John Erskine, earl of Mar (1675-1732)

John Erskine, earl of Mar (1675-1732)

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John Erskine, earl of Mar (1675-1732)

Jacobite leader who changed stance several times during his career. Initially he was in favour of the act of Union between England and Scotland, although before he fell from power he had changed to become an advocate of repeal. After the death of Queen Anne, he joined the camp of James Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, and on 6 September 1715 he raised the Jacobite flag in Scotland, starting the First Jacobite Revolt. Although he had some initial success, he failed to capture any significant town, and the indecisive battle of Sheriff Muir (13 November 1715) was his last significant military venture. James Edward himself reached Mar in late december 1715, by which point the revolt was already a failure, and within a month both men had abandoned the army. Mar fled to France with James Edward, but lost favour after 1723.

John was Commendator of Dryburgh Abbey from 1547, [2] and succeeded his father as 6th Lord Erskine in 1552. He joined the religious reformers, but was never very ardent in the cause [ citation needed ] . He did subscribe to the letter asking the Calvinist reformer John Knox to return to Scotland in 1557. The custody of Edinburgh Castle was in his hands during the struggle between the regent, Mary of Guise, and the Lords of the Congregation, during which he appears to have acted consistently in the interests of peace. [3]

When Mary, Queen of Scots, returned to Scotland in 1561 Lord Erskine was a member of her council and was in favor of her marriage with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. His wife was Annabella Murray, daughter of William Murray of Tullibardine and sister of William Murray of Tullibardine, Comptroller of Scotland in 1563. She was a frequent companion of Queen Mary John Knox called Annabella a "verray Jesabell". In 1565 Erskine was granted the earldom of Mar when the queen restored the charter to him and his heirs "all and hail the said earldom of Mar." [4]

Mar became the keeper of Queen Mary's son, James, at Stirling Castle on 19 March 1567. [5] He prevented the young prince from falling into the hands of Lord Bothwell, and when the Scottish nobles rose against Mary and Bothwell, Mar was one of their leaders. He took part in the government of Scotland when Mary was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle and abdicated. [3] When Mary escaped from Lochleven, on 5 May 1568 Regent Moray ordered Mar to increase security at Stirling by reducing the number of retainers in the castle. [6]

On 5 September 1571 he was chosen Regent of Scotland, but he was overshadowed and perhaps slighted by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton. [3] One of Mar's first actions was to execute two prisoners, George Bell and George Calder, by having them broken on the wheel. This method of execution was said to be after the manner of France. Bell had guided the Queen's men in the raid on Stirling and Calder was thought to have shot Regent Lennox. [7] Bell confessed, after torture, that he had shouted "Shoot the Regent!". [8]

As the Marian Civil War continued, Mar came to Leith and made preparations to besiege Edinburgh and its castle, which was held for Queen Mary by William Kirkcaldy of Grange. He placed artillery at the Pleasance to the east of the city. The guns were brought from Dumbarton Castle, Stirling, Dundee, and Dunbar. [9] Mar's guns were directed at first at Adam Fullerton's house, and then at the town wall. The walls were damaged but Mar gave up and returned to Leith. He sent to Queen Elizabeth I for armed support from England, following Morton's advice. [10]

The King's cause suffered a number of reverses. At Aberdeen, the forces of Forbes family were defeated at the battle of Craibstone and Corgarff by the Marian Adam Gordon of Auchindoun. Broughty Castle near Dundee fell to the Marian Laird of Parbroath. [11] Lord Maxwell planned to marry Elizabeth Douglas at Dalkeith but Marian forces ambushed those carrying food, silver ware, and wine to the banquet at the handfasting. [12] Queen Elizabeth sent two ambassadors to Scotland, Thomas Randolph to speak with Regent Mar, and Henry Carey, Marshall of Berwick to the Laird of Grange in Edinburgh Castle. [13]

Mar was in touch with William Cecil and William Drury in England, particularly by letters and messages carried by Nicolas Elphinstone. On 1 August 1572 he declared a two month truce with the Queen's party, known as an Abstinence. [14] He wrote in September to Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox about the progress of the Abstinence, and the mint operated in Edinburgh Castle by his enemies. Mar assured her that her grandson, the six-year old James VI, would soon be able to speak to her for himself. At this time he was disturbed by news that one of the jewels of Mary, Queen of Scots had been marketed in France and sold to Charles IX. Mar's last surviving letter to Cecil expressed his hopes to settle border disputes during the continued abstinence. [15] Queen Elizabeth wrote to congratulate him on becoming Regent on 2 October, and discuss the "pernicious practices" of Mary, Queen of Scots, to regain power to the prejudice of her son James VI. She urged him to punish and execute anyone implicated in the murder of Regent Lennox. [16]

He died at Stirling on 29 October 1572 after a short illness, widely agreed to have been natural causes. However, some sources indicate that he may have been poisoned at the behest of the Earl of Morton. Mar's illness, according to James Melville, followed a banquet at Dalkeith Palace given by Morton. [17] James VI continued to regard Annabella Murray with affection and wrote to her as "Minnie". She was the governess of his son Prince Henry at Stirling.

Architecture and material culture Edit

John Erskine began building the house at Stirling called 'Mar's Wark', now a ruin under the care of Historic Scotland. The other seat of the family was Alloa Tower. An inventory mentions his silver plate, table linen, and a bed with curtains of red and yellow chequered silk. The posts of the bed were made of walnut and turned (probably carved). [18]

John Erskine KT (1675 - 1732)

He succeeded his father in May 1689 as 23rd Earl of Mar in the first creation of the earldom, and the 6th Earl in the seventh creation of 1565, as so deemed by the House of Lords in 1875. He was to play a prominent part in Jacobite Rebellion of 1715.

He was present in the Parliaments after 1696 and received a Crown charter to the lands of the Earldom in 1699.

He supported William and then Anne during their Regencies although he was not a vocal Parliamentarian. He supported the Treaty of the Union of the Crowns during the early passage in Parliament and, in 1705, facilitated passage in the Scottish Parliament. For his aid he was appointed, Sep 1705, Secretary of State for Scotland, in place of the Marquess of Annandale.

He was made a Knight of the Order of the Thistle on 10 August 1705.

The Earl was one of the sixteen Representative Peers chosen for Scotland by the Parliament of 1707, and he was constantly re-elected during Queen Anne's reign. He was continued in his office of Secretary of State, and he was made a member of the Privy Council.

However on the accession of King George I., Mar was summarily dismissed from office, the King refusing to see him, and deprived him of his office of Governor of Stirling Castle. These, and other grievances, pushed the Earl to the Jacobite cause. This involvement led to him being attainted and his estates forfeit. He fled to France with James and remained in service to him and represented James in Rome. In 1721 he left Rome and accepted a position as Jacobite minister at the French Court in Paris but was discharged from this duty in 1724.

In 1725 he attempted to seek a pardon and be allowed to return to Scotland but was refused. In 1729 he went to Aix-la-Chapelle, then France, but now Aachen, near Koln in Germany, for his health (it is a noted spa town), where he died in May 1732. [3]

This Earl of Mar is particularly noted for his work in the reformation of architecture and gardening. He is generally held as the person that introduced the wilderness way of planting, and the gardens at Alloa were laid out by him. He is also credited with drawings and proposing plans for the improvement of Scottish architecture, among others one for reconstructing Edinburgh, containing various suggestions which have since been carried out. He further proposed a canal between Forth and Clyde, a project also realised.

He married firstly, at Twickenham, 6 April 1703, Margaret, eldest daughter of Thomas Hay, Earl of Kinnoull. She died 25 April 1707, aged 21. He married secondly, at Acton, Middlesex, 20 July 1714, Frances (Pierrepont), third daughter of the first Duke of Kingston. She was declared mentally incapacitated in March 1730 but lived until 4 Mar 1761 when she died at Marylebone, London, aged over 80. [4]

By his first wife, Margaret, he had:

Thomas Erskine, Lord Erskine, born about 1705 but died in 1766 without heir. John Erskine, born about 1706, but who died aged 3 months.

By his second wife, Frances, he had:

Frances Erskine, born about 1715, who would inherit the estates from her brother, Thomas.

Other Children

John Erskine was not a man noted for high morals. Certainly King George I, for one at least, questioned his loyalty and integrity when he removed him from office. There is consistent conjecture, as yet unproven, that he had a number of illegitimate children. A number of these migrated to the British Colonies in North America around the time of the clearances arising from the 1st Jacobite revolt, when John Erskine was indicted for treason, and are subject to ongoing research. Of these:

John Marr stated in some research [5] to have been born in 1694 at Hillston Park in Monmouthshire thus placing the birth prior to his first marriage, to Margaret, and during his days of his "tour", the liaison seemingly occurring just after he had taken title to the estates but prior to his grant. He would have been about 20 at the time. John is understood to have migrated to the colonies and have been a mariner. He was wrecked off Cape Cod in 1750. However, a John Marr, with the same history, is also stated as a son of Edward Erskine, believed to be a scion of the Erskines of Alva. William Marrs stated in some research [6] to have been born at Balmoral castle in 1710. If so it would suggest an affair after the death of Margaret, his first wife, but prior to his second marriage, to Frances. It is highly unlikely the birth occurred at Balmoral as this property was in the hands of the Farquarson family at the time it is more likely that the birth occurred at Braemar castle. Braemar, less than 10 Km from Balmoral, was in the hands of the Earl of Mar. While the castle had been destroyed during the Highland Rebellion of 1688 the estate would have been used as a hunting estate.

It can be noted that the use of the surname of the estate was common for illegitimate children of the landholders and the name of Erskine, at the time after the Rebellion, was attainted.

Marriage, issue and descendants

Mar first married Lady Margaret Hay on 6 April 1703, daughter of Thomas Hay, 7th Earl of Kinnoull. She bore him a son, Thomas, in 1705. Lady Margaret died four years later on 26 April 1707. Mar married for his second wife Lady Frances Pierrepont, daughter of the 1st Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull. The match was excellent, as it provided Mar with the funds to finally begin to clear his inherited debts. Lady Frances went mad in 1728 due to the stress of his exile in France. She outlived Mar by 35 years, dying on 4 March 1767.

John Erskine, 1st earl of Mar

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John Erskine, 1st earl of Mar, (died Oct. 29, 1572, Stirling, Stirling, Scot.), Scottish lord who played a major role in deposing Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542–67), and gaining the crown for her infant son James VI (later James I of England) Mar was regent for James in 1571–72.

Erskine’s father, John, 5th Lord Erskine (d. 1555), was guardian for King James V (reigned 1513–42) during his minority and for Mary Stuart, the king’s daughter and successor. A moderate Protestant, Erskine worked for a peaceful settlement during the armed struggle (1559–60) between Scotland’s Protestant nobles and the regent, Mary of Lorraine, Mary Stuart’s Roman Catholic mother (d. 1560). During the struggle he controlled the crucial Edinburgh Castle. Hence Mary Stuart appointed him to the Privy Council when she began her personal rule in Scotland in 1561.

In 1565 Erskine supported her ill-fated marriage to the treacherous Henry, Lord Darnley (d. 1567). Mary granted him the earldom of Mar, thus substantiating the claims of his ancestors and in 1566 she appointed him guardian of her newborn son, Prince James. Thereafter, he devoted himself to James’s interests in the conflict between the supporters of James and Mary. Mar prevented James from falling into the hands of Mary’s third husband, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, and he was a leader of the nobles who drove Bothwell from England (June 1567), deposed Mary (July 24), and made James king. Chosen regent of Scotland in 1571, he was succeeded upon his death by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton.

Mar, John Erskine, 11th earl of

Mar, John Erskine, 11th earl of [S] (1675�). Debts being his inheritance, Mar entered politics in 1696 as placeman in the court party in Scotland, led by the duke of Queensberry until his fall in 1704. Mar rejoined him in office in 1705, helping him push the Act of Union through the Scots Parliament in 1707. Elected to Westminster as a representative Scots peer, by 1713 he was supporting a motion for repeal of the Union.

Having failed to attract the favour of George I, he sailed for Scotland to raise the standard of Jacobite rebellion on the Braes of Mar. The national response was spectacular, but he ruined the enterprise by sheer incompetence. After 1716 he lived in exile, until 1725 in association with the exiled dynasty, though after 1719 as a double agent currying favour with the Westminster government. He pottered with plans for economic improvement after 1725, but died unrestored to his estates.

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Mar was one of the seven ancient king-doms or provinces of Scotland whose rulers were known by the title of ‘mormaer’. Its territory lay in that part of Aberdeenshire largely between the Rivers Don and Dee. Donald, Mormaer of Mar, fought at the Battle of Clontarf, where the High King of Ireland, Brian Born, drove back the invading Norsemen in 1014. In the charter erecting the Abbey of Scone in 1114, the Mormaer of Mar is named as Rothri, and he is given the latin title ‘Comes’ which generally equates to the modern rank of earl. Rothri was succeeded by Morgund, second Earl of Mar, who witnessed, some time before 1152, charters to the Abbey of Dunfermline. William, the fifth Earl, was one of the Regents of Scotland and Great Chamberlain of the Realm in 1264. His son, Donald, was knighted at Scone by Alexander III in September 1270. He witnessed the mar-riage contract of Princess Margaret of Scotland with King Eric of Norway, and later acknowl-edged Eric’s daughter, Margaret, the Maid of Norway, as the lawful heir to the throne. When the child died at Orkney on her way to claim her kingdom, events were set in motion which were ultimately to lead to the field of Bannockburn.

The Earls of Mar supported the Bruce claim to the throne, and Donald’s eldest daughter, Isabel of Mar, became the first wife of Robert the Bruce. Her brother, Gratney, the seventh Earl, married Robert’s sister, Christian, further strengthening the Bruce alliance. Gratney died around 1305, leaving an only son, Donald, to succeed to the earldom. He was captured at Methven in 1306 and taken as a hostage to England, where he remained in captivity throughout the struggle for Scotland’s freedom. He was released after the victory at Bannockburn, when several pris-oners, including the wife, sister and daughter of King Robert, were exchanged for the Earl of Hereford. In 1332 Mar was chosen to be regent of the kingdom, a post he held for only ten days. On the eve of his election, Edward Balliol appeared in the Forth with an English fleet. Meeting little opposition, Balliol marched into Perth while Mar hurriedly gathered his troops to confront the invaders on the banks of the River Earn. Balliol’s forces were heavily outnumbered, but the Scots army lacked disci-pline and effective leadership. In the dead of night, on 12 August 1332, the English crossed the river by a secret ford and fell upon the Scots army in their sleep, routing them totally. The Earl of Mar was among the fallen. Thomas, the ninth Earl, died without issue, and the title passed to his sister, Margaret, and through her, to her daughter, Isabel. She took as her second husband Alexander Stewart, the natural son of the feared Wolf of Badenoch. She granted the life-rent of the earldom to her Stewart husband, but reserved succession to her own lawful heirs. She died without issue around 1407, and her kinsman, Robert, a descendent of Elyne, daughter of the seventh Earl, became ‘de jure’ thirteenth Earl of Mar. His son, Thomas, was denied his lawful title when James II claimed the earldom through the alleged rights of Alexander Stewart, Countess Isabel’s husband. The title was then bestowed firstly on the king’s son, Prince John, and later, in 1562, on James Stewart, the illegitimate half-brother of Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1565 Queen Mary granted a charter to John, eighteenth Earl, restoring the title. The queen declared that she was ‘moved by conscience to restore the lawful heirs to their just inheritance of which they have been kept out by obstinate and partial Rulers and Officers’.

John, the twentieth Earl, was appointed governor of Edinburgh Castle in 1615. He was also a judge of the Supreme Court until 1630. The earls were not supporters of Charles l’s religious policies, but when it became clear that support of the Covenant meant armed opposition to the king, both the earl and his eldest son, John, Lord Erskine, took up arms in the royalist cause. The earl entertained Montrose in 1645 in his castle at Alloa. Lord Erskine accompanied the king’s captain gen-eral and rode at the Battle of Kilsyth in August 1645. The family estates were forfeited until Charles II came to the throne in 1660. Charles, the twenty-second Earl, raised the 21st Regiment of Foot, or Royal Scots Fusiliers, in 1679, and became its first colonel. John, the twenty-third Earl, was created Duke of Mar in 1715 by the exiled James VIII, although for his Jacobite loyalties all his Scottish honours were ultimately forfeited. The earldom was restored to John, twenty-fourth of Mar, by Act of Parliament in 1824. In 1875 the House of Lords ruled that the title of Earl of Mar claimed by Walter Erskine, twelfth Earl of Kellie, was different from the ancient dignity of Mar. There is accordingly an Earl of ‘Mar and Kellie’, the chief of the Erskines, who should not be confused with the Countess of Mar.

Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia, 1998 Barnes & Noble Books

Mormaers of Mar and Earls of Mar

[Prior Mormaers of Mar unknown to history or legend]
Melbridga (about 890)
Cainnech (?)
Emin (or Emkin) MacCainnech (before 1014)
Donald (Domhnall) MacEmin (died 1014, Battle of Clontarf)
Martachus (? – 1065 – ?)
Gratnach (or Gartnait or Gratney) (son of Martachus?) (?)

Ruadri (or Rothri or Roderick) (MacEmin or Ehislach) – 1st Earl (? – 1114 – 1141?)
Gillocher (or Gylocher or Gille Chlerig) (Ehislach) – Not numbered (1140s)
Morgund (or Morgan or Morggán) MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 2nd Earl (died before 1183)
Gilchrist (Gille Crist) (probably not Morgund’s son) – 3rd Earl (died about1203)
Duncan (Donnchadh) MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 4th Earl (died about 1244)
William (Uilleam) MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 5th Earl (died 1276 or 1281)
Donald (Domhnall) MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 6th Earl (died 1295 or 1297 or 1301)
Gratney (Gartnait) MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 7th Earl (died about 1305)
Donald (Domhnall) MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 8th Earl (died 1332)
Thomas MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 9th Earl (died 1374 or 1377)
Margaret MacGylocher (Ehislach) – 10th Countess (died 1391 or 1393)

William Douglas – Not numbered (because Earl by marriage) (died 1384)
James Douglas – Not numbered (even though son of Margaret of Mar) (died 1388)
Isabel Douglas (Sister to James) – 11th Countess (born 1360 – died 1408)

Malcolm Drummond – Not numbered (because Earl by marriage) (died 1402)

Alexander Stewart – Not numbered (because Earl by marriage) (died 1435)

Robert Erskine – De Jure 12th Earl (died 1452)
Thomas Erskine – De Jure 13th Earl (died 1493)
Alexander Erskine – De Jure 14th Earl (died 1509)
Robert Erskine – De Jure 15th Earl (died 1513)
John Erskine – De Jure 16th Earl (died 1552)
John Erskine – De Jure 17th Earl, De Facto after 1565 (died 1572)
John Erskine – 18th Earl (died 1634)
John Erskine – 19th Earl (died 1653)
John Erskine – 20th Earl (died 1688)
Charles Erskine – 21st Earl (died 1689)
John Erskine – 22nd Earl [1715 Duke of Mar-Jacobite title] (died 1732)
Thomas Erskine – Not numbered (died 1766)
Frances Erskine – Not numbered (died 1776)
John Frances Erskine – 23rd Earl (died 1825)
John Frances Erskine – 24 th Earl (died 1828)
John Frances Miller Erskine – 25th Earl (died 1866)

John Frances Goodeve Erskine – 26th Earl (died 1930)
Johnn Francis Hamilton Erskine – 27th Earl (died 1932)

Lionel Walter Young – 29th Earl (died 1965)

James Clifton Lane – 29th Earl (resigned 1975)
Margaret Alison Lane – the R. H. the Countess of Mar – 30th Countess (born 1940 – current)
Heir Presumptive: Susan Helen – Mistress of Mar (born 1963)
Lady Susan’s Heir Presumptive: Isabel Alice – Isabel of Mar (born 1991)

Our Chief

Margaret of Mar, 31th Holder of the Earldom (born 19 September 1940) is a crossbench member of the House of Lords, an elected hereditary peer and the holder of the original Earldom of Mar, the oldest peerage title in the United Kingdom. She is the only suo jure Countess in the House of Lords.

Early life
She was born Margaret Alison Lane, the daughter of James Lane, Master of Mar, the Heir Presumptive of Lionel Erskine-Young, 29th Earl of Mar, his first cousin once removed (both were descended from a sister of John Goodeve-Erskine, 27th Earl of Mar).
Lane had two younger siblings: David Charles Lane, and Janet Helen Lane. As the 29th Earl was childless and unmarried, and not expected to father children in the future, it was expected that her father and brother would both in their turn succeed to the Earldom (and the Chiefship of the Name and Arms of Mar), and so her father changed his and his son’s surname to “of Mar” in 1959.

Mistress of Mar
Lane’s father succeeded as 30th Earl of Mar in 1965 she became known as Lady Mar, and her brother became known as Lord Garioch. However, Lord Garioch died young in 1967. Thus, Margaret became Heiress Presumptive and became known as The Mistress of Mar. Her surname was then changed to “of Mar” shortly afterwards.

Countess of Mar
In 1976, the 30th Earl died and the Mistress of Mar became the 31st Countess of Mar. Thus she entered the House of Lords. With the House of Lords Act 1999, Lady Mar normally would have been removed from the House of Lords. However, the Act provided that ninety-two hereditary peers would be elected to the House. Lady Mar was among the hereditary peers chosen to serve, and is the only suo jure Countess in the House of Lords as of 2005. She sits as a cross-bencher, meaning she is not aligned with any particular political party.
As Countess of Mar she is also Titular 11th Duchess of Mar in the Jacobite Peerage (in which Peerage she is numbered as 32nd Countess of Mar, as the attainder of 1716-1824 is not recognised by Jacobites).
Note: Owing to a nineteenth-century dispute, there is another Earl of Mar, James Thorne Erskine, 14th Earl of Mar and 16th Earl of Kellie. Even so, the Lady Margaret is the rightful heiress of Mar.

Lady Mar has married three times, first to Edwin Noel Artiss, then to John Salton, and finally to John Jenkin. From the first marriage she had a daughter: Susan Helen of Mar, Mistress of Mar (born 1963), the heiress presumptive to her mother’s peerages. Lady Susan is married to Bruce Alexander Wyllie, and has two daughters, Isabel and Frances, the former of whom will likely succeed as Countess of Mar after her mother and grandmother.

Titles from birth
• Miss Margaret Lane (19 September 1940 – 30 May 1959)
• Mrs Margaret Artiss (30 May 1959 – 1965)
• Lady Margaret Artiss (1965 – 8 January 1967)
• Lady Margaret of Mar, Mistress of Mar (8 January 1967 – 21 April 1975)

The Erskines

Clan Erskine is a Lowland Scottish clan.

Origins of the Name
Erskine is an area to the south of the River Clyde and ten miles to the west of Glasgow. The name is believed to be ancient or Old British for green rising ground. In the 13th century during the reign of King Alexander II of Scotland the first known person of the name Erskine was Henry Erskine who was also the owner of the Barony of Erskine.
In modern Scottish Gaelic, the name is spelt “Arascain”.

Wars of Scottish Independence
During the Wars of Scottish Independence the Clan Erskine were supporters of King Robert the Bruce.

15th Century
In 1435 Alexander Stewart, the Earl of Mar died and Sir Robert Erskine claimed the title. this also made him the chief of Clan Mar. However the King withdrew the earldom in 1457 stating that it could only belong to a Royal Stuart. Ten years later Sir Robert was created the first Lord Erskine. This unlawful succession was finally interrupted by Mary, Queen of Scots, who saw that the rightful heir John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar was restored.

16th century & Anglo Scottish Wars
During the Anglo-Scottish Wars the 4th ‘Lord Erskine’ led the Clan Erskine at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513 where he was slain.
Mary Queen of Scots had been in the care of the 5th Lord Erskine and when he died she made John Eskine the 6th Lord Erskine the Earl of Mar: John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar.

18th century & Jacobite Uprisings
At the beginning of the Jacobite Uprisings it seemed likely that the Erskines would support the British government. However the chief of Clan Erskine, John Erskine, 22nd Earl of Mar had traveled to London in 1714 expecting the post of Secretary of State of Scotland. However he was not given the job and as a result he became a Jacobite. He then raised an army of over ten thousand men for the Jacobite cause. This force was not used to its potential during the Battle of Sheriffmuir on 13 November 1715 where the Jacobites were defeated. The Earl of Mar then fled Scotland to Saint-Germain in France, whereupon he betrayed his Jacobite associates. He lost his line of the Earldom of Mar and it was not restored until 1824.

Clan Chief
The current Chief of Clan Erskine is James Erskine, 14th Earl of Mar who descends from the Earls of Mar, seventh Creation (1565) (as deemed by the House of Lords in 1875).
It should be noted that the Clan Mar now has a separate chief Margaret of Mar, 30th Countess of Mar who descends from the Earls of Mar, first Creation.

Clan Castles
• The House of Dun and the Dun Estate was home to the Clan Erskine family from 1375 until 1980, but archaeological evidence shows that people have lived here for at least 9,000 years. John Erskine of Dun was a key figure in the Scottish Reformation.
• Kildrummy Castle was the seat of the Clan Erskine until it was abandoned after the failed Jacobite Uprisings in 1716.
• Corgarff Castle was acquired by John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar in 1626.
• Kellie Castle was purchased by Sir Thomas Erskine in 1613.
• Dryburgh Abbey was given to the Earl of Mar by King James VI of Scotland in 1544.
• Alloa Tower
• Dirleton Castle
• Braemar Castle
• Rosslyn Castle

The Castles of Mar

Braemar Castle is a castle near Braemar in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland.

The first tower of Braemar Castle was constructed in 1628 by John Erskine, the 7th Earl of Mar to replace the older Kindrochit Castle. An important garrison during the Jacobite uprising, Braemar was attacked and burned by John Farquharson, the Black Colonel of Inverey in 1689, killing John Erskine. The castle was left in ruins until 1748 when it was leased to the government by Clan Farquharson of Invercauld, now to serve as a garrison for Hanoverian troops. In some rooms, graffiti left by the English soldiers can still be seen.

In 1797 the castle was returned to the Farquharson clan and its restoration for use as clan seat begun. The 12th Laird of Invercauld entertained Queen Victoria there while she attended the Braemar Gathering.

It is an L plan castle with a star-shaped curtain wall and three storey angle turrets. The main entrance to the castle retains an original iron yett.

Among the antiques on display within the castle are a Bronze Age sword, the world’s largest cairngorm crystal, a rare specimen of blue topaz and a piece of tartan plaid once worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Today, the castle is regarded as the ancestral home of the Farquharson clan and is still owned and occupied by them. Areas of the main building including its dungeons are open to tourists all year round, and the castle chapel and dining room may be rented for weddings and small functions.

Kildrummy Castle is a ruined castle near Kildrummy, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Though ruined, it is probably the most extensive castle of 13th century date to survive in eastern Scotland, and was the seat of the Earls of Mar.

Dating from the early 13th century, the castle is believed to have been constructed during the lordships of Uilleam and Domhnall, Earls of Mar. It has been besieged a number of times in its history, first in defence of the family of Robert the Bruce in 1306, and again in 1335 by David of Strathbogie. On this occasion Christina Bruce held off the attackers until her husband Sir Andrew Moray came to her rescue.

In 1374 the castle’s heiress Isobel was seized and married by Alexander Stewart, who then laid claim to Kildrummy and the title of Earl of Mar. In 1435 it was taken over by James I, becoming a royal castle until being granted to Lord Elphinstone in 1507.

The castle passed from the Clan Elphinstone to the Clan Erskine before being abandoned in 1716 following the failure of the Jacobite rebellion.

Kildrummy Castle is “shield-shaped” in plan with a number of independent towers. The flat side of the castle overlooks a steep ravine and on the opposite side of the castle the walls come to a point, which was once defended by a massive twin-towered gatehouse. The castle also had a keep, called the Snow Tower, taller than the other towers, built in the French style, as at Bothwell Castle. Extensive earthworks protected the castle, including a dry moat and the ravine. Most of the castles foundations are now visible, along with most of its lower-storey walls. Archaeological excavations in 1925 uncovered decorative stone flooring and evidence of battles.

Today, the remains of the castle are owned by Historic Scotland. A hotel (the Kildrummy Castle Hotel) has been built on the old estate, overlooking the ruins.

Just outside the village of Glamis, north of Dundee. Glamis is still the family home of the Earls of Strathmore, but is open to the public. Open May to September daily except Sunday

The family home of the Earls of Strathmore since 1372, when Robert II of Scotland gave the castle to Sir John Lyon.
It is the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and is refereed to specifically :- “Glamis thou art” “and yet woulds’t wrongly win: thou’dst have great Glamis” It is popularly believed that Duncan was murdered here by Macbeth
Legends and myths have grown around the castle. King Malcolm II was said to have been murdered here in the 11th century. Lady Janet Douglas, widow of the Earl of Glamis, was burned at the stake as a witch in 1540 by James V. There is said to be a secret room where a nobleman played cards with the devil himself.
Glamis today looks more like a French Chateau than a medieval fortress, because it was extensively restored in the 17th and 18th centuries. The original tower house remains at the centre of the castle today
It has, of course, close connections with the present Royal Family, being the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother ( she being the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl), and Princess Margaret was born here in 1930

Brechin Castle stands proud on a massive bluff of rocks above the River Southesk on the site of a much older fortress belonging to the Scottish kings. The present house was last reconstructed in the early1700’s and incorporates parts of the original Castle dating back to the 13th century. The building has evolved from a defensive role to its present great house style.

Brechin Castle is steeped in history. In 1296 Edward I received the submission of John Baliol there and in 1303 Sir Thomas Maule defended the castle against the English for three weeks until his own death brought about its surrender. In 1643 Patrick Maule, 1st Earl of Panmure, bought the whole of the Brechin Property from the Earl of Mar. The Castle was at that time a simple L shaped house of three storeys. It was the 4th Earl of Panmure, married to Margaret daughter of the 3rd Duke of Hamilton, who eventually rebuilt the Castle as it is today.

Lord Dalhousie represents two families who have for many centuries been illustrious in the history of our country, the Maules of Panmure in Angus and the Ramsays of Dalhousie in Midlothian, both families of Norman origin who came to England about the time of the Conqueror, and subsequently obtained grants of land in Scotland.

It was soon after the Abbey of Aberbrothock (Arbroath) was founded by King William the Lion in 1178, that the Maules were established in Panmure and Barry through the marriage of Christian, heiress of Panmure, with Sir Peter Maule.

A crisis in the history of the Family, as in many ennobled Scottish families, occurred after the rebellion of 1715. James, the 4th and last Earl of Panmure in the Scottish Peerage, took part in the rebellion, and died in exile in France. His estates were forfeited, but his wife obtained a long lease of Brechin Castle from the purchasers, the York Buildings Company, and the Earl’s brother, Harry Maule, who also had taken part in the rebellion, was allowed by the Government to return to Scotland from his refuge in Holland, and obtained a lease of Brechin Castle.

Harry Maule’s surviving son, William, was created an Irish Peer in 1743 and took the title the Earl of Panmure but this time in the Irish rather than the Scottish peerage. He bought back the estate from the creditors of the York Buildings Company which had gone into liquidation. He died unmarried in 1782. His eldest sister, Jean Maule had married George, Lord Ramsay, the eldest son of William, 6th Earl of Dalhousie whose home was Dalhousie Castle in Midlothian. It was thus, by this marriage, that the Panmure Estates passed into the Dalhousie Family.

On the death of George, 8th Earl of Dalhousie, his second son, William Ramsay assumed the property, arms and name of Maule of Panmure. As William Maule he was active in politics and in 1831 was granted a peerage of Great Britain, becoming Baron Panmure of Brechin and Navar.

Another notable member of the Family was James Andrew, 10th Earl of Dalhousie, also made Marquis of Dalhousie in recognition of his service as Governor General of India. Having no son he was succeeded by Fox Maule, the son of William Maule as 11th Earl of Dalhousie. Fox Maule was a notable statesman had no sons and, on his death the title passed to George Ramsay, grandson of the 8th Earl, in 1875 following a distinguished career in the Royal Navy in which he served as an Admiral. He died at Dalhousie Castle in July 1880 and was buried in the family vault at Cockpen, Midlothian.


Mar Hall &ndash formerly Erskine Mansion &ndash sits amidst 200 acres of the Earl of Mar Estate. The building was designed in the 19th century by Sir Robert Smirke who had previously worked on the British Museum in London. Smirke was commissioned by Major General Robert Walter Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre, whose family had purchased the grounds and estate some one hundred years previously. Lord Blantyre &ndasha military man who served in the army with great distinction during the Egyptian and Peninsular wars throughout the 1810&rsquos, and latterly held the title Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, &ndash ultimately never saw his home after meeting his end during the Brussels revolutionary insurrections of 1830, a mere two years after construction had began.

Building began in 1828, where a quarry on the estate provided the stone whilst the oak used throughout was specifically imported from Canada. It was Smirke&rsquos wish that the building resemble the manorial, domestic gothic styles seen during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First. Construction was not completed until 1845, fifteen years after Lord Blantyre&rsquos death with the final bill coming to over £50,000. (Nearly half a million pounds in today&rsquos money)

The house fell into disrepair over the remainder of the 20th century and it was only in 2004 following a £15million restoration that it was restored to its former glory. 52 lavishly designed bedrooms and suites were designed in addition to retaining as many original features. The rooms proudly sit with breath-taking views over the River Clyde and Old Kilpatrick hills or over our beautiful manicured gardens. May 2010 sees the opening of our new 18hole Earl of Mar Golf Course, designed by David Thomas Jr. and the opening of a new chapter in the Estates proud History.

Mar was one of the seven Pictish Kingdoms, of Ancient Scotland.. Its rulers &ndash originally known as Mormaers, &ndash regional or provincial rulers &ndash became The &lsquoEarls of Mar&rsquo in 1024, making the title the oldest in Great Britain.

A dispute over the succession of the Earldom in the 19th Century caused a schism in the family line which resulted in two holders of the title, a male as well as a female, only one of many interesting facts in the Earldom&rsquos history.

&ndash John Erskine, the 17th Earl of Mar (died 29 October 1572), was the Regent of Scotland and thereafter guardian of King James VI of Scotland. He was one of the leaders in the nobles&rsquo revolt against Mary Queen of Scots, and in addition was part of the government of Scotland during Mary&rsquos imprisonment at Lochleven castle in the 16th Century.

&ndash John Erskine, the 18th Earl of Mar (c. 1558 &ndash 14 December 1634) was a Scottish Politician who, like his father was charged with the guardianship of the young King James VI and thereafter became governor of Edinburgh Castle.

&ndash John Erskine the 23rd Earl of Mar (1675 &ndash May 1732) was a Jacobite supporter at the turn of the 18th Century. However his poor and unconvincing leadership at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, whilst fighting for Scottish Independence some eight years after the Act of Union had been passed rendered him a slightly unpopular figure.

John Erskine, earl of Mar (1675-1732) - History

John Erskine (1675-1732), 6th Earl of Mar by Godfrey Kneller
© Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Earl of Mar

John Erskine, who was variously entitled the 6th or 11th Earl of Mar, was one of the leading architects of the 'Act of Union' between Scotland and England in 1707. Alongside the Earl of Loudoun, Mar held the office of Secretary of State, but found himself dismissed in 1709. By 1711, he was already doubting the worth of the union. When Queen Anne died in 1714, Mar was snubbed by the new Hanovarian King, George I. As a result, Mar was quick to join the Jacobite cause.

Heading north from London, he raised the standard at Braemar for the 'Old Pretender', Prince James Francis Edward Stewart and was joined by many landowners from north-east Scotland. James was proclaimed king in his absence at the Mercat Cross in Aberdeen. However, Mar was no soldier and deployed his support poorly. A part of his force moved into England, but was forced to surrender at Preston, Lancashire, while Mar himself met the Duke of Argyll in battle at Sheriffmuir. Technically a stalemate, Mar was the moral loser of this battle because he was forced to withdraw from his position.

James himself now belatedly arrived and was crowned as James VIII at Scone. However, by February 1716, he was on his way back to France with Mar at his side. As a result, the 1715 Rebellion was over before it had hardly started and John Erskine, the Earl of Mar, or 'Bobbing John' as he came to be called, was much ridiculed for his part in its failure and for his ability to change sides.

Born: 1675, Alloa
Died: May 1732, France

Nationality: Scottish
Spouse: Lady Frances Pierrepont

John Erskine, 22nd or 6th Earl of Mar by Sir Godfrey Kneller
GAC 0/137 © Crown Copyright, Government Art Collection

John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar (1672-1732), with His Son Thomas, Lord Erskine (1705-1766) by Godfrey Kneller
© The National Trust for Scotland

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Erskine, John (1675-1732)

ERSKINE, JOHN, sixth or eleventh Earl of Mar of the Erskine line (1675–1732), leader of the rebellion of 1715 in behalf of the Pretender, eldest son of Charles, tenth earl of Mar, by his wife, Lady Mary Maule, daughter of the Earl of Panmure, was born at Alloa in February 1675. On account of the fines and sequestrations to which his grandfather had been subjected the eleventh Earl of Mar, on succeeding his father in 1689, found, in the words of the Master of Sinclair, that he had been left heir to ‘more debt than estate’ (Memoirs, 59), and according to the same authority his endowments from his mother were of an equally questionable sort, the most noteworthy being the ‘hump he has got on his back, and his dissolute, malicious, meddling spirit’ (ib.) It was almost in the character of a needy suppliant that he joined himself to the Duke of Queensberry and the court party, whose goodwill he deemed it advisable to secure, in view of his questionable proceedings towards his creditors. He took his oaths and seat on 8 Sept. 1696, and on 1 April following was sworn a privy councillor. Subsequently he held the command of the 9th regiment of foot (1702–6), and was invested with the order of the Thistle. He remained a devoted adherent of the court party till the fall of the Duke of Queensberry in 1704, after which he joined in opposing the tactics of the squadrone party, of which the Marquis of Tweeddale was the head, doing so, according to Lockhart, ‘with so much art and dissimulation that he gained the favour of all the tories, and was by many of them esteemed an honest man, and well inclined to the royal family’ (Papers, i. 114). With the return of the Duke of Queensberry to power in 1705 the tactics of Mar again underwent a change, and determining at least to postpone any purposes he might have cherished of advancing the cause of the Stuarts, he became, as before, one of the most exemplary supporters of the court party. Of his willingness to promote the policy of Queensberry he gave a sufficient pledge by undertaking to bring forward the motion for an act for the treaty of a union between Scotland and England in the parliament of this year, and he was constituted one of the commissioners for that purpose. In reward for such important services he was, after the prorogation of ​ parliament, appointed secretary of state for Scotland, in the room of the Marquis of Annandale, who had manifested a decided lukewarmness towards the proposal. As this office was abolished when effect was given to the act of union, Mar was then appointed keeper of the signet, a pension being also assigned him. He was chosen, 13 Feb. 1707, one of the sixteen representative peers of Scotland, and was re-elected in 1708, 1710, and 1713. In 1708 he was also named a privy councillor. Notwithstanding his efforts in bringing about the union, he, from motives not it is probable entirely patriotic, spoke strongly in favour of the motion of Lord Findlater in 1713 for its repeal. The fact that in 1713 he married as his second wife Lady Frances Pierrepoint, second daughter of the Duke of Kingston, and sister of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, has been regarded as an evidence of his desire to strengthen his position with the whigs but as on 13 Sept. of this year he accepted the office of secretary of state under the tories, his marriage cannot be taken as indicating more than that he was ready to go over to the whigs should it again fall to their lot to be in power. It cannot be doubted that with the tories he looked forward to the death of Anne as affording an opportunity for the reinstatement of the exiled dynasty but these designs being baffled by the prompt action of Argyll and Somerset, Mar gracefully bowed to the inevitable, and resolved to place himself as entirely at the service of King George as if no thoughts of another successor to the throne had ever crossed his mind. He wrote a letter to the king, dated 30 Aug., in which, after recounting the services rendered not only by himself to the protestant succession, but by his ancestors to the ancestors of King George ‘for a great tract of years,’ he added, ‘your majesty shall ever find me as faithful and dutiful a subject and servant as ever any of my family have been to the crown, or as I have been to my late mistress the queen’ (Letter, printed with Some Remarks on my Lord's subsequent conduct, by Richard Steele, 1715, and frequently reprinted). In addition to sending to the king this vauntingly loyal offer of his services Mar made it known that he had received a document signed by a large number of the most powerful highland chiefs, in which they desired him to assure the government of ‘their loyalty to his sacred majesty King George.’ Lockhart of Carnwath, who had abundant opportunities of knowing Mar, states that his ‘great talent lay in the cunning management of his designs and projects, in which it was hard to find him out when he desired to be incognito and thus he showed himself to be a man of good sense but bad morals’ (Papers, i. 114). He was dismissed from office on 24 Sept., but he played the part of the fawning courtier to the very last, and attended a levee at court the evening before his departure to Scotland to place himself at the head of the movement in behalf of the chevalier. After leaving the court on the evening of 1 Aug. he changed his dress, and in the character of a common workman went on board a ship at Gravesend belonging to John Spence, a Leith skipper, and after a passage of about five days landed at Elie in Fife (Deposition of the Earl of Mar's valet, in Original Letters, p. 17). The Master of Sinclair states that he had information of the earl's landing the day afterwards from the Master of Grange (Memoirs, 19). From Elie Mar went to the house of Bethune of Balfour, near Markinch (ib.), where a meeting was held of the friends of the cause. On 17 Aug. he passed the Tay with forty horse, and, on his journey northwards to his fortalice at Kildrummy in the Braes of Mar, issued an invitation to those noblemen and chiefs on whom he could rely to attend a meeting on the 27th at Aboyne, ostensibly for the sport of hunting the deer in accordance with a custom ‘among the lords and chiefs of families in the highlands’ ( Patten ). Those who responded to the invitation numbered about eight hundred, representing, with the exception of Argyll, the most influential nobles of the highlands, as well as several lowland nobles and gentlemen. The meeting was addressed by Mar in a speech the cleverness of which is sufficiently attested by its entire success. He frankly confessed that he had committed a great blunder in supporting the union, but stated that his eyes were now open to the fact that by it their ‘ancient liberties were delivered up into the hands of the English, whose power to enslave them further was too great, and their design to do it daily visible’ ( Patten ). By the warlike clans his proposal was received with acclamation, and, after a more private meeting held on 3 Sept., arrangements were completed for putting the design into immediate execution. Having set up the standard of the chevalier on 6 Sept. at Braemar, on a rocky eminence overlooking the Cluny, and proclaimed James VIII king of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland, Mar began his march southwards. On the 9th he issued a declaration, in which he announced that the chevalier had ‘been pleased to instruct me with the direction of his affairs and the command of the forces in this his ancient kingdom of Scotland’ (Collection of Original Letters, p. 15). Accompanied by some neigh ​ bouring chiefs and their followers, he proceeded by the Spittal of Glenshie to Kirkmichael, the other chiefs meanwhile having separated to raise their followers. It would appear that among the persons least disposed to risk themselves in an enterprise under the leadership of Mar were his own tenants and dependents, for in a letter on 9 Sept. to John Forbes, his bailie at Kildrummy, he thus bluntly addresses him: ‘Jocke,—Ye was in the right not to come with the 100 men ye sent up to Night, when I expected four times the Number,’ and he goes on to threaten that ‘if they come not forth with their best arms’ he will, ‘by all that's sacred,’ burn everything that cannot be carried away, let his ‘own loss be what it will, that it may be an example to others’ (published separately, republished in Somers Tracts, iv. 429, and in Patten ). After remaining four or five days at Kirkmichael to wait for reinforcements, Mar resumed his southward movement, and when he reached Dunkeld his forces numbered as many as two thousand ( Patten ). With these he advanced to Perth, which, in accordance with his instructions, had been seized on 16 Sept. by a party of two hundred horse under the command of John Hay, brother of the Earl of Kinnoul, who had thus succeeded in frustrating a similar design on the part of the Earl of Rothes in behalf of King George. Perth was now made the headquarters of the rebels, while Stirling became the rendezvous of the supporters of the government. Perth was the key to the north, just as Stirling was the key to the south. While Stirling remained in the hands of Argyll there was a barrier between Mar and the friends of the chevalier in the south. Mar therefore hit upon the expedient of sending a strong detachment across the Firth of Forth from Fife to make a dash at Edinburgh. The plan was so recklessly rash that its success could only have been momentary, but it was nipped in the bud by the rapid ride of Argyll from Stirling with five hundred troops and the rebels, after various uncertain movements, passed into England to share in the disaster at Preston. In concert with the movement from Fife, Mar made a feint of marching southwards to dispute the passage at Stirling but though this caused the hasty return of Argyll thither, he had already frustrated the attempt on Edinburgh. On learning that Argyll had returned, Mar, after retreating to Auchterarder, again fell back on Perth, where he remained for some time to levy money and afford opportunity for his forces to collect. While at Perth, besides sending a circular on 3 Oct. to the friends of the cause inviting them to advance certain sums on loan, the amount of which he took care definitely to fix, he issued a series of orders for the collection of a land cess, as well as contributions from the principal burghs. By these expedients he was able, as he complacently announced to one of his officers, to place his forces ‘on a regular foot of pay at threepence a day and three loaves, which is full as good as the pay of the soldiers at Stirling.’ The time spent by Mar in these elaborate preparations may be said to have sealed the fate of his enterprise. On 6 Oct. Mar received despatches from France, and also a new commission from the chevalier, given at the court of Bar-le-Duc, 7 Sept., appointing him ‘our general and commander-in-chief of all our forces, both by sea and land, in our ancient kingdom of Scotland.’ It was not, however, till 10 Nov. that he broke up his camp at Perth and marched to Auchterarder, where he was joined by the western clans who had been foiled by the Earl of Islay in their attempt on Inverary. After holding a review, he with characteristic infatuation rested on the following day, and it was not till the 12th that he began his march towards Dunblane, his main division being sent forward to take possession of the town, while he intended, in leisurely fashion, to remain with the rear at Ardoch. Hardly had the march begun, however, when he learned that Argyll had already anticipated him by taking possession of the town. A halt was therefore immediately called, and on the arrival of Mar it was decided that the whole army should concentrate at Kinbuck, where they passed the night under arms. On Sunday morning, 13 Nov., they formed on Sheriffmuir, to the left of the road leading to Dunblane, in full view of Argyll and his staff, whose troops had now advanced beyond Dunblane, but, owing to the configuration of the ground, were partially concealed from Mar and his officers. The forces of Mar numbered about twelve thousand to the four thousand under Argyll and Mar's chance of victory was completely thrown away through the entire absence of common precaution, or even any definite arrangements. He called a council to debate the expediency of risking a battle. The ardent shouts of the chiefs for an instant attack drowned a few faint murmurs for delay. Mar's previous hesitation became transformed into headlong rashness. In fact in the battle of Sheriffmuir Mar cannot be said to have discharged any of the functions of a general he merely headed an attack in haphazard fashion by a brave and powerful force formed of detachments under separate chiefs, against thoroughly disciplined troops. The right wing of the highland ​ army outflanked the left of Argyll's forces, and drove them in headlong flight to Dunblane, but the left was in turn outflanked, and the attack being met with a steady fire of musketry, the highlanders before coming to close quarters wavered and faltered, whereupon Argyll, not permitting them to reform, charged them opportunely with his cavalry, chasing them for a mile and a half over the river Allan. The other portion of Mar's troops were almost as completely disorganised by victory as their comrades were by defeat, and on their return from the pursuit, though flushed with triumph, showed no disposition to renew the conflict. Argyll and Wightman, having chased the rebel left from the field, now found behind them the victorious right posted inactively on the top of the hill of Kippendavie, but, as Wightman explains (Wightman's account of the battle in Patten ), they resolved to put the best face on the matter, and marched straight to the enemy in line of battle. The ruse was quite successful, for Mar kept his ‘front towards the enemy to the north of us, who seemed at first as if they intended to march towards us’ (account by Mar in Patten ). When the troops of Argyll, after coming within half a mile of the enemy, inclined to their left towards Dunblane, ‘the enemy,’ says Wightman, with quiet sarcasm, ‘behaved like civil gentlemen, and let us do what we pleased, so that we passed the Bridge of Dunblain, posted ourselves very securely, and lay on our arms all night.’ Mar withdrew to Ardoch, ‘whither,’ he complacently remarked, ‘we marched in very good order.’ He then fell back on Auchterarder, and as the highlanders began to disperse, the retreat was continued to Perth. By striking coincidences the day of Sheriffmuir saw also the capture of the town and castle of Inverness and the defeat at Preston. Mar now began to sound Argyll as to what terms he would be prepared to make. Argyll was not, however, empowered to treat, and when he made application to the government for an enlargement of his commission no answer was returned. Soon afterwards, on 22 Dec., the chevalier landed at Peterhead, and Mar having met him at Feteresso, and been created duke, accompanied him to the historical village of Scone, whence the chevalier issued several royal proclamations, one of which appointed his coronation to take place on 23 Jan. Mar also sent forth an address in which he described the prince ‘as really the finest gentleman I ever knew,’ and asserted that to have ‘him peaceably settled on his throne is what these kingdoms do not deserve but he deserves it so much that I hope there is a good fate attending him’ ( Patten , p. 76). To delay the march of Argyll northwards, orders were given by Mar on 17 Jan. in name of the king to burn Auchterarder and the other villages in his line of march, and also all corn and forage lest they might be ‘useful to the enemy.’ Such cruel expedients might have been justifiable in a great extremity, but Mar was now merely clutching at straws, without the least hope of being ultimately successful. Even a month before the chevalier landed he had resolved, he states in his ‘Journal,’ to abandon Perth as soon as the enemy marched against it. The orders for the devastation were carried out in the midst of a snowstorm, the cries of the women and children drawing tears from the eyes ‘even of the barbarous highlanders’ (accounts of the burning of the villages Auchterarder, Muthill, &c., in Miscellany of the Maitland Club, iii. 461). The highland chiefs, on learning of Argyll's approach, made every effort to persuade Mar to risk a battle, but in fact many days before this he had made arrangements for retreat and escape as soon as the advance of Argyll should furnish him with an excuse for doing so. When Argyll was at Tullibardine, eight miles from Perth, the city was abandoned by the rebels, the bulk of whom had crossed the Tay on the ice by ten o'clock on the morning of 31 Jan., Mar and the chevalier following in the rear about noon. The retreat, it must be admitted, was conducted with skill as well as expedition. So rapid was it that when Montrose was reached, Argyll was two days' march behind them. On the evening that they arrived there orders were given to the clans to be ready to march at eight in the morning to Aberdeen, where they were told reinforcements were expected to arrive immediately from France but before the march began the chevalier had slipped privately out of the house where he lodged, and joined the Earl of Mar, who accompanied him by a bye-lane to the waterside, where a boat waited to convey them on board a French ship. They were subsequently joined by other leaders, and on 11 Feb. they were landed at Walden, near Gravelines. The clans meanwhile, after reaching Aberdeen under General Gordon, dispersed to their homes.

Mar accompanied the prince to St. Germain, where he busied himself with a variety of intrigues, the chief purpose of which was rather to obtain his own restoration than that of the Stuart family. One of these schemes was to secure the assistance of Charles XII of Sweden, whose favour he recommended the Jacobites in Scotland to procure by a present of oatmeal for his troops. Mar next, through Lockhart, made proposals to his late opponent Argyll, when he supposed the latter to be still ​ writhing with resentment at his dismissal in June 1716 from all his offices but the overtures met with no encouragement. In the following year he entered into communications with Sunderland, offering the assistance of France to George I, to enlarge his German dominions, on condition of his assenting in some form to a Stuart restoration. There is some evidence that George I was not altogether averse to the project, but its inherent absurdity was no doubt at once evident to his advisers. In connection with the project Mar had also had communications with the Earl of Stair, with whom he had formerly been on terms of special intimacy. As he then admitted to Stair that he regarded the affairs of his master as ‘desperate,’ his negotiations would seem to have been entered into rather with the view of commending himself to King George than of aiding the cause of the chevalier. Shortly afterwards he left Paris for Italy, and he had no further communications with Stair till on the return journey in 1719 he stopped at Geneva. On this occasion he openly expressed his anxiety to desert the cause of the chevalier and come to terms with the government (see the documents connected with the negotiation in Hardwicke State Papers, vol. ii.) Stair advanced him a sum of money, and advised that he should be conciliated on the ground that to detach him would ‘break the prince's party.’ Mar's terms for consenting to abstain from any plot against the government were that the family estates should be settled on his son, and that meanwhile until this was done he should be paid a pension of 2,000l., in addition to 1,500l. of a jointure to his wife and daughter. It would appear that the Jacobites at St. Germain were quite aware of his negotiations with Stair, but he informed them that he had no intention of fulfilling the conditions, while by pretending to do so he would be able more effectually to aid the cause. It was at Mar's suggestion that the chevalier stirred up the scheme of Atterbury, bishop of Rochester [q. v.], and he appears to have done so simply to demonstrate to the government his willingness to save them by discovering the plot. Not improbably it was through his connivance that his own correspondence with Atterbury was intercepted (see letters in Appendix to Stuart Papers), and at any rate it is almost demonstrable that he was the person who supplied the means of deciphering it. Shortly afterwards, in 1723, he presented a memorial to the regent of France, expounding a project for betraying Britain into the power of France, by dismembering the British empire through an adjustment of the powers of the Scottish and Irish parliaments. His real design in making the proposal was supposed to have been to render the cause of the Jacobites odious to the people of Britain by connecting them with an unpatriotic scheme. Atterbury, after his arrival in France, obtained evidence sufficient to convince him that Mar had been guilty of ‘such base practices’ ‘that the like had scarce been heard of and seemed to be what no man endued with common sense or the least drop of noble blood could perpetrate’ (Lockhart Papers, ii. 142). Atterbury also expressed the general opinion which ultimately prevailed among the Jacobites regarding Mar, that ‘it was impossible for him ever to play a fair game or to mean but one thing at once’ (Stuart Papers, 131). Latterly all his proposals bore on the face of them the marks of charlatanry, and he ceased to possess the power to deceive any one but himself. He prepared a justification of his conduct, of which an abstract is given in ‘Lockhart Papers’ (ii. 175–9), but he failed to convince any one either of his good sense or his sincerity. The prince, however, in a letter to Lockhart expressed his desire that the facts proven against him should rather be concealed than made public, and gave it as his opinion that the ‘less noise made about him the better’ (ib. 198). He was succeeded in the confidence of the prince in 1724 by Colonel Hay, and in 1725 he definitely severed his connection with the Stuarts without, however, thereby securing any benefit from the government. In his retirement he accepted his disappointment more philosophically than could have been predicted, occupying himself chiefly in architectural designs and drawings. In a paper written in 1728 he suggested the improvement of the communications in Edinburgh by proposing the building of bridges north and south of the city. He also suggested the formation of a navigable canal between the Forth and Clyde. He resided in Paris till 1729, when, on account of his health, he removed to Aix-la-Chapelle, where he died in May 1732. He was twice married first to Lady Margaret, daughter of the Earl of Kinnoul, by whom he had two sons, the youngest of whom died in infancy, and the eldest, Thomas, lord Erskine, became commissary of stores for Gibraltar, and afterwards sat in parliament successively for the counties of Stirling and Clackmannan and secondly to Lady Frances Pierrepoint, by whom he had a daughter, Lady Frances, married to her cousin, James Erskine, son of Lord Grange. The second Lady Mar suffered latterly from mental irregularity, and having, like his own wife, quarrelled with Lord Grange [see Erskine, James ], Grange ​ formed a scheme to carry her off somewhat similar to that which led to the disappearance of Lady Grange, but in this case he was frustrated by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The Mar estates were purchased for Thomas, lord Erskine, by Lord Grange. On account of the favour which Gibbs, the architect, received from the Earl of Mar, he left the bulk of his money to Mar's children. The attainder of the earldom of Mar was reversed in 1824. On the failure of male issue in 1866, the earldom, as created in 1565 limited to heirs male, was, after a prolonged argument before the House of Lords, declared on 25 Feb. 1875, to belong to Walter Henry Erskine, earl of Kellie, a decision which nullified the claims put forth for the earldom to be the oldest in the kingdom but on 6 Aug. 1885 the title of Earl of Mar with original precedence as descended from Gratney, earl of Mar (1294), was confirmed to John Francis Erskine Goodeve Erskine, who had married Lady Frances Jemima Erskine, the nearest female heir in the failure in 1866 of male issue.

[Journal of the Earl of Mar, printed by order of the Earl of Mar, in France, republished at London, 1716, and frequently reprinted A Collection of Original Letters and Authentick Papers relating to the Rebellion of 1715, London, 1730 A Full and Authentick Narrative of the Intended Horrid Conspiracy and Invasion, London, 1715 Patten's History of the Rebellion of 1715 Sinclair Memoirs Lockhart Papers Stuart Papers Hardwicke State Papers Macpherson's Original Papers Secret Memoirs of Bar-le Duc, 1716 Macky's Secret Memoirs Swift's Works Jesse's Pretenders and their Adherents Mrs. Thomson's Memoirs of the Jacobites, vol. i. Lacroix de Marlès' Historie du Chevalier de Saint-Georges, 1876 Burton's Hist. of Scotland Douglas's Scotch Peerage (Wood), ii. 217–9 Chambers's Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen Chambers's Hist. of the Rebellion.]

Watch the video: John Erskine, Earl of Mar d. 1572 (July 2022).


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