Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

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,
born 12 Jan 1738, Scotland,
descendant of Robert III, King of Scotland and of Henry I.
See entry in tree by Jenny Poll.
See entry in Wyndham Marsh genealogy.

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.
He may have met his wife through his medical work. The Diceys 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 is listed as of Northampton at mar.

William mar 1stly, 30 June 1764, to Charlotte Dicey [born 18 Jan 1734].
She died 1769-1772.
She died before her brother's will of 1772.
Leaving William with small children.

William mar 2ndly, 17 June 1773, to Mary Tompson [born 18 Feb 1754, NOT Thompson].
She was bapt 9 Mar 1754, Northampton, All Saints. See bapt entry from here.
She was dau of George Tompson, Mayor of Northampton (born 1722, died 1786) by his wife Susannah Conant (born 1719, died 1794).
There is a memorial to Mary's parents 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].
They mar at Northampton, St Giles. Both listed as of that parish. See mar entry from here.
Even though she was young, it seems they had no issue.

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.
He was a Trustee of the will of his father-in-law George Tompson (died 1786)
He was an executor of the will (dated 1791) of his mother-in-law Susannah Conant (died 1794).

Founder of the new Northampton Hospital, 1793:
He helped found the new Northampton Hospital at Billing Rd, Northampton.
He 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 1813 portrait of him by Thomas Phillips.
He must be "William Kerr" who wit the mar of his granddau Mary Kerr in Northampton in 1816.
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 grand-nephew Thomas Edward Dicey.
[Canter, 2005] says he practised at the hospital until he was 83 (1821).
Still living Sheep St, Northampton at death.

Dr. William dies, 1824:
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. See burial entry from here.
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.
Living Sheep St at death.

Mary dies, 1841:
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 31 Dec 1841 in Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton. See burial entry from here.
Dr. William had issue by 1st wife Charlotte Dicey:

  1. John Manners Kerr,
    born 30 Oct 1766 [bapt, grave].
    He was bapt 31 Oct 1766, Northampton, St Giles. See entry from here.
    [1824 deed] and grave describe him as "only son".
    The name "John Manners":
    William Kerr was Surgeon to the Royal Horse Guards Blue before 1763, in the Seven Years' War.
    He would have served under John Manners, Marquess of Granby (of this family) who was Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards Blue from 1758 to 1770.
    Granby was famous for his concern for his men's welfare. He was very popular with the troops and became a national hero in the Seven Years' War.
    When William Kerr's son was born, Granby had recently (August 1766) been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.
    Since neither grandfather of the child is "John", it is clear that the son's name "John Manners" is a tribute to William's old commander, John Manners, Marquess of Granby.

    John Manners Kerr later became a General in British Army.
    He later lived in Wales.

  2. Mary Ann Kerr,
    or Mary Anne, or Marianne, eldest dau,
    born 27 Nov 1767.
    She was bapt 27 Nov 1767, Northampton, St Giles. See entry from here.
    A copy of the entries for Northampton, St Giles, has her in a listing for 1766, but it is noted on the copy that this is an error and it should be 1767. See entry.
    She mar 17 July 1792 to Col. Warden Sergison, no issue.
    They mar at Northampton, St Sepulchre. Listed as her parish. See entry from here.
    Mar wit by "William Kerr" (maybe her father) and "Jane Kerr" (maybe her cousin, though only a child).

  3. Charlotte Kerr,
    born 18 Sept 1769.
    Baptism entry looks like it says born either 10 Sept or 18 Sept. But grave says born 18 Sept so we go with that.
    She was bapt 19 Sept 1769, Northampton, St Giles. See entry from here.
    She mar 12 July 1791 to John Foster [bapt 1 Aug 1735] and had issue.
    They mar at Northampton, St Sepulchre. Listed as her parish. See entry from here.
    Mar wit by "Mary Ann Kerr" (her sister) and "Jane Kerr" (maybe her cousin, though only a child).
    She was age 21. He was age 55 and it was his 3rd marriage. He was older than her father.

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).

Obituary of Dr. William Kerr, pp.564-565 of Gentleman's Magazine, Volume XCIV, July-Dec 1824.
See shorter version on pp.90-91 of The New Monthly Magazine, vol.15, 1825.

Baptism of John Manners Kerr, 31 Oct 1766, Northampton, St Giles.

Entry for Dr. William Kerr in KERR of The Haie in [Burkes LG, 1886].


Portrait of Dr. William Kerr by Thomas Phillips



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