Allan Ramsay was a native of Leadhills, Lanarkshire. He came to Edinburgh in 1700 to start an apprenticeship with a wigmaker. He became absorbed in literature however and became a bookseller with businesses in Niddry's Wynd and in the High Street of Edinburgh. In 1725 he established a circulating library, probably one of the earliest in Britain. In 1736 he opened a theatre in Carruber's Close but this was closed by the city's authorities. Ramsay published his first poems in 1721 and a second collection was published in 1728. Earlier, in 1725, came the drama The gentle shepherd, a pastoral comedy. In 1724 he produced an anthology of earlier Scottish verse, The ever green and between 1724 and 1737 he brought out a five volume collection of traditional Scottish songs and ballads Tea-table miscellany . Ramsay had also been interested in the decorative and visual arts and encouraged his artistic son, Allan Ramsay (1713-1784), who would become one of Britain's finest portrait artists. The elder Allan Ramsay died in 1758.
From the guide to the Collection of Correspondence of the Poet, Allan Ramsay (1684-1758), 18th century, (Edinburgh University Library)
Epithet: of Add MS 12115
British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000799.0x0002d6