A walk down memory lane: Lady Charlotte Erskine

Alloa Parish Church was the benefactor of a mortification made by Lady Charlotte Erskine, who died at her home in George Street, Edinburgh on 24 November 1788, aged 68.

In its deed of settlement dated December 27, 1787, which was registered the following December in the book of sessions, it entrusted to the trustees of the church its property which was to be used in various ways.

Among his wishes was the endowment of an assistant to the minister of Alloa and arrangements were made for the church to welcome the poor of the parish.

For this accommodation of the poor, she left £1,200, a substantial amount of money at the time.

When the church was expanded, his money provided additional seating for 260 people to allow parish residents who were not entitled to any of the church seating somewhere to sit during sermons.

In her decree, she said that a number of seats “for the use of the poor inhabitants of the town of Alloa and other poor parishioners who have no legal right to seats and who cannot pay their rent, will be rented to the inhabitants and parishioners for a moderate annual rent”.

She added that the rent raised was to be used to keep this part of the church ‘in good condition and under repair’.

The rest of the money was to be used as an additional allowance for the minister’s assistant.

In addition to this, Lady Charlotte left £800 for the funding of an endowment for this assistant in establishing the allowance for him, which was to be made ‘according to instructions and directions to be given by the owner’ of the Mar Estate.

The wizard, however, was to be inducted upon the Erskines’ confirmation of the estate. The parishioners had no say in the identity of the assistant.

Lady Charlotte was the daughter of Charles Hope, 1st Earl of Hopetoun and Lady Henrietta Johnstone, and was born in 1720.

She married Thomas Erskine, Lord Erskine, son of John Erskine 6th Earl of Mar, in 1741.

Erskine, who was 15 years older than his wife, was MP, first for Stirling between 1728 and 1734, then for Clackmannan between 1747 and 1754.

Erskine predeceased his wife in March 1766, and the couple had no issue, so when she died she left her estate to the parish.

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