Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kerr, Mark (d.1584)

KERR or KER, MARK (d. 1584), abbot of Newbattle, was the second son of Sir Andrew Ker of Cessfurd [q. v.], by Agnes, daughter of Robert, second lord Crichton of Sanquhar. In 1546 he was promoted abbot of Newbattle, and on renouncing popery in 1560 continued to hold the benefice in commendam. He was one of those who, on 26 April of this year, signed at Edinburgh the contract to defend the 'evangell of Christ' (Knox, ii. 64). Subsequently he was presented to the vicarage of Linton, Peeblesshire, by the abbot and convent of Kelso, and his presentation was confirmed by the commissioners 4 Aug. 1567, in opposition to one made by the crown. At a parliament held at Edinburgh on 15 Dec. of this year he was appointed one of a commission to inquire into the jurisdiction that should pertain to the kirk. On 20 April 1569 he was nominated an extraordinary lord of session, and he was also chosen a member of the privy council. By one of the articles of the Pacification of Perth in February 1572-3 he was nominated one of the judges for the trial 'of all attempts committed against the abstinence be south the water of Tay' (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 195). At the fall of Morton in 1578 he was one of the extraordinary council of twelve appointed to carry on the government in the king's name (Moysie, Memoirs, p. 6; Calderwood, iii. 397). He was also one of the four delegates deputed on 28 Sept., after Morton had seized Stirling Castle, to meet Morton's delegates for the purpose of arranging the terms of a reconciliation. Receiving in 1581, after the second fall of Morton, a ratification of the commendatorship of Newbattle, he continued to be a steadfast supporter of Esmé Stuart, duke of Lennox. On 15 July 1581 he was appointed to hear and report on the case of Sir James Balfour, who was endeavouring to get reinstated in his rights of citizenship (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iii. 463). After the raid of Ruthven the commendator was, with Lord Herries, despatched by Lennox with offers of conciliation to the now dominant party. The proposals were rejected. Kerr died in 1584. By his wife, Lady Helen Lesley, second daughter of George, fourth earl of Rothes, he had four sons: Mark, first earl of Lothian [q. v.]; Andrew of Fenton; George, the catholic emissary, in whose possession the 'Spanish blanks' were found, and William; and a daughter, Catherine, married to William, lord Herries. There are portraits of Kerr and his wife, ascribed to Sir Antonio More [q. v.], preserved at Newbattle.

[Histories of Knox and Calderwood; Moysie's Memoirs (Bannatyne Club); Hist. King James the Sext (Bannatyne Club); Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vols. ii. and iii.; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 130.]

T. F. H.