1st Baron of Panmure, Brechin and Navar. Born on 27th October 1771, he was the second son of George (Ramsay), 8th Earl of Dalhousie (Grand Master Mason 1765-67). He assumed the surname and arms of Maule in 1782, instead of those of Ramsay.
When his father died he inherited the greater part of the Panmure Estate an estate that was quite extensive and covered a large area of the Angus countryside especially around Monikie, Brechin and Edzell. He lived both at Panmure House just east of Monikie (It was demolished – partly blown up by Army engineers in the 1950’s) and Brechin Castle, he preferred Brechin Castle.
Described as one of the most outstanding personages in the public life of Dundee and Forfarshire, he seemed to have shone in social circles, it was said that He was blessed with a constitution of steel, embodied in a Herculean frame.
He had an enjoyment of healthy humour, an absolute freedom from ‘hypocritical loftiness’, his ‘overflowing river of good spirits’, his readiness to assist in largesse from out of his purse any deserving object, and made everyone proclaim him a good comrade. His popularity was not confined to the boundaries of Angus but even in Edinburgh he endeared himself by his liberality, broad mindedness and youthful pranks and received the title of ‘generous sportsman’
Lord Panmure was beloved by his numerous tenantry, towards whom he acted in a generous manner. His favourite toast was “Live and let live” and that kindly sentiment pervaded his everyday life. The tenants in token of their gratitude and high esteem, subscribed for and erected, in honour of ‘His Lordship’, upon the top of Downie Hill, in Monikie, a noble circular column, 105ft in height – “The Panmure ‘Live and let Live’ Testimonial”. The Hill is 500 feet above sea level, isolated from other high grounds, and commanding an uninterrupted view in every direction.
Military, Political & Public Life
At the age of eighteen he became a Cornet in the 11th Dragoons (Prince Albert's Own Hussars) 1788, Captain in 1791 of an Independent Company of Foot, which he raised, and which was disbanded later that year. He Retired from the Army in 1825. He was the Whig Member of Parliament for Forfarshire 1796, and also in nine successive Parliaments from June 1805 until 1831. He was created a Burgess of Dundee in 1831.
He was a supporter of the prominent Whig statesman, Charles James Fox, after whom he named his eldest son. (Born in April 1801, that son became Sir Fox-Maule Ramsay, 11th Earl of Dalhousie and who succeeded his father as Provincial Grand Master of Forfarshire in 1852.)
Every public enterprise and charitable institution between the Tay and the Don Rivers benefited by his actions, amongst the principal of which were the erection and endowment of the Mechanics Institute in Brechin, large donations to Dundee Royal Infirmary and Orphan Institute & Lunatic Asylum. He gave a handsome annuity to the widow of the Hon Charles Fox (Politician), after whom his son was named; he was the first to move in rewarding the heroic actions of Grace Darling; he also supported Neil Gow the famous Scottish fiddler and many other artists.
The Improvements Bill in 1824 allowed Dundee to alleviate slum conditions by demolishing some decaying property and creating a new street to connect the Cowgate with the Meadows. This new street was opened in 1839 and named ‘Panmure Street’ in recognition of his donations to the Dundee Royal Infirmary, (later on Panmure Terrace was also named after him). The Infirmary was not Lord Panmure’s only good turn for Dundee. In 1847 he parted with some of his lands to allow the formation of the Monikie and Crombie Reservoirs.
It is also documented that at the renovation of Brechin Cathedral an attempt was made to demolish the famous Round Tower – one of only two on the mainland of Scotland, the other being at Abernethy – Lord Panmure threatened to hang anyone from the top of the tower who removed a stone from it!
It seems he knew Robert Burns and in the Burns Encyclopaedia, p. 160, appears the following:
When Burns knew Maule, he was an officer in a regiment stationed at Dumfries. In a letter of 29th October 1794, Burns sent the epigram: ‘To the Hon. Wm. R. Maule of Panmure’, to Mrs. Dunlop. Later on after Burn’s death, Lord Panmure settled on Burns's widow a pension of fifty pounds, but only had to disburse it for eighteen months, after which Burns's son, James, was able to relieve him of the charge.
"Thou fool, in thy phaeton towering,
Art proud when that phaeton is prais'd?
'Tis the pride of a Thief's exhibition
When higher his pillory's rais'd."
On 6 February 1797, Lodge Fort George No 115 reported to the Grand Lodge of Scotland several men as being admitted to that Lodge since its last report of 24 October 1792. Some of these men were recorded as serving in the West Lowland Fencibles, the Breadalbane Fencibles and the Argyllshire Fencibles. Amongst these names is The Rt. Hon Ramsay Maule", who could well have been William Maule.
William Maule, 1st Lord Panmure was also the second (1808-1810) of the four Acting Grand Master Masons during the term of Prince George, Prince of Wales, Grand Master from 1806-1820, who was Prince Regent 1811-1820 and who became King George IV in 1820.
In the year 1807, during the term of the Earl of Moira as Grand Master (Lord Panmure succeeded him in 1808) a serous rupture took place with a number of the Lodges and with Grand Lodge, which resulted in the suspension of some, and many masons who were arbettors of the schism. The reason for the disagreement was in order to mark their disapprobation of Mr. Maule’s politics but Grand Lodge refused to lend itself to the political views of certain individuals by steadily adhering to one of the fundamental principles of the craft – to exclude politics from their meetings.
It seems Lord Panmure received support from Lodges in Forfarshire for his stance. The minutes of Lodge Ancient give us some insight to what was going on: -
The minutes of Lodge Ancient, Dundee No. 49 - 1st June 1808 to 19th July say
1st June 1808: - At a committee meeting of the Ancient Lodge held in the Lodge, a letter was received from the Grand Lodge with a printed copy of the minutes of the quarterly communication of the Grand Lodge, regarding Dr. Mitchell and his adherents, wherein the final sentence of the Grand Lodge is passed upon him, expelling him for ever from all Masonic privileges, with express orders to all Lodges in Scotland prohibiting them from having any communication with any of them in future as Masons with certifications, that if they do; they shall be responsible to the Grand Lodge for contempt of its authority, and as an example to others they have passed (viz. the Grand Lodge) sentence of suspension Sine Die on the following members of different Lodges, for communicating with said Dr. Mitchell & his adherents in their pretended Masonic meetings, viz. Brother Deuchar – Proxy Master for Inverness, Brother Robertson, Senior Warden of Royal Arch, Edinburgh, Brother Corbett, Junior Warden of Operative Lodge, Dunkeld, Brother Wm. Alexander Paterson, Senior Warden of St. Andrew’s, Edinburgh, and Brother John Weir, Senior Warden of Mary’s Chapel, Edinburgh. Expressly forbidding all the Lodges in Scotland from communicating with said men as brethren during such suspension – with certification that they act on the contrary: they shall be responsible to the Grand Lodge for contempt of its authority; Certifying hereby; further to all Freemasons throughout Scotland; that all or any of them who shall presume, after the date of this Sentence, to communicate with Dr. Mitchell or any of the other persons under sentence of expulsion; as brethren by attending any of the meetings of the pretended Caledonian Lodge over which Dr. Mitchell is said to preside, or in any other Masonic manner whatsoever, upon the fact being proved to satisfaction of the Grand Lodge of such brethren holding these unconstitutional communications, they shall be instantly expelled from the privileges of the Craft.
14th July 1808: - At a meeting of the Ancient Lodge duly constitute. Rt. W. M. Wm. Horn in the chair, at which general meeting different letters received from the Grand Lodge of Scotland were read before the meeting relative to the difference between the Grand Lodge and the Caledonian Lodge, Edinburgh, together with the procedure of the Grand Lodge thereon; which procedure was highly approved of by the Ancient Lodge, also a letter with a copy of the minutes of the Cannongate Kilwinning Lodge, Edinburgh, relative to a difference falling out between them & G.L.: which were all of them maturely deliberated upon; after which the house unanimously resolved to stand by: maintain the cause of & strongly commend the G. Lodge for its equitable & honourable procedure throughout the whole, and for this purpose, they appoint and nominate the following members to meet in the Lodge on Monday first at seven o’clock p.m. in order to make up an address for the Grand Lodge; viz. William Horn, Robert Mackie, Thos. Wilson, Jas. Nicoll Junior, George Girdwood, John Beanstone, Jas. Mylne, Jas. Young, Alex.Forbes ,Alex.Urquhart , DavidDoig.
Signed William Horn, Master
19th July 1808: - On which day the committee above mentioned met for making out an address unto the Grand Lodge, which was done accordingly in the following manner, Viz.
“That this Lodge think it their duty as in honour bound stand by & support the cause of and ever adhere to the mandate of the Grand Lodge in support of Masonry & honour of the craft. That this Lodge concurs entirely with the opinions, which the G. L. have enforced. That is the unanimous voice of this Lodge that the thanks of this Lodge be transmitted to the G.L. for their communications with cordiality & due respect. Together with a Nota Bena informing the G.L. that we had received a printed copy of the minutes of the Lodge Cannongate Kilwinning, of which we informed the G.L. that we thought unworthy, our notice being determined to standby the G.L. which letter was by post date above.
During his reign of 51 years as Provincial Grand Master of Forfarshire, seven Lodges were constituted, although the only Lodge bearing his name is Lodge Panmure No. 299. He was also made, on St John’s Day 1801, an honorary member of both the Brechin Lodges - St. Ninian No. 66 and St. James No. 123. Also in 1818 Lodge Incorporated Kilwinning No. 182 – considering the zeal and important services of Bro Maule on behalf of Freemasonry resolved unanimously to adopt him as an honorary member.
Another unique presentation was made by the brethren of Lodge St Andrew Lochlee No. 282, when they, headed by three pipers left their Lodge in Glen Esk and walked to Brechin Castle and presented a snuff box to ‘His Lordship’.
Lord Panmure was twice married. He had three sons and six daughters by his first wife but none by his second. He died on 13th April 1852 at Brechin Castle and was buried at Brechin Cathedral on 20th April, aged 80.
©Research by Iain D. McIntosh, 2014
Formed in 1736 theGrand Lodge of Scotland is the governing body for all Freemasonry in Scotland.
Formed in 1861 the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter for Angus and Mearns is the governing body for Royal Arch Masonry in this area.