KER, James (d.1768), of Bughtrig, Roxburgh.
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Family and Education
s. of Thomas Ker of Edinburgh, deacon of the corporation and a magistrate of the city, by Margaret, da. and coh. of John Kerr of the Canongate. m. 8 July 1725, Jean (d. 1 Oct. 1746), da. of Gavin Thompson of Edinburgh, 3s. 11da., (2) 6 Aug. 1756, Elizabeth, da. of Lord Charles Kerr, s. of the 1st Mq. of Lothian [S], 5s. 2da.
‘Mr. Ker, the jeweller’, the Duke of Argyll wrote to Pelham, 23 July 1747, discussing candidates at the Edinburgh election,
is certainly a Whig, but he was too much a patriot at a certain time to be a favourite of mine, and I am told that he is weak and whimsical, though his professions of zeal for the present Administration are strong enough.1
Returned on the interest of the incorporated trades of Edinburgh, of which he was convenor, against a candidate supported by Argyll and Pelham, Ker called on Argyll and wrote to Pelham the day after his election, to apologise for standing against their candidate, promising to support the Government.2 On receipt of a reply from Pelham, he wrote (20 Aug.):
To speak honestly my sentiments, am sorry the town should be so poorly represented. Its indeed a sphere of life am quite unequal to ... but since it has fallen on me, its no small encouragement ... that you are pleased to allow me to hope for your countenance and friendship, which will endeavour to prove by such uniform conduct as not to give the lie to the character which my friends have been so good as to give you of me, a man zealous for the King and our happy constitution and sincere well-wisher to the administration in your hands, as the head of the honest Whig interest.3
He was rewarded with a secret service pension of £300 p.a.4
By the next general election Ker’s vanity, Argyll reported to Pelham, had ‘gradually made him the object of the hatred and contempt of his fellow citizens’. He had highly disobliged many members of the city council; had ‘made the merchants his enemies by opposing a scheme they had of improving the harbour of Leith’; ‘the several traders also complain of him for treating them with haughtiness and contempt’; in short, ‘the town will not bear Mr. Ker’.5 He was not put up in 1754, consequently losing his secret service pension.6 He died 24 Jan. 1768.