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My wife's ancestors - Kerr - Contents


Dr. William Kerr




Dr. William Kerr.
A copy made from the 1813 portrait by Thomas Phillips.
At Northamptonshire Central Library, Abington St, Northampton.
From BBC.




Dr. William Kerr, (see here and here),
born 12 Jan 1738, Scotland,
descendant of Robert III, King of Scotland and of Henry I.

He became doctor, M.D., surgeon.
He was Lieutenant in 26th (Cameronian) Regiment of Foot.
Surgeon to the Royal Horse Guards Blue.
He was at the Battle of Minden in Prussia in 1759.
Left the army. Settled in Northampton in 1763.
His grave says he came to Northampton in 1763.
He was Surgeon from 1763 to 1821 at Northampton Infirmary (which was founded at a meeting in 1743, first patients 1744, now Northampton General Hospital).
He may have met his wife through his medical work. Dicey were based in Northampton. He was a doctor, and the Diceys sold patent medicines. Her family owned the local Northampton newspaper, and the Diceys already had connections to Northampton Infirmary.

He mar 1stly, 30 June 1764, to Charlotte Dicey [born 17 Feb 1740].
She died pre-1773.
He mar 2ndly, 1773, to Mary Tompson [born 18 Feb 1754, dau of George Tompson, Alderman of Northampton, NOT Thompson].
William was a Trustee of the will of George Tompson, Alderman of Northampton (born 1722, died 1786).
William was an executor of the will (dated 1791) of George Tompson's widow Susannah Conant (born 1719, died 1794).
These are Mary's parents.
There is a memorial to them in Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton, on N wall of S aisle, at W end. See pp.94-96 of [Cox and Serjeantson, 1897].

First amputation through the hip joint in Britain, 1779:
In 1779 in Northampton he carried out probably the first amputation through the hip joint (or hip disarticulation) in Britain. Though the patient only lived for 18 days.
His operation was written up in a 1779 paper. See also [Kaufman and Wakelin, 2004].

He lived in Sheep St, Northampton. Got a lease of the property dated 1784 from Northampton Corporation. Lived there until his death.
Founder of Royal Leamington Spa, around 1784:
In around 1784 he popularised the medicinal qualities of the spa waters at Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
The first baths were erected in 1786 to his advice. He is in effect the founder of the town.
Founder of the new Northampton Hospital, 1793:
He helped found the new Northampton Hospital at Billing Rd, Northampton. This is where it is today. See map. Kerr started the campaign for the new hospital in 1790. The new building at Billing Road opened in 1793.
[Canter, 2005] says: "Dr William Kerr .. founded medical education in Northampton. He was the principal fundraiser for a new, larger hospital on the present hospital site, which opened in 1793."

In 1793, on the outbreak of war, he raised the Northampton Regiment of Fencible Infantry. He had his son John Manners Kerr appointed commander in 1794 or 1795. The regiment disbanded in 1801.
He also founded in 1798 the Northampton Volunteer troop of Cavalry. He was its Commandant from 1798 to its dissolution in 1823 [Obituary].
See portrait of him painted 1813.

Death, 1824:
His will dated 24 Nov 1819, codicil 2 Dec 1819, codicil 15 Dec 1819. [1840 case] confirms the will is 1819. He describes his son as Lieutenant-General, with wife Margaret.
In second codicil he leaves bequest to his 1st wife's nephew Thomas Edward Dicey.
[Canter, 2005] says he practised at the hospital until he was 83 (1821).
Still living Sheep St, Northampton at death.
He died 4 Sept 1824, at Northampton, age 86 yrs [grave], [obituary].
Though p.461 in The Edinburgh Annual Register, 1824, says died 3 Sept.
And p.389 in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1824, says died 5 Sept.
He was bur 10 Sept 1824 in a vault inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton.
Will proved 8 October 1824.

Mary continued to live on Sheep St, Northampton.
She must be "Mrs. Kerr" who is mentioned on p.207 of [Cox and Serjeantson, 1897] as having donated a new organ to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1838.
She died 25 Dec 1841, at Northampton, age 87 yrs.
See death notice on p.227 of Gentleman's Magazine, Jan-June 1842.
She was bur Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton.
He had issue by 1st wife Charlotte Dicey:


  1. John Manners Kerr,
    born 30 Oct 1766 [grave], think NOT 1767,
    [1824 deed] and grave describe him as "only son",
    General in British Army,
    later lived in Wales.
    Unknown why he got the middle name "Manners". There is a titled family, Manners, Duke of Rutland, but no known relation of Kerr. Rutland is near Northampton.


  2. Mary Ann Kerr, born 1767,
    or Mary Anne, or Marianne, eldest dau,
    mar, settlement 1792, to Col. Warden Sergison, no issue.


  3. Charlotte Kerr,
    mar John Foster (or Forster),
    he is described as of Wordsley,
    also described as of Leicester Grange, Leicestershire,
    he was Sheriff of Worcestershire 1779-80.





 
Extracts from 1779 paper about Kerr's operation.


 
Kerr popularises (and in effect founds) Royal Leamington Spa in the 1780s.
From pp.281-282 of An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Town & Castle of Warwick, And of the Neighbouring Spa of Leamington by William Field (1815).




Miscellaneous Kerr papers

  


Portrait of Dr. William Kerr by Thomas Phillips

Portrait of Dr. William Kerr by Thomas Phillips.
This was painted 1813 [Cox and Serjeantson, 1897].

Letters of 1812 shows plans for the forthcoming portrait:
Dr. William Kerr and his wife were friendly with Charles Compton, 1st Marquess of Northampton and his wife Lady Northampton (Maria Smith).
  • A letter from Lady Northampton to her daughter, dated 10 May 1812, says: "Yesterday we spent at Northampton as we dined with Dr & Mrs Kerr; as it was the election for a surgeon to the Hospital we went early. ... Next Saturday your father will attend at the hospital to propose they should request Dr Kerr to set for his picture & to convene a meeting of the Governors for the purpose; but I do not mean to go to Northampton with him."
  • Lady Northampton writes again on 24 June 1812: "Philips I believe will be the painter employed to take the Doctor’s picture. My Lord must attend again the hospital meeting on Saturday about this said picture".

Dr. Kerr's obituary says it was painted for his 50th year at the hospital (which would be 1813) though it then incorrectly says this was 1824.
BBC is wrong to say it is 1811.

Portrait shows Kerr seated with the new Northampton Hospital visible in the background.
On his desk are plans of the new hospital, which he helped build in 1793.
An engraving of the portrait was printed in 1813.


  

Dr. William Kerr.
The new Northampton Hospital in background.
This is the original portrait.
[Cox and Serjeantson, 1897] said the original portrait was then in the committee room at Northampton Hospital.
BBC says it is still at Northampton General Hospital.



Dr. William Kerr.
This is an engraving of the original portrait.
Engraved by William Say, printed 30 Nov 1813 in London.
See larger and full size.
See copy at NPG.
See other copy at NPG.

  

The date is tiny and hard to read. At a distance it appears to be 30 Nov 1819 but on close-up it seems clear it is 30 Nov 1813.
See full size.



Dr. William Kerr.
Detail of engraving.
See larger and full size.



Detail of engraving, showing the new Northampton Hospital.
See larger and full size.


  

Northampton Hospital

  

The old part of Northampton General Hospital today.
Billing Road entrance. NW end of the campus.
2015 image from street view.
See Geograph.



The "William Kerr building" at Northampton General Hospital.
It is in "Area J". SW end of the campus.
From street view.
This was built as a student accommodation block in 2005, named after Kerr. See [Canter, 2005].
It now houses the Richmond Library.
Think see Geograph.


  



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