|Description||This collection contains the papers of different members of the Boswell family. In chronological order they are: John Boswell (1710-1780), uncle of James Boswell, the biographer; Sir Alexander Boswell (1775-1822), son of James Boswell; Alexander Boswell (1781-1850), grandson of John Boswell; Mary Boswell, grand-daughter of John Boswell; and Alexander Bruce Roxburgh, great great grandson of John Boswell. Most of the papers relate to John Boswell so his biography has been included here.|
John Boswell was an uncle of James Boswell, famous for his 'Life of Samuel Johnson'. He was born on 11 July 1710, at the family home in Auchinleck. He went to the High School in Edinburgh, Scotland at the age of 12, and to the University at 15, where he first studied classics and maths. In 1727 he began his medical studies and was bound apprentice to an apothecary, or chemist-physician, receiving practical training in return for a fee and his own services in the shop. In 1733 he went to the Netherlands to study under Herman Boerhaave at Leiden, Germany.
Boswell became a Licentiate of the College in 1737 and a Fellow in 1748. He was Treasurer from December 1748 to December 1756, and again from August 1758 to December 1763. He was elected President in December 1770 and served until December 1772. On 12 August 1742, John Boswell married Anne Cramond (1710 -1777). They had eight children: Elizabeth (1743-1807), James (1744 - 1767), Robert (1746 - 1804), Bruce (1747 - 1807), Euphemia (b. 1748), Margaret (b.1749), Alexander (1752-1782/3) and Anne or Anna (1753-1821).
Boswell's health was obviously failing for some while before his death. On 15 May 1780 James writes, 'Received a card that my affectionate uncle, Dr Boswell, died this morning. Though he had been almost dead for more than a year, I was struck with the actual event.'
[Source: biography compiled by previous archivist]
Contents: Papers of John Boswell, 1732-1973; papers of Alexander Boswell (1781-1850), 1818-1836; papers of Alexander Bruce Roxburgh, 1929-1933; correspondence of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh concerning the Boswell family and John Boswell's journal, 1933-1989