KERR (CARR), Charles, 2nd Earl of Ancram [S] (1624-90), of Kew, Surr. and Lincoln's Inn Fields, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



c. Mar. 1647
13 July 1660
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. 6 Aug. 1624, 2nd s. of Robert Kerr, 1st Earl of Ancram [S], being 1st s. by 2nd w. Lady Anne Stanley, da. of William, 6th Earl of Derby, wid. of Sir Henry Portman, 2nd Bt., of Orchard Portman, Som. educ. travelled abroad 1638-41. m. bef. 1 May 1662, Frances, da. of Sir Henry Knollys of Grove Place, Nursling, Hants, wid. of Sir Edward Manfield of Cliveden, Bucks., 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. Dec. 1654.2

Offices Held

Commr. for sequestrations, Surr. 1648, militia 1648, Mar. 1660; j.p. Berks. and Surr. Mar. 1660-80, Bucks. Mar.-July 1660, 1665-?80, Beds., Essex, Hants., Kent, Lancs. and Westminster to 1680; commr. for sewers, Westminster Aug. 1660, assessment, Lancs. and Surr. 1661-80, Berks. and Bucks. 1663-80, loyal and indigent officers, Surr. 1662.3

Gent of the privy chamber 1666-85; PC [S] 1681.4


The first Earl of Ancram came from a cadet branch of a well-known Scottish border family. Under Charles I he became keeper of the privy purse, and sat for Preston in 1627. He took no active part in the Civil War, but on 27 May 1647 Parliament ordered that he should be given £1,500 and a pension. Nevertheless he had to take refuge from his creditors abroad. Ancram himself was arrested at the time of Booth’s rising, and may have been regarded as a Presbyterian in 1660; according to Burnet he was of no principles either as to religion or virtue, but had ‘studied the most in divinity of any man of quality I ever knew’. He inherited little except his mother’s house at Kew. On 1 Apr. 1660, he warned the Council of State that the Republicans in Richmond were planning to disturb the Surrey election, and advised sending a troop of horse to keep guard.5

Ancram was returned for Thirsk at a by-election to the Convention on the interest of his kinsman, the Earl of Derby, in succession to the Hon. William Stanley, who chose to sit for Liverpool. His only recorded speech in 1660 was a sharp attack on Sir Arthur Hesilrige during the debate on the bill of indemnity, but he was named to eight committees, being particularly prominent in the financial provisions for the royal family. On 21 Sept. he wrote to the Queen of Bohemia:

I thought myself a very happy person that I was one of that number who at the close of our adjournment did strive to manifest our duty and service to your Majesty ... I have since the rising of the Parliament (according as I was by the House ordered) made it my business to secure this money forthwith to your Majesty by getting an alderman of London to advance it.

On 7 Nov. Ancram carried to the Lords the order for a grant to Princess Henrietta. Three days later he acted as teller against the marital separation bill.6

Ancram was returned for Wigan in 1661, again on Derby’s interest, and proved an active Member in the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to 212 committees, in four of which he took the chair, acted as teller in 32 divisions, and delivered 16 reported speeches. He was a teller for the corporations bill on 5 July 1661, and was added to the committee on the bill for the execution of those under attainder on 10 Jan. 1662. Shortly afterwards he was in Paris, perhaps in attendance on the queen mother, and he was probably married there. This marriage to the sister of Thomas Knollys reinforced his links with the Court, for his wife’s father had been comptroller of the household to Charles I, and she herself became lady of the bedchamber to Catherine of Braganza. From her first husband, a recusant, she enjoyed a comfortable jointure, which Ancram was not long in selling or mortgaging. It is an indication of Ancram’s tolerance that about the same time he arranged the marriage of his portionless sister to the Fifth Monarchist Nathaniel Rich who had opposed the Restoration, and secured the release of the prominent Quaker Isaac Pennington. Although without legal education, he acted as chairman of the committee for the abolition of the legal charges known as damage clere in 1663. Ancram was noted as a court dependant in 1664, when his long and fruitless association with Lauderdale had already begun. Later he was described as ‘a needy Scots lord, therefore a knave’. He was chairman of the committees for reversing the attainder for felony of his kinsman, Sir Charles Stanley, and enabling him to pay his debts.7

Ancram became more active politically on the fall of Clarendon. He was among those ordered to report on the proceedings against Lord Mordaunt and to draw up heads of the accusations against Clarendon. On 30 Oct. 1667 he spoke against the impracticable bill to prevent the growth of Popery, and on the next day he delivered Prince Rupert’s narrative of the Four Days’ battle. He took the chair in the committee to assess taxation in the Bedford level. In 1669 he assisted in a review of the militia laws. On 3 Mar. 1670 he was appointed to the committee against transportation of English prisoners. In the supply debate on 10 Nov., he urged putting the King in a position to stand well with his neighbours. In the debate on the Duke of York’s marriage to Mary of Modena in 1673, he repeatedly urged that it was beyond the power of Parliament to hinder, and hoped they would not affront a man who had fought their battles. He showed his caution by announcing that he would have preferred a Protestant match, though in private he was supplying the Duke with arguments in favour of papal infallibility for use against Burnet. Ancram remained a steady supporter of the Court, his name appearing on the Paston list, but he did not resist the rising tide against Popery. He was appointed to the committees for the general test bill in 1673, and for educating the children of the royal family as Protestants. ‘He depended on Duke Lauderdale, but hated him, because he did nothing for him.’ He spoke twice in his patron’s defence in the debates of 1675, but was named to the committee to draw up the address for his removal. He was teller against the demand for the withdrawal of all British subjects from France, and his services to the Court were rewarded by a pension of £500 for life. Although a member of the committee to draw up an address for an anti-French alliance in 1677, he was marked by Shaftesbury as ‘thrice vile’. He again resisted an attack on Lauderdale on 7 May 1678, in language reminiscent of his Presbyterian youth, and was appointed to the committee to pen the address demanding the removal of counsellors. Three days later, when that committee reported the terms of the address, he supported the motion for an adjournment. He served on the committees to inquire into the Popish Plot and to consider the bill for the exclusion of Papists from Parliament.8

In the first Exclusion Parliament Ancram was described by Shaftesbury as ‘vile’. He was appointed to five committees, including the committee to examine what proportion of the money voted for disbanding the army still remained in the Exchequer, and that of 8 May on the bill requiring better attendance by Members. On 21 May he was a teller against the second reading of the first exclusion bill; but he was removed from the commissions of the peace in 1680, presumably because of his wife’s recusancy. He had acquired sufficient personal interest in Wigan to survive even the loss of Derby’s support. Roger Bradshaigh II said of him that his constituents were ‘daily more obliged in many particulars than any town that I have known hath been to any burgess that ever served them, not only in time of Parliament, but every day in the interval of every Parliament’. Ancram was reelected to both the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, probably without a contest, though totally inactive in both, and also took his seat in the Scottish House of Lords in 1681. He presented a loyal address from the Wigan corporation and was plainly regarded as manager for the court interest in the borough. An embarrassing incident was narrowly averted in 1683 when one of his step-sons, ‘in which family there is no great store of money’, tried to set himself up as an informer in the Popish Plot. The evidence he produced was not only untimely but clumsily forged and planted, and it took all Ancram’s influence to keep him out of the pillory.9

Ancram was again returned unopposed for Wigan in 1685. An impeccable courtier, he was naturally in favour with James II. He was a moderately active Member, with six committees, of which the most important was to examine army accounts. He spoke against the general naturalization bill on the specious grounds that it imposed conformity on Protestant refugees. On 15 June he carried Monmouth’s attainder to the Lords. In the second session he was appointed to the committee to draw up the address for the removal of Roman Catholic officers, but acted as teller against obtaining the concurrence of the Lords. He was not at first molested after the Revolution, but in November 1689 a warrant was issued for his arrest. He died in needy circumstances and was buried at Kensington on 10 Sept. 1690, his title falling to his nephew, the Whig 1st Marquess of Lothian.[footnote]

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Paula Watson


HMC Popham, 172; Ancram and Lothian Corresp. ed. D. Laing, 458; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 446; Survey of London, iii. 52.

  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge on 6 Dec. 1648, readmitred 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. Richmond Par. Reg. (Surr. Par. Reg. Soc. i), 16; CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 466; 1680-1, p. 367; C10/139/65; Corresp. 458; Hants Field Club Pprs. i. 126; Add. 38175, f. 33.
  • 3. C181/7/37.
  • 4. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 177; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 386.
  • 5. Scots Peerage, v. 464-8; Whitelocke Mems. ii. 147; CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 96; Burnet, ii. 28-29; HMC Popham, 172.
  • 6. Old Parl. Hist. xxii. 444; Add. 18744, f. 15.
  • 7. Corresp. 458-60, 464; C5/437/78; Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 241; Add. 23117, f. 108.
  • 8. Milward, 104; PRO 31/3, bdle. 125, f. 288; Grey, ii. 192; v. 360; Burnet, ii. 28, 29; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 558; Lauderdale Pprs. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxxviii), 141.
  • 9. Burnet, ii. 28; HMC Kenyon, 169-70; London Gazette, 23 May 1681; CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, pp. 208-9, 257; 1683-4, p. 85.