Michael Ancram

Michael Andrew Foster Jude Kerr, 13th Marquess of Lothian, PC, QC, DL (born 7 July 1945), formerly styled as Earl of Ancram and commonly known as Michael Ancram until he inherited the marquessate in 2004, is a Scottish Conservative Party politician. He was formerly a Member of Parliament (MP) and a member of the Shadow Cabinet. Since 2010 a member of the House of Lords, he is the only marquess in the House of Lords. Lord Lothian is hereditary Chief of the Scottish Clan Kerr.[1]

The Marquess of Lothian

Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
18 September 2001  6 December 2005
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
Michael Howard
Preceded byMichael Portillo
Succeeded byGeorge Osborne &
William Hague
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
2 December 1998  7 June 2001
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byCecil Parkinson
Succeeded byDavid Davis
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
11 January 1994  2 May 1997
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byRobert Atkins
Succeeded byAdam Ingram
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
27 May 1993  11 January 1994
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byJeremy Hanley
Succeeded byTim Smith
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
13 June 1983  14 June 1987
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byAlex Fletcher
Succeeded byJames Douglas-Hamilton
Shadow Cabinet positions
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
10 May 2005  6 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byNicholas Soames
Succeeded byLiam Fox
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
18 September 2001  10 May 2005
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
Michael Howard
Preceded byFrancis Maude
Succeeded byLiam Fox
Shadow Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson
In office
19 June 1997  1 June 1998
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byWilliam Hague
Michael Howard
Succeeded byLiam Fox
Parliamentary representation
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
22 November 2010
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Devizes
In office
10 April 1992  12 April 2010
Preceded byCharles Morrison
Succeeded byClaire Perry
Member of Parliament
for Edinburgh South
In office
4 May 1979  11 June 1987
Preceded byMichael Hutchison
Succeeded byNigel Griffiths
Member of Parliament
for Berwick and East Lothian
In office
28 February 1974  10 October 1974
Preceded byJohn Mackintosh
Succeeded byJohn Mackintosh
Personal details
Born (1945-07-07) 7 July 1945 (age 74)
London, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Lady Jane Fitzalan-Howard
Children2 daughters
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
University of Edinburgh

Early life and education

Michael Ancram was born in London and is the elder son and second child of the 12th Marquess of Lothian.[2] He was educated at the Catholic independent school Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, followed by Christ Church, Oxford (BA in History, 1966, later proceeded to MA), where he was a member of the Bullingdon Club,[3] and the University of Edinburgh (LLB 1968).

Life and career

Ancram was called to the Scottish Bar in 1970 and continued to practise as an Advocate until 1979, apart from a brief period in 1974 when he first sat as an MP;[4] he became a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1996.[5]

Member of Parliament

Ancram unsuccessfully contested the West Lothian parliamentary seat in 1970. He was first elected to Parliament in the February 1974 general election, when he contested and won the seat of Berwickshire and East Lothian, but lost the seat in the October election of the same year. He re-entered Parliament at the 1979 election as the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South, beating future Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He lost his seat again at the 1987 general election, but returned to Parliament at the 1992 election representing Devizes.

He was a member of the House of Commons Energy Select committee between 1979 and 1983, and Chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party from 1980 to 1983. He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Scottish Office with responsibility for Home Affairs, Housing, Local Government, Rating Reform and the Environment from 1983 until 1987.

After losing his seat in 1987, he returned to Parliament in 1992 and was a member of the Public Accounts Committee and Chairman of the backbench Constitutional Affairs Committee from 1992 until May 1993, when he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office. He was promoted to Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office in January 1994, and was sworn as a Privy Councillor in January 1996.

Shadow Cabinet and failed leadership bid

After the Conservatives' defeat at the 1997 election he served in the Shadow Cabinet as Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson from June 1997 to June 1998. He then served as Chairman of the Conservative Party from December 1998 to September 2001.

In 2001, he ran against Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Portillo, Kenneth Clarke and David Davis in the election for the party leadership. In the first poll of Conservative MPs he and David Davis were tied for last place, leading to a re-run in which Ancram was placed bottom. He was eliminated, and Davis withdrew. Both swung their support behind Iain Duncan Smith, who went on to win, beating Clarke in the final vote of party members. Duncan Smith made Ancram Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in September 2001. He remained in this position after Michael Howard took over in 2003.

In the reshuffle following the 2005 election, Ancram was moved to Shadow Secretary of State for Defence but remained deputy leader. He stood down from the Shadow Cabinet in December 2005, following the election of David Cameron as Conservative Party Leader.[6] In January 2006 he was appointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee, replacing James Arbuthnot.

Later years as an MP

Ancram was a founding signatory in 2005 of the Henry Jackson Society principles, advocating a proactive approach to the spread of liberal democracy across the world, including when necessary by military intervention. On 21 April 2006 he became one of the first senior Conservative MPs to call for British troops to withdraw from Iraq, saying it was effectively in a state of civil war and that "It is time now for us to get out of Iraq with dignity and honour while we still can."[7]

Ancram is a founder member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation,[8] established in October 2009.

In 2006 he set up Global Strategy Forum, a bi-partisan foreign affairs think tank based in London.

On 11 August 2009, Ancram announced that he was to stand down as the MP for Devizes at the 2010 general election due to heart problems.[9] He retired when Parliament was dissolved on 12 April 2010; his successor as Conservative member for the Devizes constituency was Claire Perry.[10]

Personal life

He married Lady Jane Fitzalan-Howard, the fourth daughter of The 16th Duke of Norfolk, who on 7 April 2017 succeeded as the 16th Lady Herries of Terregles. They are both prominent Roman Catholics. She is a Patron of the Right to Life Trust[11] and also a Patroness of the Royal Caledonian Ball.[12]

The Marquess and Marchioness of Lothian have three daughters and two grandchildren:

  • Sarah Margaret Kerr (13 June 1976 – 13 June 1976)
  • Lady Clare Therese Kerr (25 January 1979) married to The Right Honourable Nick Hurd, son of former Cabinet Minister, Douglas, Lord Hurd of Westwell in August 2010. They have two children:
    • Leila Rose Hurd (17 May 2012)
    • Caspar Jamie Hurd (30 September 2014)
  • Lady Mary Kerr (28 May 1981). She married Zackary Adler on 28 May 2016.

His younger sister, Lady Cecil Cameron OBE, married Clan Chieftain, Donald Cameron of Lochiel. Another sister, the former Lady Clare Kerr, is now Dowager Countess of Euston and mother of the 12th Duke of Grafton.

Lord Lothian is a keen country music fan and has often played acoustic guitar at Conservative Party conferences.[13] He is a knight of Order of St John and Order of St Lazarus; he was also made a Freeman of Gibraltar in 2010.[14][15]

Name and titles

Although his family name is Kerr, Michael Ancram was known from birth by the courtesy title Earl of Ancram as elder son and heir of The 12th Marquess of Lothian. He is said to have dropped the use of this title in favour of plain Mr Michael Ancram after becoming a lawyer, supposedly because he believed it might confuse the jury if any Judge were to have addressed him as "My Lord".[16]

Ancram is known to many of his friends as Crumb, a nickname attributed to a party in the sixties at which on arrival Ancram introduced himself as "Lord Ancram" and was duly announced as "Mr Norman Crumb".[2]

Ancram became Marquess of Lothian upon his father's death in October 2004, but did not take up use of this title in public life whilst still sitting as an MP (although properly he should have ceased being styled by the courtesy title of Earl of Ancram). The House of Lords Act 1999 meant that, on acceding to the peerage, he was not disqualified from sitting in the House of Commons as hereditary peers no longer have an automatic right to sit in the House of Lords. Apart from Irish peers, he was, after The 3rd Viscount Thurso and The 3rd Viscount Hailsham, the third person to have sat in the House of Commons while simultaneously being a hereditary peer.

Ancram was created a Life Peer on 22 November 2010 as Baron Kerr of Monteviot, of Monteviot in Roxburghshire, and was introduced in the House of Lords the same day;[17] by custom, he is referred to by his senior title as The Marquess of Lothian during all parliamentary business and in other official records such as Hansard.[18]

As the Kerr family titles cannot pass through the female line, the heir presumptive to his hereditary titles is his younger brother Lord Ralph Kerr. His elder daughter is her mother's heir presumptive to be Lady Herries of Terregles. Ancram is also one of the five co-heirs to the barony of Butler, abeyant since 1905. Though the most junior heir by primogeniture, he holds the strongest claim, as the other heirs have a lesser share to that title. Upon his death, assuming the barony of Butler is not called out of abeyance, his share will be subdivided between his two daughters.


Coat of arms of Michael Ancram
A coronet of a Marquess
A Sun as in the Arms
Quarterly: 1st and 4th, A Sun in Splendour Proper (Lothian, as an escutcheon of augmentation); 2nd and 3rd, Gules on a Chevron Argent three Mullets of the Field (Lordship of Jedburgh)
Dexter: an Angel Proper vested Azure surcoated Vert winged and crined Or; Sinister: an Unicorn Argent armed maned and unguled Or gorged with a Collar Gules charged with three Mullets Argent
Sero Sed Serio (Late but in earnest)


  1. "Kerr". Clanjames.com. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  2. "Biography". MichaelAncram.com. Archived from the original on 28 December 2005. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  3. "ImageShack - Image Page". Imageshack.us. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  4. "MP Michael Ancram". UK Political Parties Directory. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  5. "Profile: Michael Ancram – The next leader of the Tories?". The Independent. 27 November 1999. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  6. "Ancram to stand down from Shadow Cabinet". Conservative Party. 4 October 2005. Archived from the original on 18 April 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  7. "Tory MP urges Iraq troop pull-out". BBC News. 21 April 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  8. Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". The Guardian. London.
  9. Prince, Rosa (11 August 2009). "Michael Ancram to stand down as MP". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  10. "Claire Perry chosen for Devizes". BBC News. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. "Patronesses". Royal Caledonian Ball. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013.
  13. "Ancram, the emollient earl". BBC News. 21 June 2001. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  14. "Press Release : Freedom of the City" (PDF). Gibraltar.gov.gi. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  15. "Freedom of the City for two friends". Panorama.gi. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  16. Rachel Sylvester and George Jones (27 June 2001). "Ancram offers healing hands to Tories". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  17. "House of Lords Business". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  18. "Marquess of Lothian". UK Parliament website. Archived from the original on 3 December 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010.