Ramsay, Allan, 1685?–1758, Scottish poet. An Edinburgh bookseller, he opened one of the first circulating libraries in Great Britain. The Gentle Shepherd (1725), a pastoral comedy, is his most famous poetic work. He compiled several collections of old Scottish poems and songs and is considered an important figure in the revival of Scottish vernacular poetry that culminated in the work of Robert Burns. His son, Allan Ramsay, 1713–84, was a noted portrait painter. After a successful career in Edinburgh he moved to London in 1767 and became principal painter to George III.
See biography of the elder Ramsay by O. Smeaton (1896); study by B. Martin (1931).