Sir Andrew Kerr 1570-1631

The Kerrs were a powerful family and Sir Andrew certainly took part in some daring do’s, the summary justice he oversaw in his own district and the capacity to raise a small army all aroused suspicion at court and certainly it appears he was summoned to appear in relation to the political intrigues of Francis Stewart the 5th Earl of Bothwell, who with a number of followers in 1591 was accused of practising witchcraft to murder the King. Those implicated in the plot included Sir Andrew Kerr who was summoned to court to answer the charges, Andrew refused and Ferniehirst was made uninhabitable to punish him. A complete remission under the great seal was finally granted by James VI in 1615 for this and various misdemeanours.

The lairds were important in the structure of the Scottish parliament, the majority would hold a seat and this alone was a good reason at this time in Scottish history to stay on the better side of these men, King James would require the support of a stable parliament to work from and with his treasury all but bankrupt would require a vote to acquire funds as his prospect of a union of the crowns came ever closer. James allows Andrew Kerr to rebuild and repair Ferniehirst, certainly the date 1598 above the main castle door indicates the refurbishment to be complete at that time.

In 1622 Sir Andrew Kerr was created a Peer with the title Lord Jedburgh “granted to him and his heirs male and successors in the family of Ferniehirst, bearing the name and arms of Ker”

Married to Dame Anna Stewart, the daughter of the Master of Ochiltree,Andrew had 1 son, Andrew who predeceased his Father and 6 daughters. Sir Andrew Kerr died in 1633 and is buried in the family vault at Jedburgh Abbey.

SIR ANDREW KERR 1570 - 1633

When Sir Thomas Kerr died in Aberdeen in 1586 his oldest son Andrew was just 16 years old and considered a minor, his Uncle William, Laird of Ancram represented the estates, much to the displeasure of Lady Cessford who had designs of her own to bring Ferniehirst into the holdings controlled by the Cessford Kers. The intrigue surrounding this envious woman prompted her son Robert to murder William Kerr in Edinburgh in 1590. Following a brief period in exile Robert returned and was ordered to make financial recompense to the family for his deed. Robert Ker become the 1st Earl of Roxburgh in 1616.

Andrew was granted the office of Baillie in 1588 and the instruction from the Chancery refers to this title having been granted to all his predecessors beginning with his great Grandfather ‘Dand’ Kerr and in 1591 Sir Andrew was appointed Gentleman of the Bedchamber to James VI. This extremely important office gave regular access to the king and the duties included waiting on the king when he ate in private, helping him to dress, guarding the bedchamber and closet, and providing companionship.

This was an important time for the Scottish King to encourage the support of the most powerful Border families in his strategy to calm the lawlessness in the region. The Kerrs supported James VI and played a role in the bringing to ‘justice’ many who were considered the main perpetrators of murder, kidnap, protection and robbery. As a result of these measures a fight between the Turnbulls and the Kerrs is recorded in 1601 in Jedburgh resulting in the death of Andrew’s brother Thomas Kerr of Crailing, Robert Turnbull of Bewlie and John Middlemas. In his capacity as Provost of the Burgh Andrew arrested the murderer of his brother and executed him. Displeased with the outcome of this incident, and with a complaint being laid against various members of the Kerr family the Earl of Angus, as Lord of the Regality of Jedburgh, claimed the right to try Sir Andrew and the others, but the case was never brought to trial.

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