Clan Kerr Tartan
Clan Kerr History:
The great Clan Kerr is well remembered in Scotland as one of the most loyal but warlike Clans of the turbulent Border territories. The name is of ancient origin, stemming back to the Norse settlement of Normandy where the Kerrs were an important family. The name itself derives from the old Norse "kjrr" meaning "men from the marshes", and the name has been spelled in many forms since, including Kerr, Ker, Carr and Carre. The Kerrs arrived in Britain after William I's conquest of England in 1066, and the Clan Kerr descend from two brothers, Ralph and John Ker, who settled in Jedburgh around 1330. The Clan soon grew and prospered, building themselves a position of influence through their sheer strength and tenacity. The Clan Kerr controlled two castles on the border with England, and were quick to fend off any intrusion by the Southerners, but were not indisposed to a quick venture across the divide whenever they fancied some prime English beef for their tables. Rival Scottish border clans included Clan Heron and Clan Scott.
15th Century: By the 15th Century the Clan Kerr were considered highly important Crown vassals, and with loyalty came rich rewards. In 1451 Andrew Kerr was granted the barony of Old Roxburgh, and by 1457 had been created the Warden of the Marches. By the close of the 15th Century, the Clan Kerr held the honours of possessing the Castle and Barony of Cessford, and the Barony of Oxnam, a considerable achievement for any Border Clan. The Kerrs were often at feud with other Scottish boarder clans including Clan Scott and Clan Heron. They would meet for battle at a place called Bellendean. The feuding would cost the lives of both the Clan Kerr and Clan Scott Chief.
16th Century & Anglo-Scottish Wars: In the 16th century during the Anglo-Scottish Wars Clan Kerr fought against the English at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. A few years before the Battle of Flodden Field three Englishmen killed Sir Robert Kerr, a former warden of the middle march, while he was attending a march across the Border, and his son tracked down one of the murderers and gave him what was known as "Jeddart justice". The Clan Kerr's faithfulness to the Crown of Scotland continued throughout the centuries, and the Clan were always willing to take up arms for the sake of their proud nation. The Kerrs fought under their chief, Sir Andrew Kerr, at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, standing beside King James IV of Scotland in his conflict with the English armies.
Clan Conflicts: After the Battle of Flodden Field some of the Leddesdale clans put themselves under the Kerr of Ferniehurst's protection, but in 1523 his castle was taken by the English after a bold defence. The Chief Kerr of Cessford, who had worked as warden for peace and co-operation with England, was killed by a follower of Clan Scott of Buccleuch in the attempt to rescue King James V of Scotland from the Clan Douglas. Thirteen years after the Battle of Flodden Field, Sir Andrew laid down his life in defence of the infant King James V of Scotland when the royal procession was attacked on the way to Edinburgh Castle. With such sacrifice came great rewards for the Clan Kerr. The feud between the Clan Scott and Clan Kerr continued and in 1552 the Chief of Clan Scott of Buccleuch was killed by the Kerrs of Cessford in Edinburgh. Fighting between the two clans continued until a peace agreement was signed in 1602. Honours continued to be heaped upon the Clan down through the years, with the titles bestowed on the Kerrs including the Barony of Newbattle, the Earldom of Lothian, the Lordship of Jedburgh, the Earldom of Ancram, and the Dukedom of Roxburghe.
18th Century: During the Jacobite Uprisings Clan Kerr supported the British government. At the Battle of Culloden in 1746 Lord Robert Kerr who was captain of the grenadiers in Barrel's regiment, received the first charging Cameron on the point of his Spontoon, but then a second cut him through the head to chin. The Earls of Lothian were advanced to the rank of Marquess at the beginning of the 18th Century. The 12th Marquess of Lothian resides at Ferniehurst Castle, although the principal seat of Clan Kerr is considered to be the fabulous mansion of Monteviot. Other great monuments to the Kerr's success are the splendid Floors Castle, and Newbattle Abbey, near Edinburgh.
Current Clan Chief: The current Chief of Clan Kerr is Michael Andrew Foster Jude Kerr, 13th Marquess of Lothian
The origins of the name Kerr are disputed as being either:
Caer (British for "fort")
Ciar (Scottish Gaelic for "dusky")
Cearr (Scottish Gaelic for "left handed" - carrie handit in Lowland Scots)
Mac Ghiolla Cheara (Irish language)
Kjrr (Old Norse for "marsh dweller")
Asked how to say his name, Admiral Mark Kerr told The Literary Digest "In Scotland the name rhymes with care. Since many of the family have come to England the pronunciation in this country rhymes with car, which we have entirely submitted to." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)
Clan Kerr Arms
Arms: Quarterly, 1st & 4th, Azure, the sun in his splendour Or (for the peerage of Lothian); 2nd & 3rd, Gules, on a chevron Argent, three mullets of the field (Kerr)
Crest: A shining sun
Supporters: (Duke of Roxburghe only) Dexter, an angel proper; sinister, a unicorn argent, armed, unguled, and maned or.
Motto: Sero sed serio (Late but in earnest)
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Origins of the Name:
Clan Seat, Lands and Castles:
Ferniehirst Castle is where the 12th Marquess of Lothian resides. Although the principal seat of Clan Kerr is considered to be the fabulous mansion of Monteviot. Ferniehirst Castle (sometimes spelt Ferniehurst) was built around 1470. It has been occupied in this century as a Youth Hostel for fifty years. It was built to hold the gate for Scotland and to serve as a base for military raids and cattle-lifting forays. It commands the road to Otterburn and Newcastle.
Newbattle Abbey or Newbattle Castle near Edinburgh became a secular lordship for the last commendator, Mark Kerr, 1st Earl of Lothian (Ker) in 1587.
Floors Castle is another great monument to the Kerr's success.
Roxburgh Castle is just across the Tweed from Floors Castle.
Castle Holydean was destroyed in 1276 and very little of it now remains.
Plant Badge: Bog Myrtle
Family Creed: Late but in Earnest
Badge: A Kerr knot Or
What is a Sept
In Scotland, a sept is often a family that is absorbed into a larger Scottish clan for mutual benefit. For example, the Burns family sept was absorbed into the Clan Campbell. The Burns family, being very small and of questionable heritage, gained legitimacy and protection; the Campbell clan absorbed a potential rival for British affection in Scotland. Each Scottish clan typically has a number of septs, each with its own surname. Septs have rights to wear clan tartans although they often have tartans of their own.
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