Sergeant Major William Ramsay was Color Sergeant to No. 4 (Highland) Coy which was formed in 1856 and was one of the 6 original companies that formed the 2nd Battalion Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada in 1860. The Highland company wore the Blackwatch tartan on their kilts and trews, rifle green tunic with red facings, a glengarry with long feathers and the Officers wore the Rifles crossbelt and fought at the Battle of Ridgeway in this uniform (highland dress with trews). The Highland Company was later designated 10 Company and remained part of the Queen’s Own until 1868.
Ramsay was appointed to the position of Sergeant Major 15 February 1861. The first public mention of the appointment was on 3 January 1862 when 4 of the 6 companies paraded to the Crystal Palace for drill from the St Lawrence Hall Armoury:
The members of the 2nd Battalion Active Militia, including Nos. 2, 3, and 5 Rifles and the Highland Company mustered at the armoury last night and marched to Union Depot where the Northern Railway train was in waiting and conveyed them to the Crystal Palace for battalion drill. In the unavoidable absence of Lieut. Col. Durie, Major A. M. Smith [formerly Capt of the Highland Company] took command of the battalion and put them through the various evolutions. The other officers belonging to the staff present were Major Brooke, Capt. Goodwin, and Sergeant Major Wm. Ramsay. At the termination of the drill the troops marched down King street to the armoury. They presented a fine appearance.
The Globe Jan 4, 1862
Ramsay was an excellent shot, being appointed as a Musketry Instructor in 1861 and took part in shooting matches and winning on at least one occasion. At some point between 1863 and 1867 he transferred out of the Queen’s Own to the 10th Royal Grenadiers where he was promoted to Ensign by 1867, Lieutenant by 1868 and Captain by 1870. He retired in 1875 retaining the rank of Captain.
Timeline of service:
- 1860, listed as Color Sergeant, 4 (Captain Fulton’s) Company, Pay List;
- 1861, Feb 15, appointed as Sergeant Major Queen’s Own;
- 1861, Nov 8, listed as Musketry Instructor, Color Serjt, Hd Coy 2nd Batt QORs, Toronto, in the Annual Volunteer’s Listing;
- 1862, Jan 3, listed as Sergeant Major, part of the Highland Coy, Globe article re Battalion drill;
- 1862, Apr 19, listed as Sergeant Major, part of military parade 17 Apr, Globe article;
- 1862, June 4, listed as Colour Sergeant, taking first prize at First Annual Upper Canada Rifle Association match, Globe article;
- 1862, June 5, listed as Colour Sergeant, competing in 2nd day of rifle shoot, Globe article;
- 1862, Aug 5, listed as Colour Sergeant, Highland Coy shooting match, Globe article;
- 1863, Nov 20, Joseph Crawford appointed as Sergeant Major;
- 1867, 31 Oct, promoted acting Ensign, 10th Royal Grenadiers History;
- 1869 listed as Lieutenant, No.9 or I Company, 10th Royal Grenadiers, Pay list;
- 1870, 30 June, promoted to Captain, History of the 10th Royals;
- 1871 listed as Captain of No. 9 or I Company, 10th Royal Grenadiers, Pay list;
- 1875, 1 Oct, listed as retiring retaining his rank, History of the 10th Royals.