John was born in 1300 and is known to have been a Burgess of Perth by 1328. He was possibly the son of Thomas Mercer.
John received charters for the ward and relief of the lands of his nephew, William de Moravia, Lord of Tullybardine in 1352. He also received charters over the following 20 years or so for Kyncarrouchy, Meikleour, Aldie, Lednoch, Meikle Kinnaird, Pettlands of Strathord and Tullibeagles.
On 26/Sep/1356-7 he was one of the Commissioners appointed to negotiate the ransom of King David II who had been captured by the English in battle near Durham ten years earlier and held to ransom in the Tower of London.
He was Member of Parliament for Perth in 1364 and a frequent Ambassador from Scotland to France, Flanders and England.
He is known to have been Provost of Perth in 1356 and 1374.
Through time, John rose to become an eminent statesman, and was one of the wealthiest Scottish foreign traders of his time. However, on a return trip from Flanders in 1376, he was shipwrecked off the English coast and taken prisoner to Scarborough from where he was soon released. (For a more detailed account of this episode, see Sir Andrew Mercer.)
He went to England again as Nuncio in 1378-9 and died in 1379-80.
John’s descendants continued to represent Perth as Burgesses and Provosts until 1505 during most of which time the town was the capital of Scotland.
Ada Murray was the daughter of Sir Andrew Murray of Tullibardine by his spouse, Ada, daughter of Malise, Seneschal of Strathearn.
Sir Andrew was executed in 1332 for his allegiance to Edward Balliol who made a bid for the throne after the death of Robert the Bruce.
Ada Murray was also a granddaughter of Sir William Murray and his wife (also Ada) who was herself a great granddaughter of the Earl of Lennox and his wife, Ada, daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, grandson of David 1st of Scotland.
Marriage of John Mercer and Ada Murray
John Mercer and Ada Murray were married and had the following children:
- Andrew Mercer (b:c.1330. d:1389×1391.)
- Thomas Mercer, Archdeacon of Glasgow
- John Mercer
- Marion Mercer (Spouse: Robert Skene of Skene)
- Robert Mercer
- Daughter (name not known)
The date of John Mercer and Ada Murray’s marriage is a matter of some debate. The Mercer Family Tree by William Lindsay Mercer provides us with the date 1326 as does a chart from George Mercer. However, Kai Drewes supplied the following interesting extract from a book by Ranald Nicholson, viz:
“An even more notable burgess, John Mercer of Perth, had already risen in the world by 1352 when he married into the baronial family of Murray of Tullibardine. A long spectacular career as merchant prince lay ahead of him.”
We do not know how William Lindsay Mercer supposed the marriage date of John and Ada to be 1326. He seldom gives his sources. This date would be surprising if it was their son who was the same John Mercer granted safe conduct to Oxford “causa studend” as he would have been about 52 years old by that time.
On the other hand, if the date of the marriage was 1352 then the age we have for their son Andrew Mercer could not be correct. We do not know Ranald Nicholson’s source for 1352 which, it is worth noting, was when John Mercer acquired the lands of Tullibardine – which had previously belonged to his wife’s family.
We therefore tend to favour 1326 as being the more likely date.