Erskine, Thomas

Tagged: Author

(1750-1823) Scottish barrister, famous in the 1790s for his frequently successful court defences of the freedom of the press, including a famous defense of Thomas Paine in 1792, and of figures prosecuted by a government whose responses to perceived republican threats to the British state prefigure some government actions in the early twenty-first century; he served as Lord Chancellor 1806-1807. He was a poet, publishing intermittently from as early as 1768; a polemicist, whose many influential speeches stayed in print indefinitely, and who at the end of his life promoted the Greek revolt against Turkey; and author of an anonymous sf Satire, published in two volumes as Armata: A Fragment (1817) and The Second Part of Armata (1817), whose protagonist is driven into the Antarctic by a great storm, discovering an Island there which turns out to be another planet which much resembles Britain. The tale focuses from this point on various issues directly transposed from Britain to Armata. Erskine's literary eloquence and his general cast of mind – which includes a passionate advocacy of animal rights – make his text far more congenial than many of its fellows. [JC]

Thomas Erskine, Baron Erskine of Restormel Castle

born Edinburgh, Scotland: 10 January 1750

died Almondell, near Edinburgh, Scotland: 25 October 1823


  • Armata: A Fragment (London: John Murray, 1817) [the date 1816 has been given, but no evidence has been found to substantiate it: usually found bound with the second part below: hb/]
  • The Second Part of Armata (London: John Murray, 1817) [usually found bound with the first part above: hb/]


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