1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Roxburghe, Earls and Dukes of
ROXBURGHE, EARLS AND DUKES OF. Robert Ker, 1st earl of Roxburgh (c. 1570–1650), was the eldest son of William Ker of Cessford (d. 1606) and the grandson of Sir Walter Ker (d. c. 1584), who fought against Mary queen of Scots both at Carberry Hill and at Langside. He was descended from Sir Andrew Ker of Cessford (d. 1526) who fought at Flodden and was killed near Melrose in January 1526 by the Scotts of Buccleuch. The deed was avenged when the Kers under Sir Walter killed Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch in Edinburgh in 1552. Robert Ker was also descended, on the maternal side, from Andrew Ker of Ferniehurst (c. 1471–1545), a celebrated border chieftain. Another famous member of the family was Andrew's grandson, Sir Thomas Ker of Ferniehurst (d. 1586), who, Camden says, was “ of an immovable fidelity to the queen of Scots and the king her son.” He was the father of Robert Carr, earl of Somerset, the favourite of James I. After a turbulent life on the border Robert Ker became a Scottish privy councillor in 1599 and was made Lord Roxburghe about the same time; he accompanied King James to London in 1603, and was created earl of Roxburghe in 1616. He was lord privy seal for Scotland from 1637 to 1649, and in the Scottish parliament he showed his sympathy with Charles I.; but he took no part in the Civil War, although he signed the “engagement” for the king's release in 1648. He died at Floors, his residence near Kelso, on the 18th of January 1650. His son Harry, Lord Ker, had died in January 1643; consequently his titles and estates passed by special arrangement to his grandson, William Drummond (d. 1675), the youngest son of his daughter Jean and her husband John Drummond, 2nd earl of Perth. William took the name of Ker, became 2nd earl of Roxburghe, and married his cousin Lord Ker's daughter Jean. The second earl's son was Robert, 3rd earl (c. 1658–1682), whose son was John, 1st duke of Roxburgh (c. 1680–1741). John became 5th earl on the death of his brother Robert, the 4th earl, in 1696, and is described by George Lockhart of Carnwath as “ perhaps the best accomplished young man of quality in Europe.” In 1704 he was made a secretary of state of Scotland, and he helped to bring about the union with England, being created duke of Roxburghe in 1707 for his services in this connexion. This was the last creation in the Scottish peerage. The duke was a representative peer for Scotland in four parliaments; George I. made him a privy councillor and keeper of the privy seal of Scotland, and he was loyal to the king during the Jacobite rising in 1715. He was again a secretary of state from 1716 to 1725, but he opposed the malt-tax, and in 1725 Sir Robert Walpole procured his dismissal from office. He died on the 24th of February 1741. His only son, Robert (c. 1709–1755), who had been created Earl Ker of Wakefield in 1722, became 2nd duke, and was succeeded by his son John, 3rd duke of Roxburghe (1740–1804), the famous bibliophile. John was betrothed to Christiana, daughter of the duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; but when the princess's sister Charlotte was affianced to George III., reasons of state led to the rupture of the engagement, and he died unmarried on the 19th of March 1804. The duke's library, including a unique collection of books from Caxton's press, and three rare volumes of broadside ballads, was sold in 1812, when the Roxburghe Club was founded to commemorate the sale of Valdarfer's edition of Boccaccio. Roxburghe's cousin William, 7th Lord Bellenden (c. 1728–1805), who succeeded to the Scottish titles and estates, died childless in October 1805, and for seven years the titles were dormant. Then in 1812 Sir James Innes, bart. (1736–1823), a descendant of the 1st earl, established his claim to them, and taking the name of Innes-Ker, became 5th duke of Roxburghe. Among the unsuccessful claimants to the Roxburghe dukedom was John Bellenden Ker (c. 1765–1842), famous as a wit and botanist and the author of Archaeology of Popular Phrases and Nursery Rhymes (1837), whose son was the legal reformer, Charles Henry Bellenden Ker (c. 1785–1871).
The 5th duke's great-grandson, Henry John Innes-Ker (b. 1876), became 8th duke in 1892. The duke of Roxburghe sits in the House of Lords as Earl Innes, a peerage of the United Kingdom, which was conferred in 1837 upon James Henry, the 6th duke (1816–1879).