriving at the ground, those who were in the carriages alighted, and the coffin was withdrawn from the hearse, and borne to the grave, followed by the mourners. The last services were then performed, and the assemblage dispersed.   Amongst those present we observed Provost Parker ; Bailies Hay and Foggie; Christopher Kerr, Esq., Town Clerk ; the Right Rev. the Bishop of Brechin; Rev. J. Nicholson ; the Revs. Andrew Taylor, D. Macgregor, and J. C. Baxter; Sir John Ogilvy, Bart., M.P.; Sheriff Berry ; Sheriff Robertson ; Geo. Webster, Sheriff-Clerk; Alex. Moffat, Esq., Sheriffclerk-Depute; Edward Baxter, Esq. of Hazel Hall;  J. B. Baxter, Esq., Procurator-Fiscal, Dundee; Robert White, Esq., Procurator-Fiscal, and Mr Roberts, Town Clerk, Forfar; Robert M’Gavin, Esq., of Ballumbie; James Neish, Esq. of Laws;  D. Hunter, Esq. of Blackness ; W. Collier, Esq. ; D. Small Esq. ; W. Small, Esq., &c.”[8]

Properties belonging to George Ramsay Ogilvy, at the time of his death, included:  No. 16 Duke Street, Edinburgh[20]; Westhall Estate and Farm, Angus[21]; and 15 and 16 Springfield, Dundee[22].

Sheriff Ogilvy as a humane judge

 “TO THE EDITOR OF THE DUNDEE ADVERTISER. Sir, -The poor and friendless portion of the inhabitants of Dundee will lament the loss of Sheriff Ogilvy.  What has been said in your paper is very true, and did his heart great credit – I mean his leaning to mercy and looking well at the proofs brought before him when poor people, and people without friends or influence, were on their trial at the Court. The character a poor widow and her daughters were, as your readers may recollect, some time ago in issue before the Sheriff, and the question was whether the girl was an industrious girl struggling by hard labour to support herself and parent – or whether her story was a false one, got up for the occasion to conceal her true calling of unchastity.  The case caused considerable public curiosity at the time from the circumstances under which it arose.  It assumed the shape of an action of damages for defamation of character. On that trial two or three policemen were brought forward as witnesses, and stated that the girl was not what she represented herself to be, nor truly a mill-worker, but which latter name was a pretence to cover her true following. That official evidence might, to a superficial Judge, have appeared overpowering, but the poor friendless girl had a well trained lawyer and a deeply read scholar and student as her judge – a judge not to be led away by appearances. Your readers will easily understand that the Sheriff must have been puzzled as to how to proceed in the face of the proof being led. It was clear to all, that he was not satisfied as to the evidence, and he continued the case. What investigation was ordered, and what did the real facts turn out to be?  Undoubted proof was got – indeed the best of all evidence – the testimony of the employers, that the poor girl’s statement was strictly correct, and that not only was she truly a mill-worker, but that, with the exception of a few hours, if I recollect aright, she had not been absent from her daily toil for six or eight months previously.  This result flowed from the acuteness of the judge, and showed the advantage of having a man like our lamented Sheriff Ogilvy administering justice to the people – the rich and the poor alike. The general public will lament his loss.  INHABITANT. Dundee, November 1866.”[23]



  1. Old Parish Record. Edinburgh. Birth. 13 August 1822. 685/1 550 236. Scotlands People website.
  2. Old Parish Record. Edinburgh. Marriage. 1853. 685/1  700  390. Scotlands People website.
  3. Born 22nd April 1854 - Old Parish Records. Edinburgh. Birth. 22 April 1854. 685/1  610  209; Statutory Registers. Death. 2 July 1865. 282/2  788. Scotlands People website.
  4. Valuation Roll. Angus (Forfar) County. 1865. VR00880015-/152. Scotlands People website.
  5. Statutory Registers. Edinburgh. Death. 22 November 1866. 685/2  586.  p.196. Scotlands People website.
  6. Statutory Registers. Edinburgh. Death. 22 November 1866. 685/2  586.  p.196 As certified by Will Knox MD. Scotlands People website.
  7. The Dundee Courier and Argus, 27 November 1866 (no page number). British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
  8. The Dundee Courier and Argus, 27 November 1866 (no page number). British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
  9. Norrie, William. (1873)Dundee Celebrities of the Nineteenth Century. Dundee. W. Norrie. p.276. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  10. The Post Office Dundee Directory, 1864-65, p. 44. National Library of Scotland website.
  11. The Post Office Dundee Directory, 1864-65, p.32. National Library of Scotland website.
  12. The Post Office Dundee Directory, 1864-65, p.46. National Library of Scotland website.
  13. Montrose, Arbroath, and Brechin Review, 21 January 1859, p.5. British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
  14. Dundee People's Journal, 20 October 1860(no page number). British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
  15. Post Office Dundee Directory, 1864-65, p.7. National Library of Scotland website.
  16. Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 2 June 1857 (no page number). British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
  17. "John" - from Old Parish Record. Edinburgh. Birth. 13 August 1822. 685/1 550 236. Scotlands People website.
  18. The Aberdeen Journal, 28 November 1866, p.6. British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
  19. The Dundee Advertiser, 27 November 1866, p.3. British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.
  20. 1866 Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. SC45/31/20. Scotlands People website.
  21. Valuation Roll. Angus (Forfar) County. 1865. VR00880018-/288.  p.288 of 305. Scotlands People website.
  22. Valuation Roll. Angus (Forfar) County. 1865. VR00880015-/152. p.152 of 291. Scotlands People website.
  23. The Dundee Advertiser, Monday, 26 November 1866. British Newspaper Archive. British Library website.


With grateful thanks to the staff of the Local History Section, within Dundee Central Library, and the City Archivist and his staff within Dundee City Archive and Record Centre.

The information above about George Ramsay Ogilvy has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.