Mary Erskine (1629-1707)

Mary Erskine (1629-1707)

Businesswoman and philanthropist

Mary Erskine was a businesswoman and an early proponent of female education. Her first husband was Robert Kennedy, a writer, who died in 1671. After the death of her second husband James Hair, a druggist, in 1683 Mary set up in business as a private banker. In 1694 she generously donated to the Edinburgh Merchant Company's foundation of the Merchant Maiden Hospital, which became the school for daughters of Edinburgh burgesses. In 1896 the hospital was transformed into Edinburgh Ladies' College and in 1944 its name was changed to Mary Erskine School.

Testament of Mary Erskine

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/83 pp 764-772

The will reveals the extent of Mary Erskine's business dealings and shows the amounts of the rents of the various properties she let.

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