The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Erskine, Vice-Admiral James Elphinstone
Erskine, Vice-Admiral James Elphinstone, sometime commodore on the Australian station, is the second son of the late James Erskine, of Cardross, Perthshire, and was born on Dec. 2nd, 1838. He entered the royal navy as a cadet in 1852, became sub-lieutenant in 1859, lieutenant in 1859, commander in 1862, captain in 1868, rear-admiral in 1886, and vice-admiral in 1891. In May 1880 he was appointed private secretary to Lord Northbrook on the latter's becoming First Lord of the Admiralty. He was commodore on the Australian station from June 1881 to 1884, and on Nov. 6th in the latter year hoisted the British flag at Port Moresby, and proclaimed the British protectorate over the south coast of New Guinea and the adjacent islands. Admiral Erskine was naval aide-de-camp to the Queen from Dec. 1882 to Jan. 1886, and was a Lord of the Admiralty from Feb. to August 1886. From Dec. 1888 to Dec. 1891 he was senior officer commanding on the coast of Ireland. In May 1892 Admiral Erskine wrote to the Times expressing his doubts as to whether under any circumstances the recruiting of Kanaka labour for the Queensland sugar plantations could be conducted with freedom from abuse and without depopulating the islands whence the supply was drawn. He married in 1885 Margaret Eliza, daughter of Rev. John Constable, of Marston Biggott, Somersetshire.