Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, 1st Baronet

Is your surname Boswell?

Research the Boswell family

Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, 1st Baronet's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Sir Alexander Boswell, Baronet

Birthplace: probably at Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Death: March 27, 1822
Balmuto Castle, Kinghorn parish, Fife, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of James Boswell, 9th of Auchinleck and Margaret Boswell
Husband of Giselle Cumming
Father of Sir James Boswell of Auchinleck, 2nd Bt. and Theresa Boswell
Brother of Veronica Boswell; Euphemia Boswell; David Boswell; James Boswell, BA., MA and Elizabeth Boswell
Half brother of Charles Boswell and Sally Boswell

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, 1st Baronet


Sir Alexander Boswell is the son of James Boswell of Auchinleck and his wife Margaret Montgomery. He was born before 9 October 1775, the date upon whch his baptism was registered at Edinburgh in Midlothian, Scotland. Edinburgh Baptismal Records

He gained the title of 1st Baronet Boswell.

On 26 March 1822 he fought a duel with James Stuart of Dunearn, where he was mortally wounded.

He has an extensive biographical entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Wikipedia Biographical Summary

"Sir Alexander Boswell, 1st Baronet (9 October 1775 – 27 March 1822) was a Scottish poet, antiquary and song writer. The son of Samuel Johnson's friend and biographer James Boswell of Auchinleck, he used the funds from his inheritance to pay for a seat in Parliament and then successfully sought a baronetcy for his political support of the Government. However his finances subsequently collapsed and after being revealed as the author of violent attacks on a rival, he died as a result of wounds received in a duel.

Early life

Boswell was the eldest son of James Boswell of Auchinleck, by Margaret Montgomerie of Lainshaw, and grandson of Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck. He attended Soho Academy in 1786 and Eton College from 1789 to 1792. Following his father's intention that he follow a legal career, he went to the University of Edinburgh in 1793. Shortly after his father's death he went to the University of Leipzig to study law, but soon dropped out of the course and visited Dresden and Berlin before returning to London in the summer of 1796. Boswell was a tall and muscular man who was thought by his sister to have exceeded his expectations. Having inherited land from his father, he took care of his inheritance and by 1801 the rents paid annually to him were more than his father had received. Boswell had an active interest in agriculture and was keen on country sports.


Having abandoned the law, Boswell developed his interest in old Scottish authors and became a poet and bibliophile, becoming friends with Walter Scott. In 1815 he established a private press at Auchinleck which reprinted the poetry of his circle. He wrote some popular Scottish songs, of which Jenny's Bawbee and Jenny dang the Weaver are the best known. He was also a Captain in the Ayr yeomanry from 1803, promoted to Major in 1815 and becoming the Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant in 1816.


Boswell bought his entry to the House of Commons in 1816, paying Paul Treby who controlled one seat in the borough of Plympton Erle in Devon. In politics he was a staunch Tory, generally voting with the Government of the day; however, he developed a grudge against the ministers personally and against Prime Minister Lord Liverpool in particular. His complaint was that Liverpool had not given help to him in his search for a seat in Parliament, despite having "conscientiously supported the administration with more persevering punctuality than any paid man in office", as he wrote to Lord Sidmouth.

Countering sedition

When Sidmouth as Home Secretary brought in the "Six Acts" against sedition following the Peterloo Massacre, Boswell turned up to speak on the Seditious Meetings Bill despite wanting to be on the spot to suppress sedition in Ayrshire with his yeomanry. He also spoke against reform of Scottish burgh government in 1819. In 1820 he was with the yeomanry and highly active in suppressing dissent, although he did not only use force in countering them. Boswell attended an Ayrshire meeting to vote a loyal address to King George IV over the Queen Caroline affair on 30 December 1820.

Leaving Parliament

Having sought a baronetcy from the Government for his support, Boswell became angered when Liverpool's refusal to grant one was given good publicity. In November 1820 he was on the point of resigning his seat when Sidmouth implied that Liverpool might have rethought his opposition. However, he was then hit by a financial crisis in his once profitable land holdings: Boswell had made some bad decisions to buy land, and his rental income suffered in a poor economy. He also had the expense of equipping his yeomanry. It cost him £1,000 per session to remain in Parliament, and Boswell concluded that he could not afford it; he resigned in February 1821, the day after voting in support of the Government over Queen Caroline. Ironically that summer he received the baronetcy he had sought, in recognition of his loyalty.


After leaving Parliament, Boswell wrote a series of virulent but anonymous attacks in two Scottish newspapers, the Beacon and the Sentinel, attacking a prominent Whig (James Stuart of Dunearn) as a bully and a coward. When a legal fight broke out between the proprietors of the Sentinel, Stuart was able to get access to internal documents which indicated Boswell was probably the author. Stuart demanded that Boswell either deny authorship or apologise; Boswell refused to do either and as a result Stuart challenged him to a duel.

They met on 26 March 1822 at Auchtertool, near Kirkcaldy in Fife. Boswell deliberately fired wide, but Stuart, who had never before handled a gun, shot Boswell in the collarbone. Boswell was taken to Balmuto House, and died the following day. He left assets of £10,000 and debts of £72,000. Stuart was unanimously found not guilty of murder at his trial. Over 11,000 people attended Boswell's funeral and the funeral procession was over a mile long."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'Sir Alexander Boswell, 1st Baronet', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 September 2012, 00:52 UTC, <,_1st_Baronet&oldid=513294629> [accessed 23 May 2013]

Other References

view all

Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, 1st Baronet's Timeline

October 9, 1775
probably at Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
October 9, 1775
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Age 2
March 27, 1822
Age 46
Kinghorn parish, Fife, Scotland