James St Clair-Erskine, 2nd Earl of Rosslyn

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General The Right Honourable
The Earl of Rosslyn
The Earl of Rosslyn by James Sayers, 1788.
Lord Privy Seal
In office
10 June 1829 – 15 November 1830
Monarch George IV
William IV
Prime Minister The Duke of Wellington
Preceded by The Lord Ellenborough
Succeeded by The Lord Durham
Lord President of the Council
In office
15 December 1834 – 8 April 1835
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded by The Marquess of Lansdowne
Succeeded by The Marquess of Lansdowne
Personal details
Born 6 February 1762 (1762-02-06)
Died 18 January 1837 (1837-01-19) (aged 74)
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Harriet Bouverie (d. 1810)

General James St Clair-Erskine, 2nd Earl of Rosslyn GCB PC (6 February 1762 – 18 January 1837), known as Sir James Erskine, Bt, between 1765 and 1789 and as Sir James St Clair-Erskine, Bt, between 1789 and 1805, was a Scottish soldier, politician, and Acting Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, on behalf of King George IV.

Background and education[edit]

Erskine was the son of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Erskine, 5th Baronet, and Janet, daughter of Peter Wedderburn (a Lord of Session under the judicial title of Lord Chesterhall) and sister of Alexander Wedderburn, 1st Earl of Rosslyn. Lord Rosslyn's earldom had been created with special remainder to his nephew, Erskine. Erskine succeeded as sixth baronet in 1765, at the age of three, on the death of his father.[1] He was educated at Edinburgh High School and Eton, and was commissioned in the 21st Light Dragoons in 1778.

Military career[edit]

Erskine was assistant Adjutant-General in Ireland in 1782. In 1793, he became Adjutant-General, in which capacity he served at the Siege of Toulon and Corsica. In 1795, he was promoted to colonel and appointed Aide-de-Camp to King George III. He became a major-general in 1798, lieutenant-general in 1805, and general in 1814. In 1806, he was a member of the special mission to Lisbon, which resulted in Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) being sent to the Peninsular. He also saw action in Denmark[2]

Political career[edit]

Erskine was a member of the House of Commons for the English pocket boroughs of Castle Rising between 1782 and 1784[3] and Morpeth between 1784 and 1796.[4] Initially a Whig, an adherent of Edmund Burke and an active supporter of Charles James Fox against William Pitt the Younger in the debates over the East India Company, he was one of the managers of the Impeachment of Warren Hastings. In 1789, on inheriting the Rosslyn and Dysart estates from his cousin James Paterson St Clair, he adopted the name St Clair before his own surname.[citation needed] In 1796, was elected for the Dysart Burghs in Fife,[5] a constituency traditionally under the St Clair influence.[citation needed]

In January 1805, he succeeded his uncle as Earl of Rosslyn according to the special remainder,[1] being by this time considered a Tory,[citation needed] and, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, continued his political career in the House of Lords. He was a member of the cabinet as Lord Privy Seal from 1829 to 1830[6] under the Duke of Wellington's and Lord President of the Council under Sir Robert Peel from 1834 to 1835.[7] In 1829, he was sworn of the Privy Council.[6]


Lord Rosslyn married Harriet Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon. Edward Bouverie, in 1790. She died in August 1810. Rosslyn remained a widower until his death in January 1837, aged 74. He was succeeded by his son, James.[1]


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Military service
  • Robert Beatson, A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [1]
  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography (1930)
  • Lewis Namier & John Brooke, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1754-1790 (London: HMSO, 1964)

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Robert Mackreth
John Chetwynd-Talbot
Member of Parliament for Castle Rising
With: Robert Mackreth
Succeeded by
Charles Boone
Walter Sneyd
Preceded by
Peter Delmé
Anthony Morris Storer
Member of Parliament for Morpeth
With: Peter Delmé 1784–89
Francis Gregg 1790–95
Viscount Morpeth 1795–96
Succeeded by
Viscount Morpeth
William Huskisson
Preceded by
Charles Hope
Member of Parliament for Dysart Burghs
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Dysart Burghs
Succeeded by
Robert Dallas
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Ellenborough
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
The Lord Durham
Preceded by
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Kellie
Lord Lieutenant of Fife
Succeeded by
Robert Ferguson
Masonic offices
Preceded by
William Maule
Acting Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of Scotland

Succeeded by
The Viscount Duncan of Camperdown
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alexander Wedderburn
Earl of Rosslyn
Succeeded by
James Alexander St Clair-Erskine
Baronetage of Nova Scotia
Preceded by
Henry Erskine
(of Alva)
Succeeded by
James Alexander St Clair-Erskine