Sir William Ramsay

A memorial to chemist Sir William Ramsay was unveiled in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey on 3rd November 1922 by the Duke of York. On a white marble tablet is a bronze relief portrait, with the dates:

B.1852 - D.1916

The sculptor was Charles Hartwell. The inscription on the base reads:


He was born on 2nd October 1852, the son of William Ramsay (died 1887), engineer, and his wife Catherine (Robertson). After attending Glasgow university he went to Heidelberg to study under Bunsen and took his degree in Germany. On 3rd August 1881 he married Margaret Buchanan and they had two children: Elizabeth who married H.L. Tidy and William George who died in 1927.

He was professor of chemistry and later principal of University College in Bristol and in 1887 he was elected chair of general chemistry at University College London. Together with Lord Rayleigh he discovered the gas argon and in 1904 was the first British recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Ramsay went on to isolate the gases helium, neon, krypton and xenon. In 1902 he was knighted and died on 23rd July 1916. He is buried at Hazlemere in Buckinghamshire.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


2nd October 1852


23rd July 1916




North Choir Aisle

Memorial Type


Material Type


Sir William Ramsay
Sir William Ramsay memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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