ERSKINE, Hon. David Montagu (1776-1855), of Butler's Green, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



19 Feb. 1806 - 1806

Family and Education

b. 12 Aug. 1776,1 1st s. of Hon. Thomas Erskine* by 1st w. Frances, da. of Daniel Moore of Widmere Manor, Bucks. educ. Charterhouse 1785-7; Winchester 1787-92; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1794; L. Inn 1792, called 1802. m. (1) 16 Dec. 1799, Frances (d. 25 Mar. 1843), da. of Gen. John Cadwallader of Philadelphia, Pa., 5s. 7da.; (2) 29 July 1843, Anne Bond (d. 18 Apr. 1851), da. of John Travis of Lancs., s.p.; (3) 21 Dec. 1852, Anna, da. of William Cunninghame Cunninghame Graham (formerly Bontine)* of Gartmore, Perth, wid. of Thomas Calderwood Durham of Largo, Fife, s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Erskine 17 Nov. 1823.

Offices Held

Lt. L. Inn vols. 1803; capt. R. Mdx. vols. 1803; maj. Pevensey regt. Suss. militia 1813; lt.-col. commdt. W. Suss. militia 1819.

Commr. of bankrupts 1805-6; sec. of presentations in Chancery 1806-7.

Minister plenip. to USA July 1806-Oct. 1809, to Württemberg Dec. 1824-1828, to Bavaria Jan. 1828-Nov. 1843.


Erskine was not destined to repeat his father’s success at the bar, but on the latter’s becoming lord chancellor in the Grenville ministry stepped into his seat for Portsmouth on Sir John Carter’s interest and into a Chancery place. He took his seat on 24 Feb. 1806. He seconded Best’s motion of 18 Apr. for a bill to prohibit ‘ex parte’ criminal proceedings from being published in the press. He voted with ministers for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. His appointment in July as minister plenipotentiary to the United States, urged on Fox by his father since February, ended his parliamentary career. He had lived there four years and married the daughter of one of the American revolutionary generals, before accompanying his father to France in 1802.2

He was recalled by Canning in 1809 and the House was informed (13 June) that he had exceeded his instructions to treat with the Americans by offering the withdrawal of the operation of the orders in council against them, though Canning declined disclosing the details then. He was defended by Edward Morris*, his brother-in-law, but arrived home under a cloud.3 On 5 Feb. and 15 May 1810 his cause was taken up by Whitbread: Canning was adamant, though Whitbread tried again on 15 June. Difficulties were made by Perceval when the Marquess Wellesley applied for a pension for him in 1811.4 He eventually resumed a diplomatic career. He died 19 Mar. 1855.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Charterhouse Reg. 1769-1872, p. 129, a provisional identification. His father said he was 32 in May 1806 and he was said to have been aged 79 at his death.
  • 2. Farington, ii. 31, 56; HMC Fortescue, viii. 152.
  • 3. HMC Bathurst, 139; Wellesley Pprs. i. 292.
  • 4. Perceval (Holland) mss 1, ff. 30, 32.