William Ker

William Ker was a brewer and distiller from around the 1770s, and Provost in the town from 1773-1778. Between 1766 and 1780 he added to land which had been purchased by his father to the east of the town and created the Kerfield estate, where he built the Kerfield Brewery.

In 1788 he was granted a patent for a novel method of extracting hop oil from the wort vapour and then returning it to the wort when it had finished boiling, thereby preserving more of the flavour.

The Kerfield Brewery was offered for sale after William's death in 1807, and was acquired in 1810 by his son-in law, William Aitchison, who traded as Aitchison & Co.

Location: Peebles

Active: 1770s - 1807

Status: Closed

Breweries and other buildings

The Kerfield Brewery lay to the north of Kerfield House, and was associated with a maltings and a mill. The buildings were mainly demolished after William Aitchison established the Canongate Brewery in Edinburgh in 1828.


Map of 1823 showing the Kerfield Brewery
Map of 1823 showing the Kerfield Brewery
© National Library of Scotland, 2016


We do not currently hold any images of items related to William Ker, and would welcome any information or images related to his business.

Other Sources of information

Books and periodicals

Chambers, W. A history of Peebleshire. Edinburgh: William and Robert Chambers, 1864.

Dalgleish, W. Statistical Account of Scotland. XII.I: Parish of Peebles, County of Peebles. Edinburgh: William Creech, 1796.

Hieronymous, S. For the love of hops. Boulder, Brewery Publications, 2012.

Hundey, I. Privileged Scot, Canadian invader, and Australian convict: the story of James Milne Aitchison. Australian Canadian Studies, 29(1-2), 2011, pp.49-81.