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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Erskine, Thomas (1750 — 1823)

The 3rd son of the 10th Earl of Buchan and a younger brother of Henry Erskine, Thomas Erskine became an early admirer of Burns's work. Erskine was called to the English bar in 1779 when he 'came into the first practice in the Kingdom', according to Henry Mackenzie; became Member of Parliament for Portsmouth in 1783; and Lord Chancellor in 1806. His decisions in this office are said to have been styled 'Apocrypha'. He defended Tom Paine in 1792.

Burns referred to him as 'Erskine a spunkie Norland billie', in 'The Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer'. Lord Cockburn in Memorials of His Time, described the return of the Lord Chancellor to Edinburgh in 1820 as an old man. 'The Whigs,' said Cockburn, 'gave him a public dinner on 21st February, at which about 300 attended... the largest convocation of the party that had yet taken place. Erskine, though old and feeble, spoke several times, always elegantly, gently and with liveliness, and once or twice disclosed gleams of his better days.'

His chief characteristic was great vanity, but his wit was proverbial, especially his epigrams and puns. 'He was an honourable politician, an enthusiast for liberty and an incomparable advocate and orator.' According to the Dictionary of National Biography. He acted for the defence in several political trials with considerable success.

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Robert Burns Store

NEW!! robert burns store View our exclusive range of distinctive Robert Burns related products. Register with our Shopping Club for further offers and unique member offers.Click here...


Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...