Ram, Sir Abel (d. 1692), goldsmith and banker, was the elder of two sons of the five children of Abel Ram of Ramsfort and Clonattin, Co. Wexford, and his wife, Eleanor Ram (née Andrews). His parents were the children of two successive bishops of Ferns and Leighlin, Thomas Ram (qv) and George Andrews (qv). The Rams were the most important family of settlers in the Wexford plantation, and were responsible for the development and incorporation of the village of Gorey, which lay in the middle of their estates.
By the time Ram succeeded to the Wexford estates on his father's death in 1676 he was already established as a goldsmith in Dublin. He was made a freeman of the Goldsmiths' Company (1665), and was later warden (1666–8), and master (1668–70 and 1682–3). Acquiring substantial property in the city of Dublin, he became an increasingly respected and important figure, and he was made sheriff (1673) and alderman (1675–6). He was a leading member of the corporation, and was especially active in its financial affairs. He was lord mayor in 1684–5, and was knighted 13 November 1684. On occasion he lent money to the city, and he was made a trustee of funds collected for the ’49 officers. When Wexford was granted its new charter by James II (qv) on 24 December 1688 Ram was named as one of its aldermen. However, he joined the exodus of protestants to England, probably fleeing after the ransacking of his house in Dublin in September 1689. He and his brother, Andrew, were both appointed to the Corporation for the Linen Manufactures in Ireland, established in December 1690. He died on 22 January 1692, leaving his financial affairs in some disorder, with debts of more than £20,000. He had married Eleanor Palmer (d. 1737), daughter of Stephen Palmer of Dublin; they had six sons and five daughters.
Their eldest son, Abel Ram (1669–1740), philanthropist, politician, and banker, was educated privately, before entering TCD on 26 April 1684. Deciding to study law, he entered Gray's Inn (1686) and Middle Temple (1689) in London. On the death of his father in 1692, he took over the running of the considerable banking and goldsmith business at Castle Street in Dublin. He entered the house of commons in the same year as MP for Gorey, and sat in both of the parliaments of King William (qv) (1692–3 and 1695–9). In this period he served on sixteen committees and displayed a steadfast support for the besieged lord chancellor, Sir Charles Porter (qv).
In 1698 the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) was founded and Ram became one of its most enthusiastic supporters. He was its first corresponding member in Ireland, and in 1701 brought copies of its standing orders over from London to show to the Irish bishops. In 1702 and 1712 he also helped to settle many families from the Palatine in Old Ross, Co. Wexford; these were German immigrants fleeing economic hardship and war, and the plantation at Old Ross was the only one of consequence besides the main one on the Co. Limerick estate of Sir Thomas Southwell (qv). In 1716 Ram became a founder of a society for promoting charity schools in Ireland, and in 1721 was the sponsor in the house of commons of an act for encouraging protestant schools.
During the reign of Queen Anne, Ross continued to sit as MP for Gorey (1703–13), but was now viewed as being in opposition to the court. Appointed high sheriff of Co. Wexford in 1709, he also represented the constituency during the reign of George I (1715–27) and in this period sat on thirty-four committees. One of the key debates during this time was about the establishment of a national bank and, like many members of his profession, he opposed the measure with great vehemence. In 1721 he is listed as voting twice against the idea of a national bank. He also took a hand in proposing his own legislation. For example, in 1715 he introduced a bill to assist the inheritance of minors, while in 1717 he proposed a bill to prevent frivolous and vexatious law suits. Still committed to his fervent protestant beliefs, in 1721 he introduced an act to support clerical residency in the country and encourage protestant schools in Ireland. With the accession of George II in 1727 there was a new parliament and he continued to represent Gorey until his death. He served on fifteen committees between 1727 and 1736. He was involved in controversy when his coachman was said to have tried deliberately to run down Jonathan Swift (qv) in the street in Gorey, and this was compounded by a lukewarm apology from Ram. Swift's travelling companion, Thomas Sheridan (qv), was prompted to satirise Ram in print as ‘Squire Wether’, and the story entered folklore.
In 1702 he married Sarah Humfreys from London; they had three sons and two daughters. Ram died 14 September 1740. All three of his sons, Abel (1705–78), Humfreys (d. 1769) and Andrew (1711–93) sat in the Irish house of commons, and his grandson Abel (1776–1823) represented Co. Wexford in the final Irish parliament before the act of union.