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Lord Erskine and the Earl of Buchan

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Lord Erskine and the Earl of Buchan

Postby Nevis » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:00 pm

In medieval times the area now known as Buchan Country Park was
heavily used for wood extraction and grazing for sheep. As a result,
the original woods became heathland - a small area of which is left
on Target Hill.
In the early part of the 19th century, the estate was owned by Lord
Erskine, who named the park ‘Buchan’, after his father, the Earl of
Buchan. In Victorian times, the park was owned by a Mr Saillard, a
businessman whose wealth came from the sale of playing cards and
ostrich feathers for ladies’ hats. Among the additions he made to
the estate was theconstruction of a grand mansion, now a co-educational
prep school known as Cottesmore School.
West Sussex County Council purchased the park on 31st July, 1969
and it was designated a Country Park in 1980. :)
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Lord Erskine and the Earl of Buchan

Postby Nevis » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:29 pm

Thomas Erskine, first Baron Erskine (1750-1823)
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Thomas Erskine, the lord chancellor, was the youngest son of Henry David Erskine, tenth earl of Buchan, and was born in 1750. He was born in an upper flat in a high house at the head of Gray's Close in Edinburgh, where his father, whose income was only £200 a year, was living in very poor circumstances.
It was his wish to enter a learned profession, but his father could not afford it. It was proposed that he should enter the navy, but hating the sea, he begged for a commission in the army, where he would be able to pursue some of his studies. His parents were unable to buy a commission, and in March 1764 he became a midshipman on board the Tartar, commanded by Sir David Lindsay, and left Scotland for the West Indies. He did not revisit Scotland for upwards of half a century.

For four years he cruised in the West Indies, read a good deal, studying botany, and practising drawing. In 1765 he was struck by lightning at sea, but survived.

In 1768 he became acting lieutenant, under Commodore Johnson, Sir David Lindsay's successor, and returned home, hoping for promotion. On reaching Portsmouth the Tartar was paid off, and it became very uncertain when next Erskine would find employment. After acting as lieutenant he was too proud to return to sea as a midshipman, and his father having died about this time (1 December 1767), he laid out the whole of his slender patrimony in buying a commission in the 2nd battalion of the 1st royal regiment of foot, of which John, duke of Argyll, was colonel. Berwick-on-Tweed (1768) was his first station, and St. Heliers, Jersey, his second (1769).
Before he was of age, on 21 April 1770, he married, much against the wishes of her family, Frances, daughter of Daniel Moore, M.P. for Marlow. She died on 26 December 1805..

Deciding he would like to study law, he received an honorary M.A. degree in June 1778.
He worked diligently, but never was a profound lawyer. For three years with an increasing family he was often very poor. He had but £300, the gift of a relative, much of which went in fees, and he lived in a poor lodging in Kentish Town, in the barest manner.
On 3 July 1778 he was called to the bar, and within a few months mere accident brought him employment from which he started into instant fame and fortune.

Thomas Baillie had made charges of corruption in the management of Greenwich Hospital against Lord Sandwich, first lord of the admiralty, and others, and they in Michaelmas term obtained a rule in the king's bench calling on Baillie to show cause why a criminal information for libel should not issue against him. While this was pending a shower of rain brought Erskine to the house of a man called Welbore Ellis, and there, at dinner, was Captain Baillie.
Quite ignorant of his presence Erskine spoke out against Lord Sandwich's conduct. Baillie heard he had been at sea, and sent him a retainer next day. Four other counsel were in the case; three advised a compromise, Erskine resisted it, and thereupon Baillie refused it. Cause was shown on 23 November. Erskine's leaders consumed the day in argument, and the court adjourned. On the 24th, when the solicitor-general was about to reply, Erskine rose, finding courage, as he said, by thinking that his children were plucking at his gown, crying to him that now was the time to get them bread, and made so fierce an onslaught on Lord Sandwich that, although it was perfectly irregular, it carried the day. Jekyll, coming into court in the middle of the speech, said he found the court, judges, and all ‘in a trance of amazement.’ Erskine at once received many retainers, and stepped into a large practice.

By 1783 he had made £8,000 to £9,000 and had settled his debts. This appears from his will, the only one he ever made, executed 15 November 1782, on the eve of a duel — a bloodless one — arising out of a ballroom quarrel with a surgeon, Dennis O'Brien, at Brighton.

He was a favourite of the Prince of Wales, and was appointed his attorney-general in 1783, becoming K.C. in the same year

The only question in which he interested himself was the prevention of cruelty to animals, for which he introduced a bill on 15 May 1809, which passed the lords but was lost in the commons by 37 to 27, and another in the following session, which he withdrew. He was always attached to animals and had many pets, a dog which he introduced at consultations, a goose, and even two leeches, and in 1807 he published privately a pamphlet, ‘An Appeal in favour of the Agricultural Services of Rooks’. The subject was at length dealt with by the act 3 Geo. IV, c. 71.

He lived the life of an idler and man about town, sometimes melancholy in private, but in company extraordinarily vivacious and sprightly, a characteristic which he always retained. He fell into pecuniary straits. Always careless of money (he once dropped £20,000 of stock on the floor of a shop) and in spite of his great professional earnings and his chancellor's pension of £4,000 a year, he was now poor.
Apprehensive of revolution in England he had invested large sums in the United States and lost them. He had given up his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields and now sold his house at Hampstead, Evergreen Villa, and bought an estate in Sussex and took to the study of farming. The estate proved sterile, and though he began to manufacture brooms (being the only things it would produce) his loss was heavy.

He had not been in Scotland since he went to sea as a lad of fourteen. He was now invited and went to a public banquet at Edinburgh 21 February 1820.
His health was now failing, and in the middle of a speech on 2 November he was seized with cramp and fell senseless on the floor.

He was quite estranged from the king, and had fallen into poverty and some social discredit. At various times, from as early as 1796, he had been accused of opium-eating, but without any foundation. He was living now partly at 13 Arabella Row, Pimlico, partly at a cottage, Buchan Hill, in Sussex.
In the autumn of 1823 he started for Scotland by sea to visit his brother the Earl of Buchan, at Dryburgh Abbey, Berwickshire. Inflammation of the chest attacked him on the voyage; he was landed at Scarborough and thence conveyed to Almondell, West Lothian, the residence of his brother Henry's widow, and died there 17 November 1823. He was buried at the family burial-place, Uphall, Linlithgow.
By his first marriage he had four sons and four daughters.
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