Kerr, Schomberg Henry (DNB01)

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KERR, SCHOMBERG HENRY, ninth Marquis of Lothian (1833–1900), diplomatist and secretary of state for Scotland, second son of John William Robert, seventh marquis of Lothian, by Lady Cecil Chetwynd Talbot, only daughter of Charles, second earl Talbot, was born at Newbottle Abbey, near Dalkeith, on 2 Dec. 1833. His elder brother, William Schomberg Robert Kerr, born on 12 Aug. 1832, succeeded as eighth marquis of Lothian on his father's death, 14 Nov. 1841, but himself died without issue on 4 July 1870. He bequeathed to Oxford University a sum of money for the foundation of the Marquis of Lothian's prize, which is of the annual value of 40l., and is awarded for an essay on some point in foreign history between the death of Romulus Augustulus and that of Frederick the Great.

Schomberg Henry was educated at Glenalmond and Oxford, where he matriculated from New College on 20 Oct. 1851. He left the university without a degree, entered the diplomatic service, and was appointed attaché at Lisbon. He was transferred in 1854 to Teheran, and thence in 1855 to Bagdad. During the Persian war of 1857 he served as a volunteer on the staff of Sir J. Outram, by whom he was publicly thanked at the close of the campaign. He was afterwards attaché at Athens, and in 1862 was appointed second secretary at Frankfort. In the same capacity he was removed in 1865 to Madrid, and thence in the same year to Vienna. He succeeded his elder brother, William Schomberg Robert, as ninth marquis of Lothian, and fourth baron Ker of Kersheugh, Roxburghshire, on 4 July 1870, and in right of the latter peerage took his seat in the House of Lords on 30 March 1871. He moved, on 19 March 1874, the address in answer to the queen's speech, and on 5 Aug. following took the oaths for the subordinate office of lord privy seal of Scotland, which he retained until death. He was sworn of the privy council on 6 Feb. 1886, and in Lord Salisbury's second administration succeeded Mr. Arthur Balfour as secretary for Scotland, and, as such, ex-officio keeper of the great seal of Scotland and vice-president of the committee of council for education in Scotland (11 March 1887). The sphere of his administrative duties was further enlarged by a statute of the same year (50 & 51 Vict. c. 52). He held office until the fall of the administration in August 1892, during which period he had charge of the measures of 1889 for the reform and re-endowment of the Scottish universities and the reform of Scottish local government, and several other measures nearly affecting Scottish interests. He was a member of the historical manuscripts commission, was elected in 1877 president of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and received in 1882 the degree of LL.D. from the university of Edinburgh, of which he was lord rector in 1887-8. He was also vice-president of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and a member of the governing body of the Imperial Institute. He was elected K.T. in 1878, and a knight of grace of the order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1899; was colonel from 1878 to 1889, and afterwards honorary colonel, of the 3rd battalion of the royal Scots regiment, and captain-general of the royal company of archers from 1884 until his death on 17 Jan. 1900.

He married, in 1865, Lady Victoria Alexandrina Montagu Douglas Scott, second daughter of Walter Francis, fifth duke of Buccleugh, by whom he had three sons and five daughters. His third son, Robert Schomberg, lord Jedburgh, succeeded him as tenth marquis of Lothian.

[Fosters Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886; Irving's Book of Scotsmen; Ann. Reg. 1857, ii. 448; Lords' Journ. ciii. 163; Hansard's Parl. Debates, 3rd ser. ccxviii-ccclvi, 4th ser. i-lxxvi; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby; Imperial Kalendar, 1877-92; Official Yearbook of the Learned Societies of Great Britain and Ireland; Statuta Universitatis Oxon.; Burke's Peerage, 1900.]

J. M. R.