Charles Kerr 1767-1821

From Book Owners Online

Charles KER, 7th Laird of Abbotrule 1767-1821

Biographical Note

Son of Patrick Ker, 6th Laird of Abbotrule; the estate, in the Scottish Borders, had descended down the Ker family from the time of William Ker, 1st Earl of Lothian (1605-75), and was inherited by Charles as 7th Laird in 1792. He was educated at school in Edinburgh and became a Writer to the Signet in 1789, after apprenticeship to the lawyer David Erskine. He was at school with Walter Scott, and is reputedly the inspiration for a character in Scott's Redgauntlet. He was notorious for a wild life of drinking, gambling and duelling, and spent time in Jamaica. He purchased a commission in the Army and was paymaster for the Royal Dragoons; he may have served at the Battle of Waterloo. Around that time his mounting debts forced the sale of the family estates, and Abbotrule was sold to Robert Henderson in 1818 (the house survived until 1956, when it was demolished).


As part of the sale of the estate, the Abbotrule library was auctioned in Edinburgh, over 33 days, beginning 11 December 1815. An advertisement for the sale said that "few libraries have come to the hammer of superior value, considered as a whole, to that collected at Abbotrule. Under the direction of the best classical taste, and acquired with unhesitating expence wherever the encouragement of the arts seemed implicated in the purchase, this library presents a greater quantity of really fine, large paper, choice modern publications, and a more complete collection of French literature, in the best condition, than is to be found perhaps in almost any of the most distinguished private libraries in the kingdom." The catalogue included 2580 lots (some may have come from other sources), comprising books from the 15th to 18th centuries; it was, presumably, a Ker family library built up over several generations.


  • Border Reiver Family Heritage.
  • Lord Byron and his times.
  • Catalogue of the Abbotrule Library, and several minor collections of books; to be sold by auction, without reserve, by Mr Ballantyne ... Edinburgh, on Monday the 11th December, 1815, and forty ensuing days, Edinburgh, 1815 (copy in the National Library of Scotland, K.R.14.e.2(3).
  • Information from Brian Hillyard.