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Schomberg Kerr McDonnell

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Died  1915

Captain Sir Schomberg Kerr McDonnell, GCVO, KCB, FSA (22 March 1861 – 23 November 1915) was a British Army officer, politician and civil servant, who was for a number of years Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister.



Kerr McDonnell was the youngest son of Mark McDonnell, 5th Earl of Antrim (1814-1869), by his wife Jane Emma Hannah Macan (ca. 1825-1892). His paternal grandfather Lord Mark Kerr (1776-1840) was a descendant of the Marquess of Lothian, whose wife Charlotte McDonnell (1779-1835) was the Countess of Antrim in her own right, hence the change of surname for their descendants.

He was educated at Eton College and at the University of Oxford.

Political career

In 1888 Kerr McDonnell was appointed Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, and served as such while he was in office until 1892, and again from 1895 to 1902 (with a short interval while he fought in South Africa in 1900). He also served as private secretary to Lord Salisbury while he was Leader of the Opposition from 1892 to 1895. In failing health, Lord Salisbury resigned as Prime Minister in July 1902, and Kerr McDonnell received a non-political appointment, as Secretary to the Office of Works, a position he held until 1912. It was the duty of this department to look after the royal palaces, and the position brought him into close contact with the royal family.

Kerr McDonnell was a captain in the London Volunteer Regiment. Taking leave from his work for the Prime Minister, he took an active commission with the newly raised City of London Imperial Volunteers in late 1899. This corps was raised and equipped by the City of London for service during the Second Boer War, left for South Africa in January 1900, and returned in October the same year.


Kerr McDonnell was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1892, for his service to the outgoing Prime Minister. He was promoted to a Knight Commander (KCB) of the Order in the 1902 Coronation Honours list published on 26 June 1902, and received the knighthood in a private audience with King Edward VII on 2 August, during the King′s convalescence on board HMY Victoria and Albert. He was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1901, and promoted to Knight Grand Cross (GCVO) in the order in the 1911 Coronation Honours list.

Ha was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA).


He married, in 1913, Ethel Henry Davis, daughter of Major Alexander H. Davis.


Schomberg Kerr McDonnell Wikipedia

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