Thomas Erskine, Lord Erskine
Sovereign Grand Commander 1746-1757
Thomas Erskine, Lord Erskine (1705 – 16 March 1766) was the son of John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar. He could not inherit the title of Earl of Mar due to the Writ of Attainder for treason passed against his father in 1716 for his role in the First Jacobite Rebellion (1715) (i)
Medieval and Renaissance English monarchs used acts of attainder to deprive nobles of their lands and often their lives. Once attainted, the descendants of the noble could no longer inherit his lands or income. Attainder essentially amounted to the legal death of the attainder’s family.
Monarchs typically used attainders against political enemies and those who posed potential threats to the king's position and security. The attainder eliminated any advantage the noble would have in a court of law; nobles were exempt from many of the techniques used to try commoners, including torture. Likewise, in many cases of attainder, the king could coerce the parliament into approving the attainder and there would be a lower or non-existent burden of proof (evidence) than there would be in court.(ii)
Thomas, Lord Erskine, son of John, 6th and 23rd Earl of Mar was initiated in Lodge Kilwinning Scots Arms, Edinburgh, No.3, in 1736. His name is second on the list of registrations in Grand Lodge made by Kilwinning Scots Arms in 1739. This Lodge had large military personnel and is now defunct. Lord Erskine, being under the shadow of his father's attainder, and being denied succession to the title of Earl of Mar, led the quiet life of a country gentleman and had more time to devote himself to the study of Freemasonry. He was elected Grand Master Mason of Scotland in 1749. This undoubtedly led to a quickening of interest in the Craft in Alloa. Thereafter stray names of Alloa men begin to appear in the minutes of the Lodge of Stirling. Within five years a Depute Lodge was regularly meeting in Alloa. (iii)
On 1 October 1741, he married Charlotte Hope, daughter of the Charles Hope, 1st Earl of Hopetoun. He died without issue.
i) Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny Et Raineval (1 January 2003). The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Grants of Honour, Extracted, by Permission, from the Stuart Papers Now in Possession of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, and Supplemented by Biographical and Genealogical Notes. Genealogical Publishing Com. pp. 114–5. ISBN 978-0-8063-1716-8. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
ii) Lander, J. R. (1961). "I. Attainder and Forfeiture, 1453 to 1509". The Historical Journal. 4 (2): 119–151. doi:10.1017/S0018246X0002313X
iii) James W. Saunders and Robert Wright (1957). The Erskines of Mar and Freemasonry from The History of The Lodge of Alloa No.69