John Erskine, the 11th Earl of Mar, inherited the family title and estate at Alloa, Clachmannanshire, Scotland, in 1689. He was Secretary of State for Scotland in 1705 and a Privy Councillor who supported the Old Pretender.
Following the Monmouth Rebellion in 1715, Erskine went into exile in France and Belgium. Whilst there he became a keen amateur architect, completing numerous architectural designs which demonstrated an acute knowledge of French, Italian, Scottish and English architecture.
Erskine enjoyed a close relationship with the notable architect James Gibbs, of whom he was a patron and with whom he exchanged a number of architectural drawings whilst in exile.