Papers of the Dukes and Dukedom of Roxburghe

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: notes of the opinions of the Judges of the Court of Session on the Roxburghe cause and other cases, 1806-1808; letters (2) of Harriett, second wife of the 5th Duke; letters (2) relating to the 6th Duke; letter of Susanna Stephania to R. H. Tulloch; letter of the 7th Duke to Mr. Buckley; letter from the 8th Duke offering himself as candidate to the Royal Caledonian Hunt, and a letter to the Secretary of State for War submitting names for appointment as Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Roxburgh; and, a mounted photograph of Floors Castle, Kelso.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Dukedom of Roxburghe was created in 1707 when John Ker, 5th Earl of Roxburghe, and a Secretary of State for Scotland from 1704, was installed as a Knight of the Garter and as Baron Ker of Cessford and Caverton, Viscount Broxmouth, Earl of Kelso, Marquess of Bowmont and Cessford, and Duke of Roxburghe. The Earl had been one of the principal leaders of the pro-Union squadrone party in the older Scottish Parliament. He was a supporter of the Hanoverian succession and he distinguished himself at the Battle of Sheriffmuir during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. The 1st Duke of Roxburghe died on 24 February 1741.

The title passed from father to son until the death of John Ker (1740-1804), 3rd Duke of Roxburghe who had been a celebrated book-collector, and was unmarried. A kinsman of his, William (1728-1805), 7th Lord Bellenden, became the 4th Duke of Roxburghe. Lord Bellenden was a descendant of the second son of the Hon. Sir William Drummond, 2nd Earl of Roxburghe. The 4th Duke too died without a male heir and the succession was contested (the Roxburghe cause) until a decision by the House of Lords in 1812.

In 1812, Sir James Innes (1736-1823), 6th Baronet of Innes, became the 5th Duke of Roxburghe. He had been a descendant of the 1st Earl of Roxburghe. In 1807 he had assumed the name of Innes-Ker. He was succeeded by his son James Henry Robert Innes-Ker (1816-1879), 6th Duke of Roxburghe. He married Susanna Stephania V.A. (d.1895) Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria.

In turn, James Henry Robert Innes-Ker was succeeded by his son James Henry Robert Innes-Ker (1839-1892), 7th Duke of Roxburghe. He was the Lord Lieutenant of Roxburghshire and MP, 1870-1874. In 1874 he married Lady Anne Emily Spencer Churchill, O.B.E., V.A., Lady of the Bedchamber and Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria, and a daughter of John Winston, 7th Duke of Marlborough. He died on 23 October 1892 and was succeeded by his son Henry John Innes-Ker.

Henry John Innes-Ker, 8th Duke of Roxburghe, was born on 25 July 1876. He was educated at Eton. He became a Lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards serving with the Household Cavalry Composite regiment in South Africa in 1900, and during the early part of the First World War, 1914-1915, when he was wounded. He had succeeded his father to the Dukedom in 1892. The 8th Duke was Lord Lieutenant of Roxburghshire from 1918, Chancellor of the Order of the Thistle from 1926, and Lieutenant, 4th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He was also a Brigadier, Royal Company of Archers (then the King's Bodyguard for Scotland). The Duke carried Queen Alexandra's crown at the Coronation of Edward VII, and St. Edward's Staff at the Coronation of George V.

Henry John, 8th Duke was succeeded in 1932 by his eldest son, George Victor Robert John Innes-Ker (1913-1974), 9th Duke of Roxburghe, educated at Sandhurst.

Today the title is held by Guy David Innes-Ker (b. 1954), 10th Duke of Roxburghe, educated at Eton, Sandhurst, and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He succeeded his father the 9th Duke of Roxburghe in 1974.

The home of the Duke of Roxburghe is Floors (Fleurs) Castle, Kelso, on the banks of the River Tweed. Floors was begun in 1718 for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe and although it is credited to Sir John Vanburgh, it is believed that William Adam was also involved in the design. Between 1838 and 1849 it was remodelled by William Playfair for the 6th Duke.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Burke, Sir Bernard. and Burke Ashworth P. A genealogical and heraldic history of the peerage and baronetage, the Privy Council, and knightage. 87th edition. London: Burke's Peerage Ltd., 1929. (2) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 11. Kennett-Lluelyn. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909. (3) Who's who 1968-1969. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1968. (4) Who's who 1995. London: A. and C. Black, 1995. (5) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Ker, Innes-Ker, and Roxburghe related material (check the Indexes for more details): letters (circa 180) of R. Hotchkis WS, to Major-General Walter Ker about the latter's claim to the Dukedom of Roxburghe, and other associated correspondence (circa 200 letters in all), 1805-1810, at La.II.118; letter of the Earl of Lauderdale to R. Hotchkis WS, about the Roxburghe cause, 1819, at La.II.509; letter of James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale, about the Roxburghe cause, 23 September 1810, at Gen. 1982/18; medical report on Harriet, Duchess of Roxburghe (probably second wife of the 5th Duke), for the Scottish Widows' Fund and Life Assurance Society, 14 May 1839, at Gen. 886(asterisk)/4, no.22; letter of James Henry Robert Innes-Ker, 6th Duke of Roxburghe, to Sir G. Warrender, 1840, at La.II.509; franked postal cover addressed to R. Scott Moncrieff, 14 July 1834, with biographical note, at Dk.6.19/3; letter of Sir James Innes-Ker, 5th Duke of Roxburghe, to Sir G. Warrender, 1818, at La.II.509; letters (2) of Lady Jane Drummond, second countess of the 1st Earl of Roxburghe, undated and 1642, at La.II.130/1-2; letter of John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe about a book sale, 1792, at La.II.511; elegy on Sir Robert Ker, 1st Earl of Roxburghe, printed for the Bannatyne Miscellany, proof sheets with corrections and additions by Sir W. Scott and D. Laing, at La.III.834, f.76-; and, letters (3) of Susanna Stephania, Duchess of Roxburghe, to Sir G. Warrender, 1840, at La.II.509.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes material related to: Ker, James Henry Innes- (1816-1879) 6th Duke of Roxburghe; Ker, James Innes- (1738-1823) 5th Duke of Roxburghe; Ker, John (d. 1741) 1st Duke of Roxburgh; Ker, Margaret (d. 1753) nee Hay, Countess of Roxburghe; Ker, Robert (1570-1650) 1st Earl of Roxburghe; and Ker, Robert (d.1755) 2nd Duke of Roxburghe.