ERSKINE, ROBERT [SSNE 3870]

Surname
ERSKINE
First name
ROBERT

Text source

Robert Erskine was a son of Sir Charles Erskine of Alva and kinsman of the Earl of Mar. He studied medicine in Edinburgh, Paris and Utrecht. In 1704 he was in Russia as doctor to Prince Menshikov, but soon became chief physician to Tsar Peter and State Councillor. As President of Apothecaries' (later Medical) Chancery he reformed both civil and military medicine in the country. He supervised hospitals and pharmacies, founded a botanic garden in St Petersburg, collected Russia's earliest herbal treatments, discovered spring waters for medical treatment, planned scientific expeditions to the Caucasus and Siberia, and was in charge of Peter's natural history museum - the Kunstkammer- and his library. A Jacobite, he invited many Scots to serve the Tsar. The naturalist and doctor in Riga, David Krieg, died of the plague in 1710. After his death, Krieg’s widow sold her late husband’s scientific collection, known as Krieg’s Collectanea Curiosa, cheaply to Scot Robert Erskine. 

Sources:

 A. G. Cross, By the Banks of the Neva (Cambridge, 1997), pp.123-7; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.317, 319, 321-322, 327, 332, 345; A. Tering, ‘Contacts in Natural Sciences between Riga and England in 1660-1710’, Ajalooline Ajakiri, 151-2 (2015), 73. Concerning Erskine's library, see various articles in Russian by Vladislav Stasevich, including 'Book lists in Robert Areskine's notebook' , 'The Armorial of the Order of the Holy Spirit - a manuscript from the library of Robert Areskine', and 'Marks of ownership in the books from the original holdings of BAN - especially from the library of Robert Areskine'. These can be found here: https://rasl.academia.edu/VladislavStasevich   

This entry was kindly updated by Dr Thomas Brochard.

Service record

THE DUTCH REPUBLIC, UTRECHT
Capacity MEDICAL DOCTOR, STUDENT, purpose ACADEMIC, MEDICINE, MEDICAL
RUSSIA, MOSCOW
Departed 1718-12-31
Capacity PHYSICIAN, MEDICAL DOCTOR, STATE COUNCILLOR, purpose ROYAL SERVANT, MEDICINE, STATE COUNCIL