Mar, John Erskine, 6th Or 11th Earl Of
MAR, JOHN ERSKINE, 6TH OR 11TH EARL OF (1675-1732), Scottish Jacobite, was the eldest son of Charles, the 5th earl (1650-1689), from whom he inherited estates which were heavily loaded with debt. He was associated with the party favourable to the English government; he was one of the commissioners for the Union, and was made a Scottish secretary of state, becoming after the Union of 1707 a representative peer for Scotland, keeper of the signet and a privy councillor. In 1713 Mar was made an English secretary of state by the Tories, but he seems to have been equally ready to side with the Whigs, and in 1714 he assured the new king, George I., of his loyalty-. -However, like the other Tories, he was deprived of his office, and in August 1715 he went in disguise to Scotland and placed himself at the head of the adherents of James Edward, the Old Pretender. Meeting many Highland chieftains at Aboyne he avowed an earnest desire for the independence of Scotland, and at Braemar on the 6th of September 1715 he proclaimed James VIII. king of Scotland, England, France and Ireland. Gradually the forces under his command were augmented, but as a general he was a complete failure. Precious time was wasted at Perth, a feigned attack on Stirling was resultless, and he could give little assistance to the English Jacobites. At Sheriffmuir, where a battle was fought in November 1715, Mar's forces largely outnumbered those of his opponent, Archibald Campbell, afterwards 3rd duke of Argyll; but no bravery could atone for the signal incompetence displayed by the earl, and the fight was virtually a decisive defeat for the Jacobites. Mar then met James Edward at Fetteresso; the cause however was lost, and the prince and the earl fled to France. Mar sought to interest foreign powers in the cause of the Stuarts; but in the course of time he became thoroughly distrusted by the Jacobites. In 1721 he accepted a pension of 3500 a year from George I., and in the following year his name was freely mentioned in connexion with the trial of Bishop Atterbury, whom it was asserted that Mar had betrayed. This charge may perhaps be summarized as not proven. At the best his conduct was highly imprudent, and in 1724 he left the Pretender's service. His later years were spent in Paris and at Aix- laChapelle, where he died in May 1732.
Mar, who was known as " bobbing John," married for his second wife, Frances (d. 1761), daughter of the 1st duke of Kingston, and was thus a brother-in-law of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. He had been attainted in 1716, and his only son, Thomas, Lord Erskine, died childless in March 1766.
Mar's brother, JAMES ERSKINE (1679-1754), was educated as a lawyer and became lord justice clerk of the Court of Session and Lord Grange in 1710. He took no part in the rising of 1715, although there is little doubt that at times he was in communication with the Jacobites; but was rather known for his piety and for his sympathy with the Presbyterians. He is more famous, however, owing to the story of his wife's disappearance. This lady, Rachel Chicely, was a woman of disordered intellect; probably with reason she suspected her husband of infidelity, and after some years of unhappiness Grange arranged a plan for her seizure. In January 1732 she was conveyed with great secrecy from Edinburgh to the island of Hesker, thence to St Kilda, where she remained for about ten years, thence she was taken to Assynt in Sutherland, and finally to Skye. To complete the idea that she was dead her funeral was publicly celebrated, but she survived until May 1745. Meanwhile in 1734 Grange had resigned his judgeship and had become an English member of parliament; here he was a bitter opponent of Sir Robert Walpole. He died in London on the 20th of January 1754.
Sec the Journal of the Earl of Mar (1716); R. Patten, History of the late Rebellion (1717); and A. Lang, History of Scotland, vol. iv. (1907).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)