The Twickenham Museum
People : Royals, Peers and Courtiers

John Erskine, Earl of Mar
Unsuccessful Jacobite and amateur architect
1675 - 1732

'Bobbing John' marries in Twickenham

John Erskine also known as "Bobbing John" became the 11th Earl of Mar on the death of his father in 1689.

His first recorded presence in Twickenham was 6 April 1703 when he married Margaret, 1st daughter of Thomas Hay, who became the 7th Earl of Kinnoull in 1719. One wonders who hosted the wedding celebrations and why the marriage was in Twickenham. Perhaps Mr Secretary Johnston offered hospitality from his property just downstream, where he was contemplating building the new villa which he completed in 1710.

Erskine and Johnston must have known each other, although of quite different religious persuasions; both Scotsmen they were at different times Secretaries of State for Scotland. More likely, perhaps, Erskine was already friendly with Sir Thomas Skipwith and the marriage was celebrated at his house on Twickenham's riverside.

a design ("scatch") of 1711 for a mansion opposite Ham House

Second marriage

Margaret died in 1707, aged 20. On 20 July 1714 Mar married again, Lady Frances Pierrepont, sister of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), at Acton. Their father was Evelyn Pierrepont, Earl of Kingston, Marquis of Dorchester and, in 1715, created Duke of Kingston. Their mother was Lady Mary Feilding (d1692), a daughter of the 3rd Earl of Denbigh.

Enthusiastic amateur architect

Mar was an enthusiastic amateur architect: he produced drawings of the grounds of Secretary Johnston's house and of Ham House, in 1711. These included projects for development, in particular for a house where Marble Hill House was built later. In 1721, while in exile in Paris, he produced a design for a quite radical embellishment of Secretary Johnston's House. He may also have been responsible for the enlargement of Skipwith's house on the riverside.

Mar enjoyed a strong relationship with James Gibbs who, by his will, bequeathed £1000, three houses in Marylebone and all his plate to Mar's son, "in gratitude for favours received from his father the late Earl of Mar".

Further reading:

Anthony Beckles Willson, Copt Hall Twickenham, unpublished MSS in Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library, 1998
Complete Peerage

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