Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ker, Andrew (1471?-1545)
KER, ANDREW (1471?–1545), of Ferniehirst, border chieftain, was eldest son of Thomas Ker, eighth laird of Kersheugh in Teviotdale, by his wife Catharine, daughter of Sir Robert Colvill of Ochiltree. Thomas Ker built a house in the middle of the forest of Jedburgh, and gave it the name of Ferniehirst, by which title this branch of the Ker family was afterwards known. Andrew was probably born about 1471, for we find him appearing as bail for men charged with border robbery in 1493, and he can hardly have done so before he was of full age (Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, vol. i. pt. ii. pp. 17–18, 28). In 1499 he succeeded his father as laird of Ferniehirst, and in 1511 inherited through his mother the barony of Oxenham and had confirmation of the lands of Ferniehirst from his feudal superior, Archibald, earl of Angus. In 1512 he sat at Edinburgh on an assize for the trial of several borderers accused of theft (ib. p. 88). The disturbed state of Scotland after the defeat of Flodden Field seems to have inspired Ker with a desire to secure for himself a strong position on the Scottish border. On 9 Sept. 1513, the night after the battle, he broke into the abbey of Kelso, then held in commendam by Andrew Stewart, bishop of Caithness, turned the superior out of doors, and set up in his stead his brother Thomas, who seems to have maintained the position thus forcibly won, and on the death of the Bishop of Caithness in 1518 became abbot of Kelso (Morton, Monastic Annals of Teviotdale, p. 96). In the struggle between Angus and Arran which arose after the marriage of Queen Margaret with Angus [see Douglas, Archibald, sixth Earl of Angus] Ker joined Lord Home in helping Angus, and when Margaret took refuge in England in December 1515 Ker was one of her escort (Brewer, Calendar of State Papers, vol. ii. No. 1350). He was arrested in Edinburgh with Home in October 1516 by the orders of the governor, the Duke of Albany. Hume was beheaded, but Ker contrived to escape (Drummond, Hist. of Scotland, p. 168). After Margaret's quarrel with Angus the Earl of Arran was made warden of the marches, and Ker took advantage of the conflict between the two to claim for himself the bailiwick of Jedburgh forest (ib. p. 174). For some time he was a source of disorder on the borders, and in 1521 the English warden, Lord Dacre, joined with Andrew Ker of Cessfurd in complaining of his lawlessness (Calendar, iii. 1171). In September 1523 Lord Dacre led his forces against Ferniehirst, ‘the lord whereof was his mortal enemy,’ and after a resolute defence captured it and made Ker prisoner (Ellis, Original Letters, 1st ser. i. 216–17). He soon escaped, and in November commanded under the Duke of Albany at the unsuccessful siege of Wark (Holinshed, Scottish Chronicle, p. 311). At the beginning of 1524 he was reckoned as one of the chief supporters of the Earl of Lennox in his attempt to govern Scotland (Calendar, iv. 43). But when Angus returned at the end of the year and was made warden of the east and middle marches Ker promised his allegiance (Pitcairn, p. 127). A feud soon broke out between him and Angus, and at the beginning of 1526 he joined Arran, who was raising forces against Angus (Calendar, iv. 1878). He was accused of treason, but the process was abandoned. After that he made peace with Angus, and rendered him signal service in July 1526, when Scott of Buccleuch made an attempt to seize the young king, who was with Angus at Melrose. Ker and the Homes had departed, but returned in answer to a summons, fell upon the Scotts in their flank, and routed them (Drummond, p. 189). The death of Andrew Ker of Cessfurd in this encounter was the beginning of a feud between the Kers and the Scotts which long continued, in spite of attempts at pacification, one of which was signed by Ker in 1530 (Wade, Hist. of Melrose, p. 63). After his agreement with Angus, Ker settled down to a more orderly life, and busied himself in restoring order, for which he was praised by the English warden in September 1527 (Calendar, iv. 3421). On the forfeiture of the Earl of Angus he received a grant of Ferniehirst from the crown on 5 Sept. 1528. He undertook the rule of Teviotdale, and was one of three commissioners empowered to make an agreement with England, which was signed on 2 Dec. (Rymer, Fœdera, xiv. 276). In 1530 James V took the management of the borders into his own hands and committed Ker's eldest son, John, to prison. He was soon released, and seems to have acted for his father in military undertakings. In 1533 it was computed that the Kers, the Homes, and the Scotts could together bring into the field five thousand men. When, in 1543, war broke out between Scotland and England, Ker found it impossible to withstand the superior forces of the English. He made promises to help them, and his son John assisted them in their raids upon his neighbours (Haynes, Burghley Papers, pp. 43–51). In October 1544 Ker made a covenant with Sir Ralph Eure to serve England (State Papers of Henry VIII, v. 398), and in November was in receipt of English pay (Lodge, Illustrations, i. 79). In September 1545 he pleaded his services against the threatened ravages of the Earl of Hertford and made submission to him, thereby saving his lands. He died soon afterwards.
Ker married Janet, second daughter of Sir Patrick Home of Polwarth, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. His son John succeeded him as lord of Ferniehirst, and had a son Sir Thomas Ker [q. v.] His daughter Isabel married Sir Walter Ker of Cessfurd [q. v.]
[Authorities in text; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ed. Wood, ii. 132; Jeffrey's Hist. of Roxburghshire, i. 261–5; Armstrong's Hist. of Liddesdale, pp. 213–60; Marquis of Lothian's manuscripts at Newbattle Abbey.]