ERSKINE, William

ERSKINE, William. Edinburgh 8.11.1773 — Edinburgh 20.5.1852. British (Scottish) Civil Servant and Lawyer. 1804-23 in India. Son of David E., a lawyer, and Jean Melvin. Educated at Royal High School and Edinburgh University (dr. iuris). He “was a lawyer’s apprentice, 1792-9, went to India in 1803-4 with Sir James Mackintosh”, his future father-in-law. “At Bombay he became a clerk to the Small Cause Court, a stipendiary magistrate, Secretary and Vice-President to the Literary Society… Became Master in Equity in the Recorder’s Court in 1820, was a Member of Mountstuart Elphinstone’s Committee for framing the Bombay code of Regulations. He left India in 1823, having lost his legal offices on a charge of defalcations.” Returned to Scotland, he was Provost of St. Andrew’s in 1836-39. For a while also resided in southern France. Married 1809 Maitland Mackintosh, fourteen children, among whom four sons served in India, James Claudius E. (1821-1893) and Henry Napier Bruce E. (1832-1893).

Erskine was mainly a Persian scholar, with an additional interest in archaeology. With Mackintosh he was among the founders of the Bombay Literary Society in 1804.

Publications: “Account of the cave temple of Elephanta”, Tr. Lit. Soc. Bombay 1, 1819, 198-250, 5 pl.;  “On the Sacred Books and Religion of the Parsis”, Tr. Lit. Soc. Bombay 2, 1820, 312-361; “On the Authenticity of the Desátír, with Remarks on the Account of the Mahabadi Religion contained in the Dabistán”, Tr. Lit. Soc. Bombay 2, 1820,  362-398; “Observations on the remains of the Buddhists in India”, Tr. Lit. Soc. Bombay 3, 1823, 494-537; other articles.

Completed Leyden’s translation of Babar’s memoirs. 1826 (using the Persian version, comparing it to the Turki original), and Malcolm’s biography of Clive (1836).

History of India under Babar and Humayun. Edited by his son (J. C. E.). 1-2. 24+577, 24+585 p. L. 1854.

Diaries of his journeys to Ellora and Gujarat in JBRAS 25, 1922, 373-409.

Sources: H.B[everidg]e, D.N.B. Suppl. 1, 1901, 190-193; Buckland, Dictionary; V.N. Mandlik, Preface to the 1877 reprint of Tr. Lit. Soc. Bombay 1, p. xii; *K. Prior, Oxford D.N.B.; *J. Wilson, JBRAS 4, 1852; JRAS 15, 1855, ii-vi; Wikipedia

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