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Ker, David

David Ker (1758-1805) was born in Ireland and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He had emigrated to the United States by 1789 and by 1791 was a Presbyterian minister and school teacher in Fayetteville, NC. On becoming the University's first presiding professor, he moved to Chapel Hill in 1794 and lived in a house provided for him on the site of present-day Swain Hall. Controversy over Ker's political and religious views as well as unrest among the students prompted the board of trustees to replace Ker as chief administrative officer. Though the board was willing to allow him to remain as professor of languages, Ker demanded that his salary be increased to include the value of his house. The board refused and called for his resignation in July 1796. Ker moved to Lumberton, NC, then in 1800 went to Natchez, MS, possibly as a tutor to the children of Gen. John Willis. With his wife Mary he opened the first public school for young women in Mississippi Territory. Ker retired from the ministry, studied law, and became clerk of superior court, sheriff, and eventually a territorial judge, appointed by President Jefferson. Mary Ker continued to operate the school and lived until 1847. The Kers were the parents of three daughters and two sons (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 3:353-54; Connor 1:347-38;Battle 1:104-07).