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Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine

Erskine, Thomas, 1st Baron Erskine, 1750–1823, British jurist, b. Edinburgh. He was admitted to the bar in 1778. His eloquence and forensic skill won Erskine an enormous practice, during which he made notable contributions to commercial law. He is chiefly remembered for his defense of radicals at the time of the French Revolution, when prosecutions for sedition and libel were numerous. He defended Thomas Paine's publication of The Rights of Man against a charge of sedition, and his defense of the dean of St. Asaph led to a liberal revision (1792) of the laws of libel. Erskine served (1783–84, 1790–1806) in Parliament and was (1806–7) lord chancellor. He was elevated to the peerage in 1806.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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