The Mormaerdom of Mar

The Earldom of Mar, a title which the Erskines inherit martilineally, is said to one of the oldest titles in Scotland. It originates from one of the seven mormaerdoms or provinces of Alba, an ancient poetic name for Scotland. The title of Mormaer is of Gaelic or possibly Pictish origin, and was eventually replaced with the Norse Jarl or Earl, meaning Chief. The Mormaers were leaders of their respective tribes, the Mormaers of Mar being the Chiefs of the Tribe of Mar. They were subservient only to the kings of Scotland.

Melbrigda Tonn, Mormaer of Mar

(d. c. 900)

The first Mormaer of Mar who is mentioned in writing is Melbrigda or Mael Brigda, meaning "devotee of Brigid". Brigid was an ancient Gaelic goddess of fire and skill. Melbridga is featured in a story in the Orkneyinga Saga, a 13th century historical narrative about events from earlier centuries. About the close of the 9th century, Melbrigda fell in battle against Sigurd, the first Scandinavian Earl of Orkney, who had conquered the greater part of the northern counties of Scotland and invaded the province of Mar. Melbrigda had been tricked by Sigurd, who told him to meet him in an even contest of 300 men versus 300 men on horseback. When Melbrigda and his 300 men arrived, they were ambushed by Sigurd's larger force and Melbrigda was slain by Sigurd. However, his death was revenged upon the victor in a most singular manner. Melbrigda was noted for a large and very prominent tooth, for which he was sometimes known as Melbrigda Tonn or Melbrigda "of the Tooth". Sigurd, having cut off the head of the fallen Mormaer, suspended it to his saddle-bow and galloped in triumph across the battlefield. The rapidity of the motion caused the head of Melbrigda to strike violently about the saddle, and his prominent tooth inflicted a wound on Sigurd's thigh which festered and mortified and caused his death.

There is an artifact known as the Hunterston Brooch. It was probably made in the Pictish-Gaelic kingdom of Dalriata, and the Museum of Scotland says, "The style of the brooch has Irish parallels, while the filigree resembles metalwork from England. The brooch was probably made in western Scotland where the two traditions were joined or perhaps in Ireland by a craftsman trained in foreign techniques." The brooch has a complex construction typical of the most elaborate Irish brooches. Panels of filigree work were created separately on gold trays, which were then fitted into the main silver-gilt body. On the reverse four panels of silver-gilt were also inserted; as in other examples like the Tara Brooch the decoration on the reverse uses older curvilinear "Celtic" motifs looking back to La Tene style Insular Celtic decoration, though on the Hunterston Brooch such motifs also appear on the front. The back of the brooch has a scratched inscription in runes in the Old Norse language, probably 9th century, "Melbrigda owns this brooch." Much later ownership inscriptions are not uncommon on elaborate Celtic brooches, often from Norse-Gael contexts. The Hunterston Brooch is clearly an object of very high status, indicating the power and great prestige of its owner. With the Tara Brooch in Dublin, and the Londesborough Brooch in the British Museum, it is considered one of the finest of over 50 highly elaborate Irish Celtic brooches to survive, and is "arguably the earliest of the ornate penannular brooches from Britain and Ireland."

Because the Hunterston brooch likely belonged to a notable Celtic noble in Scotland named Melbrigda, the evidence seems to point to the owner being Melbrigda, the Mormaer of Mar. His enemy, Sigurd Hlodvirsson, or Sigurd the Stout, was recorded in the Norse Sagas, the Orkneyinga Saga in particular, but these were written nearly two centuries after his death. Sigurd also appears briefly in St Olaf's Saga as incorporated into the Heimskringla and in the Eyrbyggja Saga. The Mormaers of Mar would continue to have rivalry, but also kinship with the Norse men for generations.

The Hunterston Brooch (Front)


Domnall mac Eimin mac Cainnech, Mormaer of Mar

(d. 23 April, 1014 CE)

The Annals of Ulster record possibly the earliest mention of a Mormaer of Mar. During the Battle of Clontarf on the 23rd of April, 1014, the forces of Western Ireland fought the Dublin Irish, allied with Norse men, in a bloody civil war. The High King of Ireland, Brian Boru's mercenary troops fought in one unit under the command of Domnall, the Mormaer of Mar. He is recorded as the son of Eimin, son of Cainnech. The Battle of Clontarf began with Plait, the Viking champion, taunting Domnall, the Mormaer of Mar. Plait was described as, "the bravest knight of all the foreigners." The two men marched out into the middle of the field and fought, and both died "with the sword of each through the heart of the other, and the hair of each in the clenched hand of the other."

Dublin City Hall fresco depicting the Battle of Clontarf by James Ward

Though the Battle of Clontarf was ultimately a victory for the forces of Brian Boru, the High King himself was slain by vikings who snuck into his camp. Notable deaths on the enemy side included Mael Morda, the King of Leinster, and Sigurd, the Earl of Orkney.

Ruadri, 1st Mormaer of Mar

(c. 1130 CE)

While the historic impact and notablitity of the earlier Mormaers is not to be overlooked, Ruadri is the first Mormaer of Mar to whom direct descent can be traced, and thus in the numbering of the Earldom and Mormaerdom, he is counted as the first "creation" of the tiltle. His name was recorded in the oldest surviving example of Scottish Gaelic writing in the world - footnotes added to the illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Deer. "Ruadri mormar Marr" was a recorded as a witness to a confirmation of lands to the newly established Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Dunfermline, by King David I in 1128. So, his floruit is dated to around 1130 CE.

Pages from the Book of Deer with footnotes in the margin

"Gartnait son of Cainnech and Ete daughter of Gille-Micheil gave Pett Meic-Gobraig for the consecration of a church of Christ and of Peter the apostle, and to Columba and Drostan, free of all imposts, with a bond for it to Cormac bishop of Dunkeld, the eighth year of the reign of David. These being the witnesses: Nechtan bishop of Aberdeen, and Leot abbot of Brechin, and Mal-Domnaig(?) son of Mac-Bethad, and Aluine son of Aircill, and Ruaidri, Mormaer of Mar, and Mataidin the judge, and Gille-Crist son of Cormac, and Mal-Petair son of Domnall, and Domangart lector of Turriff, and Gille-Coluim son of Muiredach, and Duibne son of Mal-Coluim."

-Translation of note in Book of Deer

Morggan of Mar, 2nd Mormaer of Mar

(b. 1147 - c. 1183)

It is possible that Morggan participated in the Revolt of the Earls, a protest by some of the native Scottish nobility at King Mael Coluim IV's trip to France as a vassal of King Henry II of England. It is also possible that he became estranged from the French-speaking King William I, as Morggan's name appears in no royal acts of the latter king's reign. He married Agnes De Harcourt, a patroness of churches. Agnes was probably related to the de Warenne family - the family who married Ada de Warenne to Henry of Scotland and mother of Kings Malcolm IV and William the Lion. Morggan and Agnes had at least one son, Donnchadh, who eventually succeeded to Mormaer of Mar. Morggan had another two sons, Mael Coluim and James, but they may have been illegitimate - i.e. the product of an uncanonical marriage acceptable in the Celtic system, but not in the Franco-Roman system then gaining favor in Scotland. His daughter Alesta of Mar married Alan Fitzwalter, 2nd High Steward of Scotland and was mother of Walter Stewart, 3rd High Steward of Scotland. Morggan of Mar appears in royal charters dated as early as 1147. He is attested in the documents for the last time in 1178, and was dead by 1183.

Donnchadh of Mar, 3rd Mormaer of Mar

(1203 - 1244)

Donnchadh was the son of Morggan and Agnes. Donnchadh benefited from the introduction of feudal primogeniture as a custom, as it enabled him and his kin to exclude the descendants of Gille Crist, whose contemporary leader was Thomas de Lundin, from the succession. Perhaps in gratitude, he named his oldest son William after King William I, the probable source of the innovation in Mar's inheritance custom. However, Gille Crist, Mormaer of Mar is only attested in a Latin source, so it is theorized that he may be a fabrication. He married Orabillis of Nessius, by whom he fathered William, and died in 1244.

Uilleam of Mar, 4th Mormaer of Mar

(c. 1220 - 1276)

Uilleam mac Dhonnchaidh was perhaps the greatest of the Mormaers of Mar ruling from 1244 to 1276. Uilleam was responsible for the construction of Kildrummy Castle, the greatest castle to have been built in 13th century northern Scotland. It is one of the few examples where a native Scottish magnate built a large-scale fortification, something normally practiced by the incoming French. Uilleam, more than any of his predecessors, participated in Scottish and even British-wide politics, becoming a leading figure in the royal regime of Alexander II, and the minority of Alexander III. By 1244, Uilleam had married into the Comyn house, the fastest rising French family in the Scottish kingdom. He married Elisabeth Comyn, the daughter of William Comyn, jure uxoris Earl of Buchan. The Comyn-Mar alliance helped fight off the ambitions of the Durwards, who were then in prime favor with the king. Alan Durward used his descent from a daughter of Gille Crist to contest Uilleam's right to the Mormaerdom, but Uilleam successfully held off these claims.

Uilleam and the Comyn Earl of Menteith then launched accusations of treason towards Alan while at the court of Henry III of England at York. Uilleam engaged in supplementing his power on a nationwide basis. He held the post of Sheriff of Dumbarton between 1264 and 1266, a post which opened up connections in the western Highlands. Uilleam was able to marry his younger son Donnchadh to Cairistiona Nic Ruaidhri, daughter of the Hebridean chief Ailean mac Ruaidhri, a man who had been one of the principal supporters of Norwegian cause against the Scottish Crown in the 1260s. When his wife Isabel (also called Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Comyn and Marjory Colham) died in 1267, Uilleam married Muriel, the daughter of Maol Iosa II, Mormaer of Strathearn. Uilleam died in 1276, and was succeeded by his son Domhnall.

Domhnall I of Mar, 5th Earl of Mar

(c. 1250 - c. 1302)

Domhnall mac Uilleim - was the seventh known Mormaer of Mar, or Earl of Mar ruling from the death of his father, Uilleam of Mar, in 1276 until his own death somewhere between 1297 and 1302. Excluding Gille Christ he is counted as 5th Mormaer, and Earl of Mar. In 1284 he joined with other Scottish noblemen who acknowledged Margaret of Norway as the heir to King Alexander.Domhnall was later a strong supporter of the Bruce cause during the crisis of the late 13th century. He was at Norham in 1292, probably in the camp of Robert de Brus, then Earl of Carrick. He married to Helen (sometimes called Ellen), the daughter of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd in North Wales. Helen had previously been married to Mormaer Maol Choluim II, Earl of Fife. By Helen, Domhnall had three sons, including his successor Gartnait, and two daughters.

His daughter Isabella of Mar was the first wife of Robert the Bruce, and the mother of Marjorie Bruce who married Walter, 6th High Steward, the parents of Robert II and the progenitors of the Royal Stewart Dynasty. The last record of a living Domhnall comes from 1297, and the earliest record of his son Gartnait as Mormaer is from 1305, creating the range of Domhnall's possible year of death to somewhere in between these two points. However, a document dating to 1302, containing terms of reconciliation between Edward I and Robert, stipulates that Robert should act as warden of Gartnait, implying that Domhnall had just died.

Arms of Royal House of Gwynedd, which Domnhall's wife Helen belonged to.

Gartnait of Mar, 6th Earl of Mar

(c. 1275 - 1305)

Gartnait of Mar ruled as Mormaer of Mar from somewhere around 1301, perhaps as early as 1297, until his death in 1305. He was a son of Domhnall I of Mar. The name Gartnait appears several times in the Pictish Chronicle and appears to be of Pictish origin. Gartnait married Lady Christina Bruce, or another elder sister of Robert the Bruce, while Gartnait's sister Isabella of Mar married Robert the Bruce himself. In 1302, a document containing terms of reconciliation between Edward I of England and Robert stipulates that Robert should act as the warden of Gartnait, implying that Gartnait's father Domhnall had just died. Garnait was the father of Helen or Elyne of Mar whose daughter, Christian Menteith married Robert Erskine, 13th Earl of Mar (Retroactive) and 1st Lord Erskine.

Isabella of Mar

(c. 1277 - 12 December 1296)

Isabella of Mar (modern Scottish Gaelic: Iseabail) was the first wife of Robert the Bruce and the grandmother of Robert II of Scotland, the first Stewart King. She died before Robert was crowned King of Scots, and never became Queen. She was the daughter of Domhnall I, Earl of Mar and Helen (or Ellen) of Wales (1246 - 1295), an illegitimate daughter of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth ("the Great") Prince of Wales; she had previously been the wife of Maol Choluim II, Earl of Fife. Her father was one of the seven guardians of Scotland who believed Robert Bruce to be the rightful King of Scotland. Despite the considerable risks, the Domnhall I, 5th Earl of Mar could foresee the advantage of the two families joining in marriage and bearing an heir to the throne, and the marriage of Isabella and Robert was arranged. Mar was the first to sign over the estates of his family to the Bruce. Isabella was married to Robert at the age of 18 and legend has it that they were much in love. Shortly after their marriage Isabella became pregnant. She had a healthy pregnancy but she died soon after giving birth to a daughter, Marjorie Bruce in 1296. She is buried at Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire. Robert married his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, six years later. Isabella's daughter Princess Marjorie married Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland, and their son became Robert II of Scotland. From him descend the monarchs of the House of Stewart and the later royal families of the United Kingdom.

Tomb of Marjorie Bruce in Paisely Abbey

Domhnall II of Mar, 7th Earl of Mar

(1293 - 11 August 1332)

Domhnall II of Mar was Regent of Scotland for just over a week during the minority of David II, King of Scotland. Domhnall's father was Gartnait, Earl of Mar. It appears likely that he fought on the side of Edward II of England, as it is recorded that after the Battle of Boroughbridge in March 1322, the Earl of Mar took Bartholomew de Badlesmere, who was one of Edward's captured opponents, to Canterbury. In 1332 the Regent of Scotland, then Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray, died. On 2 August, Domhnall was elected as the new regent at a meeting of the Scottish nobles at Perth. Following the invasion of Edward Balliol, with the support of Edward III of England, Mar led the Scots loyalists to confront them. He was defeated and killed at the Battle of Dupplin Moor, only nine days after his election as Regent. Through his marriage to Isabella Stewart they had a son Thomas, and a single daughter, Margaret, who succeeded her brother Thomas and became in her turn Countess of Mar.

Painting of the Battle of Dupplin Moor

Thomas, 8th Earl of Mar

(c. 1320 - c. 1374)

Since Thomas was still in his minority at the time of his father's death, King Edward III of England, with whom Scotland was battling in the Scottish Wars of Independence, placed Thomas in the care of his (Thomas's) step-father, William Carsewell. He was prevented from receiving the Earldom of Mar by Richard, 2nd Baron Talbot, who claimed the title Lord of Mar in the right of his wife, Elizabeth de Comyn. In the tumultuous years that followed Dupplin Moor, Thomas's grandmother, Lady Christina Bruce, held the seat of the Earls of Mar, Kildrummy Castle. When she died in 1357, the castle passed to Thomas along with her lands and lordship, which were called the Earldom of Garioch.

In 1351, Thomas was one of the ambassadors sent to England to negotiate the ransom of Scotland's King David II, who was prisoner there. When David was eventually released in 1357, Thomas was one of the seven lords "from whom three were to be selected as hostages" until the king's ransom was paid. He was styled Earl of Mar in 1357 and made Great Chamberlain of Scotland in 1358. Thomas is said to have favored England's king, Edward III, inasmuch as the English king had granted him a pension of 600 merks per annum. In addition, the English king agreed to pay Thomas 600 sterling pounds yearly if he lost his lands in Scotland. Thomas agreed to serve the English king by fighting in England's war with France in 1360. In 1362, he was sent as a Scottish ambassador to negotiate with England, and in 1369 he was one of the guarantees of a truce between the two nations.

Earl Thomas was in both England and France frequently in his life, as John Mackintosh has laid out in his book Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland. In March, 1359, he had a passport through England for himself and thirty persons in his retinue, and three merchants; while in August, 1359, he had a safe conduct for himself and one hundred horsemen in his train. The same year, in October, he had a passport to France with twenty-four horsemen. In November, 1362, he had a safe conduct to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury for himself and twelve horsemen. He had passports for himself and twelve horsemen in February, 1363, in March the same year, and in February, 1365. In July, 1365, he had a licence to send eight horsemen to Newcastle-on-Tyne with one hundred and twenty oxen, which he had sold to merchants in that city. In October, 1368, he had a passport for himself and twelve gentlemen on their way through England in pilgrimage to St. [John of] Amiens, in France.

In 1363, he fell out of favor with David II, perhaps due to David's resentment of Thomas's alliance with the English or perhaps because of the extortions Thomas was alleged to have committed on his people. For whatever reason, David besieged and took Kilrdrummy Castle from him. However, in 1368, upon payment of a composition, Thomas received it back and was restored to the king's good favor.

Thomas married twice. His first wife was Margaret Graham of Menteith, whom he divorced because she bore him no children, or, as one old chronicler put it, "at the instigation of the Devil." His second wife was Margaret Stewart, Countess of Angus, but this marriage produced no children either. Thomas died childless, some say in 1374, others in 1377, the confusion arising from the fact that his brother-in-law was already claiming the title Earl of Mar in 1374. However, some scholars argue that Earl Thomas must have died in early 1377 because of a charter dated August 10th of that year, in which Douglas confirmed a charter previously made by Thomas. Thomas of Mar was buried within the walls of Kildrummy Castle and was the last in the male line of Mar. He was succeeded by his sister Margaret. The title Earl of Mar passed to her husband, William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas.

Margaret, 9th Countess of Mar

( - c. 1391)

Margaret of Mar (died c. 1391) was a daughter of Domhnall II of Mar and after the death of her childless brother Thomas became Countess of Mar. She had married William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, who was succeeded by their son, James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas and Earl of Mar and Garioch in right of his mother. But he was killed in 1388, leading the Scots at the Battle of Otterburn. Margaret was succeeded by her daughter, Isabel, who became Countess of Mar and Garioch.

Skirmish Line at the Battle of Otterburn - S. Walsh

Isabel Douglas, 10th Countess of Mar

(c. 1360 - 1408)

Isabel was the sister of the famous James 2nd Earl of Douglas and Earl of Mar, who died leading the Scots to victory at the Battle of Otterburn. He died without any legitimate children and his sister Isabel inherited most of his property, excluding only the Douglas lands which could only pass through the male line. After being confirmed as Countess she then became the most sought after bride in the realm and soon was married to Sir Malcolm Drummond, brother-in-law of King Robert III. This marriage however failed to produce any children and the Countess soon became the focus of several plots to usurp her lands by scheming nobleman.

While the couple resided at the chief seat to the Earldom of Mar, Kildrummy Castle, Sir Malcolm was frequently away on royal business, being one of Robert III's close advisors. In 1402, while Sir Malcolm was away at one of his other castles, he was suddenly attacked by a large group of highlanders lead by the infamous Alexander Stewart, illegitimate son of the Wolf of Badenoch. Alexander then proceeded to capture the castle and put Sir Malcolm into one of his dungeons where he soon died at the hands of his captor. Because the king was by this time sick and infirm and real power was in the hands of his younger brother the Duke of Albany, Isabel was now completely isolated and was now easy prey for her husband's murderer. In the summer of 1404, Alexander and his gang of highlanders descended on her castle of Kildrummy and captured it along with the Countess and was soon able to extort from her a signed document promising to marry Alexander and give over to him all of her lands, including the earldom of Mar and lordship of the Garioch. Under normal circumstances this incident possibly would not have been allowed to stand, but Isabel had the misfortune that these events took place during the regency of the Duke of Albany who was in fact the uncle of this Alexander Stewart. Because his relation to the Royal Family and friendship with his uncle saved him from any actual punishment, Isabel was forced to marry the man who murdered her husband and live the last four years of her life as a captive. She died in the year 1408 without children and gained a measure of revenge over Alexander when his son and heir died without children in the lifetime of his father. The earldom of Mar then reverted to the crown and was later given to John Erskine, 1st Earl of Mar whose descendants inherit it to this day.

Earl of Mar Coat of Arms

Stewart Coat of Arms

Personal Arms of Alexander Stewart

Helen of Mar, 11th Countess of Mar

(c. 1290 - after 1342)

Helen of Mar was the daughter of Garnait, the Earl of Mar, and Lady Christina Bruce, or possibly another elder sister of Robert the Bruce. She was also the granddaughter of Helen ferch Llywelyn, the daughter Llywelyn the Great, Prince of North Wales of the ancient and royal Welsh House Aberffraw and its parent house House Gwynedd (North Wales). This bloodline can trace its ancestry to legendary figures of Arthurian legend and the Welsh Mabinogion. The Earldom of Mar passed to the Erskine family through her marriage to Sir Robert Erskine (1310-1385), and the marriage of her granddaughter Janet Keith to his son Sir Thomas Erskine. Helen first married John Menteith, Lord of Arran, Skipnish, Knapdale, and Strathgartney. John Menteith was the son of the man who notortiously captured William Wallace. There was a grant of Strathgartney, in 1359, to Sir John Menteith, called son of ellen of Mar, Ellen herself being styled niece of King Robert. (Acts of Parliament of Scotland, I., p. 524) She died after 1342.

Coat of Arms of Sir John (Stewart) de Menteith

The Paternal Origins of Clan Erskine

The Erskines are related to ancient royal bloodlines of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Norway, and England. Within a couple centuries of settling in Scotland they married into a family which held the most ancient Earldom, the Earldom of Mar. A common trait of Scottish clans with Norman origins is that they have French mottos. The motto of Clan Erskine is "Je Pense Plus," which is French for, "I Think More." This echos the motto of the Tribe of Mar which is "Pans Plus," a Latin phrase meaning, "Think More."

Before marrying into the ancient Scottish royalty and nobility, the Erskine patriline was already of noble stock. They were Flemish Normans who descended from the likes of Charlemagne and Rollo, the founder of Normandy. It is possible that they are direct male descenants of Redbad, the Pagan King of Frisia who was subdued by Charles "The Hammer" Martel, whereupon the Frisians were brought under French rule. The progenitor of the Clan, or at least the first to bear the name Erskine was Henry de Erskine, who was a great grandson of Gilbert de Ghent. Gilbert de Ghent first arrived in Great Britain during the Norman Conquest, on the same boat as William the Conqueror himself. He was a kinsmen to William through Gilbert's mother, Gisele of Luxembourg. In fact, Gilbert de Ghent's maternal uncle Baldwin served as Regent of France during the conquest. Gilbert's father was Ralph, Lord of Aalst, near Ghent in Belgium. Ralph, Lord of Aalst descended from a long line of Counts of Holland, Counts in Frisia, and Bubo, the Duke of Frisia, who may have been Redbad's son, though this is debated.

Gilbert de Ghent

Gilbert de Ghent was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, having been given titles of 172 English manors, most in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, but also within 14 shires where there were estates including York, Derby, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, and Cambridgeshire. He was a commander, along with William Malet, at the Firing - the part-destruction by fire - of York on September 19, 1069. Gilbert de Ghent was based at his home in Folkingham Castle and died about 1095, and was buried at Bardney Abbey near Lincoln City. He was married to Alice de Montford sur Risle in about 1071 and had numerous children inlucding Henry de Ghent who became known as Henry de Erskine.

Henry de Ghent

(c. 1072)

Henry de Ghent was born about 1072 in Folkingham, Lincolnshire, England. He became known as Henry de Erskine in Scotland. He took the Alost arms, reversed, to Scotland: argent, a pale sable. Henry Erskine's device (his coat of arms) came closest to the original Alost pattern out of those families that took the colors to Scotland. Henry de Ghent was the brother of Emma de Ghent, Sir William De Lindsay the progenitor of Clan Lindsay, Ralph De Ghent, Hugues de Montfort, IV, Geoffrey de Ghent; Walter de Ghent, Earl of Lincoln, Matilda de Ghent; Robert de Gant, Piers (Peter) de Montfort, Gilbert de Gant II, Lord of Folkingham, and Alice de Gant.

De Ghent/Lord of Aalst Coat of Arms

Arms of Henry de Erskine, Baron of Erskine

Henry de Erskine

(c. 1230 CE)

Henry de Ghent's grandson was the proprietor of a barony in Renfrewshire, situated on the south side of the River Clyde. The name Erskine was originally derived from these lands and is thought to be Old English for "green rising mound". It is the most ancient possession of the noble family in Scotland, who afterwards became Lords Erskine and Earls of Mar. The barony was founded during the reign of Alexander II of Scotland. Henry de Erskine was witness of a grant by Amelick, the brother of Maldwin, Earl of Lennox, of the patronage and tithes of the parish church of Roseneath to the abbey of Paisley in 1226.

Sir John de Erskine

(c. 1217-c. 1271)

Sir John de Erskine was the son of Henry de Erskine, and was born in Erskine, Renfrewshire, Scotland around 1217 CE. He died circa 1271 CE. He was the father of Sir John Erskine.

Sir John Erskine

(c. 1249-1296)

Sir John Erskine was the son of Sir John de Erskine and this John married Margaret MacGilronan. Sir John was forced to swear fealty to King Edward I of England by signing the Ragman Rolls in 1296 CE.

The Ragman Rolls

Sir William Erskine

(1274 - after 1331)

Sir William Erskine was the son of Sir John Erskine and Margaret MacGilronan. He married Beatrix Stewart of Crawford, Granddaughter of Alexander Stewart, the 4th High Steward of Scotland. He was the father of Sir Robert Erskine and Sir Alan Erskine.

Sir Robert Erskine

Sir Robert Erskine was the son of Sir William Erskine and Beatrix Stewart of Crawford. He first married of Beatrix Lindsay of Crawford, and later to Helen of Mar, 11th Countess of Mar, and later still to her daughter, Christian Menteith, 12th Countess of Mar. Robert was the father of Mary Erskine; Robert Erskine, Sir Thomas Erskine; Jean Boyd; Nicholas Erskine and 3 others. He was one of the ambassadors to England, to treat for the ransom of that monarch, after his capture in the battle of Durham in 1346. In 1350 he was appointed by David, while still a prisoner, Great Chamberlain of Scotland. In 1357, he was one of those who accomplished his sovereign's deliverance, on which occasion his eldest son, Thomas, was one of the hostages for the payment of the king's ransom. On his restoration, David, in addition to his former high office of Chamberlain, appointed Sir Robert Justiciary north of the Forth, and constable and keeper of the castles of Edinburgh and Dumbarton. In 1358 he was ambassador to France, and between 1360 and 1366 he was five times ambassador to England. In 1367 he was warden of the marches, and heritable sheriff of Stirlingshire. In 1371 he was one of the great barons who ratified the succession to the crown of Robert II, grandson of Robert the Bruce, by his daughter Marjorie, and the first of the Stewart family. To his other property he added that of Alloa, which the king bestowed on him, in exchange for the hunting district of Strathgartney, in the Highlands. He died in 1385.

Sir Thomas Erskine

(c. 1340- c. 1435)

Sir Thomas Erskine was the son of Sir Robert Erskine and Beatrix Lindsay of Crawford. He married Janet Keith, the daughter of Christian Menteith and Edward Keith of Synton around 16 April 1369. His mother-in-law, Christian Menteith, later remarried to his father, who had also been previously married to her mother Helen of Mar. Although he was married to the granddaughter of the Countess of Mar, he was never styled as an Earl of Mar, even retroactively. King David II granted certain lands in Stirlingshire to Sir Thomas Erskine and Jean Barclay his wife till about 1413. An instrument in the Panmure Charter-chest, date 6 June 1437 testifies clearly that Janet Keith and Jean Barclay were one and the same, widow of Sir David Barclay, and later of Sir Thomas Erskine, who she survived.

Earl of Mar Coat of Arms

Erskine Coat of Arms

Erskine of Mar Coat of Arms

Sir Robert Erskine, 13th Earl of Mar (Retroactive) and 1st Lord Erskine

(c. 1360-1453)

Sir Robert Erskine, Knight, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Erskine and Janet Keith. He was made an illustrious figure in his time, and for his patriotic services was, by David II, appointed Constable, Keeper, and Captain of Stirling Castle. The Lordship of Parliament of Erskine, the title of "Lord Erskine" was created around 1426 for Sir Robert Erskine. He married Lady Elizabeth Lindsay, the daughter of David Lindsay, the 1st Earl of Crawford, and Elizabeth Stewart, the daughter of Robert II, King of Scotland. Sir Robert Erskine was retroactively made the 13th Earl of Mar by 1885 Act, with precedence from 1404.

Sir Thomas Erskine, 14 Earl of Mar (Retroactive) and 2nd Lord Erskine

(c. 1410-1494)

Sir Thomas Erskine was the son of Robert Erskine and Elizabeth Lindsay of Crawford. Sir Thomas was knighted before 24 January1440/1. He had charter of the lands of Dalnotter in Lennox, 5 January 1458/9, as Lord Erskine, and, as such, sat in Parliament on 14 October 1467. He held the office of Sheriff of Stirling in 1483. He took the part of James III's insurrection of 1488. He married before 1445, to Janet Douglas. She was living Aug. 1489, when her life rent was reserved. Sir Thomas Erskine died in or shortly before 1494.

Sir Alexander Eskine, 15th Earl of Mar (Retroactive) and 3rd Lord Erskine

(c. 1430 CE - before 10 May 1509 CE)

Sir Alexander Erskine was the son of Sir Thomas Erskine and Janet Keith. He married to Christian Chrichton, daughter of Sir Robert Chrichton of Sanquhar and Elizabeth Erskine, before October 9 1466 CE. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor and he held the office of Governor of Dumbarton Castle.

Sir Robert Erskine, 16th Earl of Mar (Retroactive) and 4th Lord Erskine

(c. 1467 - 9 September 1513)

Sir Robert Erskine was the son of Sir Alexander Erskine and Christian Crichton. When Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar died, Sir Robert Erskine should have inherited the Earldom of Mar matrilineally. However King James II of Scotland withdrew the Earldom in 1457 stating that it could only belong to a Royal Stewart, and King James III created the title for his son John Stewart, Earl of Mar in 1486, upon whose death in 1503 the title became extinct again. This unlawful succession was finally interrupted by Mary, Queen of Scots, who saw that the rightful heir John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar was restored. On 2 Mar. 1485/6 Robert was mentioned as son and heir apparent of Alexander Erskine of Balhagerdy in a Crown Charter to himself and his wife of the lands of Ellem and others in Co. Berwick and elsewhere. Robert married Isabella Campbell in 1485, the daughter of Sir George Campbell, of New Mils & Loudon, a religious reformer. He had Crown Charters of various lands during his father's lifetime and was given his father's estates about 1508 or before May 1509. He also acquired lands in 1510. Robert was killed in the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513.

Painting of the Battle of Flodden by George Goodwin

Sir John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar (Retroactive) and 5th Lord Erskine

(c. 1488 - 1555)

Sir John Erskine was the son of Robert Erskine and Isabel Campbell. John had the rank of Knight before June 1510. John was appointed guardian for James V during his minority and was paid between 50 pounds per month to 200 pounds per year. He was Envoy to France in 1515. Sir John Erskine held the office of Keeper of Edinburgh Castle. He held the office of Constable of Stirling Castle before 1525. John married Lady Margaret Campbell, daughter of Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll and Lady Elizabeth Stuart.

John Erskine, 18th and 1st Earl of Mar and 6th Lord Erskine

(c. 1510 - 1572)

John Erskine, Earl of Mar was the son Sir John Erskine, Earl of Mar and Margaret Campbell. He was Keeper and Protector of 10-year-old King James V and Stirling castle, and later of Mary Queen of Scots, and King James VI and was granted the Earldom by Mary Queen of Scots. John's wife, Annabelle Murray, was a close friend of Mary. Because the Earldom has been lapsed for so long, the title was considered a creation, and thus he was known as the 1st Earl of Mar as well as the 18th Earl of Mar which dates back to Ruadri, Mormaer of Mar. In 1571 he served as Regent of Scotland. John Erskine, 6th Lord Erskine was deemed restored to Earldom of Mar by 1885 Act; deemed also to have been created Earl of Mar by House of Lords, 187.

When James V went on his expedition to the Isles in 1540 he appointed John as one of the guardians of his infant son James. Later John was ambassador to England. Upon James' death and along with Lord Livingston he was guardian of the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. He kept her for some time in Stirling castle and then moved her to the priory of Inchmahome, situated on an island in Lake Monteith, Perthshire. The priory had been bestowed upon him by James V as commendatory abbot. For greater security he then took young Mary to France. John married Margaret Campbell. Margaret was born in 1485 in Argyllshire, the daughter of Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll. John Erskine of that Ilk, 5th Lord Erskine; acknowleded Earl of Mar by descent from Earl Gratney and by charter 23 June 1565, had the lands of Strathdone Braemar and Strathele, and the regality of Garioch. Regent of Scotland, 1572. Attended Queen Mary to France, 1548. King James combined in his favour the Abbey lands of Malmahono and Dryburgh as the Barony of Cardross. A Baron of great fidelity to the Crown. Sheriff of Stirlingshire by inheritance, captain of the castle of Stirling, and commonly keeper of the Princes in their minority. He had strict instructions from Margaret Tudor to hold the castle keys and set a password every night for the King's guards. The instructions were given again by act of the Parliament of Scotland in 1523. The house of Erskine standeth on the Renfrey, 3 miles from Dunbarton, on the side of Clyde water. His house of residence called Alloway, standeth on the North side of Forth, 6 miles from Stirling. Sir John succeeded his father as governor of Edinburgh castle and was Abbott of Dryburgh and Commendator of Inchmahome in 1548 and Commendator of Cambuskenneth. Although a Protestant himself he preserved strict neutrality in the struggles between the Lords of the Congregation and the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise. He upheld the authority of the Queen Regent to whom when hard pressed by her enemies he gave protection in Edinburgh castle where she died 11 June 1560. On the return of Queen Mary from France in 1561 he was appointed one of her privy council and was of the opinion that she should marry an Englishman.

In the following year he submitted his claim to the Earldom of Mar to Parliament and was successful in establishing his right as the descendant of Gartnait, 11th Earl of Mar. From Queen Mary and King Henry (Lord Darnley) he received a charter 18 July 1566 granting to him and his heirs the office of sheriff of Stirlingshire, the captainship and custody of Stirling castle with the office of bailiary and chamberlainry of the lands and lordship of Stirling and of the water of the Forth. Upon the birth of James VI in 1566 Sir John was entrusted with keeping the Prince and on the death of the Earl of Lennox in 1571 he was chosen regent (5 Sept.). John was far too honest and patriotic for the post of Regent to which he had been elected at a time when a civil war raged in the kingdom. He was unable to prevent the war or to bring about any union of the various parties and he died the following year leaving a reputation for integrity and honesty.He died in 1572 of mysterious causes, most likely poisoned at dinner by the next Regent of Scotland - James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, with whom he had just visited prior to quickly succumbing to a mysterious "illness."

He built a beautiful stone house up in Stirling, on the way to the castle, now known as "Mar's Wark". He also constructed Braemar Castle. He was Commendator of Inchmaholme in 1548.In 1567 he helped to incarcerate Mary, Queen of Scots in Lochleven Castle. He held the office of Regent of Scotland in 1572.

John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar

Crest of John Erskine during his Regency

John Erskine, 19th and 2nd Earl of Mar, 7th Lord Erskine and 1st Lord Cardross

(c 1558 - 14 December 1634 CE)

Lord John Erskine, 19th and 1st Earl of Mar was born circa 1558. He died Dec. 14, 1634,in Stirling, Stirling, Scotland. Erskine inherited the earldom of Mar in 1572 upon the death of his father, John, 1st (and 18th) Earl of Mar, who had become regent for the five-year-old James VI in 1571. Mar grew up with James at Stirling Castle, and in 1578 he made himself James's guardian. When his influence over the young king was challenged by Esme Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox, and James Stewart, Earl of Arran, Mar and several other lords seized James at Perth and took him to Ruthven Castle, Inverness. Ten months later, in June 1583, the king escaped. Arran then became ascendant; and in 1584 Mar, after a brief seizure of Stirling Castle in the hope of prompting English intervention, was forced to flee to England, where he received the backing of Queen Elizabeth I. In November 1585 Mar returned to Scotland, banished Arran, and was reconciled with James, becoming one of the leading royal ministers. James made him guardian for his son, Prince Henry (1594 - 1612), in 1594. He held the office of Scottish Ambassador to England in 1601. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.) in 1603. He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.) in 1603.1 On 27 March 1604 King James VI granted him the lands of the Priory of Inchmahome and Abbeys of Dryburgh and Cambuskenneth together with the Lordship of Cardross. In 1610 however even this legal instrument appears to have lacked the validity of the charter of 1606 in creating the Lordship of Parliament of Cardross, hence the necessity for the latter instrument. He was created 1st Lord Cardross on 10 June 1610, with special remainder to his heirs male and assignees whatsoever. He held the office of Constable and Justiciar of brechin in 1613. He held the office of High Treasurer of Scotland between 1616 and 1630. On 31 January 1617 under the special remainder of the Lordship of Cardross, he nominated as heir Henry, his 2nd son (by his 2nd wife), and the heirs male of the latter's body. He was Collector of General Taxaton in 1619. After the death of Elizabeth and the accession of James to the English throne, Mar continued to exercise great influence in Scottish affairs. He served as treasurer of Scotland from 1616 to 1630.

John Erskine, 19th Earl of Mar

John Erskine, 20th and 3rd Earl of Mar, 8th Lord Erskine

(c. 1585-1653)

John Erskine, 20th Earl of Mar was born circa 1585. He was the son of John Erskine, 19th and 2nd Earl of Mar and Anne Drummond. He married Lady Jean Hay, daughter of Francis Hay, 9th Earl of Erroll and Lady Elizabeth Douglas, on 6 February 1609/10. He died in 1653. He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Bath (K.B.) in 1610. He held the office of Governor of Edinburgh Castle between 1615 and 1638. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1617. He held the office of Extraordinary Lord of Session between 1620 and 1626. He held the office of Extraordinary Lord of Session between 1628 and 1630. He succeeded to the title of 8th Lord Erskine on 14 December 1634. He succeeded to the title of 3rd Earl of Mar on 14 December 1634. He succeeded to the title of 20th Earl of Mar on 14 December 1634. He died in 1653.

John Erskine, 20th Earl of Mar

John Erskine, 21st and 4th Earl of Mar, 9th Lord Erskine

(c. 1620 - September 1668)

John Erskine, 21st Earl of Mar was the son of John Erskine, 20th Earl of Mar and Lady Jean Hay. He married, firstly, Lady Elizabeth Scott, daughter of Walter Scott, 1st Earl of Buccleuch and Lady Mary Hay, circa 1641. He married, secondly, Jean Mackenzie, daughter of George Mackenzie, 2nd Earl of Seaforth and Barbara Forbes, circa 8 October 1647. These MacKenzies also descended distantly from the illustrious O'Brien dynasty, whose lines go back to the first Kings of Ireland and according to Irish legend, Fionn McCumhaill. John Erskine died in September 1668 at Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. He fought in the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645. He succeeded to the title of 4th Earl of Mar in 1653. He succeeded to the title of 9th Lord Erskine in 1653. He succeeded to the title of 21st Earl of Mar in 1653. He held the office of Captain and Governor of Stirling Castle in 1661. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1660/63. John Erskine gained the rank of Captain in 1662 in the service of the Scots Guards.

John Erskine, 21st Earl of Mar

Charles Erskine, 22nd and 5th Earl of Mar and 10th Lord Erskine

(19 October 1650 CE - 23 May 1689 CE)

Charles Erskine, 22nd Earl of Mar was born on 19 October 1650. He was the son of John Erskine, 21st Earl of Mar and Jean Mackenzie. He was baptised on 24 October 1650 at Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. He married Lady Mary Maule, daughter of George Maule, 2nd Earl of Panmure, circa 2 April 1674. He succeeded to the title of 22nd Earl of Mar in September 1668. He succeeded to the title of 10th Lord Erskine in September 1668. He succeeded to the title of 5th Earl of Mar in September 1668. He was founding Colonel of the Royal Scots Fusiliers between 1678 and 1686. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1682. Charles Erskine, 22nd and 5th Earl of Mar died on 23 May 1689 at age 38.

Cap badge of the Royal Scots Fusiliers

John Erskine, 23rd and 6th Earl of Mar and 11th Lord Erskine

(1675-1732 CE)

John Erskine, 23rd Earl of Mar was born in 1675. He was the son of Charles Erskine, 22nd Earl of Mar and Lady Mary Maule. He married, firstly, Lady Margaret Hay, daughter of Thomas Hay, 7th Earl of Kinnoull and Hon. Margaret Drummond, on 6 April 1703. He married, secondly, Lady Frances Pierrepont, daughter of Evelyn Pierrepont, 1st Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull and Lady Mary Feilding, on 20 July 1714. He succeeded to the title of 11th Lord Erskine on 23 May 1689. He succeeded to the title of 6th Earl of Mar on 23 May 1689. He succeeded to the title of 23rd Earl of Mar on 23 May 16891 He was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1697. He was Colonel of Foot between 1702 and 1706.1 He held the office of Secretary of State for Scotland between 1705 and 1709. He was invested as a Knight, Order of Thistle (K.T.) in 1706. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1707. He was invested as a Representative Peer [Scotland] between 1707 and 1713. He held the office of Secretary of State for Scotland from 1713 to 1714.

John Erskine, 23rd Earl of Mar with his son Thomas Erskine

In 1715 he iniated the Jacobite Rising of 1715. He was chief advisor to James III, when he ended his support for the Jacobites between 1715 and 1724. In the Jacobite court, on 22 October 1715 he was created 1st Earl of Kildrummie, 1st Marquess of Erskine, 1st Duke of Mar, 1st Lord of Alloa, Ferriton and Forest, and 1st Viscount Garioch. He fought in the Battle of Sheriffmuir on 13 November 1715 as Commander-in-Chief. He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.) in the Jacobite court in 1716. He was created 1st Earl of Mar (Jacobite) on 10 November 1717, and 1st Duke of Mar (Ireland) on 13 December 1722.

Part of the Earl of Mar's speech given at Braemar

Meeting many Highland chieftains at Aboyne, Mar avowed an earnest desire for the independence of Scotland. At Braemar on 6 September 1715, he proclaimed James VIII King of Scotland, England, France and Ireland, thus beginning the Jacobite rising of 1715. Gradually the forces under his command were augmented. Critics of John Erskine's skills as a general state that precious time was wasted at Perth, a feigned attack on Stirling was without result, and he could give little assistance to the English Jacobites. At Sheriffmuir, where a battle was fought in November 1715, the Earl of Mar's forces outnumbered those of his opponent, the Duke of Argyll. The battle was actually a draw, each army's right wing defeated the other's left wing. However, superior Hanoverian propaganda meant that the aftermath of the battle was strategically a decisive defeat for the Jacobites, and saw foreign support for Jacobitism dwindle.

Mar then met the Pretender at Fetteresso; his cause however was lost, and Mar and the Prince fled to France, where he would spend the remainder of his life. The Parliament of Great Britain passed a Writ of Attainder for treason against Mar in 1716 as punishment for siding with the Stewarts; this was not lifted until 1824. Mar sought to interest foreign powers in the cause of the Stuarts; but in the course of time he became distrusted by the Jacobite court. In 1721 he accepted a pension of 3,500 pounds a year from George I, and in the following year his name was freely mentioned in connection with the trial of Bishop Atterbury, who, it was asserted, had been betrayed by John Erskine. This charge waws not proven, but his conduct was seen as imprudent, and so in 1724 the Pretender finally broke ties with the Earl of Mar. His later years were spent in Paris and at Aix-la-Chapelle, Rome, where he died in 1732. Mar first married Lady Margaret Hay on 6 April 1703, daughter of Thomas Hay, 7th Earl of Kinnoull. Thomas Erskine was born to them 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, possibly due to the stress of his exile in France. He died in May 1732 in exile in Aachen, Germany. She outlived Mar by 35 years, dying on 4 March 1767.

The Erskines of Mar and Freemasonry

from The History of The Lodge of Alloa No.69

"No family in Scotland played a greater a part in the nation's history during the troublous times of the Bruces and Stuarts than that of the Erskines of Mar, and none suffered more for allegiance to the Sovereigns of their native land During the 400 years of the dynasty of the Stuarts, the Erskines of Mar held high office in the State and at Court and were for a time entrusted with the custody, care and education of the royal children. As the art and craft of Masonry assumed increasing importance in the national life of Scotland, the Erskines were inevitably brought into official contact with it and it is not surprising that members of the family should become Freemasons and attain to high office. When the Old Parish Church in Kirkgate, Alloa, was ordered to be repaired and enlarged in 1680, Charles, 5th Earl of Mar, appointed John Keirie of Gogar to represent the heritors and to engage the workmen. The masons called and sworn at the meeting of heritors were John Buchanan and Tobias Baak, both of Alloa. The latter was one of the foremost craftsmen of his time in Scotland. He was architect and contractor for Dumfries Town Hall, did the restoration and renovation of Kinross House, and supervised a goodly portion of the extension of the town of Alloa. The house on the north side of Kirkgate, afterwards known as Clyde House, then with an uninterrupted view of the river Forth. On the south aspect, he placed a picturesque sundial projecting on corbels with the date 1695, and his initials, T. B., and those of his wife, M. L. This house is still existent, is in use as a lodging house, and was requisitioned as a billet for the military forces in 1939.

John, 6th Earl of Mar (1675 to 1732) was an able and far-seeing statesman, much in advance of his time. His studies were embracing architecture, landscape gardening, transport and political economy. Alloa, in his day, consisted of a few narrow streets, near the Tower and on both sides of the Brathie Burn. The Earl bought up all the houses on the south-east side of the burn, demolished them, and made a public green. Disliking the narrow streets, he built a new street leading to the shore, first called John Street after him, but soon named Broad, to show how broad a street should be. Present-day inhabitants will applaud his vision and foresight. He also built a new highway to Clackmannan, on which in after years rose the buildings of Mill Street and Shillinghill. His progressive improvements attracted attention, and he was persuaded to take office in the Scottish Parliament, and restarted the Chairs of Humanity and Medicine in Glasgow University. He instituted a policy of rebuilding in Edinburgh and engaged a famous Scottish architect in James Gib to supervise. He was appointed one of the Commissioners for the Union of Parliaments effected in 1707. He has been much criticised for his part in that Union, but at the time he saw no hope of prosperity in Scotland until the trade barriers and the rate of exchange between the Scottish and English pound were removed. After the Union he was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland in the Government of Queen Anne.

When Parliament passed the renowned legislative measure by which London was to be made religious by the erection of fifty new churches, the Earl of Mar added the name of James Gib to the list of eminent architects who were to put the vast plan into execution. Gib's notable works in London were St. Martin's in the Fields and St. Mary's-le-Strand, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford. The publication of a folio volume of designs in 1728 brought Gib the considerable sum of 1,900 pounds. Gib himself was a Roman Catholic and not a Freemason. He died in London in 1754.

The Earl of Mar was a Whig in politics and on the death of Queen Anne and the accession of George I he was dismissed through the intrigues of the Tories. He requested an audience of the King, but was refused, and he was advised to retire to his estates. After this churlish treatment he returned to Alloa Tower, but was soon entreated to take up the cause of the Old Pretender, on 13th November following fought with great personal courage at the much-disputed battle of Sheriffmuir. For this he was attained, deprived of his estates and title and outlawed. He escaped to the Continent and lived afterwards in Rome, Paris and Belgium. Even in exile he could not forget his native country. He had many projects for its improvement in his fertile brain. He whiled away the time by writing these down. He drew plans for the new city of Edinburgh to be built on the heights north of the Castle, including Princes Street and St Andrew Square. To link the old city with the new he proposed the North Bridge over the Nor' Loch where Waverley Station is now built in the basin. He proposed the Forth and Clyde Canal, steam haulage in collieries, and many other improvements. He sent these papers to his son Thomas, Lord Erskine, at Alloa House, under the title "These are my Jewels," an expression taken from Malachi, Chapter 3, verse 17, the text which provides the inspiration for the hymn "When He cometh to make up His Jewels." His estates, land and houses had been confiscated on his attainder and were sold by Parliament to various persons. His brother, Lord Grange, afterwards bought the Alloa Estate and settled it on the heirs of the line. By a cruel kind of irony the money accrued from the sale of the estates was used to build the Forth and Clyde Canal, which he himself proposed. There is no record of his having been made a Freemason, but he held the office of Grand Master of the Temple in Scotland in succession to Lord Dundee.

Thomas, Lord Erskine, only son of John, 6th Earl of Mar was initiated in Lodge Kilwinning Scots Arms, Edinburgh, No.3, in 1736. His name is second on the list of registrations in Grand Lodge made by Kilwinning Scots Arms in 1739. This Lodge had large military personnel and is now defunct. Lord Erskine, being under the shadow of his father's attainder. and being denied succession to the tide of Earl of Mar, led the quiet life of a country gentleman and had more time to devote himself to the study of Freemasonry. He was elected Grand Master Mason of Scotland in 1749. This undoubtedly led to a quickening of interest in the Craft in Alloa. Thereafter stray names of Alloa men begin to appear in the minutes of the Lodge of Stirling. Within five years a Depute Lodge was regularly meeting in Alloa.

Alexander Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie, who was Grand Master Mason in 1763-4, was a celebrated musician. John Francis Erskine of Mar, who became 7th Earl when the title was restored in 1824, was initiated in the Lodge of Alloa, No.69, but did not seek office in the Craft.

Walter Henry, 11th Earl of Mar and 13th Earl of Kellie, was Grand Master Mason in 1882-84 and Provincial Grand Master of Stirlingshire in 1885-89. He was also a First Principal of St. John's RA. Chapter, No.92, Alloa, in 1878-79; Grand Superintendent of Stirlingshire in 1886-88, and First Grand Principal of Scotland in 1885-88. He was initiated under the English Constitution. His appointment as Junior Grand Deacon in Grand Lodge was quite irregular because he was not then a member of any Scottish Lodge. He afterwards affiliated to the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), No.1. He identified himself later with many Masonic activities in Alloa. Walter John Francis, who succeeded him as 12th Earl of Mar and 14th Earl of Kellie, was a member of the Lodge of Alloa No.69, having been initiated on 28th September, 1888.

Another branch of the Erskines, the Earls of Buchan, kinsmen of the Erskines of Mar, claim honourable connection with the Craft. Henry David, 10th Earl of Buchan, was Grand Master in 1745, and at that time Lord Lieutenant of Stirling and Clackmannan. David Stewart, 11th Earl, was Grand Master Mason in 1782-83, and Henry David, 12th Earl, held that office in 1832. His son, David Stuart Erskine, afterwards 13th Earl, was initiated Lodge of Alloa in 1857. A third branch of the Erskines, the Rosslyn, also interested themselves in Freemasonry, James, 2nd Earl, being Grand Master Mason in 1810-11 and Francis Robert, 4th Earl, in 1870-72."

The above article has been reproduced from the book, 'A History of The Lodge of Alloa No.69. 1757 - 1957.' by Bro. James W. Saunders and Bro. Robert Wright past masters. Chapter 2, pages 9-11.

John Erskine, 23rd Earl of Mar in old age

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