The Magazine of Scottish Heritage
Vol. 29, No. 2
Mar/Apr 1991
By Archie Mckerracher
These are Your People
The Erskines

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John Erskine, 23rd and 6th Earl of Mar, was born at Alloa Tower in 1675. He is known to history as 'Bobbing John' from his abilitv to change both mind and his allegiance. He was Secretary of State for Scotland in 1 705 and one of the Commissioners for the union of Parliaments. While at court in London in 1714, he considered himself insulted by the new German King George I when he offered to stay on as Secretary of State and was rejected. He promptly sailed home and raised a rebellion in the name of the exiled James VIII of the House of Stuart. He planted the Royal Standard on the Braes of Mar on September 6, 1715, and called out the Jacobite Highland clans. Some ten thousand clansmen turned up despite the misgivings of many of the chiefs, and the objection of the exiled king. The fears of the superstitious Highlanders were confirmed when the top fell from the Standard. This was regarded as a bad omen. The Eail of Mar himself could call out 1000 fighting men whom he had inherited along with the Mar estates. Part of the army marched as far south as Preston in England where they were forced to retreat. After many a hesitant start, Bobbing John led his army south to Dunblane and met an inferior Government force commanded by the Duke of Argyll. The Battle of Sherifmuir was fought on November 13, 1715, and the result was inconclusive. The Highland army drifted away and Argyll was left on the battlefield to claim the victory.

Erskine Clan Crest
The Erskine Clan Crest

John Erskine. Earl of Mar, fled into exile in France and his lands and title were forfeited. His uncle, Lord Grange. and Lord Dun head ,of the senior cadet line, bought the estates on behalf of the heir in 1724. There is a strong clannishness amongst the Erskines that binds them close together in times of trouble. However, due to fines and sequestration, the estate of Mar had to be sold to the Farrquharsons in 1730. James Erskine, Lord Grange, has passed into the history books for having his wife kidnapped in 1732 and held a prisoner for seven years on the remote island of St. Kilda to prevent her disclosing his Jacobite plotting.