Boswell family. Papers of Sir Alexander Boswell (1775-1822)

Scope and Content

Boswell's papers held within the Laing Collection include: eight letters from Alexander Boswell to David Laing about printing, 1813-1818; a letter to Sir Walter Scott, 15 June 1811; and, a poem entitled The Brig's answer. To John Gibson. There are also three of Alexander Boswell's poems in a notebook at Gen. 750D, and a letter to Miss Campbell dated 1821 at E90.97.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Boswell was born on 9 October 1775 at Auchinleck House on the Boswell estate in Ayrshire. Alexander and his brother James were educated at Westminster and at Oxford. In 1795, Alexander succeeded his father, James Boswell the elder, and began a tour of Europe. On his return, he settled at Auchinleck and studied literature, writing and composing poems and songs in Scots. In 1815, he established a printing press at Auchinleck. Boswell was also noted for moving a public subscription for the construction of a monument to Robert Burns on the banks of the River Doon. In 1816 and 1820 he was elected as the MP for Plympton in Devonshire. He was created a Baronet in 1821.

Arising from scurrilous articles written by Boswell about James Stuart of Dunearn (1775-1849) in The Glasgow Sentinel and after an interrupted legal action for libel, Boswell was challenged to a dual with pistols on 25 March 1822. The dual was fought the following day at a farm near the village of Auchtertool, near to Kirkcaldy. Although Boswell shot into the air, Stuart wounded his opponent fatally. Sir Alexander Boswell died at Balmuto on the 27 March 1822.

Acquisition Information

Poems in Gen. 750D presented August 1964, Accession no. E64.23.

Note

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.2. Beal-Browell. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908. (2) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.19. Stow-Tytler. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence with James Boswell and miscellaneous papers, 1786-1795, Yale University Libraries, Beinecke Library, Ref. L73-124, C233-303 NRA 22146 Boswell; letters (36) to James Skene, 1797-1817, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MS 3854, and letters to Sir William Forbes, 1795-1805, Ref. Acc 4796 NRA 29136; and, letters to G. Thomson, with songs, 1801-1821, British Library, Manuscript Collections Ref. Add MSS 35263-65 passim.

Additional Information

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.2. Beal-Browell. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908. (2) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.19. Stow-Tytler. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.