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The Scottish Nation
Boswell


BOSWELL, originally Bosville, or Bosvile, a surname of French extraction which is found in England from the time of the conquest, when it was introduced by Sieur de Bosville, who came over with the Conqueror, and had a considerable command at the battle of Hastings. It is derived in Scotland from a branch of the English Bosviles, who settled in North Britain in the reign of David the First, and soon spread into different parts of the country. No connection can be traced betwixt this name and that of St. Boswell’s, a parish in Roxburghshire, for it is ascertained that that place took its name from a monk of Melrose, called Boisel, a disciple of St. Cuthbert, who is said to have founded the church of the parish, and died many centuries before the Bosvilles arrived in Scotland.

      Robert Bosville, the ancestor of the Boswells of Balmuto, in Fife, appears to have been much about the court of King William the Lion. In a charter of that monarch to William Hay of Errol in 1188 he is a witness, as he is in another charter of the same prince confirming a donation to the religious at Coldstream, in or before 1200. His name also appears in many other charters of the same king. He was proprietor of the lands of Oxmuir and others in Berwickshire, which were afterwards called Boswell’s lands, from his name. This Robert Bosville was the father of Adam de Bosville de Oxmuir, &c., who is mentioned in an obligation of Philip de Lochore, the 21st year of the reign of King Alexander the Second (1235). His son and successor, Roger de Bosville, got a charter of the lands of Oxmuir from that monarch. Roger’s son, William de Bosville of Oxmuir, &c., was witness in a donation to the monastery of Soltray by Bernard de Houden, in the reign of King Alexander the Third. In 1292 this William de Bosville was compelled, with other Scottish barons, to submit to Edward the First of England, when he overran Scotland with his armies, and in 1296 he was again forced to swear fealty to the English king. His son, Richard Bosville of Oxmuir, besides his estate in Berwickshire, was proprietor of other lands near Ardrossan in Aryshire, as appears by a charter under the great seal from King Robert the Bruce, about 1320. He left two sons, William and Roger. William, the eldest, the last of the Boswells of Oxmuir, is mentioned as a witness in charters of donation to the monastery of Kelso in 1330, and again in 1345. In a donation to the monastery of Dryburgh, William de Bosville, designed ‘aldermanus de Roxburgh,’ is a witness, in 1338.

      Roger de Boswell, second son of Richard of Oxmuir, was the first of the name who settled in Fife. In the beginning of the reign of King David Bruce, he married Mariota, daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Lochore of that ilk, knight, with whom he got the half of the barony of Auchterderran in that county. His son, John de Boswell, succeed him in all his lands. In 1365 he obtained a safe conduct to England, from King Edward the Third, and returned the following year. John de Boswell married Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Melville of Cairnbee. His son, Sir William Boswell, was one of the judges in a perambulation of the lands of Kirkness and Lochore. He married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Alexander Gordon, brother of Umphryd Jerdan of Applegirth, with whom he got some lands in the constabulary of Kinghorn. His son, Sir John Boswell, the first designed of Balgregie, obtained the barony of Balmuto, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, by his marriage with Mariota, daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Glen, to whom it had previously belonged.

      This sir John Boswell, the first of Balmuto, died before 1430, and was succeeded by his son, David, who married first, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Melville of Raith, by whom, besides six daughters, he had two sons, David, his heir, and Robert, parson of Auchterderran, a man of great piety and learning, who lived to the advanced age of a hundred years. David, the father, took, for his second wife, Isabel, daughter of Sir Thomas Wemyss of Rires, relict of David Hay of Naughton, by whom he had a daughter, Isabel, married in 1488 to Thomas Lundin, junior, of that ilk.

      David, the elder son, had a charter under the great seal from King James the Second, of his father’s lands of Glasmont, in Fife, dated 4th November 1458, after which he was designed of Glasmont as long as he lived. He was twice married. By his first wife, Grizel, daughter of Sir John Wemyss of that ilk, he had two sons and two daughters. David, the elder son, predeceased his father. Alexander, who was afterwards knighted, succeeded to the estate of Balmuto. By his second wife, Lady Margaret Sinclair, daughter of William, earl of Orkney and Caithness, whom he married in 1480, he had five sons, of whom Thomas, the eldest, was the progenitor of the Boswells of Auchinleck, in Ayrshire.

Sir Alexander Boswell of Balmuto, the surviving son by the first marriage, was in great favour with King James the Fourth, whom he accompanied to the fatal field of Flodden, together with his brother, Thomas Boswell of Auchinleck and were both left with their royal master among the slain.

      His eldest son, David Boswell of Balmuto, was held in great estimation by King James the Fifth, Queen Mary, and King James the Sixth, from all of whom he had several friendly and familiar letters. He was engaged in most of the public transactions of his time, and died, 8th May, 1582, in the 84th year of his age. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Moncrieff of that ilk, by whom he had ten sons and ten daughters. George, his ninth son, was chirurgeon to King James the Sixth. His youngest son was parson of Auchterderran, and wrote a genealogical history of the family of Balmuto.

      David, his eldest son, designed of Glasmont, was killed, in the lifetime of his father, with his brother Robert, at the battle of Pinkie in 1547, leaving, by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir David Wemyss of that ilk, an infant son, Sir John Boswell, who succeeded his grandfather, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Sandilands of St. Monance. Sir John had four sons and ten daughters, and died in 1610, in the 64th year of his age. He is described as a man of excellent parts and a great favourite with James the Sixth, from whom he had many friendly letters. By one of these it appears that he had lent his majesty one thousand merks, a little before the arrival of his queen from Denmark; a favour which is acknowledged in a kind letter from the king to Balmuto, dated at Falkland, 2d September, 1589. At the baptism of Prince Henry in 1594 the honour of knighthood was conferred on him and on his eldest son by the king. Besides several baronies of lands bestowed on his younger sons, and considerable portions given to his daughters on their marriage, he left a good estate to his eldest son, Sir John Boswell. The latter married Janet, daughter of Sir James Scott of Balweary, and had seven sons and six daughters. Robert Boswell, his fifth son, a major of horse in the service of King Charles the First, was killed at the battle of Worcester in 1651.

      David Boswell of Balmuto, his eldest son, succeeded, before the year 1640. He married Nicholas, daughter of Sir Peter Young of Seaton, afterwards of Auldbar, eleemosinary {sic] to King James the Sixth, by whom he had five sons and seven daughters. His eldest son, David, was succeeded, soon after 1667, by his son, also named David. The eldest son of the latter, Andrew Boswell of Balmuto, by his extravagance, found himself under the necessity of disposing of the estate of Balmuto, and, accordingly, in 1722, he sold it to his kinsman, John Boswell, second son of David Boswell of Auchinleck, reserving to himself and his heirs the coal and all below ground, such as mines, minerals, &c. His son, David, representative of the Boswells of Balmuto, enjoyed no part of the estate, except the coal, &c.

      The estate of Auchinleck, in Ayrshire, was bestowed by James the Fourth on Thomas Boswell, eldest son of David Boswell of Balmuto, by Lady Margaret Sinclair, as above mentioned, he being held in high estimation by that monarch. He was slain at Flodden, 9th September, 1513. By his wife, Annabella, daughter of Sir Hugh Campbell of Loudoun, he had an only son, David Boswell of Auchinleck. The latter married Lady Janet Hamilton, daughter of James, first earl of Arran, progenitor of the dukes of Hamilton, and was succeeded by his son, John, who was twice married, first, to Christian, daughter of Sir Robert Dalzell of Glenae, progenitor of the earls of Carnwath, and by her he had three sons, James, his heir; John or Mungo, who received from his father the lands of Duncansmuir, and was progenitor of the Boswells of Craigston; and Robert; secondly to a daughter of the lord Stewart of Ochiltree, by whom he had a son, William, who obtained the estate of Knockroon.

      July 2, 3, and 4, 1600, James Boswell, fiar or younger of Auchinleck, and several other persons, were indicted for abiding from the Raid of Dumfries, ordained to have convened with Archibald, earl of Angus, in the previous September. A variety of procedure took place in this and other similar cases, when some of the parties were fined, others discharged, &c. James Bothwell of Auchinleck was one of the prolocutors, or counsel, for John Mure of Auchindrane, when put on his trial for the slaughter of Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean, June 24, 1602.

      James Boswell of Auchinleck, eldest son of John, married Marion Crawford, a daughter of the ancient family of Kerse, and had six sons and several daughters. His three youngest sons entered the service of Gustavus Adolphus, and after fighting in his wars settled in Sweden, where their posterity still exists. He died in 1618, and was succeeded by his eldest son, David Boswell of Auchinleck, who married Isabel, daughter of Sir John Wallace of Cairnill, by whom he had four daughters. David was a faithful adherent of Charles the First, and was fined in the sum of ten thousand merks for refusing to take the covenant. He died in 1661, having settled his estate on his nephew David, son of his next brother, James Boswell, by his wife, a daughter of Sir James Cunninghame of Glengarnock. His son, David Boswell of Auchinleck, the successor to his uncle, married Anne, daughter of James Hamilton of Dalziell, by whom, besides three daughters, he had James his heir, and Robert, a writer in Edinburgh, who, by great diligence in his profession, acquired a handsome fortune and purchased the estate of Balmuto in Fife, from his kinsman, Andrew Boswell, as above mentioned.

      The son of this Robert, Claud Irvine Boswell, succeed to the estate of Balmuto. He was born in 1742, and being educated for the bar, passed advocate, 2d August 1766. In 1780 he was appointed sheriff-depute of Fife and Kinross, and in 1798 he became a lord-of-session, under the title of Lord Balmuto. He resigned his seat on the bench in January 1822, and died suddenly 22d July 1824. He had married, in 1783, Miss Anne Irvine, who, by the death of her brother and grandfather, became heiress of Kincoussie. He left one son and two daughters.

      The eldest son of the above named David Boswell of Auchinleck, James Boswell, who succeeded him in that estate, was a lawyer of great eminence in his day. He married, in 1704, Lady Elizabeth Bruce, daughter of Alexander, second earl of Kincardine, by whom he had two sons and a daughter, viz., Alexander, his heir, afterwards Lord Auchinleck; John, doctor of medicine, censor of the royal college of physicians in Edinburgh; and Veronica.

Alexander, the elder son, succeeded to Auchinleck on his father’s death in 1748. He was educated for the bar, and became a lord of session and justiciary. He was a sound scholar, a respectable and useful country gentleman, and an able and upright judge. On his elevation to the bench in 1756, in compliance with Scottish custom he assumed the distinctive title of Lord Auchinleck. He married Euphemia, daughter of Colonel John Erskine of Alva, son of Sir Charles Erskine of the house of Mar, and had James, his successor, the biographer of Dr. Johnson, of whom a memoir follows; John, an officer in the army; and David Boswell, a merchant for ten years in Valencia in Spain, where he adopted the name of Thomas, instead of David, the Spaniards having a prejudice against that name, imagining that it belongs to the hated race of the Jews. On returning to England he was employed in the Navy Office, and was for twenty years at the head of the Prize department. He was a proprietor of Crawley Grange, Buckinghamshire, and married Anne Catherine, daughter of Colonel Green, killed at the battle of Minden, and sister of Sir Charles Green, baronet, leaving, at his decease, in 1826, an only son, Thomas Alexander Boswell of Crawley Grange.

      Of Sir Alexander Boswell and James Boswell, the two sons of the biographer of Johnson, notices follow in their order Sir Alexander was created a baronet in 1821, and was killed in a duel in 1822, with Mr. Stuart, of Dunearn, arising from a political dispute. He left a daughter, married in 1826 to Sir William Francis Elliot, baronet, of Stobs and Wells, and a son, James, who succeeded him, born in December 1806, married in 1830, Jessie-Jane, daughter of Sir James Montgomery Cunninghame, baronet, with issue a daughter. Having no sons, and Auchinleck being strictly entailed in the male line, Sir James Boswell, in the year 1851, sought to set the entail aside, on the ground that in the deed of entail, the first five letters (namely, ‘irred,’) in the word ‘irredeemably,’ in the clause fettering the right of sale, were written on an erasure, of which no notice was contained in the testing clause. In consequence, the judges of the court of session declared that the entail under which Sir James Boswell held the lands and barony of Auchinleck was defective as regards the prohibition against a sale. Notwithstanding all the care and anxiety of Lord Auchinleck and his son, James, to make the entail as stringently binding as possible, it was thus set aside on the ground stated.

      Sir James, the second baronet, was a deputy-lieutenant of Ayrshire. He died in 1857, when his title, in default of male issue, became extinct.

BOSWELL, JAMES, the friend and biographer of Dr. Johnson, was born at Edinburgh, October 29, 1740. He was the eldest son of Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, above referred to, a lord of session and justiciary, under the judicial title of Lord Auchinleck. His mother was a woman of exemplary piety. He received the rudiments of his education partly at home under private tuition, and partly at the school of Mr. Mundell in Edinburgh. He afterwards studied civil law in the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow; in the latter of which he became associated with several students from England, This society confirmed his preference for English manners, and his desire to see London, which he has often been heard to say was originally derived from a perusal of the Spectator. In 1760 he, for the first time, visited London, which he calls the great scene of action, of ambition, and of instruction. The circumstances of this visit he used afterwards to detail, with that felicity of narration for which he was so remarkable, and his friend Dr. Johnson advised him to commit the account to paper and preserve it. Boswell was intended by his father for the bar, but he himself wished to obtain a commission in the Guards. Lord Auchinleck, however, having signified his disapprobation, he returned to Edinburgh, and resumed the study of the law. In 1762 he revisited London a second time; and the same year he published the little poem entitled ‘The Club at Newmarket, a Tale.’ In 1763 he went to Utrecht to attend the lectures in civil law of the celebrated German Professor Trotz. When in London on his way to the continent, on May 16th of that year, he had “the singular felicity,” to use his own words, “of being introduced to Dr. Johnson,” for whom he had long entertained the most enthusiastic admiration. He remained a winter at Utrecht, during which time he visited several parts of the Netherlands. He afterwards made the tour of Europe, then deemed indispensable to complete the education of a young gentleman. Passing from Utrecht into Germany, he pursued his route through Switzerland to Geneva, whence he crossed the Alps into Italy, having visited in his journey Voltaire at Ferney, and Rousseau in the wilds of Neufchatel. He continued some time in Italy, where he met and associated with Lord Mountstuart, to whom he afterwards dedicated his ‘Theses Juridicae.’ The most remarkable incident in his tour was his visit to Corsica, the brave inhabitants of which were then struggling for independence with the republic of Genoa. Mr. Boswell travelled over every part of the island, and formed an intimate acquaintance with General Pasquale de Paoli, in whose palace he resided during his stay in Corsica. He subsequently went to Paris, whence he returned to Edinburgh in 1766, and soon after was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates. Having endeavoured to interest the Administration in behalf of the Corsican patriots, he had the honour of an interview with Lord Chatham on their account. The celebrated Douglas cause was at this period the subject of general discussion. Boswell, thinking that the public would scarcely have the patience to extract the real merits of the case from the voluminous mass of papers printed on the question, compressed them into a pamphlet, entitled ‘The Essence of the Douglas Cause,’ which on being published, was supposed to have procured Mr. Douglas the popularity he at that time enjoyed. In 1768 Mr. Boswell published his ‘Account of Corsica, with Memoirs of General Paoli;’ of which Dr. Johnson thus expressed himself to the author: “Your Journal is curious and delightful. I know not whether I could name any narrative by which curiosity is better excited or better gratified.” The work was very favourably received, and was speedily translated into the German, Dutch, Italian, and French languages. In the following winter, Mr. Boswell wrote a Prologue on occasion of the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, being opened by David Ross, Esq., the effect of which was to secure to the manager the uninterrupted possession of his patent till his death in 1790. In 1769, at the celebration at Stratford-on-Avon of the jubilee in honour of Shakspeare, Mr. Boswell rendered himself conspicuous by appearing as an armed Corsican chief. This year he married his cousin, Margaret Montgomery, daughter of David Montgomery, Esq., related to the illustrious family of Eglintoun, and representative of the ancient peerage of Lyle. She was a lady of good sense and a brilliant understanding. She did not like the influence which Dr. Johnson seemed to possess over her husband, and upon one occasion said with some warmth: – “I have seen many a bear led by a man, but I never before saw a man led by a bear.” She died in June 1799, leaving two sons, Alexander and James, and three daughters. Mr. Boswell wrote an affectionate tribute to her memory.

      In 1773 Mr. Boswell and Dr. Johnson made their long projected tour to the Hebrides; on which occasion Johnson visited him in Edinburgh, a journey rendered memorable by the lively and characteristic accounts which both published of it. He was residing in James’ Court, High Street, Edinburgh, when he received and entertained Paoli, in 1771, and Dr. Johnson, when the latter visited him in 1773.

      In 1782 his father, Lord Auchinleck, died, and Mr. Boswell succeeded to the family estate. In 1783, when the coalition ministry was driven from office, he published his celebrated ‘Letter to the People of Scotland,’ which was honoured by the commendation of Johnson, and the approbation of Mr. Pitt. In the following year, a plan having been in agitation to reform the court of session, by reducing the number of judges one-third, he, in a ‘Second Letter to the People of Scotland,’ remonstrated warmly against the measure, and it was abandoned. In December 1784 he lost his illustrious friend Dr. Johnson.

      Mr. Boswell had a fair share of practice at the Scottish bar. He enjoyed the intimate acquaintance of the most eminent of his countrymen; among whom may be mentioned, Lord Kames, Lord Hailes, Dr. Robertson, Dr. Blair, and Dr. Beattie; but his strong predilection for London induced him at last to settle in the metropolis.

      At Hilary Term, 1786, he was called to the English bar, and in the ensuing winter he removed with his family to London. In 1785 he had published his Journal of ‘A Tour to the Hebrides and the Western Islands,’ which, among other things of interest, contains a lively and affecting account of the adventures and escapes of the young Pretender, after the disastrous battle of Culloden. By the interest of Lord Lowther, he was appointed recorder of Carlisle, but owning to the distance of that town from London, he resigned the recordership, after holding it about two years. From the period of his settling in London, he devoted himself, almost entirely, neglecting his professional occupation for it sake, to preparing for publication the life of the great lexicographer, for which he had been collecting materials during nearly the whole course of their intimacy. this work, entitled ‘The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.,’ appeared in 1790, in 2 vols, 4to, and was received by the public with extraordinary avidity. From the stores of anecdote which it contains, and the minute and faithful picture of Johnson’s habits, manners, and conversation, therein given, the book may fairly be considered one of the most entertaining pieces of biography in the English language. It is valuable also as illustrative of the literary history of Great Britain, during the greater part of the latter half of the eighteenth century. The work is written with dramatic vivacity; the style is simple and unaffected; notwithstanding his enthusiastic admiration of Johnson, the author is free from all attempt at imitating his majestic and pompous diction. The preparation of a second edition of his great work, which was afterwards published in 3 vols, 8vo, was his last literary effort. Soon after his return to London, from a visit to Auchinleck, he was suddenly seized with ague, and the confinement to which it subjected him brought on the disorder that terminated in his death. He died at his house in London, June 19, 1795, in the 55th year of his age. His portrait is subjoined:

James Boswell

      In his private character Mr. Boswell was vain and fond of distinction. “Egotism and vanity,” he says, in one of his letters published in 1785, “are the indigenous plants of my mind: they distinguish it. I may prune their luxuriancy, but I must not entirely clear it of them; for then I should be no longer as I am, and, perhaps, there might be something not so good.” His admission, in 1773, into the literary club, which then met at the Turk’s Head in Gerard Street, Soho, gave him the opportunity of associating with Burke, Goldsmith, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Garrick and other eminent persons; this, with his passionate attachment to the society and conversation of Dr. Johnson, induced him to make frequent visits to London; where he assiduously cultivated the acquaintance and friendship of every person of any note that he could possibly obtain in introduction to. So romantic and fervent, indeed, was his admiration of Johnson, that he tells us, that he added five hundred pounds to the fortune of one of his daughters, because, when a baby, she was not frightened at his ugly face.

      With considerable intellectual powers, he possessed a gay and active disposition, a lively imagination, and no small share of humour. Yet he was often subject to depression of spirits, and he has described himself as being of a melancholy temperament. In one of his gloomy intervals he wrote a series of essays under the title of ‘The Hypochondriac,’ which appeared in the London Magazine for 1782, and which he once intended to collect into a volume. Besides the pieces above mentioned, he published in 1767 a collection of ‘British Essays in favour of the Brave Corsicans.’ His ardent character and amusing egotism may be said to have been first publicly displayed in the efforts he made in behalf of these patriotic islanders; and his conduct in this respect was so satisfactory to himself, that at the Stratford jubilee he exhibited a placard round his hat, on which was inscribed “Corsica Boswell;” also in his tour he proclaimed to all the world that at Edinburgh he was known by the name of “Paoli Boswell!” When General Paoli, after having escaped with difficulty from his native isle, on its subjection to the French, found an asylum in London, Boswell gladly renewed his acquaintance and friendship with the exiled chief. In politics he was, like his friend Johnson, a staunch royalist, and in religion, a member of the church of England. He takes care to inform us, however, that he had no intolerant feelings towards those of a different communion. In spite of his eccentricities, he was a great favourite with his friends, and his social disposition, great conversational powers, and unfailing cheerfulness, made him, at all times, an acceptable companion. There have teen several editions of his Life of Johnson; but the most complete is the one published in 1835, in ten volumes, by Mr. John Murray, which contains anecdotes of Johnson’s various biographers, and notes by Mr. Croker, Mr. Malone, and various others Boswell’s works are:

      Letters between Andrew Erskine and James Boswell. Lond. 1763, 8vo.

      Essence of the Douglas Cause; a pamphlet. 1767.

      Journal of a Tour to the Island of Corsica, with Memoirs of General Paoli. Glasgow, 1768, 8vo.

      British Essays in favour of the brave Corsicans, by several hands, collected and published. Lond. 1769, 12mo.   

      Decision upon the Question of Literary Property, in the Cause, John Hinton, Bookseller, London, against Alexander Donaldson and others, Edinburgh. 1774, 4to.

      Letter to the People of Scotland, on the present state of the Nation. 1784, 8vo.

      Letter to the people of Scotland, respecting the alarming Attempt to infringe the Articles of the Union, and introduce a most pernicious Innovation, by diminishing the Number of the Lords of Session. Edin. 1785, 8vo.

      The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Dr. Johnson, with an authentic Account of the Distresses and Escape of the Grandson of King James II. in the year 1746. 2d edition revised and corrected. Lond. 1785, 8vo.

      Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., comprehending an Account of his Studies and numerous Works in chronological order. Lond. 1790, 2 vols, 4to.

      A Series of his Epistolary Correspondence and Conversations with many eminent Persons, and various Original Pieces of his Composition, never before published. Lond. 1791, 2 vols. 4to. The same. Lond. 1793, 3 vols, 8vo.

BOSWELL, SIR ALEXANDER, Bart., a distinguished literary antiquary, eldest son of the preceding, was born October 9, 1775, and succeeded his father in the family estate of Auchinleck, in Ayrshire. He was educated at Westminster school, and afterwards went to the university of Oxford. With a lively imagination, he possessed a considerable fund of humour; and some of his satirical pieces in verse occasionally caused no little excitement in his own circle. In 1803 he published s small volume, entitled ‘Songs, chiefly in the Scottish dialect,’ several of which have taken a permanent place among the popular songs of his native land; among which may be mentioned, ‘Auld Gudeman, ye’re a Drucken Carle;’ “Jenny’s Bawbee;’ “Jenny Dang the Weaver;’ and ‘Taste Life’s Glad Moments,’ a translation of the German song, ‘Freu’t euch des Libens,’ done by him at Leipzig in 1795, and generally, though erroneously, ascribed to Moore. In 1810 he published, under an assumed name, a poem in the Scottish vernacular, entitled ‘Edinburgh, or the Ancient Royalty, a sketch of former Manners, by Simon Gray;’ in which he laments the changes that had taken place in the manners and customs of the inhabitants. In 1811, appeared ‘Clan-Alpin’s Vow,’ a poetical fragment, founded on an event which took place on the eve of the marriage of James the Sixth to Anne of Denmark. He subsequently established a printing press at Auchinleck, from which he sent forth various pieces in prose and verse. In 1868 appeared ‘Skeldon Haughs, or the Sow is flitted,’ a tale, also in Scottish verse, founded on a traditionary story regarding an old Ayrshire feud. between the Kennedys and the Crawfords. In August 1821 Mr. Boswell was created a baronet of Great Britain, as a reward for his patriotism and loyalty.

      During the high political excitement which prevailed in Scotland about that period, Sir Alexander, who was a warm and active supporter of the then Tory administration, was one of the contributors to a newspaper published at Edinburgh, called ‘The Beacon;’ the articles in which, aimed at the leading men on the Whig side, gave great offence. Some letters and pieces of satirical poetry of a similar kind having appeared in a paper styled ‘The Sentinel,’ subsequently published at Glasgow, these were traced to him by James Stuart, Esq., younger of Dunearn, who had been personally attacked, and who in consequence sent a challenge to Sir Alexander. The parties met near Aughtertool in Fife, March 26, 1822, the Hon. John Douglas, brother to the marquis of Queensberry, being the baronet’s second, and the late earl of Rosslyn, Mr. Stuart’s, when Sir Alexander received a shot in the bottom of his neck, which shattered the collar-bone, and next day caused his death. Mr. Stuart was afterwards tried for murder by the High Court of Justiciary, but acquitted. [See STUART, James, younger of Dunearn.]

      Sir Alexander Boswell left a widow, a son, who succeeded him, and a daughter. In him society was deprived of one of its brightest ornaments, his country lost a man of superior abilities, and his family had to mourn the bereavement of a most affectionate husband and father. He was the possessor of the famous “Auchinleck Library,” consisting of valuable old books and manuscripts, gradually collected by his ancestors; from which in 1804 Sir Walter Scott published the Romance of ‘Sir Tristram.’ Its stores also furnished the black letter original of a disputation held at Maybole between John Knox and Quentin Kennedy in 1562, which was printed at the time by the great Reformer himself, but had latterly become exceedingly rare. A facsimile edition of this curiosity in historical literature was printed at Sir Alexander Boswell’s expense in 1812. “He was,” says Mr. Croker in a note to Murray’s edition of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, “a high-spirited, clever, and amiable gentleman; and like his father, of a frank and social disposition; but it is said, that he did not relish the recollections of his father’s devotion to Dr. Johnson; but like old Lord Auchinleck, he seemed to think it a kind of derogation.” He sang his own songs with great spirit and effect, and had a fund of amusing stories and entertaining anecdote. Mr. Lockhart, in his Life of Scott, relates that Sir Alexander had dined with the author of Waverley only two or three days before the fatal meeting occurred, having joined the party immediately after completing the last arrangements for his duel. Several circumstances of his death are exactly reproduced in the duel scene of the novel of St. Ronan’s Well.

      His works, besides his fugitive satirical pieces, are:

      Songs, chiefly in the Scottish dialect. Edin. 1803.

      Edinburgh, or the Ancient Royalty, a Sketch of former Manners, by Simon Gray. Edin. 1810.

      Clan-Alpin’s Vow, a poetical fragment. Edin. 1811.

      Skeldon Haughs, or the Sow is Flitted, a poetical tale in the Scottish language. 1816.

BOSWELL, JAMES, M.A., barrister-at-law, second son of the biographer of Johnson, and brother of the preceding, was born in 1778, and received his education at Westminster school. In 1797 he was entered of Brazen-nose college, Oxford, and subsequently was elected fellow on the Vinerian foundation. He was afterwards called to the English bar, and became a commissioner of bankrupts. He possessed talents of a superior order, sound classical scholarship, and a most extensive and intimate knowledge of our early literature. He was equally remarkable for his industry, judgment, and discrimination; his memory was unusually tenacious and accurate, and he was always ready to communicate his stores of information for the benefit of others. These qualifications, with the friendship which he entertained for him, induced the late Mr. Malone to select Mr. Boswell as his literary executor, and to his care he intrusted the publication of an enlarged and amended edition of Shakspeare’s Plays, which he had long projected. This elaborate work was completed in 1822 in twenty-one volumes 8vo. Mr. Malone’s papers were left in a state scarcely intelligible, and no other individual than Mr. Boswell could have rendered them available. To this edition the latter contributed many notes; he also collated the text with the earlier copies. In the first volume Mr. Boswell stepped forward to defend the literary reputation of Mr. Malone, against the severe attack which had been made, by a writer of distinguished eminence, upon many of his critical opinions and statements; a task of great delicacy, but which he has performed in so spirited and gentlemanly a manner, that his preface may be fairly quoted as a model of a controversial writing. In the same volume are inserted the ‘Memoirs of Mr. Malone,’ originally printed by Mr. Boswell for private distribution; and a valuable Essay on the Metre and Phraseology of Shakspeare; the materials for which were partly collected by Mr. Malone, but their arrangement and completion were the work of Mr. Boswell. He likewise contributed a few notes to his father’s Life of Johnson, which are quoted in Murray’s edition. Mr. Boswell died at his chambers in the Middle Temple, London, February 24, 1822, and was buried in the Temple church, his brother, Sir Alexander, who was so soon to follow him to the grave, being the principal mourner. He inherited from his father his love for London society, his conversational powers, his cheerfulness of disposition, and those other amiable qualities which contribute to the pleasures of social intercourse. “He was very convivial,” says Mr. Croker, “and in other respects like his father, though altogether on a smaller scale.” The brightest feature of his character was the goodness of his heart, and that warmth of friendship which knew no bounds when a call was made upon his services. – Obituaries of the time.


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