Erskine, Henry, third Baron Cardross 1650-1693, covenanter, eldest son of David, second lord Cardross [qv.], by his first wife, Anne, fifth daughter of Sir Thomas Hope, king's advocate, was born in 1650. The title was originally conferred on the first Earl of Mar, and, in accordance with the right with which he was invested of conferring it on any of his heirs male, it was granted by him to his second son Henry, along with the barony of Cardross. By his father young Erskine had been educated in the principles of the covenanters, and at an early period distinguished himself by his opposition to the administration of Lauderdale. In this he was strongly supported by his wife, Catherine, youngest of the two daughters and coheiresses of Sir William Stewart of Kirkhill. On account of his wife's determination to have a presbyterian chaplain to perform worship in her own house he was fined 4,000l. of which he paid 1,000l., and after an attempt to obtain a remission for the balance he was, 5 Aug. 1675, committed to the prison of Edinburgh, where he remained four years. In May of the same year, when, during his absence in Edinburgh, conventicles were being held near Cardross, a party of guards in search of a covenanter named John King entered his house at midnight, broke into his chests, and after acting with great rudeness towards his wife placed a guard in it (Wodrow, Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, 288). Their complaints that the conventicles then being held had his encouragement were the chief causes why his fine was not relaxed. On 7 Aug. 1677, while still in prison, he was fined in one half of his rent for permitting his two children to be christened by unlicensed ministers (Fountainhall, Historical Notices, 174; Wodrow, 359). In 1679 the king's forces in their march westwards went two miles out of their way to quarter on his estates of Kirkhill and Uphall, West Lothian. He obtained his release from prison, 30 July of this year, on giving bond for the amount of his fine, and early next year went to London, where he laid before the king a narrative of the sufferings to which he had been exposed. This proceeding gave great offence to the Scottish privy council, who sent a letter to the king accusing Cardross of misrepresentation, the result being that all redress was denied him. Thereupon he emigrated to North America, where he established a plantation at Charlestown Neck, South Carolina. On 28 Oct. 1685 his estate in Scotland was exposed to sale by public roup, and was bought by the Earl of Mar at seventeen years' purchase (Fountainhall, Historical Notices, 671). Cardross, having been driven from the settlement in Carolina by the Spaniards, went to Holland, and in 1688 he accompanied the Prince of Orange to England. In the following year he raised a regiment of dragoons, with which he served under General Mackay against Dundee. An act was passed restoring him to his estates, and he was also sworn a privy councillor and constituted general of the mint. In July 1689 the Duke of Hamilton, the king's commissioner, at a meeting of the council, fell with great violence on Lord Cardross, asserting that it was by his dragoons that the episcopal minister of Logie had been prevented entering his church; but Cardross denied all knowledge of anything asserted to have happened (Earl of Crawford to Lord Melville, 27 July 1689, in Leven and Melville Papers, 200). Cardross was engaged in the battle of Killiecrankie, of which he sent an account to Lord Melville in a letter of 30 July (ib. 209; Mackay's Memoirs, 258). When the Duke of Hamilton proposed a new oath to the council, Cardross objected to it as contrary to the instrument of government, and also because the maner of swering by the Bible is nether the Scotish nor the Presbiterian forme, and seems to raise the Bible as more than God (Leven and Melville Papers, 348). In the instructions sent by King William on 18 Dec. 1689 to model three troops of dragoons, Cardross was proposed as lieutenant-colonel and captain of the first troop (Mackay's Memoirs, 309). In 1690 he was appointed one of a commission to examine into the condition of the universities (Leven and Melville Papers, 563). In October 1691 he went to London along with the Earl of Crawford to support the proceedings of the Scotch council against the episcopalians (Luttrell, Relation, ii. 292). He died at Edinburgh on 21 May 1693. He had four sons and three daughters. His eldest son, David, fourth lord Cardross, succeeded to the earldom of Buchan in 1695.

     Wodrow's Sufferings of the Church of Scotland
     Fountainhall's Historical Notices
     Lauderdale Papers
     Leven and Melville Papers
     Mackay's Memoirs
     Luttrell's Relation
     Douglas's Scotch Peerage (Wood), i. 275-6.

Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]

Published: 1888