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Photographs of Frank Ramsey and other family members, mainly by Lettice Ramsey

All these images below have been scanned in from prints or negatives. Too see a selection of her portrait photographs of Cambridge's leading lights from the 1930's and later, click here.

Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey, 1925

Frank Ramsey was briefly Lettice's husband. He was a brilliant philosopher, mathematician and economist. He was of course my grandfather, although I never knew him, and my mother had no memory of him as he died aged only 26 in 1930.  Even today (90 years later!) there is considerable interest in his work.

In 2020, Cheryl Misak (a Canadian Philosopher) published a comprehensive biography of Frank (Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers, Oxford University Press, 2020).

There are only a few photographs of him, as he died so young. This is perhaps the most famous, taken in 1925 (probably) by Lettice while they were walking in the Lake District.

Many thanks to Andrew English for his amazing detective work in locating the exact spot that this photograph was taken from! According to Andrew, Frank is standing on the summit of Buttermere Red Pike. The peak just over his left shoulder is Fleetwith Pike, an unmistakable shape, and the body of water is the south-eastern end of Buttermere Lake. The slope going through his torso is probably High Stile.


Frank Ramsey, 1925

This is a much less well known photo of Frank with his father, A. S. Ramsey (who was also a mathematician). This appears to have been taken on the same walk as the one above - probably from virtually the same spot, but looking in a slightly different direction.

This photo has been adapted and "colourised", with my permission, to form the front cover of Cheryl Misak's biography of him (see above for further details).

Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey, 1928

Another outdoor photo of Frank, from the same strip of negatives as the one above, but is believed to be from the Austrian Tyrol, three years later!

Frank Ramsey, 1928

This is another photo of Frank, presumably from the same trip as the one above.

Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey, aged 18.

A portrait photograph of Frank which could not have been taken by Lettice, as she didn't know him then.

Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey

I have no information on his age, nor the photographer for this one.

Michael Ramsey

Michael Ramsey, 1955

Michael was Frank's younger brother and a completely different kind of person! Unlike Frank who was a militant atheist, Michael was deeply religious and was the Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York before becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974.

Jane Burch

Jane Burch (nee Ramsey)

Jane was the elder daughter of Lettice and Frank and my mother (born in 1926, died 2010). She is here photographed by Lettice, as a teenager in her Girl Guide uniform - she was very keen on the Guides during the war years. Her younger sister Sarah tragically died of polio in 1949.

Having graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge shortly after the end of WWII, she married in 1949. The young couple shortly moved to Leeds where dad (see below) started his long career at Leeds University. My mother worked in the department of Biochemistry for many years, until she retired.

She was then a stalwart of the Leeds Citizen's Advice Bureau for almost 20 years, almost until her death in July 2010 aged 83. She was also a dedicated walker and even in later life was at her happiest in her beloved Yorkshire Dales, leading (often from the back!) the "ambles" she organised for the LU Walking Club.

There is an on-line obituary of her on the Leeds University Website.

Unfortunately in her later years she was much affected by arthritis which she fought with much determination and hip and knee replacements. One of her last walks was in Crummack Dale, near Austwick in August 2009.

Jane Burch

Jane Burch (nee Ramsey) 1946

My mother aged about 20.

Philip Burch

Philip Burch c.1980?

Philip Burch was my father, born 1920, died 1987. He was a professor of medical physics at Leeds University for many years. He was notable for his pioneering work on the genetic origins of diseases and his unconventional views on the (lack of) a causal link between smoking and lung cancer. He wrote two scientific books and authored or co-authored a huge number of scientific papers, and attended many international conferences.

There is a great account of his scientific theories and support for his views on the lack of a causal connection between smoking and lung cancer on Philip Neal's remarkable website

Unfortunately, he died aged only 66 before he had fully retired. Outside work, he was a lover of classical music and walking in the Yorkshire Dales.

All pictures copyright Stephen Burch  

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