Ker, James Innes- (DNB00)


KER, JAMES INNES-, fifth Duke of Roxburgh (1738–1823), born at Innes House, Elginshire, in 1738, was second son of Sir Hary Innes, fifth baronet and twenty-eighth laird of Innes, by his wife Ann, daughter of Sir James Grant of Grant, and a sister of Jean, first countess Fife. During the insurrection of 1745–6 Elginshire was held by the Jacobites, and to escape falling into their hands young Innes was sent across the Moray Firth to Dunrobin Castle. He was captain of the 88th regiment of foot in 1759, and of the 58th regiment in 1779. On the death of his father in 1762 he, as the eldest surviving son, was served heir to the baronetcy 7 Feb. 1764. His family claimed to have held Innes since 1160, and at one time possessed the whole territory between the Spey and the Lossie, besides estates in Banffshire; but for a century their fortunes had been ebbing, and in 1767 Innes was obliged to sell his ancient barony of Innes to his first cousin, the second Earl of Fife. On 19 April 1769 he married his first wife, Mary, eldest daughter of Sir John Wray, bart., of Glentworth, Lincolnshire, by Frances, daughter of Fairfax Norcliffe of Langton, Yorkshire. His wife inherited the Langton estate soon afterwards, and Innes thereupon assumed by royal license the additional surname of Norcliffe; but on his wife's death without issue, on 20 July 1807, the Langton estate went to her nephew, and Innes dropped the name of Norcliffe. Eight days later he married his second wife, Harriet, daughter of Benjamin Charlewood of Windlesham, Surrey, by whom he had an only son, James Henry.

Meanwhile William Ker, fourth duke of Roxburgh, had died on 22 Oct. 1805, without surviving issue. Innes's great-grandfather, Sir James Innes, third baronet, had married in 1666 Margaret Ker, granddaughter by a second marriage of Sir Robert Ker, first earl of Roxburgh [q. v.] On the ground of this distant relationship Innes, who now called himself Innes-Ker, claimed to succeed to the dukedom and its estates. His pretensions were disputed by Lady Essex Ker, by Major-general Walter Ker of Littledean, Roxburghshire, and by John Bellenden Ker [q. v.], in whose favour the last duke had entailed the property. Lord-chancellor Eldon took three days (15, 16, and 20 June 1809) to state in the House of Lords the grounds on which he preferred Sir James Innes to the other claimants. The litigation continued till 11 May 1812, when the House of Lords finally granted the title to Innes-Ker, and in the following year the deeds by which the fourth duke had attempted to bequeath to Bellenden Ker the greater part of the property were set aside. The duke died, aged 85, at Floors, near Kelso, on 19 July 1823, and was buried in the family vault at Bowden. His widow re-married Colonel Walter Frederick O'Reilly, C.B., of the 41st regiment of foot (d. 1844), and died 19 Jan. 1855. His only son, James Henry (1816–1879), succeeded as seventh duke.

[The Familie of Innes, edited for the Spalding Club by Cosmo Innes; Douglas's Peerage; Reports of Cases decided in the House of Lords upon Appeal from Scotland, vol. v.]

J. C.