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Roxburghe


ROXBURGHE, Duke of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, possessed by the noble family of Ker of Cessford, date of creation, 1707. The Kers of Cessford and of Fernihirst, the former the Roxburghe, and the latter the Lothian branch (see KERR, LOTHIAN), sprang from the same Anglo-Norman ancestor; and are regarded as in common the head of the sept of Ker, Kerr, or Carr, a name derived from the British word Car, a fortalice or strength. The surname abounds in the south of Scotland, particularly in the counties of Roxburgh and Berwick. Robert Ker got from David II. the lands of Oltonburn or Auldtounburn, lying upon the water of Bowmont, Teviotdale. John Ker of Oltonburn had two charters of the same, dated in 1357 and 1358. Andrew Ker of Oltonburn, the third in succession from John, had several charters from Archibald Douglas, duke of Touraine, among others of the barony of Cessford, in 1446. His eldest son, Andrew Ker of Oltonburn and Cessford, was one of those selected to accompany the earl of Douglas to Rome in 1450. He had a charter of the king’s lands of the barony of Auld Roxburghe, 6th February 1451-2. He was concerned with the Boyds in carrying off James III. from Linlithgow, for which he received a remission, 13th October 1466.

His son, Walter Ker of Cessford, a powerful border baron, was, under the name of Wat Carre, one of the commissioners for settling border disputes with the English, 18th October, 1484. In 1499 he received from James IV. a grant of the site of the ruined town and castle of Roxburgh, and died 25th November 1501. With one daughter, he had two sons, Sir Robert Ker, his successor, and Mark Ker of Dolphingston and Littledean, from whom was descended Major-general Walter Ker of Littledean, who, on 18th June 1804, was served nearest lawful heir male of Robert, first earl of Roxburghe, and his son, Hary, Lord Ker.

Sir Robert Ker of Cavertoun, the elder son, was in great favour with James IV., being his chief cupbearer. He was also master of the king’s artillery, and warden of the middle marches. He died before 6th November 1500. Pinkerton (vol. ii. p. 71) states that having shown great severity as warden on the borders, he was slain, in 1511, by the bastard Heron, Lilburn, and Starked, three Englishmen, and that his son, Andrew Ker, having sent two of his adherents after his assailants, they brought him the head of Starked, which was exposed on one of the most public places in Edinburgh. The date, 1511, is however erroneous. By his wife, Christian, daughter of James Rutherford of Rutherford, he had two sons, Sir Andrew Ker, and George Ker of Fawdonside.

Sir Andrew, the elder son, was one of those who signed the letter to the king of France about comprehending Scotland in his treaty with England, 15th May 1515. Like his father, he was guardian of the middle marches, and in the summer of 1526 was in the expedition to the borders, under the earl of Angus, which, on its return by Melrose to Edinburgh, was, on 18th July, intercepted by his brother-in-law, Scott of Buccleuch, with a thousand men, assembled to free King James V. from the power of the Douglases. In the engagement that ensued, Ker of Cessford was the only person of note killed on the side of Angus. His death was lamented by both parties, and occasioned a deadly feud between the Scotts and the Kers, which led to much blood being shed on the borders. His two daughters, Catherine and Margaret, were married to two powerful border chiefs. Sir John Ker of Fernihirst, and Sir John Home of Coldingknows. He had three sons, Sir Walter, his successor; Mark Ker, commendator of Newbottle, father of the first earl of Lothian, and Andrew.

Sir Walter Ker of Cessford, the eldest son, had a letter of remission under the great seal to himself and John Ker of Fernihirst, for being art and part in the cruel murder of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, committed in October 1552. He was one of the commissioners of Francis and Mary to treat with the English, 28th August, 1559. He promoted the reformation, and in 1567, after the marriage of Queen Mary with Bothwell, he was among the border chiefs commanded to enter the castle of Edinburgh, during Bothwell’s intended excursion against the thieves of Liddesdale. All of them, “suspecting some other thing, went home in the night, except Sir Andrew Ker of Fernihirst, who was judged not ignorant of the murder of the king, and Walter Ker, laird of Cessford, a well meaning man, suspecting nothing.” (Calderwood, vol. ii. p. 360). When the queen and Bothwell were in Borthwick castle, from which they were forthwith obliged to flee, “Lord Hume came, with eight hundred men armed with jack and spear, of which number a hundred gentlemen came with young Cessford, to assist him.” Sir Walter Ker of Cessford was one of the chief leaders against the queen and Bothwell at Carbery hill. He entered into the association in support of the young king, James VI., and fought on the side of the regent Moray at the battle of Langside. When the queen’s faction in 1571 had possession of Edinburgh castle, the laird of Cessford was with the party in arms for the king at Leith, and took part in some of the conflicts of that unhappy time. In a parliament held by the queen’s partisans at Edinburgh in August the same year, Sir Walter Ker of Cessford was among the parties, to the number of 200, forfeited by them. Soon after, when Ker of Fernihirst and Scott of Buccleuch, at the head of their own followers and “the thieves of Liddesdale, Eusdale, Eskdale, West Teviotdale, and some also out of the English borders,” in all 3,000 men, advanced to plunder Jedburgh, the inhabitants sent for Sir Walter Ker of Cessford to assist them, and with the aid of Lord Ruthven, who had arrived “with 120 shot and some horsemen,” and their own proud war cry of “Jeddart’s here,” soon put them to flight. He died in 1584 of 1585. By Isabel, a daughter of Sir Andrew Ker of Fernihirst, he had, with two daughters, two sons, Andrew, who predeceased him, and William, warden of the middle marches. The latter also had, with two daughters, two sons, Sir Robert Ker, first Lord Roxburghe, and Sir Mark Ker of Ormiston, died in September 1603.

Sir Robert Ker, first Lord Roxburghe, born about 1570, in 1585 joined the banished lords in their successful attempt to drive from court the king’s infamous favourite, Captain James Stuart, some time earl of Arran. Two years afterwards, he and Buccleuch were committed to ward, for making incursions on the borders, their warding being urged by Lord Hunsdon, the English representative in Scotland. At the coronation of Anne of Denmark, queen of James VI., in 1590, he was one of the twelve gentlemen selected to be dubbed knights. The same year, he was engaged in the murder of William Ker of Ancrum, for which he had a remission under the great seal, 18th November 1591. Having failed to give up some English prisoners, taken on the borders, in contravention of an agreement entered into by commissioners on both sides, in December 1596, whereby there was to be an exchange of prisoners, he, the following year, surrendered himself to Sir Robert Cary, the English warden. That knight, who in his Memoirs describes him as a brave and active young man, after courteously entertaining him for some time, delivered him, by order of Queen Elizabeth, to the archbishop of York. The latter wrote thus of him to the treasurer: “I understand that the gentleman is wise and valiant, but somewhat haughty and resolute.” He was soon, however, released and allowed to return to Scotland. He was created a peer, by the title of Lord Roxburghe, about the end of 1599. The date of the creation does not appear, but in the ranking of the nobility in 1606, he was placed before Lord Lindores, so created 31st March 1600. As one of James’ principal courtiers, he accompanied him to London in 1603, on his accession to the English throne. A union with England being a favourite scheme of James VI., Lord Roxburghe was by the parliament, holden at Perth 11th July 1604, appointed one of the commissioners to treat with the English commissioners about it, but the project did not take effect till a full century afterwards. In 1607 he was present as king’s commissioner, at the meeting of the synod of Merse and Teviotdale, with the view of urging on them the admission of one of the constant moderators of the presbyteries to be moderator of the synod, but as honest Calderwood says, “he got a flat Nolumus.” He was created earl of Roxburghe and Lord Ker of Cessford and Cavertoun, 18th September 1616. In the parliament which met 25th July 1621, he was chosen one of the lords of the articles, and in the same parliament he voted for the confirmation of the five articles of Perth, so obnoxious to the great body of the Scots people.

IN 1623, a commission was appointed to hear grievances in Scotland, of which the earl of Roxburghe was a member, but it never was intended that it should take effect, and accordingly nothing followed on the proclamation regarding it. In 1637, he was appointed lord privy seal. IN the riot which took place at Edinburgh, July 23d, that year, on occasion of the new liturgy being introduced at St. Giles’ church, his lordship was the means of saving the bishop of Edinburgh, by taking him into his coach, and driving him off to Holyrood-house, his servants being obliged to draw their swords against the populace. On the breaking out of the civil war in Scotland in 1639, he joined the king, but returned home on the pacification of Berwick. In consequence of his having supported the ‘Engagement’ for the rescue of the ill-fated Charles, in 1648, he was deprived of his office of privy seal by order of the Estates, 13th February 1649. He died 18th January 1650, in his 80th year. He was thrice married. By his first wife, Margaret, only daughter of Sir William Maitland of Lethington, he had a son, William, Lord Ker, who died in France, before 19th August 1618, and three daughters, Lady Jean, married to the second earl of Perth, with issue; Lady Isabel, married to James Scrimgeour, second viscount of Dundee, killed at Marston Moor in 1644; and Lady Mary, married, first, to James Halyburton of Pitcur, and, after his death, to the second earl of Southesk. He married, secondly, Jane, third daughter of the third Lord Drummond, and sister of his son-in-law the earl of Perth. This countess of Roxburghe was governess of the children of James IV., and died in 1643. In the Gentleman’s Magazine for February 1799, is an autograph of her ladyship, Jane Roxburghe, said therein to be the signature of Jane, duchess (in mistake for countess) of Roxburghe, to a receipt, dated 10th May 1617, for 500, part of the sum of 3,000, a gift from his majesty to her, in consideration of her long and faithful service to the queen, as one of the ladies of her bedchamber. They had one son, Hary, styled Lord Ker, after his brother’s death. The earl married, thirdly, Lady Isobel Douglas, fifth daughter of the second earl of Morton, without issue. This lady married a second time, James, second marquis of Montrose, called the good marquis, a nobleman sixty years younger then her first husband.

Hary, Lord Ker, was, with his father, in the king’s forces in 1639, but quitted the royal army and joined the Covenanters at Dunse Law, it is thought, with his father’s connivance. When the association in behalf of Charles I. was formed at Cumbernauld by the marquis of Montrose in January 1641, Lord Ker joined it, and continued faithful to the royal cause. He predeceased his father in January 1643. By his wife, Lady Margaret Hay, only daughter of William, tenth earl of Errol, and after Lord Ker’s death, countess of Cassillis, he had four daughters, namely, Lady Jane, countess of Roxburghe; Lady Anne; Lady Margaret, married in 1666 to Sir James Innes of Innes, baronet, with issue, whose representative ultimately succeeded to the honours of the family; and Lady Sophia, who died unmarried.

Lady Jane Ker, the earl’s eldest daughter, married her cousin-german, the Hon. Sir William Drummond, fourth son of the second earl of Perth, by his countess, Lady Jean Ker, and on him the earldom of Roxburghe devolved, in accordance with a new destination of the same, obtained by the first earl, in 1643, renewed by charter under the great seal, dated 31st July 1646, and nominated under his hand as authorized by the latter, and executed by him on 23d February 1648, one of the conditions of the said Sir William Drummond’s succession to the title being that he should marry the earl’s eldest daughter, or one of her younger sisters in their order. This charter was ratified by act of parliament, 10th June, 1648, and their marriage contract is dated 17th May 1635. When a young man, Sir William Drummond had the command of a regiment in the Dutch service, but on the breaking out of the civil war, he returned to Scotland, and joined the royalists, for which he was fined 6,000 by Cromwell in 1634. On his marriage with Lady Jean Ker, he became second earl of Roxburghe. In 1661, he obtained a parliamentary confirmation of the deed of nomination executed by the first earl in his favour in 1648; and in 1663, he procured a ratification of the same deed from Sir Walter Ker of Fawdonside, then the nearest male heir of the Cessford family. He died 2d July 1675. The new line introduced by this marriage retained the name of Ker, and carried on the peerage as if the succession had been direct by male descent. With a daughter, Jane, countess of Balcarres, he had four sons, viz., Robert, third earl; the Hon. Hary Ker, and the Hon. William Ker, sheriff of Tweeddale, both of whom died without issue; and John, second Lord Bellenden. His grand-aunt, Margaret, sister of the first earl of Roxburghe, having married Sir James Bellenden of Broughton, father of the first Lord Bellenden, he succeeded the latter in his title and estates.

Robert, third earl, was a privy councilor of King Charles II. He was one of the retinue of the duke of York when he embarked in the Gloucester frigate for Leith, on 3d May 1682. On the night of the 5th the Gloucester struck on a sandbank about 16 leagues from the mouth of the Humber, and was wrecked. The duke escaped by going out at the large window of the cabin into a small boat. He and those who went with him were forced to draw their swords to keep the people off. Before going he inquired for Lord Roxburghe and Lord O’Brien, but the confusion was so great that they could not be found. The earl of Roxburghe was drowned, and about 200 other persons. By his countess, Lady Margaret Hay, eldest daughter of John, first marquis of Tweeddale, lord-high-chancellor of Scotland, he had three sons, Robert, fourth earl, who died, unmarried, at Brussels, 13th June, 1696, in his 19th year; John, fifth earl, and the Hon. William Ker, a lieutenant-general in the army. The latter served with reputation on the continent under the duke of Marlborough. At the battle of Sheriffmuir, 13th November 1715, he was wounded in the thigh, and had his horse shot under him. He died, unmarried, 7th January 1741. The third earl’s countess survived her husband in constant widowhood for the long period of 71 years, and died at Broomlands, near Kelso, in January 1753, in her 96th year. She is said to have been the heroine of the Scottish sons called “John Hay’s Bonnie Lassie.” Her walking-stick is still preserved at Fleurs castle, the family seat in Roxburghshire.

John, fifth earl, a most accomplished nobleman, was, in 1704, appointed one of the secretaries of state in Scotland. He heartily promoted the union with England; nor was he without his reward, for, by patent, dated at Kensington, 25th April 1707, he was created, in the Scots peerage, duke of Roxburghe, marquis of Bowmont and Cessford, earl of Kelso, viscount of Broxmouth, and Lord Ker of Cessford and Cavertoun, to himself and the heirs male of his body, with remainder to the other heirs destined by the former patents to succeed to the title and dignity of earl of Roxburghe. His grace was one of the sixteen Scots representative peers, and one of the lords of the regency before the arrival of George I. in England. By that monarch he was appointed keeper of the privy seal of Scotland, 24th September 1714, and, on 1st October, sworn a privy councilor at St. James’. On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, he accompanied the duke of Argyle to Scotland, and served under him as a volunteer at the battle of Sheriffmuir. The following year he was constituted secretary of state for Scotland. During the king’s absence in Hanover the same year, and again in 1716, 1720, 1723, and 1725, he was one of the lords justices of the kingdom. ON 10th October 1722, he was invested with the order of the garter. He joined Lords Carteret and Cadogan in their attempt to remove Sir Robert Walpole and his brother-in-law, Lord Townshend, from the government, for which he was dismissed from his place as secretary of state, 25th August 1725. At the coronation of George II. he officiated as deputy to the countess of Errol, high constable of Scotland. His latter years were spent on his estates. He died at Fleurs, 24th February 1741.

His only son, Robert, second duke of Roxburghe, was, in early youth, created a British peer, as earl and baron Ker of Wakefield, county of York, 24th May 1722. He died at Bath, 23d August 1755. He had four sons and three daughters. His two youngest daughters, Lady Essex Ker, and Lady Mary Ker, were two of the bridesmaids to Queen Charlotte, on her nuptials with George III. in 1761.

His eldest son, John, third duke of Roxburghe, was the celebrated bibliomanist. On his death, unmarried, in 1804, he left a vast accumulation of wealth, as well as an extensive library of rare books, the sale of which realized a prodigious sum. While traveling on the continent, he and Christiana, eldest daughter of the duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, formed a mutual attachment, and were on the eve of being married, when Charlotte, her younger sister, became espoused to George III., and German etiquette forbade that the elder sister should assume a station which would render her the subject of the younger. The duke and the princess, in consequence, broke off their match, but testified the warmth of their mutual affection and esteem by remaining single, during their lives.

The direct line having again failed, the heir of entail, William, seventh Lord Bellenden, a descendant of the second earl, succeeded as fourth duke of Roxburghe. The Lords Bellenden held the office of usher of exchequer, with a salary of about 250 sterling a-year, and appear not to have been in opulent circumstances. John Ker, second Lord Bellenden, fourth son of the second earl of Roxburghe, died in March 1707. He had five sons and a daughter. The sons were, 1. John, third Lord Bellenden, died 16th March 1740. 2. The Hon. Robert Bellenden, died unmarried. 3. The Hon. William Bellenden, a lieutenant-colonel in the army, who died in 1759, leaving a son, William, who succeeded as seventh Lord Bellenden and fourth duke of Roxburghe. 4. The Hon. James Bellenden, a captain in the army; and 5. The Hon. Sir Henry Bellenden, gentleman usher of the Black Rod of the order of the Garter, who died without issue at London, 7th April 1761. Both Sir Henry and his sister, the Hon. Mary Bellenden, one of the maids of honour of Caroline, princess of Wales, and afterwards duchess of Argyle, are mentioned by Horace Walpole. For the latter particularly, see Lord Orford’s Works (vol. iv. p. 300). With six daughters the third Lord Bellenden had two sons, Ker and Robert. Ker, fourth Lord Bellenden, an officer in the royal navy, died 23d May 1754, leaving on only son, John Ker, fifth Lord Bellenden, who died, insolvent, at Edinburgh, without issue, 20th October 1796, and was succeeded by his uncle, Robert, sixth Lord Bellenden. The latter died, unmarried, 14th October 1797, when the title devolved on the above-mentioned William Bellenden.

William, seventh Lord Bellenden, for some time an officer in the army, succeeded in 1804 as fourth duke of Roxburghe, being then in his 76th year. He enjoyed his new honours only about a year, dying at Fleurs castle 22d October 1805. His widow, Mary, daughter of Benjamin Bechenoe, Esq., captain R.N., married, a second time, John Manners, Esq., afterwards Talmash, second son of the countess of Dysart.

As the fourth duke died without surviving issue, the whole male line of the second earl of Roxburghe failed with him. The title of Lord Bellenden became dormant, and the English titles extinct. For the Scottish honours and the estates a lengthened contest arose between Lady Essex Ker, as heir of line; Sir James Norcliffe Innes, afterwards designed Sir James Innes Ker, baronet, as heir male of Margaret, daughter of Hary, Lord Ker; Major-general Walter Ker of Littledean, as heir male of the first earl; and the Right Hon. William Drummond of Logie-Almond, as heir male of the second earl. The fourth duke had executed an entail of the estates in favour of Mr. Bellenden Ker Bellenden, nephew of the fifth Lord Bellenden, and others, but the court of session set aside the entail, and decided in favour of Sir James Innes Ker. On appears, the whole decisions in his favour were affirmed by the House of Lords, and on 11th May 1812, he was declared duke and earl of Roxburghe.

James, fifth duke and ninth earl of Roxburghe, born about 1738, son of Sir Hary Innes, fifth baronet of Innes, was in his youth an officer in the army. He died 19th July 1823. He married, first, Mary, eldest daughter of Sir John Wray of Glentworth, county of Lincoln, baronet, and assumed the additional surname of Norcliffe, upon Lady Innes’ inheriting the estate of her maternal ancestors at Langton, Yorkshire. He afterwards dropped that surname on assuming the name of Ker. He married, secondly, Harriet, daughter of Benjamin Charlewood of Windlesham, Esq., and by her had an only son, James Henry Robert, sixth duke. The duchess survived him till 19th January 1855, having taken for her second husband, Lieutenant-colonel Walter Frederick O’Reilly, C.B. 41st foot, who died 4th March 1844.

James Henry Robert Innes Ker, 6th Duke of Roxburghe, K.T., born July 12, 1816, created Earl Innes in 1838, he married Dec. 20, 1836, Susanna Stephenia, only child of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Dalbiac, K.C.H., issue, James Henry Robert, marquis of Bowmont and Cessford, born Sept. 5, 1839; another son, and two daughters, the elder of whom, Lady Susan Harriet, married in 1859 J. Grant Suttie, Esq., eldest son of Sir George Grant Suttie, Bart.


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