Papers of the Boswell family of Auchinleck and Balmuto

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The papers of the various members of the Boswell family consist almost entirely of the manuscript correspondence of Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck (1706-1782), Claud Irvine Boswell (1742-1824), James Boswell (1740-1795), Sir Alexander Boswell, 1st Baronet (1775-1822), and Robert Boswell (1746-1804) a descendant of the Auchinleck Boswells. There is also a transcript of a history of Edinburgh University, and poems. There are also petitions and other letters, as well as description of the family circumstances.

Administrative / Biographical History

Auchinleck is situated in Ayrshire, in Scotland's large Strathclyde region, 21 kilometres east of the town of Ayr. The town has a population (based on 1991 figures at least) of 4,160.

Auchinleck is associated with the Boswell family through the granting of the estate to Thomas Boswell, a 'cadet' of the Balmuto line, on his marriage to the daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Auchinleck in 1504. Thomas had been one of the court favourites of James IV and he died with the king at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

On his appointment as Lord of Session in 1754, Alexander Boswell (1706-1782) took the title of Lord Auchinleck. It was Alexander Boswell who had Auchinleck House built. His son, James Boswell, the diarist and biographer of Samuel Johnson, was born at nearby Auchinleck House, and is buried in the churchyard in Auchinleck

Balmuto in the parish of Kinghorn, in Fife, was an estate with a mansion, the latter just over 4 kilometres northwest of Burntisland.

On his appointment as Lord of Session in 1754, Alexander Boswell (1706-1782) took the title of Lord Auchinleck. It was Alexander Boswell who had Auchinleck House built. His son, James Boswell, the diarist and biographer of Samuel Johnson, was born at nearby Auchinleck House, and is buried in the churchyard in Auchinleck.

Thomas Boswell had been one of the court favourites of James IV and he died with the king at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Note

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (ed.).  Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. p.46. London: Harper Collins, 1994. (2) Seltzer, Leon E. (ed.).  The Columbia Lippincott gazetteer of the world. Morningside Heights, N.Y: Columbia University Press, 1962. (3) Groome, Francis H. (ed.).  Ordnance gazetteer of Scotland: a survey of Scottish topography, statistical, biographical, and historical. Vol.1. Edinburgh: Thomas C. Jack, 1882. (4)

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to material related to the Boswell family in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): mention in a letter of the poverty and misfortune of the Boswell family of Balmuto, 1802, at La.II.500; a letter of a Miss Boswell of Auchinleck, 1823, at La.IV.6; preamble to the will of an Alexander Boswell, 18th century at La.IV.417/23; and, a letter of Lady G. Boswell, 1823, at La.IV.6.