Claude Ramsay

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Claude Ramsay (b. Haigh, Lancashire, **/**/1890 - d. South Africa, **/**/1954) was an occasional actor.


Claude Ramsay Rawcliffe was the son of William Sumner Rawcliffe and his wife, Bessie MacFarlane. When Claude’s brother, Allan, was baptised in 1897, his father’s profession was given as clerk, but at Claude’s baptism it was stated that he was a collier. In fact, he was a member of a well-to-do brewing family in Haigh, Lancashire who became a remittance man in New Zealand where, in 1903, he died under tragic circumstances. According to the British Census, in 1911 Claude Rawcliffe was a music student. In 1913 he married Mabel Mary Bickley, who had previously been married to Charles Burmester, then a civil servant in the employ of the government of the Orange River Colony. After first having joined Burmester when he moved to Canada, she had divorced him in England in 1911 and married Claude Rawcliffe in Hampstead in 1913. According to the first wedding certificate she was born in Rouxville and the newly-married Rawcliffes may have come out to join her family, somewhere between 1913 and 1916.

It is unknown if Claude Ramsay made much use of his musical education, but in 1916 he acted in Betty, a musical produced at His Majesty’s Theatre by Wybert Stamford and featuring the popular visiting Australian singer Gladys Moncrieff in the title role. The following year he performed at a concert for convalescent soldiers, together with the likes of June Langley and Hughie Ogilvie. Then, in 1918, he played King Solomon opposite Edna Joyce as the Queen of Sheba in H. Lisle Lucoque's film version of King Solomon's Mines, produced for African Film Productions. In 1920 an advert in the Rand Daily Mail announced that he was taking over the business of the Globe Garage and Engineering Company. The following year he and Mabel were divorced and in 1925 he married Nessie Avis Kusel, who had featured with him in the 1917 concert. He died in 1954, with Nessie preceding him the year before. The Claude Ramsay Rawcliffe who died in 1965 may have been his son, who had been born in 1913. (F.O.)


Rand Daily Mail, 1 August 1916

S.A. Pictorial (various issues)

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