Erskine  Places & People

Clan Erskine People

John Erskine, 6th or 1st Earl of Mar (1510-72)
The 1st Earl thanks to the re-instatement of the peerage by Mary, Queen of Scots, John Erskine should have been the 6th Earl but for James II jealously removing it from his powerful ancestor. He was keeper of Edinburgh Castle until after the murder of Queen Mary’s husband Darnley.

His position was swapped for the hereditary post of Captain of Stirling Castle. For the last year of his life he was Regent to the young James VI.

John Erskine, 7th or 2nd Earl of Mar (1562-1634)
After his father’s death, John became Regent for James VI, and they were educated together.

His involvement in the Ruthven Raid in 1582 brought him three years exile. Nonetheless he became Treasurer of Scotland in 1616.

John Erskine, 6th or 11th Earl of Mar (1675-1732)
Despite his important contributions to the family estate by developing various industrial and agricultural project such as coal mining, ‘Bobbing John’ is remembered as the ruin of the family for his sycophantic behaviour towards Charles I. His inept command brought defeat at Sherrifmuir, followed by the back-stabbing disclosure of his Jacobite colleagues’ identities once in France.

His actions had the Erskine of Mar estates and titles forfeited.

James Erskine (1679-1754)
Brother of ‘Bobbing John’, James Erskine became Lord Grange in 1710 when he was made Lord Justice Clerk. Even for a politician, Erskine’s treatments of his wife, Rachel Chiesley, is notable.

Threats by her to proclaim him a Jacobite pushed him to plot her demise with Simon Fraser of Lovat in 1732. She was secretly removed to the country and kept in a room alone for six months. After this time she was moved to the Monarch Isles for two years, then to St Kilda for the next seven.

St Kilda

St Kilda

Her last three years, by which time insanity had taken hold of her, were spent in confinement on Skye. Meanwhile, two years into her abduction, Erskine had held a funeral for her in Edinburgh, gone on to become MP for Stirlingshire, and secretary to the Prince of Wales.

Thomas Alexander Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie (1732-81) - main image
‘Fiddler Tam’ returned from Mannheim in 1756, where he had studied violin under Stamitz, and claimed his place as one of Britain’s major composers. Ten of his symphonies were published between 1761 and 1767. Many of his wind instrument scores were written and used on the spot, not collected afterwards and subsequently lost.

Kellie enjoyed his drink and was founder of the Capilliare Club in Edinburgh, where alcohol and music would be enjoyed each Sunday. A body of as yet unpublished work exists, known as the Kilravock Partbooks.

Robert Erskine (1677-1718)
At the age of 15 Robert, 6th son of Sir Charles Erskine of Alva was apprentice to a surgeon-apothecary. In 1700 he graduated as an MD in Utrecht, having studied chemistry, anatomy, surgery and botany. By 1705 he was surgeon to Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, and a year after that was in charge of the entire country’s medical administration.

With the Tsar’s support he collated an immense library and opened St Petersburg’s first Physic Garden before dying aged forty-one.

Clan Erskine Places

Alloa Tower

Alloa Tower

Alloa Tower in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, central Scotland, is an early 14th century tower house that served as the medieval residence of the Erskine family, later Earls of Mar.


Braemar Castle


The current Braemar Castle was built by John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar, in 1628, though, there had been a previous castle on the estate. It is now a Clan Farquharson castle.

Corgarff Castle
In some versions of the early history the castle is said to have been built as a hunting lodge by the Thomas Erskine, the Earl of Mar, in 1537. Corgarff Castle played a part in all the Jacobite risings.
Direlton Castle
Direlton Castle
Dirleton played a role in the story of the “Gowrie Conspiracy” of 1600 in that there has long been suspicion that the castle was taken from the Ruthvens and given to Thomas Erskine as a reward for assisting James VI in the murder of Patrick Ruthven’s sons: John, 3rd Earl of Gowrie, and his brother Alexander.
Dryburgh Abbey
Pope Paul III received King James V’s recommendation of Thomas Erskine as the next commendator in November 1539 but was not confirmed until April 1541. Erskine was captured at Dover when the Scottish warship he was aboard foundered while en route to France prompting Marie de Guise, widow of James V, to call for his release. Erskine was ransomed for £500 and Dryburgh would have been expected to provide amply to the settlement and it may have been the need to obtain funds that, in July 1548, he resigned his commendatorship to his brother John.
Dunimarle Castle
The original castle is now a ruin, but adjacent to it stands an 18th-century building, borrowing its name, constructed by the Erskine family.
House of Dun
House of Dun
The House of Dun is a National Trust for Scotland property in the parish of Dun, west of Montrose in Angus. The Dun Estate was home to the Erskine (later Kennedy-Erskine) family from 1375 until 1980. John Erskine of Dun was a key figure in the Scottish Reformation.
Kellie Castle
Kellie Castle
Sir Thomas Erskine bought Kellie Castle from the Oliphants. Sir Thomas had saved the life of King James VI during the Gowrie Conspiracy by killing Sir Alexander Ruthven. The King stayed at Kellie in 1617 during his only visit to Scotland after the Union of the Crowns, and he appointed Erskine as Earl of Kellie in 1619.
Kildrummy Castle
The castle passed from the Clan Elphinstone to the Clan Erskine before being abandoned in 1716 following the failure of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715.
Rosslyn Estate
James Erskine inherited the Rosslyn and Dysart estates in 1789, from his cousin James Paterson St Clair, upon which he adopted the surname of St Clair-Erskine. In 1805, he inherited the title of Earl of Rosslyn (created in 1801 for Alexander Wedderburn); since that date, the Rosslyn estate has been in possession of the Earl of Rosslyn.