John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe

John Ker, 3rd Duke Of Roxburghe

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John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe

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John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe KG, KT, PC (23 April 1740 – 1804) was a Scottish nobleman and bibliophile.

Born in Hanover Square, London, on 23 April 1740, Ker succeeded his father to become the 3rd Duke of Roxburghe in 1755. It is said that he fell in love with Christina Sophia Albertina, oldest daughter of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. This would have been a perfect match of social equals. Shortly afterwards a younger sister, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, became engaged to King George III. It was considered bad etiquette for an elder sister to marry someone of lower rank than a younger sister. For whatever reason, both John Ker and Christina separated and remained single for the rest of their lives. If George III recognised the sacrifice that Ker had made, it was rewarded with a high position at court. He was Lord of the Bedchamber from 1767, was appointed a Knight of the Thistle in 1768. In 1796 he was appointed Groom of the Stole and made a Privy Counsellor. He was appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1801.

While in Italy, Ker saw a first edition of Boccaccio's Decameron, often called the Valdarfers edition. This was a fabled book, which many said did not exist. He paid 100 guineas for it and showed it to his friends in London to huge acclaim. For the next 40 years he collected ancient and curious books, particularly editions of Shakespeare's works and other works which merely mentioned Shakespeare. At his death in 1804 there were 10,000 items. Most were books,...
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