Name: Thomas Kerr
Suffix: of Ferniehurst
Death: 31 MAR 1586 in Aberdeen
Burial: Jedburgh Abbey, before communion table
Residence: Oxnam, later of Ferniehirst 1
MEM: Jedburgh Abbey: MI
FILE: /Ged Pics mstr/Ker, Tho d 1586.jpg
Title: Ker, Tho d 1586
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Change Date: 6 MAY 2011
Sir Thomas Kerr of Ferniehirst was noted for his loyalty to Mary Queen of Scots, for whom he built a fortified house in the centre of Jedburgh. He raised the Royal Standard for her in Dumfries, helping her and her husband Darnley to put down an insurrection by a group of her nobles (she won at the time but was forced into exile a few years later). Subsequently he sheltered her English supporters after the rising of the Northern Earls (1568) and rescued Lady Northumberland, stranded by illness in a Liddesdale outlaw's hide-out. He helped his father-in-law, Kirkcaldy of Grange, to defend Edinburgh Castle in the Queen's name; when it was taken he lost precious family documents which were never seen again, but at least he escaped with his life (Kirkcaldy was beheaded) and fled abroad for some years. He was re-instated in his lands by James VI when the young King came of age and took power into his own hands. The townsmen of Jedburgh supported the Regent Morton (later also beheaded) against Mary; they "debagged" and publicly caned a herald sent out by Ferniehirst to read out a proclamation of loyalty to the Queen, also compelling him to eat his document.
From her English prison, Mary wrote to Sir Thomas, thanking him for his past services and encouraging him to keep up his loyalty. She seems to have taken a particular liking to his young son Andrew, the first Lord Jedburgh, and may have knighted him while still a child, for she asks in particular to be remembered to "Sir Andrew".
Briefly imprisoned after the fall of Edinburgh Castle, Sir Thomas was in exile and unable to perform his duties as Warden at the time of the last major clash on the Border, the Raid of Redeswire. This incident developed on one of the "days of truce" when the Wardens or their deputes met to resolve various local problems and to exchange or hang wanted criminals. On this occasion the English Warden complained that the Scots had failed to hand over a thief known as "Farnstein" (not a German refugee or mercenary, as one might think, but an Englishman whose real name was Robson). This led to mutual insults, no doubt aggravated by the fact that both sides had been liquidating a great deal of liquid. The argument grew into a scuffle and the scuffle grew into a fight. Eventually the Jedburgh men arrived in strength and dispersed the English, killing a few and capturing others, who were later released without ransom.
Though he missed this particular incident, Sir Thomas was involved in a similar but smaller affray, on almost the same spot, ten years later. By then he was back in office as Warden of the Middle March; Forster, now 84, was still in charge on the other side, and Forster's son-in-law, who was also a son of the Earl of Bedford, was killed. Elizabeth Tudor was not amused, and insisted on Ferniehirst's punishment, though the rights and wrongs of the whole affair were by no means clear. Being anxious to succeed to the English throne, James VI sought to ingratiate himself with her, and exiled Sir Thomas to Aberdeen, where he died within a year.
The inscription on his memorial in Jedburgh Abbey reads "Sir THOMAS KERR of Fernyherst, Warden of the Marches, Provost of Edinburgh and Jedburgh, Father of Andrew Lord Jedburgh, Sir James Kerr of Creylin (Crailing) and Robert Earl of Somerset. He died at Aberdeen on March 31, 1586 and lies buried before the Communion Table. He was a man of action and perfit loyaltie and constancie to Queen Marie in all her troubles. He suffered 14 years' banishment besides forfaulter (forfeiture) of his lands. He was restored to his estates and honours by King James the Sext."
Sir Thomas married twice. His children by his first wife, Janet Kirkcaldy, included Sir Andrew of Ferniehirst, first Lord Jedburgh and William, who took the name of Kirkcaldy to continue his mother's line; his children, however, reverted to Kerr, having failed to inherit the Grange property. By his second marriage, to Janet Scott*, Sir Thomas was the father of Sir James Kerr of Crailing (father of the second Lord Jedburgh) and of Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset. He had several other children by both his wives.
* Daughter of Sir William Scott of Kirkurd and Buccleuch, younger.
Father: John Ker
Mother: Catherine Kerr
ABT 10 FEB 1562
- Note: Contraact date
- Andrew Ker
- Type: Web Site
Title: Stirnet Genealogy
Author: Patrick Barns-Graham
- Text: FERNIEHIRST CASTLE
Chapter III - Family History
An outline history of the Kerrs of Ferniehirst
From Electric Scotland