David Erskine - Lord Cardross - Earl of Buchan

Portrait of David Steuart Erskine (1742-1829) by John Brown

David Steuart Erskine

Born Jun 12, 1742
Died Apr 19, 1829 at Dryburgh Abbey


11th Earl of Buchan
Lord Cardross


Son of Henry Erskine (1710-1767), 10th Earl of Buchan, and Agnes Steuart (b. ca. 1715),1

David Erskine was educated at St. Andrews University and Edinburgh University, and eventually went on to found the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1780.

In 1767 he was appointed by William Pitt to be secretary to the British ambassador to the court of Madrid. He refused to take up the position, however, on the grounds that the ambassador, Sir James Gray, was of "inferior rank".2

Apart from having commissioned two bridges over the River Tweed, both of which collapsed - the first of them after having been open only for a few months - he is probably best known today for his Essay on the Lives of Fletcher of Saltoun and the Poet Thomson (1792).

  • 1. A daughter of Sir James Steauart (1681-1727), 1st Baronet Goodtrees, and sometime Solicitor-General for Scotland.
  • 2. See notes to a letter from Lord Cardross to Mr. Pitt in Murray, John (ed.) (1838). Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Volume 2., p. 426.

Life with Boswell: 

Cardross was present when Boswell called on William Pitt in his house in Bond Street on February 23, 1766.