Thomas Erskine, 1st Earl of Kellie

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Arms of Sir Thomas Erskine, 1st Viscount of Fentoun, KG

Thomas Erskine, 1st Earl of Kellie KG (1566 – 12 June 1639) was a Scottish peer.


Thomas Erskine was the eldest surviving son of Sir Alexander Erskine of Gogar and Margaret Home, a daughter of George Home, 4th Lord Home and Mariotta Haliburton.

Thomas was a school classmate and lifelong personal friend of James VI of Scotland (later James I of England).[1] He was a server at the king's table, a "sewar",[2] and in 1585 was made a Gentleman of His Majesty's Bedchamber. In January 1593 James VI set a tax anticipating the expenses of the birth and baptism of Prince Henry and appointed Erskine Collector General of this tax.[3] At a tournament during the baptism festivities, Erskine was in a team with the King, dressed as Knights of Malta.

Erskine was with the king on the occasion of the Gowrie Conspiracy in 1600, when James was supposedly kidnapped by the Ruthven brothers at their house in Perth. He was afterwards awarded a third of the confiscated land of the Ruthvens and given the title Lord Erskine of Dirletoun in 1604.[4] He was made a Privy Councilor in 1601 and accompanied the Duke of Lennox on a diplomatic visit to France.

Thomas travelled with James to England when James ascended the English throne in 1603. Lady Anne Clifford described a visit to the king at Theobalds in May 1603, noting that that the fashion of the court had changed, "we were all lowzy by sittinge in Sir Thomas Erskin's chamber."[5]

He was made Captain of the Guard (1603–1617) and Groom of the Stool in 1604 and created Viscount Fenton (or Fentoun) in 1606. He acquired Kellie Castle from the 5th Lord Oliphant in 1613 and was given the barony of Kellie.[6] In 1615 he was made a Knight of the Garter and Earl of Kellie in March 1619.

When King James died in March 1625 the Privy Council drafted a proclamation. Kellie reminded them that James had preferred the title "King of Great Britain", and he assured the council that using "King of England and Scotland" would not please the people of Scotland.[7]

He died intestate[8] in London in 1639 and was buried at Pittenweem, Fife. Thomas's son Alexander predeceased his father in 1633. He was succeeded by his grandson, Thomas Erskine, 2nd Earl of Kellie


The Earl of Kellie married three times. His first marriage, on 30 November 1587 was to Ann Ogilvie, daughter of Sir Gilbert Ogilvie, of Powrie.[9] A younger brother, James Erskine, married Marie, a daughter of Adam Erskine, Commendator of Cambuskenneth on 17 May 1594.[10]

He married secondly in 1604 to Elizabeth Pierpoint, daughter of Sir Henry Pierpoint,[11].

He married thirdly the thrice-widowed Dorothy, daughter of Ambrose Smith of Cheapside.[12][8]


  1. ^ Amy Juhala, 'For the King Favours Them Very Strangely', in Miles Kerr-Peterson and Steven J. Reid, James VI and Noble Power (Routledge: Abingdon, 2017), p. 161.
  2. ^ Register of the Privy Seal, vol. 8 (Edinburgh, 1982), p. 461 no. 2631.
  3. ^ Register of the Privy Council, vol. 5 (Edinburgh, 1882), pp. 116, 131-2.
  4. ^ "The Erskines of Kellie". Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  5. ^ John Nichols, The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities, of King James the First, vol. 1 (London, 1828), p. 111.
  6. ^ "Kellie Castle, Fife | By Scotland Channel". 1 January 1970. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  7. ^ HMC 60, Manuscripts of the Earl of Mar and Kellie, vol.2 (1930), p.226.
  8. ^ a b Lundy 2011, p. 606 § 6052 cites Cokayne 2000a, p. 284
  9. ^ Lundy 2011, p. 606 § 6052 cites Cokayne 2000, p. 101
  10. ^ Scottish Antiquary: or Northern Notes & Queries, 'Old Stirling Register-Marriages', vol.7 no.25 (1892), 38
  11. ^ Lundy 2011, p. 606 § 6052 cites Mosley 2003, p. 2611
  12. ^ Bendall 2010.


  • Bendall, Sarah (May 2010) [2004]. "Barnham, Benedict". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/1488. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Lundy, Darryl (27 April 2011). Thomas Erskine, 1st Earl of Kellie. p. 606 § 6052. Retrieved 7 May 2013., Endnotes:
    • Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003), Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 2 (107th in 3 volumes ed.), Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, pp. 101, 2611 and volume 9, page 284.
    • Cokayne, G.E., ed. (2000), The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, VII (reprint in 6 volumes ed.), Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, p. 101
    • Cokayne, G.E., ed. (2000a), The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, XI (reprint in 6 volumes ed.), Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, p. 284

External links[edit]

Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
New Creation
Earl of Kellie
Succeeded by
Thomas Erskine