Thursday, November 14, 2019

Are you a left handed KERR or CARR?

Why do I ask?  Perhaps this traditional anonymous poem from Scotland will enlighten…

“But the Kerrs were aye the deadliest foes
That e’er to Englishmen were known
For they were all bred lefthanded men
And Fence against them there was none.”

This left handedness may stem back to a time of border wars between Scotland and England and to an individual named Andrew Kerr. Andrew was naturally left handed and found that he had an advantage in fighting with the sword. And in particular he could fight better when he was going down spiral staircases that went one way rather than the other.

He had a whole family of little Kerrs all of whom were left handed and they defeated all their enemies and they built castles galore all of which had left handed spiral stair cases rather than right handed spiral staircases.

Or so the story goes….

In fact there is a Kerr castle in Scotland still standing that has a left handed spiral staircase.

But is there anything to this KERR left handedness?

In 1993 a paper was published in the British Journal of Psychology entitled “The Handedness of the Kerrs and the Carrs” by Duncan Shaw and I.C. McManus. I corresponded with Dr. McManus in the UK and got a copy of his paper. Their results showed there was no evidence found for an increased incidence of left-handedness in Kerrs and Carrs.

So that’s that…it makes a good story…

That leads to another question.  How many of us KERR descendents are ambidextrous (equally skilled with each hand dependent on the task)?

I am and my siblings and several of my cousins are.

Maybe there is more to this story of KERR left handedness than we thought!

[Editor note - Participate in the KERR/CARR DNA project to reveal family tree connections between our Kerrs and Carrs.   This test is a painless saliva swab of the inner cheek.  The YDNA test (for males) will show the connections along the surname.   The Family Finder test (for males and females) will show all cousin matches in not only the Kerrs and Carrs but other branches of your family tree. Go here to learn more about the Family Finder test.]

Related KERR/CARR posts:  Serendipity DNA


77 Responses to “Are you a left handed KERR or CARR?”
  1. Cheryl says:

    Hi, I am a descendant from the Kerr family in Scotland (we have traced them back to Roxburghshire). My grandfather, myself, my sister and my son are all left handed.

  2. Hi Cheryl,
    That’s interesting about all of the left handedness in your family. I think there is more to the Kerr/Carr left handed story as so many are.


  3. We are also descendants of the Scottish Lowland Kerr’s. John Carr came over from Carlisle or near about in the 1600′s and gained land south of the Jamestown settlement. His g,g,g,g,grandson Nathan Carr who is my g,g,g,g,g,grandfather bought 500 acres in the Isle of Wight County VA in mid 1700′s. He became postmaster of Isle of Wight VA and they named the town of Carrsville, VA after him. His g,g,g, grandson Archibald A Carr moved from Carrsville, VA after the Civil War to work on the railroads in Wash DC as an engineer. Archibald’s son Richard J Carr worked and lived in DC all of his life. His son James Philip Carr Sr, my father, grew up in DC and eventually moved into Maryland where I now live in Cloverly, MD.

    I believe John Carr who came to Portsmouth VA was son of Sir Thomas Carr who was son of Sir Robert Kerr, the Kerr name being anglicized sometime between them.


    James P Carr Jr 2011
    “Sero Sed Serio”
    Cloverly, MD USA

  4. Hi James,
    Thanks for your overview on your family. Your Carrs have been in North America a long time. Have you considered doing DNA testing to connect with other KERR/CARR families? Or perhaps learn your haplogroup?

    Family Tree DNA is where my brother tested. He received a significant match with someone with the exact same name.

    Thanks for visiting,

  5. Jeannine says:

    I recently found out that I am a descendant of Sir Benjamin Carr and Sir Robert Carr. My ancestor, William Carr of Virginia married Sarah Eskridge (her brother was George Eskridge, guardian of Mary Ball–who was G. Washington’s mother).
    To aid your study–I am left-handed.

  6. Hi Jeannine,
    Thanks for your input to the left handed story. I think there is definitely more to this left handedness.


  7. Travis Kerr says:

    I am left-handed but i am also very ambidextrous. my mother is a kerr and father a carr? what does this mean. my family tree has grown together? oh well i hope to make it to Scotland some day and see the infamous left-handed stairs.

    have a good day!!

    Travis Kerr

  8. Hi Travis,
    There seems to be a lot of ambidextrous Kerrs around. Me included!

    Thanks for your comment.


  9. Logan Carr says:

    I’m a right handed Carr so is my sister and dad

  10. Hi Logan,
    Thanks for your input about Carr/Kerr handedness.


  11. kerr says:

    left handed- My husbands brother (2nd child) was left handed. Our son (2nd child)
    was left handed. Grandson (2nd child)

  12. Hi kerr,
    Thanks for you commenting. There appears to be quite a few left handed Kerrs.


  13. Hannah Carr says:

    Hi, I’m a Carr from Ireland and am left handed

  14. Hi Hannah,
    Thanks for visiting and commenting. The comments indicate there are quite a few left handed Carrs and Kerrs. Perhaps time for another study!


  15. Kate in Michigan says:

    I’m a descendant of the Kerrs and Carrs — a few generations back, we had some of each.
    My grandmother, sister, daughter and I are all lefties. All the males are right handed.

  16. jaime kerr healy says:

    hello my grandfather is a kerr my grandmother is a Carr , we are the irish side of the carr/kerr family , I think in my family there are many left handed people which I always thought was normal , me being right handed I felt like the freak , but why are the kerr /carrs all left handed , I always maintained we used the left side of our brain , The kerrs and carrs have all been such artistic people , a bit wild and whacky .I see there is another Kerr Carr in the house , would love to hear from you , , regards Jaime

  17. Hi Jaime,
    Thanks for your comment about the Kerrs. I’ll drop you a note as our Kerrs are Irish too.


  18. Anne Chevis says:

    Hello Joan,

    My biological grandmother was a Mary Carr ( nothing known about her). I have had my mitrochrondical DNA and submitted it to Family Tree DNA. Didn’t get much in the way of results. Any ideas?

  19. I was born and raised in Vancouver Canada and I would say I was pretty much born right handed. However, over the years I’ve taught myself to play many musical instruments (piano, guitar, trombone, drums and even attempting bagpipes lol) So over the many years of playing my left hand can now preform tasks my right can not. Because of this I feel the Kerr’s who built the counter clockwise staircase , trained themselves to fight differently (wither born left handed or not) and so gained a tactical advantage over their enemies whither they in that staircase or not…… well I dunno just a all I know is I MUST visit this Castle someday…

  20. Peter Kerr says:

    My father and I are left footed (sporting people) and my Fathers father was left handed

  21. Melissa says:

    another lefty of Kerr descent. My uncle, cousin, grandfather are all left handed
    Melissa´s last [type] ..Free Christmas Cards, Anyone? Coupon & Free Workshop Inside

  22. Leslie Kerr says:


    My father was a left handed Kerr, as well as my sister. I am mostly right handed but left handed for alot of things most rightys are not.

    I am goofy on a snowboard (left footed) and have been tested for eye dominance which comes out as a rare case of left eye dominant but right handed, or something like that.

    My ancestors came over to NA on the boat called the Anne in about 1652 I think.

  23. My name is Eugene Kerr and I’m the Grand Son of George Kerr, born in 1845 and died in 1917. He served in Co 6, 16th Prince Edward Batt. in 1866 and maried my Grand Mother Anna Staley. They moved to USA in the early 1900 or there about. I have several members of my family that are left handed and I can do most anything with my left hand as well as my right.

  24. Eugene Kerr says:

    My family comes from a long line of Kerr’s and I have traced my family back to the early 1585 that I have knowledge of. We come from Canada, Scotland, Ireland and some of us come from Norway. I have a lot of information about the Kerr’s. I might be able to help you.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] left handed spiral staircases in their castles.   (See my post of January 2009 entitled “Are you a Left handed Kerr or Carr” [...]

  2. [...] this true? Certainly, the castle does feature a reverse spiral staircase, but a 1993 study found no increased incidence of left-handedness in [...]

  3. [...] Are you a Left Handed Kerr or Carr? – the most commented post on this blog! [...]

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