Authorised form of nameErskine; Robert (c 1674 - 1719)
Other forms of surnameAreskine
Datesc 1674 - 1719
Place of deathOlonez, Russia
Date of death30 November 1718
Dates and placesBurial:
Convent of Alexander Nevsky, outside St Petersburg, Russia
OccupationPhysician; Surgeon
Edinburgh (admitted 1691); apprenticed to Hugh Patterson, Surgeon, of Edinburgh (1692-1697); Paris; Utrecht; MD (1700)
Practised in London (1701-1704); In the summer of 1704 he left for Moscow to take up a post as physician to Prince Aleksandr Danilovich Menzicoff (FRS 1714); appointed Physician to Peter the Great in January 1705, and promoted to be his principal doctor and Archiater of the entire Russuan medical corps (1706); directed the transfer of the Apothecaries Chancery form Moscow, supervised the formation of a libreary and natural history museum at Peter's Summer Palace, and oversaw the founding of a large physic garden on Apothecaries Island of the new capital in February 1714 (precursor to the Komarov Botanical Institute); travelled with the Czar to Germany, Holland and France (1716); at his death he left a library of 4200 volumes and a cabinet of minerals, shells and medals
Erskine buried in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the Russian Orthodox complex, in January 1719 next to Princess Natalia, sister of Tsar Peter the Great. Erskine was given such an honour as he was the personal physician to the Tsar and his close ally in the foundation of the new capital of Russia, St Petersburg. The 18th century necropolis within the Lavra complex in St Petersburg became Russia's most revered cemetery, where he lies amongst the country's most prominent figures, including Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky.
Became the most influential physician in the Court of Tsar Peter the Great and the father of modern, western medicine in Russia. His achievement recognised with a plaque unveiling in September 2006 at his birthplace in Alva, Scotland, by Rt. Hon. George Reid, the former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Another plaque in his honour unveiled St Petersburg in October 2008.
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election30/11/1703
Age at election27
RelationshipsSon of Sir Charles Erskine, Bart, of Alva, and his wife, Christina, daughter of Sir James Dundas of Arniston
Bulloch's Roll; Thomas
V S Kirsanov, 'The Earliest Copy in Russia of Newton's Principia: Is it David Gregory's Annotated Copy?' in NR 1992 vol 46 pp 203-218
John H Appleby, 'James Spilman, FRS (1680-1763), and Anglo-Russian Commerce' in NR 1994 vol 48 pp 17-29
R W Home, 'The Royal Society and the Empire: the colonial and Commonwealth Fellowship. Part 1. 1731-1847' in NR 2002 vol 56 pp 307-332
J H Appleby, 'The founding of St Petersburg in the context of the Royal Society's relationship with Russia' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 273-284
J H Appleby "Transcripts of Erskine Letters in the Archives of the Academy of Sciences, Leningrad Branch" See Box 1, Item 48 in 'Biographical notes on Fellows' in Lower Mezz Office. Also includes extracts from Robert Erskine's Diary and Correspondence, and Catalogue of his library, from the same location
Proposed by Sir Hans Sloane
Royal Society codeNA5704
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
NLB/20/77Copy letter from Theodore E James, to Reverend Robert Paul, Free Church Manse, Dollar, N.B.27 January 1900
LBO/15/4Copy letter from Richard Waller to Richard Erskinend
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