Henry Erskine (lawyer)

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The Honourable

Henry Erskine
Lord Advocate
In office
1783–1783
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Duke of Portland
Preceded by Henry Dundas
Succeeded by Ilay Campbell
In office
1806–1807
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Lord Grenville
Preceded by Sir James Montgomery, Bt
Succeeded by Archibald Colquhoun
Personal details
Born 1 November 1746
Died 8 October 1817
Nationality British
Spouse(s) (1) Christian Fullerton (d. 1804)
(2) Erskine Munro
Alma mater St Andrews University
University of Edinburgh
University of Glasgow

The Honourable Henry "Harry" Erskine (1 November 1746 – 8 October 1817) was a Scottish Whig politician and lawyer.

Background and education[edit]

Erskine was the third but second surviving son of Henry Erskine, 10th Earl of Buchan, by Agnes, daughter of Sir James Steuart, 7th Baronet. He was the brother of David Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan, and Lord Chancellor Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine.[1] He was educated at St Andrews University, Edinburgh University and the University of Glasgow.[citation needed] He was described as "a tall and rather slender figure, a face sparkling with vivacity, a clear sweet voice, and general suffusion of elegance".[2]

Legal and political career[edit]

Erskine served as Lord Advocate from 1783 to 1784 in the Fox-North Coalition and again from 1806 to 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents. He was advocate and state councillor to the Prince of Wales in Scotland from 1783. He was Dean of the Faculty of Advocates from 1785 to 1795, but was not re-elected in 1796, due to his opposition to the war. Lord Cockburn, commenting on his replacement, observed that "it was the Faculty of Advocates alone that suffered".[3] In 1788, he had the unenviable task of defending the celebrated Edinburgh thief Deacon Brodie.[3] Despite his best efforts, Brodie was sentenced to death.

Erskine sat as Member of Parliament for Haddington Burghs from April to November 1806,[4] and for Dumfries Burghs from 1806 to 1807.[5] He was appointed as a Commissioner to inquire into administration of justice in Scotland in 1808. In 1811 he gave up his practice at the bar and retired to his country residence of Almondell, in Linlithgowshire. It was said of him that "no poor man wanted a friend while Harry Erskine lived." [3] He published The Emigrant, an Eclogue, 1773 and other poems.[citation needed]

Family[edit]

Erskine married firstly Christian, daughter of George Fullerton, in 1772. They had two sons and two daughters. Their eldest son, Henry, succeeded as 12th Earl of Buchan on his uncle's death in 1829. After Christian's death in May 1804 Erskine married as his second wife Erskine, daughter of Alexander Munro and widow of Sir James Turnbull, in 1805. This marriage was childless. Henry Erskine died in October 1817, aged 70.[1] A bust of Erskine by Peter Turnerelli stands in Parliament Hall in Edinburgh.[2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir John Hamilton-Dalrymple, Bt
Member of Parliament for Haddington Burghs
1806
Succeeded by
Hon. William Lamb
Preceded by
Viscount Stopford
Member of Parliament for Dumfries Burghs
1806–1807
Succeeded by
Sir John Heron-Maxwell, Bt
Legal offices
Preceded by
Henry Dundas
Lord Advocate
1783
Succeeded by
Ilay Campbell
Preceded by
Sir James Montgomery, Bt
Lord Advocate
1806–1807
Succeeded by
Archibald Colquhoun