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Monday, March 30, 2020

Rt Hon James Edward Ramsden, PC 1923-2020

_. The Rt Hon James Ramsden, PC, who died 29 March, 2020, aged 96, was a former Conservative MP for Harrogate. He held the distinction of being the last Secretary of State for War, and longest serving member of the Privy Council after the Duke of Edinburgh.

His home was at Old Sleningford Hall, near Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Mr Ramsden served as MP for Harrogate, 1954-74, and he served under Harold Macmillan as Under-Secretary of State and Financial Secretary for War from 1960 to 1963 and under Sir Alec Douglas-Home as Secretary of State for War from 1963 to 1964. At the April 1964 reshuffle, the former cabinet positions of First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of State for Air, along with Ramsden's post, were incorporated into an expanded Ministry of Defence, under the leadership of the new position of Secretary of State for Defence.

Ramsden was appointed Minister of State for the Army at the Ministry of Defence, a post he held until Sir Alec Douglas-Home's government fell in October 1964. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1963. His successor in the Harrogate constituency was Robert Banks.

He was born at Liverpool,  1 Nov, 1923, son of Capt Edward Ramsden, MC, of Breckamore Hall, near Ripon, by his wife the former Geraldine Wilson [1888-1976]; and married 25 June, 1949, Juliet Ponsonby [1923-2019], scion of the Ponsonby baronets, daughter of Colonel Sir Charles Ponsonby, 1st Baronet [1879-1976], by his wife the former Hon Winifred Marian Gibbs [died 1984], daughter of the 1st Baron Hunsdon [1854-1935].

Mrs Juliet Ramsden died 21 November, 2019, aged 96.

James Ramsden leaves issue, three sons Thomas, George and Richard, and a daughter, Emma. He was predeceased by his youner daughter, the artist Charlotte Cheverton, who died as the result of a motoring accident in 1991.

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