1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Erskine, John (jurist)

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ERSKINE, JOHN, of Carnock (1695–1768), Scottish jurist, son of Lieut.-Colonel John Erskine, was born in 1695. He was admitted a member of the faculty of advocates in 1719. Although he never enjoyed much practice at the bar, he acquired a high reputation as a sound and learned lawyer, and in 1737 was appointed professor of Scots law in the university of Edinburgh. In 1754 he published his Principles of the Law of Scotland. He retired from his chair in 1765; and during the remainder of his uneventful life he occupied himself with the preparation of his great work, the Institutes of the Law of Scotland, which he did not live to publish. He died at Cardross, Perthshire, on the 1st of March 1768.

Erskine’s Institutes, although not exhibiting the grasp of principle which distinguished his great predecessor Lord Stair, is so conspicuous for learning, accuracy and sound good sense, that it has always been esteemed of the highest authority on the law of Scotland. The first edition appeared in 1773 and it has been many times reprinted. The Principles, although published first, is substantially an abridgment of the larger work, and is in some respects superior to it, being more concise and direct. It retains its place as the text-book on Scots law, and is frequently being re-edited.