KERR, William Henry, Earl of Ancram (c.1710-1775).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1747 - Mar. 1763

Family and Education

b. c.1710, 1st s. of William, 3rd Mq. of Lothian [S], by Margaret, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Nicholson, 1st Bt., of Kemnay, Aberdeen.  m. 6 Nov. 1735, Lady Caroline Darcy, da. of Robert, 3rd Earl of Holdernesse, 1s. 2da.  suc. fa as 4th Mq. 28 July 1767.

Offices Held

Cornet 11 Drag. 1735; capt. 11 Ft. 1739; capt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1741; lt.-col. 11 Drag. 1745; col. 1745; a.d.c. to Duke of Cumberland 1745-6; col. 24 Ft. 1747-52; col. 11 Drag. 1752- d.; maj.-gen. 1755; lt.-gen. 1758; gen. 1770.


Ancram was one of the ‘family’ of the Duke of Cumberland and followed his political lead. He was returned for Richmond on the interest of his brother-in-law, the 4th Earl of Holdernesse, who in 1762 sold the borough to Sir Lawrence Dundas; presumably Ancram’s vacating his seat was connected with that sale. Henry Fox, anxious to get him out before the vote on the peace preliminaries, wrote to Shelburne on 30 Nov. 1762: ‘Pray get Lord Ancram’s seat vacated. It is the affair of a quarter of an hour and if not done before ’tis known, may be prevented.’1 But the next day Shelburne wrote to Bute:2

The Ancrams have changed their mind ... Could not Lady Bute advise Lady Ancram who governs all about it? It would certainly be the honest as well as the prudent part for Lord Ancram to go out of Parliament ... but if it’s done, it must be done soon, and with secrecy, else the Duke, who is gone out of town today, will prevent it.

But on 9 Dec. Ancram was still in the House, and voted against the peace preliminaries, a message from the Duke ordering him not to do so having reached him too late.3 On 23 Dec. Newcastle wrote to Devonshire: ‘His Royal Highness told me, that my Lord Ancram had accepted four thousand pounds to vacate his seat in Parliament.’4

He died 12 Apr. 1775.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Lansdowne mss.
  • 2. Bute mss.
  • 3. Harris’s ‘Debates’.
  • 4. Add. 32945, f. 345.