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Charles Erskine

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Cardinal, b. at Rome, 13 Feb., 1739; d. at Paris, 20 March, 1811. He was the son of Colin Erskine of the Erskine family, who were Earls of Kellie and Mar; his mother was Agatha Gigli of the noble family of Gigli of Anagni. He was educated by Cardinal Henry, Duke of York, at the Scots College, Rome, and was afterwards a successful advocate, becoming Doctor of Laws in 1770. Pope Pius VI made him pro-auditor and Promoter of the Faith in 1782, also a domestic prelate, canon of St. Peter's, and dean of the college of consistorial advocates. He was ordained subdeacon, 28 August, 1783. In October, 1793, he was sent as papal envoy to England. By his tack and ability Mgr. Erskine established excellent relations with the Court and the ministry, diminished the dissensions among Catholics, and avoided stirring up any anti-Catholic demonstration against himself. During his stay in London the pope named him auditor, and in 1795 gave him additional powers as envoy extraordinary. He left London in 1801 and returned to Rome, where in January, 1803, he was created cardinal. As a member of the Propaganda he was still useful to English Catholics, and was made protector of Scotland. On the French invasion of Rome in 1808 he was made pro-secretary of Briefs, and was shut up in the Quirinal with the pope. When Pius VII was taken prisoner Erskine was allowed to go free, but his property was now lost and he would have been reduced to beggary if his Protestant relations had not made him an allowance. In 1809 Napoleon ordered him to Paris and though ill he was forced from Rome in January, 1810. Shortly after his arrival in Paris he fell into a gradual decline and soon died. He was buried in the church of Saint-Genevieve, now the Pantheon.

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