The Baron De Ramsey is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain created in 1821 and held ever since by the Fellowes family. The full title is actually that of Baron De Ramsey of Ramsey Abbey, in recognition of the family's possession of both the manor of Ramsey and of Ramsey Abbey itself, or at least what was left of it at the time. The additional territorial designation is however generally regarded as being redundant, there being no other Barons de Ramsey around to encourage any confusion, whilst the title has been cited by The Complete Peerage as being yet another of "the sham antiquities of the nineteenth century", where the inclusion of the 'de' is intended to convey the notion that it was some kind of 'ancient barony' rather than being a mere modern creation.
The Fellowes family were originally London merchants represented in the seventeenth century by one William Fellowes who married Susannah, the sister and eventual coheir of Thomas Coulson (1645-1713), the Member of Parliament for Totnes, and a director of the Honourable East India Company, as a result of which William acquired property at Eggesford in Devon. It was William's grandson Coulson Fellowes (1696-1769) who later married Urania, the daughter of Francis Herbert, and sister of the then Earl of Powis, and who was sufficiently wealthy to acquire the manor of Ramsey Abbey in Huntingdonshire. His elder son William inherited the Ramsey estate, whilst the younger son Henry Arthur, received Eggesford which he then left to the 4th Earl of Portsmouth after he died unmarried on the 29th January 1792. (His mother Urania had remarried the 2nd Earl of Portsmouth following his father's death in 1769, and thus the 4th Earl was his nephew.)
William's son Edward Fellowes was later the Conservative Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire for a period of no less forty-three years between 1837 and 1880, and was created the Baron De Ramsey of Ramsey Abbey on the 8th July 1887, being one of the eight baronies awarded to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Sadly Edwards was already ill at the time, and he promptly expired on the 9th August 1887, scarcely a month after his ennoblement. The title duly passed to his elder son William Henry Fellowes, in much the same way as he had earlier 'inherited' his father's Commons seat of Huntingdonshire in 1880. (His younger son Ailwyn Edward was later to be created the Baron Ailwyn in 1921.)
The 2nd Baron also served as the Custos Rotulorum for the Isle of Ely, as a local Justice of the Peace, and as a Lord-in-Waiting in the years 1890-1892. He married Rosamond Jane, a daughter of the 7th Duke of Marlborough, which explained why his eldest son bore the name of Coulson Churchill Fellowes. Coulson joined the army in 1901, became a Captain in the 1st Life Guards, but died on the 22nd October 1915 as the result of an illness contracted on active service. The 2nd Baron was actually in Germany at the time, having gone there to receive specialist treatment for his eyes shortly before World War I broke out, and so found himself interned for the duration. Having returned to Britain after the conclusion of the war, the 2nd Baron then died on the 8th May 1925 and was succeeded by his grandson, Ailwyn Edward Fellowes, who had only recently enjoyed his fifteenth birthday on the 16th March.
The 3rd Baron spent much of his youth trying to cope with the agricultural depression of the 1930s and later served as a captain in the Royal Artillery during World War II, being captured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942, and spent the rest of the war in Changi Jail, where apparently he learnt a great deal about keeping pigs. After the war he served as the Lord-Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire in 1947-1965, and then as the Lord-Lieutenant of Huntingdon and Peterborough in 1965-1968, and also as the president of the Country Landowners' Association in 1963-1965. He married Lilah Helen Suzanne Labouchere and later died on the 31st March 1993 being succeeded by his eldest son.
John Ailwyn Fellowes, is the 4th and present Baron De Ramsey of Ramsey Abbey, most notable for being the first chairman of the Environment Agency between the years 1995 and 2000, having also served as the president of the Country Landowners' Association in 1991-1993, and the president of the Association of Drainage Authorities 1992-1994, being also a Crown Estate Commissioner from 1994 until 2002. The 4th Baron was twice married, and so succeeded in generating the required heir in the form of Freddie John; and spare in Charles Henry. The heir to the title, Freddie Fellowes is best known for running the Secret Garden Party, a boutique music festival, the arrangements for which are greatly assisted by the fact that his father owns a suitable lakeside site to host the annual event.
The Ramsey Abbey of the title was originally a Benedictine monastery which, following the dissolution of the monasteries, was granted to one Richard Williams, alias Cromwell, in 1540 and subsequently passed into the ownership of Oliver Cromwell and following the death of his grandson Henry Cromwell in 1673 the property passed to Henry's sisters Carina and Elizabeth. In 1675 they sold the estate to Silius Titus, a somewhat ironic turn of events as Titus was said to have had a hand in the composition of Killing Noe Murder (1657), a work which had earlier called for the assassination of the aforementioned Oliver Cromwell. Silius Titus died in 1704 after which the property passed to his daughter Catherine and after she died in 1732 she left it to her manservant John Smith who then sold the manor in 1737 to one Coulson Fellowes of Eggesford in Devon.
Ramsey Abbey itself was largely demolished by the Cromwells and much of the stone was recycled, with some of it being used to build at least parts of various Cambridge Colleges including Caius, Trinity and King's. It was the former Lady Chapel of the abbey that was transformed into a Tudor manor by Richard's son, Henry Cromwell (1537-1604), whilst the Fellowes family were responsible for various additions during in the nineteenth century. The Abbey later came into the possession of Diana Broughton, the only daughter of Coulson Churchill Fellowes, and wife of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven, at a time when the costs of running such a property became rather prohibitive during the agricultural downturn between the wars, and so in 1936 she offered the use of the building to Ramsey Grammar School which had earlier been founded in 1656 by the Cromwells. The Ramsey Grammar School later became a comprehensive school in 1970 and is now known as the Ramsey Abbey School, Cambridgeshire. Since, of course, the ancient county of Huntingdonshire has now been downgraded to the status of a mere district of Cambridgeshire.
The family have since relocated themselves to Abbots Ripton Hall in Abbots Ripton, and so conduct their business through the Abbots Ripton Farming Company Ltd.
THE BARONS DE RAMSEY OF RAMSEY ABBEY
- George Edward Cokayne, Vicary Gibbs, et al, The Complete Peerage (St Catherine's Press, 1910-1959)
- The entry for DE RAMSEY from Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 107th Edition
- ‘DE RAMSEY’, Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2009 ; online edn, Nov 2009
- 'Parishes: Ramsey', A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 2 (1932), pp. 187-198.
- Robert Pickard Chief Executive, Abbots Ripton Farming Co Ltd, Farmer Viewpoint on plantings post SFP
Found lurking on Google Docs for some reason