Boswell, Alexander (1706-1782) (DNB00)

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BOSWELL, ALEXANDER, Lord Auchinleck (1700–1782), Scotch judge, the eldest son of James Boswell of Auchinleck, advocate, and Lady Elizabeth Bruce, third daughter of Alexander, second earl of Bancardine, was born in 1700. After studying at Leyden University, where he graduated 29 Dec. 1727, he was admitted a member of the faculty of advocates 29 Dec. 1729. In 1748 he was appointed sheriff-depute of Wigtownshire, which office he resigned in 1750. Upon the resignation of David Erskine, lord Dun, he was appointed an ordinary lord of session, and on 16 Feb. 1754 took his seat on the bench with the title of Lord Auchinleck. On 22 July in the following year he was also appointed a lord justiciary in the place of Hew Dalrymple, Lord Drummore. This last appointment he resigned in 1780 on account of his feeble state of health. He continued, however, to sit as an ordinary lord until his death, which happened at Edinburgh on 31 Aug. 1782, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. Lord Auchinleck was a sound scholar and a laborious judge. In religion he was a strict presbyterian, and in politics a strong whig. Dr. Johnson's visit to him at Auchinleck in November 1773 is amusingly recounted by his son James in the 'Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.' Scott gave some additional anecdotes to Croker. It was Lord Auchinleck who is said to have designated Johnson as 'Ursa Major.' Lord Auchinleck married twice. His first wife was Euphemia Erskine, daughter of Colonel John Lrskine and Euphemia his wife. By this marriage there were three sons: James, the biographer of Dr. Johnson; John, who entered the army and died unmarried; and David, who in early life went into business, but afterwards became head of the prize department in the navy office, bought Crawley Grange, Buckinghamshire, and died in 1820. Lord Auchinleck's second wife was his cousin Elizabeth, daughter of John Boswell of Balmuto, and sister of Claud Irvine Boswell [q. v.], afterwards Lord Balmuto. There was no issue of this marriage, which took place on the same day on which his son James was married, 25 Nov. 1709.

[Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice (1832), p. 518; Boswell's Johnson (Croker's edit. 1831), iii. passim; Dr. Rogers's Boswelliana (1874), passim; Gent. Mag. lii. 55.]

G. F. R. B.