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 James Ramsay MacDonald

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James Ramsay MacDonald

Birth
Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland
Death 9 Nov 1937 (aged 71)
At Sea
Burial Elgin, Moray, Scotland
Plot Cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.
Memorial ID 11439 View Source
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Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Ramsay MacDonald was the first candidate from the Labor Party to be elected to the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, serving for nine months starting January of 1924 and again from 1929 to 1935. In the short time of his 1924 term, Britain recognized Soviet Russia and allayed violence in Ireland. Born out-of-wedlock to a farm laborer and a house maid, his birth certificate was registered as James McDonald Ramsey, with his mother's surname as his last. It was later that he was known as Jamie MacDonald. Receiving his early education at the Free Church of Scotland School and Drainie Parish School, he left school at age 15; some sources state earlier than that. He began to work on a farm for six years. In December of 1881, he was appointed as a teacher at the Drainie Parish School. In 1885, he moved to Bristol, England to become an assistant to a clergyman, who was attempting to start a Boys' and Young Men's Guild. During this time period, he joined the Social Democratic Federation, Britain's first organized socialist political party. After a year, he moved to London and found himself unemployed for a period of time, having to use the money that was saved while working in Bristol. Eventually, he found a position as an invoice clerk in the warehouse of Cooper, Box and Company. His political beliefs became more intense after witnessing the protest of November 13, 1887 in Trafalgar Square over the nation's high unemployment rate. The protest became a riot with the violent clashes between the police and demonstrators and was entered in history as "Bloody Sunday." In response, he wrote a pamphlet, "Remember Trafalgar Square: Tory Terrorism in 1887," published in the "Pall Mall Gazette." On March 6, 1888, he participated in the meeting of the London-based Scots and made the motion to formed the London General Committee of the Scottish Home Rule Association. Preparing for a career in science, he studied botany, agriculture, mathematics, and physics at the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution from 1886 to 1887, but never took the final examinations due to illness, yet in 1895 he was appointed as the governor of the institution. In 1888 he took the position of secretary to The Right Honorable Thomas Lough, an Anglo-Irish politician. With this move, many doors were opened to him. Leaving that position, he became a freelance journalist along with touring lecturer for The London School of Economics. In 1894 starting his political career, he joined the Labor Party and stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate in 1895, but rose through the party ranks. After several tries with defeats, he was elected as a member of Parliament in 1906 for Leicester until 1918. He was elected as MP from Aberavon from 1922 to 1929; from Seaham from 1929 to 1935; and MP from the Combined Scottish Universities from 1936 to 1937. He served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from January 22, 1924 to November 3, 1924. In 1914, MacDonald resigned as leader of the Labor Party because of his opposition to Britain's participation in World War I. He officially became leader again only in 1922. He was known to be a pacifist, although this reasoning was not popular with the German Nazi Party coming into power in Europe in the early 1930s. From 1925 to 1931, he received seven nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize candidacy, but never received the coveted award. In 1896 he married Margaret Ethel Gladstone, a well-to-do feminist. They had six children before her early death in 1901 from blood poisoning. He never remarried. In 1912 he wrote her biography, "Margaret Ethel MacDonald." He was a prolific author with at least 34 books on governmental and political subjects, which a few are still being reprinted in the 21st century. With the world in an economic depression, he and his cabinet were overwhelmed. On August 24, 1931, he offered his resignation, but the next day his Labor Party colleagues were dismayed to learn that he was remaining in office as head of a coalition, with the Conservative Party and Liberal Party's support. He had put the nation's interest before his political party's interest, hence the political party that he helped to start now had expelled him. His health started to decline in 1933 with him suffering from eye trouble, insomnia and encroaching senility. The public was noticing the decline during his speech making. His ability to be a strong governmental leader had been declining for some time. At this point, the newspapers were unkind to him. Eventually, he agreed to resign after King George V's Silver Jubilee celebration and did on June 7, 1935. He ran for MP from Seaham but was defeated in 1935, but in 1936 was elected to the seat with Combined Scottish Universities, serving 20 months before his death. Traveling with his daughter, he died of heart failure while on a holiday cruise to South America on the Atlantic Ocean aboard the ocean liner "Reina de Pacifico."

Bio by: Linda Davis



Inscription

Beneath this stone placed here in
affectionate Remembrance by
J. Ramsay Macdonald lie the ashes of
DAVID RAMSAY MACDONALD
Born 4th Jul 1904
Died 3rd February 1910
MARGARET ETHEL MACDONALD
Born 20th July 1870
Died 8th September 1911
Also the ashes of
JAMES RAMSAY MACDONALD
Born 12th October 1866
Died 9th November 1937
And of his son
MALCOLM JOHN MACDONALD
Born 17th Aug 1901
Died 11th January 1981
And of his daughter
ISHBEL ALLAN PETERKIN
Born 2.3.1903. Died 14.4.1982.
“Passed to where beyond these voices there is peace.”


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 6 Aug 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11439
  • Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/11439/james-ramsay-macdonald : accessed ), memorial page for James Ramsay MacDonald (12 Oct 1866–9 Nov 1937), Find a Grave Memorial ID 11439, citing Spynie Churchyard, Elgin, Moray, Scotland ; Maintained by Find A Grave .