Sergeant Major William Ramsay was Color Sergeant to No. 10 (Highland) Coy which was formed in 1856 and was one of the 6 original companies that formed the Queen’s Own 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 and Sergeants wore the Rifles crossbelt.
Initially the independent Rifle Companies did not often gather as a battalion, this negated the requirement to appoint or employ a Battalion Sergeant Major. The first apparent appointment to the position was Sergeant Major W Ramsay 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.
Timeline of service:
- 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;