ARESKINE, Charles (1680-1763), of Tinwald and Barjarg, Dumfries, and Alva, Stirling (now in Clackmannan).
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Family and Education
b. 1680, 3rd s. of Sir Charles Erskine, 1st Bt., of Alva, M.P. [S], by Christian, da. of Sir James Dundas of Arniston, Edinburgh, M.P. [S]; bro. of Sir John Erskine, M.P., and uncle of Sir Henry Erskine. educ. Edinburgh 1693; regent of Edinburgh Univ. 1700-7; professor of law 1707-?1714; Utrecht c.1710; adv. 1711. m. (1) 21 Dec. 1712, Grizel, da. and h. of John Grierson of Barjarg, 2s.; (2) 26 Aug. 1753, Elizabeth, da. of William Harestanes of Craigs, Kirkcudbright, wid. of Dr. William Maxwell of Preston, ?Lancs., s.p.
Adv. depute, western circuit 1714, solicitor-gen. [S] 1725-37; ld. adv. 1737-42; ld. of session (Lord Tinwald) 1742-d. ; ld. justice clerk 1748-d.
Areskine (as he spelt his name) was over thirty before he was called to the bar, but ‘came almost immediately into great practice’.1 In 1716 he went to France to see his cousin, Lord Mar, through whom he became involved in the Gyllenborg plot (see under Caesar, Charles). Returning to England in 1717,2 he was brought in by the Duke of Queensberry for Dumfriesshire, where he had bought the estate of Tinwald. When in 1725 Walpole transferred the management of Scotland from the Squadrone to Lord Ilay, Areskine became the solicitor-general in the new ‘Scots ministry’. His only reported speeches were on 14 Feb. 1735, defending the methods used by Ilay to secure the election of the court list of representative peers, and on 3 June 1737, opposing the bill of pains and penalties against Edinburgh for the Porteous riots. He also helped Ilay to coach Lord Hervey, who calls him ‘an admirable good lawyer’, for a speech in the Lords against the bill.3 Succeeding Duncan Forbes as lord advocate later in that year, he was returned for Tain Burghs in 1741, having fallen out with the Duke of Queensberry in Dumfriesshire.4 At the opening of the new Parliament he was among the government supporters - ‘Scotch Members, lawyers, or others’ - who absented themselves from the division on the chairman of the elections committee because they had a personal dislike for Walpole’s candidate, Giles Earle.5 Dismissed after Walpole’s fall, when the Squadrone were temporarily restored to power in Scotland, he also lost his seat on petition. He was raised to the bench on the first occurring vacancy in the court of session.
On the death of Duncan Forbes in 1747, the two chief candidates for the post of lord president of the court of session, the highest judicial position in Scotland, were Areskine, backed by Ilay, now Duke of Argyll, and Robert Dundas, backed by Argyll’s opponents. At a meeting of English ministers called to consider the appointment, Pelham ‘was for Tinwald [Areskine], as the Duke of Argyll’s man’, but Lord Chesterfield urged that ‘the best qualified man for a judge and the honestest man should be named’, without regard to politics, adding
that he knew none of the persons mentioned, but had heard from the Duke of Queensberry that Tinwald was not an honest man in private life. Mr. Pelham said that was because he had converted his Grace’s interest to the service of the ministry, and Lord Chesterfield said that might be an obligation to the ministry but that if he had very great obligations to the Duke of Queensberry and acted then against him, it was still a crime in private life. Then the Chancellor weighed what had been said in his Chancery scales of equity and seemed to be of opinion they should name Arniston [Dundas], but nothing was decided in this meeting.6
In the end Argyll gave way in return for ‘three places for life of a thousand and twelve hundred a year for three of his court’;7 viz. Areskine, made lord justice clerk vice Andrew Fletcher, Lord Milton, Argyll’s deputy in Scotland, who was compensated with a life grant of the office of keeper of the signet, plus the reversion of the auditor generalship of Scotland for his son.8 Passed over again for the same post on Dundas’s death in 1753, Areskine died 5 Apr. 1763.