Kerr Timeline 1205 - 1692

A Timeline to accompany Bob Lawson's book

'The Kerrs of Ferniehirst 1205 - 1692'

10th Century 

Norse Kjarrs settle on the Cherbourg Peninsula others in raiding parties settle in Britain, particularly on the Wirral in Cheshire, in Yorkshire and on the West coast of Scotland.

12th Century

After 1138, during the reign of David I the de Kers were introduced into Ayrshire from Cherbourg by Hugh de Morville Lord High Constable of Scotland

13th Century

1205 Earliest document, discovered among the Muniments of Irvine, relating to the de Kers of Kersland Ayrshire. The de Kers of Kersland settled in Ayrshire in the 12th century, during the reign of David I, are at the root of the Roxburghshire Kers including both Cessford and Ferniehirst. They share the same coat of arms of a Gules field with a chevron Argent emblazoned with three Norman mullets Gules.

1292 The Auld Alliance called on by Scots opposed to Edward I of England and his puppet John Baliol. The First War of Independence begins.

1296 The Ragmans Roll is signed by 5 Kers including John de Ker of Ayrshire. This sham document was signed for the most part without conviction and many of the names included on it were later noted opposed to any influence by the English court. The same John de Ker supports Wallace and his kin displaced from Kersland support Bruce in his bid to win back an independent Scotland.

14th Century

1305 William Wallace is betrayed and taken prisoner at Robroyston, William de Ker, is killed defending his friend and Liege.

1314 The Battle of Bannockburn. Robert The Bruce acknowledges those who supported his cause throughout the First Wars of Independence with grants of lands. A portion of arable farmland in Jedwood, on the banks of the Jed Water known as Kersheugh was granted after 1314 to the Kers. Became known as Kersheugh. 700 years later a farm bearing the same name still survives.

1329 Death of Robert The Bruce, John Balliol’s son Edward claims the Scottish throne.

1332 In August Baliol wins a decisive victory at Dupplin Moor near Perth. Baliol's triumph was short-lived. Three months later Archibald Douglas supported by dissenting families,  including the Ayrshire Kers drive Baliol back across the border after his defeat at the Battle of Annan. 

1333 Supported by the armies of Edward III Baliol beats the Scottish army at The Battle of  Halidon Hill. The second Wars of Independence begin.

1340 The three brothers Ker displaced from their Ayrshire lands at Kersland are noted as great chieftains. Fighting out of Selkirk Forest the brothers are  described in a report sent to Edward III by the English commander Sir Thomas Grey as 'the greatest enemies the writer [Sir Thomas Grey] had in the forest or in the company of William Douglas' (The Kers supported William Douglas, known as 'The Knight of Liddesdale')

1341 William Douglas and his supporters retake Edinburgh Castle from English occupation. David II returns from exile in France in June, landing at Inverbervie.

1346 David and his Scottish armies beaten at the Battle of Neville's Cross, the Scottish King is taken prisoner by Sir John Copeland.  The Scottish borders receive fresh blood as English knights are appointed with lands and offices. Many disillusioned supporters of the ‘Bruce Party’ accept the English peace. The Kers continue to harass the occupying forces and those communities who accept the English occupation.

1353 William Douglas Lord of Liddesdale dies, the Douglas line begins to falter.

1357 John Ker of Selkirk Forest, having accepted the English peace after the death of William Douglas is granted lands at Auldtonburn (known as Attonburn) near Morebattle in Roxburghshire by the English commander Sir John Copeland. John Ker was respected and feared by the English who were eager to offer him a portion of land and retain this valuable new ally.

The Cessford dynasty is born.

1358 John Ker granted an extension of his lands at Auldtonburn with a grant of lands at Mow nearby.

1363 The English King describes John Ker  as 'his liege' and 'of special favour' and grants the lands of the late William Rutherford to John Ker, including Nisbet and Crailing.

1384 John Ker refuses to continue to accept the English peace and accepts once more the Douglas lordship.

15th Century

1404 John Ker died between 1385 and 1404. He is succeeded by Henry Ker his kinsman (possibly his Brother). A Robert Ker of Auldtonburn is granted lands at Smailholm in this year by Archibald 4th Earl of Douglas indicating Henry as 'caretaker' until Robert is able to inherit John Ker's holdings.

1450 Andrew Ker builds Cessford Castle

1467 A regrant of the lands of Cessford by King James III of Scotland to Sir Andrew Ker. Andrew now styles himself 'of Cessfurd'.

1470 Sir Andrew Ker's third son Thomas of Smailholm marries his cousin Margaret Ker of Kersheugh and builds his tower at Ferniehirst.

1471 Thomas of Smailholm, now 1st Baron of Ferniehirst has a son and heir. Andrew known as Dand. Dand is destined to establish the Ferniehirst Kers as a 'Grayne' (a Scottish Border word to describe a family),  distinct from the Cessford Kers.

1490 Death of Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehirst. Dand inherits Ferniehirst.

16th Century

1509 Henry VIII crowned King of England. Half the lands of Oxnam sold to Dand Ker of Ferniehirst

1511 The remainder of the Oxnam lands sold to Dand Ker of Ferniehirst, including Crag Tower. Rebuilt by Dand, the Tower becomes an important second stronghold for the Ferniehirst Kers.

1513 The Battle of Flodden Field. Both the Kers of Cessford and Ferniehirst stand together with the Huntlys and the Humes against the might of the English armies. Dand Ker of Ferniehirst takes Kelso Abbey and installs his younger Brother Thomas as Commendator, (later Thomas becomes Abbott)

1523 May 19th, Henry Howard the Earl of Surrey besiege Cessford. Andrew Ker of Cessford surrenders.  24th September Surrey burns Jedburgh and destroys and pillages the Abbey.

1523 September 25th, Surrey's troops commanded by Lord Thomas Dacre besiege Ferniehirst Castle. The castle is finally taken after many hours of hand to hand fighting. Later the same evening over 200 horses belonging to Surrey's army are spooked by Dand Ker's men of Jedhart. Many horses stumble over the cliff at Lintalee.

1523 November 2nd, Dand Ker commands the Duke of Albany's French troops in an attack on Wark Castle, the attack fails, Dand retreats, many French soldiers drown in the swollen River Tweed.

1526 The 14 year old King James V attends the assize courts at Jedburgh accompanied by the Earl of Angus, the Earl of Arran and an entourage of nobles, knights and armed men. Ker of Cessford and Dand Ker are in attendance. Arran plots with Sir Walter Scott of  Buccleuch to kidnap the young King on the return journey by Melrose to Edinburgh. The royal party are intercepted at Darnick near Melrose, the Kers having returned home are summoned and join the King's forces at 'The Battle of Melrose, Buccleuch retreats. Sir Andrew Ker of Cessford is killed during the rout by an Elliot fighting for  Buccleuch. So begins the long hatred between the Scotts and the Kers.

September 4th. Dand Ker and the Men of Jedhart ride North in support of the Earl of Angus. The young King James is made to watch as the forces of the Duke of Lennox are defeated at the battle of Linlithgow. Lennox, the champion of  the dowager Queen Margaret is taken prisoner and cruelly murdered.

1528 James V, no longer a minor, sits on the throne of Scotland. The Earl of Angus is attainted, exiled and stripped of his possessions, including Jedforest. The lands of Ferniehirst are granted in perpetuity to Dand Ker by Royal Charter.

1530 Dand Ker's Daughter Janet marries Walter Scott of Buccleuch by Royal decree in a bid to unite these two powerful Border families and avoid further feuds. The marriage, never consummated ends in divorce within months. The mutual hatred between the Scotts and the Kers continues.

1538 James V of Scotland marries Mary of Guise.

1542 The Scottish army loses the Battle of Solway Moss. James V dies. Mary of Guise gives birth to Mary, the future Queen of Scots.

1543 September 14th. The infant Mary is crowned 'Queen of Scots' at Stirling Henry VIII immediately proposes a union between Mary and his son and heir Edward. The ultimate rejection of the proposal and the threat of a Scottish Catholic revival provokes Henry VIII into  raising an army against the Scots. So begins 'The Rough Wooing'. The Kers, Scotts and Humes particularly singled out by the English. All refuse to accept the English occupation of the Middle and Eastern Marches.

1544 July 19th Dand Ker of Ferniehirst and his oldest son John taken prisoner by the English at Bedrule.

November 22nd Threat and bribe forces the Ferniehirst Kers to become 'assured Scots' along with Walter Ker of Cessford and Lord Hume.

On the orders of the English King Henry VIII, Lord Eure and Lord Laiton with a substantial army exceeding 10,000 men continue to burn and pillage the Scottish Borders. They burn Jedburgh and Melrose abbeys and destroy the Douglas tombs.

1545 February 27th. The Battle of Ancrum Moor. Enraged by the defiling of the tombs of his illustrious ancestors Archibald Douglas 6th Earl of Angus raises a force of 5000 men and rides to Melrose, enlisting the support of Walter Scott of Buccleuch.  The Scots defeat  the English forces, both Eure and Laiton are killed. The 'assured' Scots,  including Ferniehirst, Cessford and Hume turn on their English enemies.

October 5th Dand Ker dies at Oxnam Tower. Succeeded by his son John. The English armies return strengthening their garrison at Ferniehirst with orders directly from Henry VIII to conduct a campaign of fear against the Border names.

1547 January 28th Henry VIII dies. Lord Somerset declares himself  Lord Protector and continues his terror campaign of death and destruction in Scotland.

September 10th. Battle of Pinkie. 23,000 Strong Scottish army raised by the Earl of Arran succumb to the superior fire power of the English forces.  The Kers fight beside the Huntlys and the Humes as they had at The Battle of Flodden in 1513.

1549 February. Ferniehirst retaken from the English by the French and Scottish troops commanded by Jean de Beaugue. Over 130 English soldiers cruelly executed by the Scots.

June. Ferniehirst retaken by Henry Manners 2nd Earl of Rutland

October. English troops withdraw from Scottish occupations including Ferniehirst.

1552 Walter Scott of Buccleuch (Wicked Watt) murdered in Edinburgh High Street, repeatedly stabbed by Humes and Kers. The long feud was never forgotten, John Ker of Ferniehirst being involved in this sensless killing of a great chieftain.

1553 John Ker of Ferniehirst outlawed for his part in the murder of Scott.

1556 Ferniehirst lands returned to the family.

1559 January 15th.  Queen Elizabeth I crowned.

1561 August 19th. Mary Queen of Scots returns from France.

1562 Sir John Ker of Ferniehirst dies. Sir Thomas Ker succeeds.

1565 During the Chaseabout Raids Mary Queen of Scots places herself under the personal protection of her Royal Standard Bearer, Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehirst.

1566 October. Mary Queen of Scots arrives in Jedburgh during a Royal progress, she stays in a house rented to her by Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehirst. During her stay, the Queen makes her fateful ride to Hermitage Castle and falls seriously ill. Sir Thomas Ker and his wife Janet attend to her for one month.

1567 February 9th. Darnley murdered.

May 15th. Mary Queen of Scots marries Bothwell.

June 15th. Sir Thomas Ker rides to the Queen's side at the Battle of Carberry Hill. The battle lost Mary is imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle.

1568 May 2nd.  With the help of, Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehirst and Scott of Buccleuch the Douglas's free Mary Queen of Scots from her imprisonment at Loch Leven. The Queen is taken to Cadzow Castle where an army of 6000 fighting men is raised.

May13th. Battle of Langsyde, Mary's troops defeated, Mary avoids capture and seeks sanctuary in England. Sir Thomas Ker supports the Marian cause.

August. Sir Thomas Ker demands the immediate return of Mary Queen of Scots and requests she be delivered to him at Ferniehirst. The Scottish Regent Moray describes the proposal as impertinent.

1569 Sir Thomas Ker marries his second wife Janet Scott. The reconciliation between the two families causes great concern to their enemies. Both 'Names' supported the Marian cause.

The Catholic Rebellion of the North begins in late Autumn led by the Earl of Northumberland the Earl of Westmorland and the disaffected Leonard Dacre known as 'Crookback'. The rebellion is put down on the 13th December by Baron Clinton.  The rebels seek sanctuary in that portion of Liddesdale, known as  'The Debateable Land', a sanctuary for rogues and reivers. Thomas Percy Earl of Northumberland ransomed to Regent Moray. Sir Thomas Ker rescues Westmorland and Lady Northumberland from the hovel of Jock Armstrong taking them to the safety of Ferniehirst Castle.

1570 January 23rd. The Regent Moray assassinated at Linlithgow. Sir Thomas Kerr and his companions are delighted.

April. Kirkcaldy, Governor of Edinburgh Castle occupies the castle against the King's Men, known as The Lang Siege it would last until 1573. Kirkcaldy enlists the assistance of his once son in law Sir Thomas Ker.

1571 September 4th. The Regent Lennox assassinated at Stirling, Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehirst named among the accused.

1572 Thomas Percy Earl of Northumberland sold to the English for £2000. He was   beheaded on 22nd August at York.

The Regent Mar dies from poisoning after a dinner with James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, (Mar's successor as the 4th and final Regent to James VI), at Dalkeith Palace.

1573 May 28th. The Regent Morton with the assistance of English guns breaks the Lang Siege of Edinburgh Castle (see 1570).

August 3rd. Kirkcaldy is hanged, Ferniehirst escapes into France after questioning.

1581Sir Thomas Ker returns and on 29th November is forgiven by James VI at Dalkeith Palace.

1582 Lord Ruthven accuses Ferniehirst of his involvement in a Catholic conspiracy, realising imminent danger Sir Thomas obtains a licence from the King's favourite, Esme Stewart to go into self exile on the continent where he continues to plot with the Catholic French against Elizabeth I of England. Queen Elizabeth describes him as 'ane grit enemie'  (a great enemy).

1584 April, Sir Thomas Ker returns after Janet Scott petitions the royal court. King James VI admonishes him from blame for his part in the murder of Regent Lennox in 1571 and appoints Sir Thomas as Warden of the Middle Marches.

1585 January 4th.  James VI agrees to a request from the court of Elizabeth I of England for a meeting of English and Scottish March Wardens to be held on July 28th at Hexpethgate on the Scottish/English border.

July 28th. The wardens meeting at Hexpethgate on the Scotland/England border results in the murder of Sir Francis Russell Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehirst is accused of conspiring with the Earl of Arran. Elizabeth I demands the two men be tried in London. Arran is warded at St Andrews Castle, stripped of his titles and lands and held under house arrest.

1586 February 24th. The English March Warden Sir John Forster reports the death of Sir Thomas Ker at Aberdeen. Sir Thomas Ker's oldest son, Sir Andrew Ker inherits Ferniehirst.  Andrew's Uncle, Sir William Ker of Ancram acts in tutelage encouraging the jealousy of the Cessford Kers.

1587 8th February. Mary Queen of Scots executed at Fotheringay Castle.

15th March. The office of Bailiary of the Lordship of Jedburgh granted to Sir Andrew Ker.

1590 Sir William Ker of Ancram is stabbed to death in Edinburgh by agents of Sir Robert Ker of Cessford.

1591 Sir Andrew Ker of Ferniehirst appointed a Gentleman of the Bedchamber at the Royal Court of  James VI.

1592 Sir Andrew Kerr accused of supporting the renegade Francis Stewart 5th Earl of Bothwell.

1593 15th October.  James orders the destruction of Sir Thomas Kerr's properties, including Ferniehirst Castle. The building was made uninhabitable.

1594 Sir Andrew Ker denounced a rebel and put to the horn.

1597 Sir Andrew Ker returns from self exile in Europe is called to Parliament.

1598 Ferniehirst Castle repairs and extensions commence.

17th Century

1601 14th September. Sir Andrew's brother Thomas is slain during a disturbance at the annual Rood Fayre in Jedburgh. Robert Ker of Cessford is responsible for encouraging the affray resulting in the trial and execution of Andrew Turnbull of Bewly on December 16th for the murder of Thomas Ker.

1603 March 24th. Elizabeth of England dies. James VI Scotland, his dream realised, succeeds as James I.

1605 The Borders renamed The Middle Shires.

1620 Dame Anna Stewart, the wife of Sir Andrew Ker of Ferniehirst dies.

1622February 2nd. Sir Andrew Ker is granted the title 1st Lord Jedburgh.

1633 Sir Andrew dies. No male issue, the title passes to his brother James.

1645 James Ker 2nd Lord Jedburgh dies, his son Robert succeeds to the title.

1692 Robert Ker dies without issue, the Ferniehirst estates pass to Robert 4th Earl of Lothian, created Marquis of Lothian in 1701.