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Boswell Collection

Call Number: GEN MSS 89

Scope and Contents

The Boswell Collection documents the lives, activities, and interests of more than ten generations of Boswell family members. The papers span the dates 1428-1936, but the bulk of the material dates from the eighteenth century. The collection is divided into two parts. Part I, the JamesBoswell Papers, contains the papers of Johnson's biographer James Boswell organized and catalogued by Marion S. Pottle. Part II, Boswell FamilyPapers, consists of all the previously unprocessed material relating to the Boswell family.

The complex history of Yale's Boswell Collection has been told in two full-length studies: David Buchanan's The Treasure of Auchinleck (1974) and Frederick A. Pottle's Pride and Negligence (1981), which was written as an introduction to the as-yet-unpublished Catalogue of the Papers ofJames Boswell. The foundation of the present collection was the 1949 purchase of Lt. Col. Ralph Hayward Isham's Boswell collection, which was itself a combination of Isham's original Malahide Castle purchase and the papers found at Fettercairn. Later additions to the Yale collection include major acquisitions from the sixth Lady Talbot and the seventh Lord Talbot de Malahide, known as "Abbeylea," "McHarg," and "Talbot"; three lots of estate papers acquired from John Douglas Boswell, "Auchinleck I, II, III"; purchases of letters and papers of Robert Boswell, W.S.; a gift of Boswell charter material from H. W. Liebert; and sixteen items from the collection of Chauncey Brewster Tinker.

The Catalogue of the Papers of James Boswell was designed to describe the collection Yale purchased in 1949, but the Abbeylea purchase and the Robert Boswell letters were added to it. The other acquisitions, however, were treated somewhat differently. Most personal papers of James Boswell and some other items were removed from these additions and added to the catalogued papers. (Entries for items added since 1949 are marked with an asterisk in the Catalogue galleys). Part I of the Boswell Collection, therefore, consists of all of the papers chosen for inclusion in Marion S. Pottle's Catalogue. The remaining mass of family papers has now been processed as Part II.


Part I is arranged in the Catalogue's order and contains seven series: Letters, Correspondence, Journals, Manuscripts, Printed Material, Legal Papers, and Accounts a|d Financial Papers. All assigned catalogue numbers have been retained and are listed in parentheses at the end of each register entry. (The numbers assigned to the Tinker items in the original Tinker Collection catalogue have also been included.) In some cases a single item was assigned two numbers in two different series, and cross-references were provided in the Catalogue. This register does not attempt to reproduce this feature; instead, items are listed once, at their physical location. Readers should consult the galleys, which are located at the beginning of each series, for further information. As the Catalogue entries provide extensive analysis of each item in Part I, the series descriptions that follow are intended to provide brief overviews.

Series I, Letters , fills Boxes 1-7 and consists of letters by James Boswell arranged alphabetically by recipient. There are significant quantities of letters to Thomas Barnard, Bishop of Limerick; Sir Alexander Boswell; James Boswell the younger; Margaret Montgomerie Boswell; Edmund Burke; Henry Dundas; Andrew Erskine; Lord Hailes (Sir David Dalrymple); John Johnston of Grange; James Lowther, Earl of Lauderdale; Edmond Malone; William Julius Mickle; Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke; William Johnson Temple; and John Wilkes.

Series II, Correspondence , is housed in Boxes 8-36. The majority of the papers consists of letters to James Boswell, alphabetically arranged by author, but some family papers and a few writings by others are also included.

The Boswell family is well represented in Series II. A letterbook headed "Letters from different persons" (Box 26, folder 615) contains letters addressed to David Boswell the sixth laird (d. 1712) and his son James. Papers pertaining to James include an account book he kept while in Leyden and a manuscript of memoirs of the Boswell family (later continued by his son, Lord Auchinleck). Ten letters by his sister, Veronica Boswell Montgomerie, are located in Box 28, folder 690. Lord Auchinleck's own papers include correspondence, a 1727 journal, and the twelve-volume "Cartulary of the Barony" he commissioned. There are ten folders of letters by Thomas David Boswell written between 1762 and 1824, as well as an "Agreement with Lt. John Boswell," whose own papers include memoranda, his journals from 1765 to 1769, and a folder of cloth samples.

James Boswell's immediate family is documented in letters by his wife Margaret Montgomerie Boswell and by all of his children, with the exception of his daughter Elizabeth. The series also contains Sir Alexander Boswell's journal of his travels in Germany and some juvenile writing by James Boswell the younger.

The non-family correspondence is extensive and extremely varied. The single largest correspondence, that of William Johnson Temple, fills forty-one folders. There are also significant amounts of letters from Thomas Barnard, Bishop of Killaloe; Geoffrey Bosville; Edmund Burke; George Dempster; Sir Alexander and Sir John Dick; Henry Dundas; Andrew Erskine; Sir William Forbes; Alexander, Earl of Galloway; Lord Hailes (Sir David Dalrymple); John Johnston of Grange; Bennet Langton; Capel Lofft; Sir Alexander MacDonald; Edmond Malone; George Keith, Earl Marischal; James Oglethorpe; Margaret Sibthorpe O'Reilly; Pasquale de Paoli; Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke; Thomas Percy, Bishop of Dromore; Girolama Piccolomini; Sir John Pringle; Sir Joshua Reynolds; and John Wilkes. Among the many other correspondents of note are James Abercrombie; Topham Beauclerk; Charles Burney; the Dillys; Warren Hastings; Samuel Parr; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Anna Seward; Voltaire; Thomas Warton; and Belle de Zuylen.

There are also several writings by others in Series II. These include seven folders of notes, letter copies, and letters by Samuel Johnson; essays and notes by Sir Joshua Reynolds; verses by James Allen, Oliver Goldsmith, Ewald Christian von Kleist, William Penn and James Trower; "Cursory Remarks on the Life of Savage" by Francis Cockayne Cust; and "Universal Religion" by the Rev. William Doyle.

Series III, Journals , is located in Boxes 37-47. It consists of the journals, notes and memoranda now known as the Journals of James Boswell. The papers are arranged chronologically in the order identified by the Boswell Editors. The register entries are intended as brief guides to the identification of this material; for detailed information on specific items, the galleys of the Catalogue should be consulted (Box 37, folder 917).

Boxes 48-58 contain Series IV, Manuscripts . The series is arranged in a single alphabetical run, with works by James Boswell listed by title and the works of others listed by author. Major works by Boswell include the manuscripts of the Account of Corsica, the Hypochondriack essays, and the Journal of a Tour. The manuscript and related materials of the Life of Johnson fill six boxes and are arranged as "Manuscript," "Papers Apart," and "Materials." The "Manuscripts" have been further divided into sections corresponding to page numbers in the Birkbeck Hill edition of the Life. Boswell's "Foreign Tour Notes" from 1763-65 are found in folders 1054-67, and the series concludes with twenty-six folders of chronologically arranged verses by Boswell.

Series V, Printed Material , fills Boxes 59-65. The material is alphabetically arranged. Boswell's own publications are listed by title, or occasionally by subject. Items not by Boswell are listed by author if known, or by title or subject if not. The series includes newspapers and newspaper clippings, broadsides, publication proposals, playbills, addresses, and engravings. There is also a small quantity of miscellaneous memorabilia, such as leaves from Botany Bay and a commemorative ribbon issued to Paoli on Corsica.

Legal Papers , Series VI, document the professional activities of James Boswell. Housed in Boxes 66-68, the papers have been chronologically arranged. The two prominent types of material are case files and session and circuit notes. Case files are listed either by the client's name or by the specific title of the case, and may include everything from initial interview notes to printed petitions and arguments. Session and circuit notes hold Boswell's notes on cases occurring during a particular term, and are customarily filed at the end of a year's individual case files. The last three folders of Series VI (Box 68, folders 1400-1402) contain papers relating to the duel fought by Sir Alexander Boswell, including the trial record of his opponent James Stuart.

Series VII, Accounts and Financial Papers , is contained in Boxes 69-70. The papers are alphabetically arranged by subject, or by person and then by subject when they pertain to individuals other than James Boswell. The series holds a wide variety of material, including Boswell's expense accounts, records of the sales of the Life, promissory notes, inventories, and bills. The galleys to the Catalogue are located in Box 69, folder 1403 and should be consulted for more complete information.

Oversize material for Series I-VII can be found in Boxes 71-74. With the exception of burgess tickets, it is arranged in series and catalogue number order. The burgess tickets were catalogued in Series II, but due to the fragility of their attached seals, they have been housed separately in Boxes 73-74, in alphabetical order.


Part II of the Boswell Collection, the Boswell Family Papers, is housed in Series VIII-XX, Boxes 75-195. A family archive of the Boswells of Auchinleck, Part II documents the history of the family and the barony from the early fifteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. The series have been generally organized by laird. Series VIII, Boswells of Fife , contains papers of fifteenth-century Boswells. Series IX-XIX are devoted to the eleven lairds of Auchinleck and Series XX holds Additional Papers.

In the box and folder list, material is controlled at the folder level. A glossary of Scottish and legal terms is found in Appendix II, pages 244-47.

The papers within each series are arranged alphabetically by type of material. The most common subseries are Barony Records, Estate Papers, Family Papers, Land Purchases, Land Records, Militia Papers, and Parish Records. The Family Papers subseries hold the personal papers of the lairds and their immediate families and may include personal and professional correspondence, financial papers not associated with estate business, marriage contracts and records of marriage provisions, professional papers, writings, and memorabilia. These are most abundant for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, although there is also a fine group of seventeenth-century Bruce family papers. Papers of families related to the Boswells by marriage have been placed in the series in which the marriage took place.

The Militia Papers and Parish Records document the individual lairds in their roles as leaders of their communities. The Parish Records are organized alphabetically by parish name and then by type of material. Most of these papers concern Auchinleck parish and almost all are administrative and financial records, such as teind receipts, repair bills, lists of heritors, and calls to ministers. Parish Records are found in almost every series, but the bulk of them date from the mid-seventeenth to the mid- eighteenth centuries.

Barony Records are composed of the charters, sasines, and other similar papers proving the Boswells' title to Auchinleck and are chronologically arranged. These are, in effect, the "progress of the writs" of the entire barony. The earlier series hold several excellent examples of royal charters and sasines complete with seals.

While Barony Records concern the title to Auchinleck, the Estate Papers contain material related to the actual management of the lands, including accounts, rental books, correspondence of estate managers, receipts, lime and mining records, tenant agreements, and memoranda. The information on rentals is particularly complete as there is a full run of rental books from 1661 to 1751, and extensive records from 1786 to 1855. Used in conjunction with the papers in Land Records, the Estate Papers provide insight into the farming and finances of a Lowlands estate from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.

Land Records contain papers documenting the proprietorship and management of specific farms, arranged alphabetically by name of farm. These are less plentiful than Estate Papers, and there are seldom more than a few items related to each farm in any one series. The variety of information is considerable, however, as these papers include tacks, bills and receipts, crop rotation plans, notes on farming techniques, and even some correspondence with farmers, mostly during the nineteenth century. Nearly all of the land records before 1749 are tacks, the earliest of which dates from 1610.

Land Purchases make up the largest single type of material in Part II, totaling about twenty linear feet, mainly in Series XV and XVI. These document the ownership histories of more than twenty named lands or groups of lands. These subseries are arranged alphabetically. Papers have been placed in the series of the purchaser (usually but not always the laird) by name of purchase, and then by type of material. The majority of the papers within each purchase consist of the "Progress of the writs" for the land, which were used to establish and trace the seller's title. For this reason, material within the progresses has been kept in chronological order.

Many of the documents in the progresses are conveyance records such as charters, sasines, precepts of clare constat, and dispositions. Most progresses begin in the early or mid-sixteenth century, and several go back to the original feuing of the lands by the Commendator of Melrose Abbey. These include fine examples of feu charters, complete with seals, and confirmation charters by the Papal Delegate to Scotland.

Progresses can contain a surprising variety of papers, including records of lawsuits and prosecutions for debt; tacks and wadsets; marriage contracts; accounts; and, in the case of the Howieson purchase, the prison bills of the unfortunate seller, who owed his jailer £150 Scots. Much work remains to be done on these records. The history of the large farm of Braehead, for example, is a multi-generational tangle of agreements and lawsuits between the Mitchell and the Boswell families, further complicated by a dispute between the Scottish and Irish branches of the Mitchell family. Other material located in Land Purchases includes correspondence about the sales, accounts, dispositions, and inventories of the writs, which are often early and valuable sources of information. Documents have been identified by type in the box and folder list, and the reader with an interest in a particular kind of document should consult the list carefully.


Series VIII, Boswells of Fife, is housed in Boxes 75-78 of the Boswell Collection and contains the papers of the fifteenth-century Boswells, arranged chronologically by the head of the family and then alphabetically by type of material. Most of the papers are official records of contracts or legal disputes. There are documents concerning the marriages of five Boswell women, including a dispensation for Katharine Boswell and Thomas Molray which carries the seal of the Archbishop of St. Andrews (Box 78, folder 1548). Several land records are in the vernacular, the earliest being a 1431 retour of inquest, complete with sheriff's seal, awarding the "ta half of the est half of Loquhare" to David Boswell of Balmuto. Other records document David's legal disputes with the Abbot of Cambuskenneth, Thomas, Bishop of Dunkeld, and his father-in-law John Melville of Raith. Folders 1512-13 hold contemporary copies of letters from the King concerning these disputes, including one in which he forbids Boswell to answer a summons issued by the Roman Curia.


Thomas Boswell, the first laird of Auchinleck, was a member of the Fife family, a younger half-brother of Sir Alexander Boswell of Balmuto. His papers are located in Boxes 79-81, and are almost entirely concerned with his right to hold the barony. Auchinleck had reverted to the Crown after the death of the last undisputed male heir of that name, which resulted in a series of lawsuits, documented in Boxes 79-80, folders 1558-62.

The original royal charter was issued to Thomas Boswell in 1504 (Box 81, folder 1566 and Box 79, folder 1550). The dispute over the rights to the barony may not have ended until 1512, when Thomas Boswell signed indentures with Archibald, Earl of Angus and his son, Sir William Douglas, who had married Elizabeth Auchinleck. These stipulated that Douglas renounce all claims to the barony, if Boswell would intercede with the King for the Douglas claims to lands in Fife (Box 79, folder 1551; Box 81, folder 1568). These indentures are written in Scots, and one of them still bears the Douglas seal.

DAVID BOSWELL (d. 1562?)

Thomas seems to have died at Flodden leaving a son, David Boswell (d. 1563), whose few papers are found in Series X, Box 82. These include the royal charter, with an almost complete seal, which confirmed the barony to Thomas's widow Annabella Campbell and her son David Boswell in 1513, in honor of Thomas's death while fighting "contra anglos inimicos nostros antiquos," (Box 82, folder 1569). The series also contains a life-rent charter, with seal, by James, Earl of Arran, for Agnes Somervil, "daughter carnall of vmquhill Jhon Lord Somervil" for "her gude dedys to me." David Boswell married a natural daughter of Arran, Lady Janet Hamilton, in 1531.

JOHN BOSWELL (d. 1609?)

Series XI, John Boswell (d. 1609) fills Boxes 83-84. The barony records include an eighteenth-century copy of his escheat for joining Mary, Queen of Scots at Langside. Three folders of debts and wadsets (Box 83, folders 1577-79) in financial papers and the marriage provisions of Christian Dalzell suggest that his great-great grandson was correct in asserting that he left the estate "under very great burdens insomuch that the mains itself was wadsett."


The papers of his son, James Boswell (d. 1618), comprise Series XII and are housed in Boxes 85-86. While there are no detailed financial papers, the series includes charters of the barony, his marriage contract with Marion Craufurd, and his will, which contains a bequest to "Mattheu Machell, his son naturall." The three earliest surviving tacks of Auchinleck lands, two for nineteen and one for twice nineteen years, are located in Box 85, folders 1598-1600, and the series concludes with the earliest charters of the church land of Auchinleck.


Series XIII, David Boswell (d. 1661) is contained in Boxes 87-90. David succeeded to the barony on his father's death, but not without some difficulty. Barony records (Box 87, folders 1606-11) document what seems to have been an attempt by the male heirs of the last Auchinleck of that Ilk to claim the rights to the barony, which concluded in an agreement between George Auchinleck and "his good frend" David Boswell in exchange for "certayne summes of mony." Family papers include the marriage provisions for David's first wife Isobell Wallace and the marriage contract of his brother James. According to family tradition, David was a Royalist and waited in Montrose after the battle of Kilsyth, but the only political item in the series is a copy of the "Prophecie of Paulus Grebnerus," a pro-Royalist piece which had appeared in the Vaticinium Votivum.

Estate papers includes David's lawsuits against his tenants (Box 87, folders 1613-14) and an inventory of the farms belonging to David Boswell, the first complete listing of barony lands. This series also contains the earliest land purchase in the collection, the group of lands called Bannatyne yeards. The progress of the writs begins with a number of very early documents, ten of which date from before 1540, including a tack by Ninian Bannatyne from 1535. Both the property and the superiority of these lands can be traced very clearly, unlike in most progresses.

David also purchased the teinds of Auchinleck parish from John Campbell, Earl of Loudoun, and the contract and charters are found in Box 88, folders 1649-50. In addition, Parish Records contain papers concerning the rebuilding of the church aisle there.

Unfortunately, the collection provides little information on the financial state of Auchinleck during the fifth laird's lifetime, although his grand-nephew asserted that he left it heavily burdened with his daughters' portions, life-rents for his second wife, fines, and other debts. This situation may have influenced his decision to dispone the barony to his nephew, David Boswell, rather than to his daughters, which he did shortly before his death in 1661.

DAVID BOSWELL (1640-1712)

Series XIV, David Boswell (d. 1712) is housed in Boxes 91-98 and contains ample evidence of the sixth laird's financial difficulties. His right to Auchinleck was immediately challenged by his uncle's daughters, who sued for the right to inherit as heirs portioner according to Scottish law. David eventually won the suit because of an exclusionary clause in his uncle's marriage contract, but by that same clause was obliged to pay a forfeiture to the heirs of 12,000 marks (see Box 91, folders 1661-66), a heavy burden on the already impoverished estate. In addition, Box 92, folders 1673-83 contain records of prosecutions for debt brought by determined creditors, particularly Adam Aird.

There is also documentation of David's efforts to retrieve the estate. Estate Papers contains the records of his sale of a large portion of Auchinleck in 1667, the first such sale in the barony's history, a contract for the sale of some woods, and suits brought against his tenants for teinds. His careful management of the estate can be seen in his complete series of rental books for 1661-1712, accounts, and tacks. These papers provide valuable information on agricultural practices at Auchinleck, which seem to have remained fairly traditional. For example, the rent of Craighead in 1689 was £46 Scots, 3 bolls of meall, 4 bolls of bear, 8 hens, 12 chickens, 1 lamb, 5 days of shearing, 1 day of plowing, tethering 2 ewes, and leading 3 loads of peat.

Boswell also seems to have asserted his rights to the large farm of Braehead, and the Land Purchases subseries traces the ownership disputes between the Boswell and the Mitchells. The progress is interesting not only for its extreme complexity but as an illustration of the role played by heritable debts in land transactions. The issues were still unresolved in 1693 when David disponed Braehead to his eldest son, James. The progress for the land of Craikston is also intricate, but is found in Land Records (Boxes 95-96, folders 1732-57), because it was possessed by a collateral branch of the family and the lairds seem to have retained the superiority.

Auchinleck was also touched by the religious turmoil in Scotland at this time. In 1678 David Boswell received a summons before the Privy Council for "withdrawing from the ordinances in your own parosh and for being present at house and feild conventicles." Whether the charges were true, or ever pursued, is not apparent from the collection. Ten years later, however, the tenants of Auchinleck were required to sign an obligation not to attend conventicles (Box 92, folder 1691), and continuing problems are suggested by the records of a protest against the Bishop of Glasgow's attempt to nominate a minister to Auchinleck. As late as 1691, the Rev. William Hunter declined a call to Auchinleck after he was publicly accused of "prelacy" (Box 92, folder 1694). Parish Records also contains an interesting narrative by one Alexander Reid, A Short Account of the Lord's...Providences...from the year1660 to the year 1693. Other Parish Records include a list of heritors, building and repair accounts, the sale of the patronage of Auchinleck, and the accounts of the schoolmaster of Mauchline parish for 1701.

JAMES BOSWELL (1672-1749)

Boxes 99-129 contain Series XV, James Boswell (1672-1749). The series is divided into three sections by family or individual: Bruce-KincardinePapers, Lady Betty Bruce Boswell, and James Boswell.

The Bruce-Kincardine Papers fill boxes 99-103. They are essentially a small family archive within the Boswell archive, having passed into the family through the marriage of James Boswell and Lady Betty Bruce. The papers have been arranged first by individual and then alphabetically by type of material. They span the dates 1593-1709, but the bulk of the material dates from between 1660 and 1680.

The earliest papers relate to Edmund Bruce of Kinloss. There are four folders of letters to his brother, Sir George Bruce of Carnock, written during the first decade of the seventeenth century. These concern family business matters, particularly the Bruces' pursuit of a royal gift of monastic revenues. The family's long-standing interest in fisheries is represented by a 1611 tack of salmon fishing profits granted to John Erskine (Box 99, folder 1794).

Sir George Bruce was the actual founder of the Kincardine line and fortune. The collection contains almost no information on his extensive mining operations, but there is a customs account for Culross for the year 1609 and several financial contracts. His membership on the Commission for the Union of England and Scotland is documented by a list of the commissioners and a copy of the proposed Articles of Union. The last will and testament of his son George, including a tribute to the piety of his wife, is found in Box 99, folder 1806.

Little is known about the first Earl of Kincardine, Edward Bruce. He was created an earl in 1644 and died unmarried in 1662, having "burdened the estate with debts" and "fallen into weakness and innocency," according to his brother's marriage contract. There are several documents concerning his patent in the collection. A receipt from the Committee of Estates shows that he "loaned" that body over 17,000 marks in 1644, while a creditors' agreement dated 1649 seems to be an attempt to preserve the heavily indebted estate intact for his younger brother.

The only personal information about the first Earl is provided by "Purves' paper concerning the condition of Edward, earl of Kincardine" (Box 99, folder 1812). This is a diagnosis of the Earl's condition, in Latin and physician's Greek, which discusses his severe "hypochondria" and "malincholium." It also supplies the information that the Earl was living in France in the late 1640s.

His title passed to his brother Alexander, about whom much more is known. In exile with the Court during the last years of the Commonwealth, Alexander received the rewards of loyalty at the Restoration: appointment to the Privy Council and the gift of the salt excise for Scotland. Other offices followed, and he continued to be active in Scottish politics until the late 1670s. His papers, which fill almost one hundred folders, provide details on many aspects of his career and are also a rich source of information on the complex political and religious problems of Restoration Scotland.

The business and political correspondence is particularly interesting. Major correspondents include Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll; Alexander Bruce of Broomhall; Bishop Gilbert Burnet; William Douglas, Duke of Hamilton; Elizabeth Murray, Duchess of Lauderdale; Sir Archibald Primrose; John Leslie, Duke of Rothes; Cornelius van Aerssen van Sommelsdyck; and Sir John Werden, secretary to the Duke of York.

Few letters pre-date the Restoration. Four letters by Robert Bruce of Broomhall describe the fears and rumors in Edinburgh as Cromwell's army moved north, including a report that it was "strook with leprosy" and that Fairfax "would not ingage offensively agaynst us from a Covenant principall." In 1656 Argyll (then Lord Lorne) notified Bruce that he had been arrested by order of Monck but assured him that "no action of mine can do you harm." The earliest letters by Cornelius van Aerssen van Sommelsdyck, all in French, contain much political news and speculation, covering the Low Countries and France as well as England (Box 101, folder 1850).

Kincardine was both a political ally of the Duke of Lauderdale and an opponent of religious persecution, a position that grew difficult to maintain as the government became steadily more repressive during the 1670s. Fortunately, much of Kincardine's surviving correspondence dates from this period. The party maneuverings and religious disputes are well-documented in the letterbooks of Gilbert Burnet, the Duchess of Lauderdale, the Duke of Hamilton, and Kincardine's own draft letters to the Duke of York.

Burnet's letters date from between 1660 and 1673, although most are from the early 1670s. They describe his fears for the Established Church and the extent of infighting among the King's ministers over both policy and patronage. Several letters employ a number substitution system for proper names which has not been decoded. Also included in this letterbook are questions for the visitors of the University of Glasgow and Burnet's own proposals for modifications in church government, which he hoped "may gain the favour of many sober persons, at least stop their mouths."

The most complete political information is found in a letterbook docketed by Lord Auchinleck as "Letters from the Dutchess of Lauderdale to my grandfather." The letters date from 1668 to the mid-1670s, with many undated, and several employ a word substitution system for proper names. They contain extremely detailed analyses of the political climate; descriptions of Parliamentary debates and Privy Council sessions; defenses of Lauderdale's actions and policies; and strongly-worded advice to Kincardine about his speeches, conversations, and alliances. One letter, for example, contains a defense of Lauderdale's proroguing of the 1673 Parliament: "What is itt that hes raised the oppisition he hes met with, and mastered heere, but his duty?" (Box 100, folder 1840).

Kincardine testified before that Parliament concerning his profits from the salt excise and described the attacks on him and other excise-holders as "outcries. . .by 5 or 6 lords who do not use to speak much out of a tavern." (Box 100, folder 1839). He resigned the gift to aid the government, instead pursuing the gift of an East India shipwreck, as much of his correspondence at this time reveals (Box 101, folder 1860).

The problem of the conventicles, however, drew more and more of Kincardine's attention, as well as the government's. Primrose's letters from 1673 and later warn continually that "the fanaticks are in open rebellion" and the proposed religious settlement is being rejected. Argyll's letters contain frequent references to the government's harsh policies. In August 1669, for example, he complained that the laws were too severe on dissenting ministers: "those in Argyll are generaly turned land laberers." Five years later, he described the oaths he was expected to administer to his tenants: "if I had beene parrmptoer I had turned them to the hills or other sort of feild conventicles."

The record of Kincardine's break with official policy can be found in the two surviving drafts of a 1675 letter to the Duke of York which outline his disapproval of a plan to make landlords responsible for their non-conforming tenants. After pointing out the impossibility of the task and the difficulty of forcing scrupulous consciences, he concluded: "It did appear to me to be very much agaynst law that any man should be punnyshed for the fault of another which was not in his power to prevent." Less than a year later, Kincardine was dismissed from the Privy Council along with the Duke of Hamilton.

The collection also includes family correspondence. Kincardine married Veronica van Aerssen van Sommelsdyck in 1659, and there are many letters from her relatives, mostly in French, containing general family news, current rumors, and discussions of religious topics. A smaller letterbook holds the couple's letters to their eldest son Charles, who was traveling on the Continent in the late 1670s. These are filled with affectionate advice on subjects ranging from the dangers of Popery and the importance of Greek to Charles's dancing and fencing lessons: "Do not care though they should laugh at you, for you must do those things ill before you do them well and it is no shame." Both parents demanded more frequent letters and Kincardine offered instructions on composition, warning him that "you are to write just as you speake and not to use any affected stile which is very ridiculous."

More information on Kincardine's family life and public career can be found in Personal Papers, folders 1863-1904. Included are Kincardine's 1657 passport to Bremen, signed by General Monck; his commissions as a Captain of Horse and a Lord of the Treasury; the royal tack of the salt excise and his summons before Parliament; and a warrant, apparently unexecuted, creating him Earl of Forth. Folders 1890-92 hold his Privy Council papers: a 1674 appointment; a stitched manuscript of "Papers Relating to Scots Affairs Especially Trades and Manufactures," all written between 1660 and 1666, on such topics as the formation of a trading company for wine and the rules of the Scottish staple. "Reasons...for suppreysing feild conventicles" is the Council's response to a petition by Kincardine in 1675. It is a denunciation of "Phanatick Ministers" and their traitorous followers, and concludes that "it is no small greefe to his Majesties servants here not only to meet with opposition at home, but with misrepresentations abroad." Kincardine's docket notes that he received it "from his Majesties hand."

Other papers include three folders of detailed inventories of the furnishings at Culross, two in the hand of Lady Betty Bruce Boswell; a "Compendium Logicum" in Kincardine's hand; and the 1682 ratification of the gift of the East India shipwreck. Kincardine's marriage contract and provisions, along with later papers concerning Lady Kincardine's life-rents, can be found in folders 1882-88. These seem to indicate that the Kincardine estate was badly impoverished by the time of the Earl's death, which happened shortly after the death of the apparent heir, Charles, Lord Bruce.

Kincardine's second son Alexander succeeded him as third Earl of Kincardine. He was already blind and perhaps mentally disturbed, suggesting that the instability of the first Earl had reappeared, perhaps augmented by weakness in the Sommelsdyck line. (Lady Kincardine's niece, Lady Bellomont, "ran lunatick," and several of her sisters, in Lord Auchinleck's words, "never married and lived much retired from the world.") With the exception of a 1693 letter describing the Christian death of Lord George Douglas, the few papers of the third Earl relate to the financial difficulties of the estate, which had fallen into the hands of trustees. Box 109, folder 1910, contains the 1703 disposition of most of it, including Culross, to William Cochrane of Ochiltree. The following year Queen Anne granted the Earl a pension of £ 300, but he died shortly thereafter.

More information concerning Alexander can be found in the Lady BettyBruce Boswell section of Series XV, which contains the papers of his youngest sister, who married James Boswell in 1704. She cared for her brother until her marriage, and her concern over his condition is reflected in her correspondence. The collection includes many letters from the Rev. George Mair and the Rev. George Munro, an Episcopal minister of Culross. The Rev. James Aird of Toryburn also composed religious messages for her to read to her brother "if he be able." (Box 105, folder 1921) All of these letters are primarily concerned with religious and devotional topics, and are interesting not only as examples of pastoral counseling by ministers of different denominations but also as demonstrations of the use of theological ideas in the interpretation of mental illness.

Alexander is also a frequent subject in the letters of her two older sisters, Lady Mary Bruce Cochrane and Lady Anne Bruce Murray (Box 104, folders 1917, 1920). In addition to his illness, the sisters discussed Lady Mary's suit to succeed her brother as heir of line, the family's financial difficulties, and the lives, activities, interests and illnesses of their husbands and children. Lady Mary's letters contain much information on James Boswell, who frequently stayed with her during law term in Edinburgh, as well as suggestions that Lady Betty join him to nurse him. In 1728 she reported that "Auchinlek is so oftenn tendur and ille...he has cryed as much of his pain as is gravell." There are also references to her difficulties with her own children and husband, whom she describes as "not only sinfull but sadly scandulus"; consolation letters on the sickness and death of children and relatives; and much religious discussion.

There are fewer letters from Lady Anne, who died in 1705. In addition to the normal family news, her letters concern the legal and political difficulties of her husband, Sir David Murray, as well as her own ill-health. The letterbook concludes with letters by some of her children and other Murray relatives, mostly speaking of family unhappiness over Sir David's estrangement from them.

Box 104, folder 1914 contains a large letterbook filled with letters by Veronica van Sommelsdyck's sister, Lady Auverquerque. The subjects of the letters, which are all in French, include London social news, information about the author's immediate family and her relatives in Holland, religion, and family business dealings. The letterbook also contains letters in English from her physicians describing her last illness and death and the unfortunate fate of her daughter Lady Bellomont, who had to be confined to a madhouse.

Lady Betty's religious interests are amply documented in several manuscript collections of devotional literature located in Box 105. The individual pieces are extremely varied and include poems; letters of counsel; guides to meditation; Scriptural commentaries; sermons; conversion and deathbed accounts; theological instruction; and hymns. Several pieces are French in origin and language and are connected to the Quietists Antoinette Bourignon and Pierre Poiret, whose teachings enjoyed a brief and controversial popularity in eighteenth-century Scotland. Another figure of controversy, the Rev. James Hogg of Carnock, is represented by a copy of his diary and a transcript of his answers before the Synod of Fife in 1723. A collection of "devot pieces" by the Rev. James Aird of Toryburn includes inspirational letters; "Observations of Monsieur de Renty;" "the most edifying passages in the history of Maria Magdelena;" and a long "Treatise of Adhering to God."

None of these miscellanies has yet been studied in detail, but the sources of the texts appear to be extremely varied. For example, "Ane Account of the conversion of Jean Livingston, Lady Warriston, who was executed for the murder of her husband 1600," was first published by the Roxburghe Club in 1825 in a somewhat different text. "Ane account of Mris Sarah Wight her temptations and deliverance" is derived, with major alterations and omissions, from The Exceeding Riches of Grace Advanced..., published in London in 1647. Several works are attributed to Scottish authors, including a "Call to Come to Christ," patterned on Marlowe's "Come Live With Me," and said to be the work of a Lady Culross. Many of the sermons are identified by author and by the occasion when they were preached.

Box 106 contains a small amount of Lady Betty's other personal papers, mostly contracts and deeds concerning her inheritances from her mother and brother.

Section 3 of Series XV, James Boswell, consists of all estate and family papers not exclusively Lady Betty's and fills Boxes 107-130. Most of his papers, including the correspondence, concern the business affairs of this lawyer and landowner. There are letters concerning the payment of debts, disputed points of contracts, and the schedules of meetings. There is one letter to Alexander, his oldest son, written during his wife's last illness while Alexander was away on business: "As to your comeing...I beelieve your beeing in the countrey is very usefull and our business now requires it. But then when I consider how much itt is our duty to prepare this jewell which is now likely to bee taken away...I will write on this more tomorrow." (Box 109, folder 1962)

That James shared his wife's religious interests is apparent in the letters he received from Sir David Hamilton (Box 109, folder 1965). Physician to Queen Anne, he was the brother of Anna Hamilton, James's mother. In addition to news of family business transactions and political events, his letters contain many discussions of religious subjects and direct spiritual advice. Bound with these are several shorter notes to Lady Betty.

Other personal papers include ten folders of financial papers, mostly processes of debts owed to or purchased by James; his 1690 apprenticeship contract with Robert Crawfurd of Crawfurdstown, which was for two years and cost 200 marks; his own marriage contract and provisions and the contracts of three of his four sisters; and a "Testamentary View of the Estate," drawn up around the time of his death. Box 110, folder 1994 contains a small manuscript of the Boswell family history down to the time of David the sixth laird, which is closely related to the manuscript in James's own hand found in Series II.

The farming of the barony itself is amply documented in a complete run of rental books; household, dairy, stock, and grain accounts; tacks and receipts; and miscellaneous notes concerning liming, crop rotations, and planting. The barony court book (Box 107, folder 1944), is filled with injunctions to tenants to plant trees and clear dykes, as well as denunciations of them for failing to provide the services they owed as rent and for breaking the peace. James still received a substantial amount of rent in kind well into the 1740s, although he was apparently less successful in collecting labor services. The tacks for individual lands found in Land Records tell the same story. Many of the earlier estate papers are in the hand of Lady Betty Bruce, while the later ones are often in Alexander Boswell's hand, who seems to have worked closely with his father on barony matters.

Other examples of this apparent co-operation can be found in the Land Purchases papers. Alexander often acted as his father's agent on purchases, and in some cases it is almost impossible to distinguish between lands bought by Alexander in his own name and his father's purchases. It is clear that both men were devoted to re-building the estate, and the twelve boxes of Land Purchases papers in this series are testimony to James's success.

Boxes 113-14 contain the progress of the writs of Drumfork and Ballangape, James's first major purchase (1714). Of particular interest are the charter and sasine awarded Mungo Reid by Melrose Abbey; a copy of the 1687 marriage contract of Margaret Dalrymple and Adam Aird of Catrine; an extremely lengthy series of processes for debt from 1658 to 1712; and tacks of the farms on the lands written by Adam Aird and turned over to the new owner.

The Howieson purchase is the general name for a group of lands sold to James in the 1730s by Richard Howieson. The role played by debt in Scottish land transfers can be easily seen in this purchase, as folders 2089-90 contain accounts and correspondence relating to Howieson's imprisonment for debt.

The papers for the lands of Lindsayhill and Logan fill Box 117 and continues into Box 118. There are two folders of inventories of the writs, followed by the progress, which fills folders 2137-72. There are several early Melrose charters and sasines, as well as two Papal confirmations Lindsayhill and Logan is also the first example in the collection of an extremely complex type of progress, in which paired or grouped lands are sometimes disposed of together and sometimes separately, or even disposed of at the same time but in two different manners. Repeated over several generations, these procedures tended to bring about confusion over matters of ownership and superiority, and this too can sometimes be traced in the records.

James's acquisition of the barony of Trabeoch was perhaps complicated by the fact that it was the property of his brother-in-law, William Cochrane of Ochiltree, and had been disposed of on a redeemable bond. In fact, one note on Trabeoch's valuation in 1727 points out that "there hath not any care been taken to improve the ground and augment the rents because it might encourage Mr. Cochrane to redeem them and sell them at a greater price." In addition to material on the complex financial transactions among the relatives, the progress includes a 1644 roll docketed "Loudon's right to the barony of Trabeoch"; the marriage contract of William, Lord Cochrane and Euphame Scot; and the 1690 disposition by Loudoun. There is also a separate progress for the lands of Barrenhill from 1554 to 1671 when they were incorporated into Trabeoch, and this contains two folders of tacks dating from 1657-61 (Box 123, folders 2272-73). Finally, folders 2277-82 hold papers concerning the valuation and disjoining of the baronies of Trabeoch and Ochiltree between 1737 and 1743.

The purchase of Tarreoch and Boighead is another "linked purchase." While there are only two sixteenth-century documents concerning these lands, the progress is unusually full for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including a marriage contract; a disposition based on Sir John Cochrane's 1688 forfeiture of his lands; and fifteen folders of papers dealing with James's efforts to clear the claims of other creditors on the last owner and to obtain final title to the properties.

This was often an extremely involved procedure, as can be seen in two "progresses" found in the Land Records section: Braehead and Craikston. The Braehead papers begin with more records of the suits among the Boswell and Mitchell families, and continue with about a dozen folders of fairly obscure transactions between James and the Mitchells. Box 125, folder 2305, holds an undated paper of "Information for James Boswell, Advocate," which sets forth some of the title claims of the Mitchells and possible refutations of them.

The Craikston papers document business dealings between two branches of the Boswell family, James of Auchinleck and the Boswells of the Duncanziemore-Craikston line. Papers preceding 1727 trace the mounting debts of David Boswell of Craikston. After his death a year later, his widow Jean Hunter negotiated with James Boswell concerning the lands, and the later documents treat of the final settling of the deceased's debts and the financial arrangements made by James Boswell for the Craikston family, which included outfitting the eldest son for a voyage to Virginia. (Box 126, folders 2307-08, 2334-38).

Like most of the material in this subseries, the Parish Records are mainly financial records. Located in Box 127, they include hornings of teind delinquents, accounts, receipts and sightings related to repairs on the Auchinleck kirk and manse (folders 2360-69), and the heritor's "call to Mr. David Cooper" as minister in 1731.


Series XVI, Alexander boswell, Lord Auchinleck (1707-1782) is housed in Boxes 131-67 and documents the career of this successful laird and lawyer. Many of Lord Auchinleck's personal papers were moved to Part I, Series II of the Boswell Collection. There are over three boxes of family papers remaining in this series, however, located in folders 2415-78. These include his marriage contract with Euphemia Erskine and seven folders of Erskine family papers; an inventory of dressing plate; an undated commonplace book; and various financial papers, among them his contracts with Dr. Thomas Gillespie, the doctor who treated him for the stone.

Lord Auchinleck's intellectual interests can be seen in his accumulation of genealogical and antiquarian materials (Box 134, folders 2463-64, 2466; Box 135, folder 2477). The most impressive result of these studies, the twelve-volume "Cartulary of the Boswell Family" he commissioned, is now in Boxes 10-13, folders 292-303. There are also copies of a short Greek text on a plaque; "Johannes Luckopius," a satirical poem attributed to Sir William Scot of Thirlstan; and congratulatory poems addressed to Auchinleck, one of which praises him as a man "Who dare be honest in degen'rate time/ When kind reproof's thought rude if not a crime."

Material related to his profession as a lawyer and judge includes commissions by the Earl of Galloway; his nominations to be Sheriff of Wigtown and a Lord of the Court of Sessions; his petition for admission to the Bar; and a short notebook of legal forms, among them the form of Tailzie, or entail.

Most of the correspondence remaining in Part II is also professional in nature, consisting of brief business notes, letters of congratulations on his official appointments, and comments on legal transactions and political alliances which shed light on Lord Auchinleck's position in the complex patronage systems of the period. The letters received from Robert Dundas, Lord Advocate of Scotland, reveal a long-standing friendship between the two men; in the earliest letter, Dundas addresses him as "Dear Sandy." In contrast, the correspondence of Lord Hyndford is filled with discussion of gardens and planting, and the letters were often sent with gifts of "Siberian Cedar Cones" and "Archangel red-and-white Turnip seeds" (Box 133, folder 2434-35).

Lord Auchinleck's interest in estate improvements was not limited to gardening, as the Estate Papers show. These include a summary account of expenses, 1754-79; bills and receipts for various charges, including some incurred through the building of the Manse; two folders of excambion contracts intended to regularize boundaries and remove land from runrig; and suits against delinquent tenants. Folder 2410 holds the records of the Birkieknaw coal works, built in 1767, and the Gasswater Lime and Coal Works. The first known mine on barony land, Birkieknaw produced 2,931 "loads" of coal in the first six months of 1768, which sold for £ 36.12.9. The Land Records for individual farms, located in folders 2791-2813, show the same attention and interest on a smaller scale.

The ways in which Lord Auchinleck's roles as laird and lawyer were intertwined can be seen clearly in Barony Records. Folders 2387-99 contain a complex series of dispositions and resignations in which he appears to be selling most of the barony. In fact, all of these title documents were a mere device to create ten "nominal and fictitious votes" for the Election of 1774, a frequently condemned practice. This progress in miniature ends with the return of the title to Auchinleck. The "Memorial of the Titles to Auchinleck" (Box 157, folder 2861) was drawn up to assist in this effort, and is perhaps the most useful introduction to the lands and charters of the barony.

The preface to the famous entail of the barony, found in folders 2400-01, expresses both his pride in his estate and his uncertainties about his eldest son, James: Auchinleck is "sufficient for answering all the reasonable expenses of a gentleman's family, . . .But as an heir may happen to get it, who by weakness or extravagance would soon put an end to it, I restrain them only from acting foolishly."

Lord Auchinleck was careful to preserve his inheritance and determined to add to it, and the documentation of his Land Purchases fills over twenty boxes (Boxes 135-52 and Oversize boxes 162-67). One of his earliest and most striking purchases was the "Watersyde purchase" (Box 149, folder 2723-40). These lands were the ones sold by his grandfather David in the 1660s, and their return to Boswell ownership did much to restore the original boundaries of the barony.

With few exceptions, these purchases were of groups of lands, and the resulting progresses are particularly complex, as individual parcels were transferred in any number of combinations over the course of two centuries. An effort has been made to clarify this matter by grouping the progresses of these parcels, but complete success has not always been possible, particularly since one parcel of land can often be identified by two or more names. The Whiteflats purchase, for example, seems to have been divided into "Middlewhiteflats called Netherwhiteflats", "the nine shilling land of Nether Catrine called Whiteflats (or Overwhiteflats)", "Nether Catrine called Kensty (Overwhiteflats)" and "Catrineholm or Crossblair." These uncertainties are the result of Scottish land use patterns, and the researcher should consult all of the documents in any given purchase group to ensure accuracy.

Many of these progresses contain particularly interesting examples of legal documents and sixteenth and seventeenth century papers, including charters with seals. The progress for Carbello includes a charter of confirmation on a writ of novel darein and is particularly detailed for the seventeenth century. The Clews purchase includes several fine Melrose charters. In addition, the gradual joining of the parcels of land under one owner is very clearly illustrated. Overmeiklewood also has examples of sixteenth-century documents, as well as a few early unsubscribed charters. The Whiteflats purchase, in which all of the lands derive from Melrose Abbey, includes at least one case in which the lands were definitely feued to a previous renter.

The subseries Legal Papers is housed in Boxes 154-56, folders 2814-54. These were apparently the property of Lord Auchinleck's brother James Boswell, writer in Ayr. The papers have been left in their original grouping by bundle, as it seems to reflect a classification by type of document. No connection has been discovered among the papers, which are in several hands: they may have been accumulated in James's own practice, or they could have been "style samples" of types of instruments. Box 156, folder 2854 holds a legal style book which belonged to James, written around 1685.

Parish Records include schoolmaster's salary receipts for both Auchinleck and Mauchline parishes and a few other financial papers for each parish. They are located in Box 156, folders 2855-60.

Boxes 157-61 contain all of the burgess tickets granted to Lord Auchinleck by various burghs. They have been removed from their usual series order and placed at the beginning of the Oversize material to protect the elaborate burghal seals.

Scope and Contents

JAMES BOSWELL (1740-1795)

Series XVII, James Boswell (1740- 1795), is housed in Boxes 168-71 and consists of those papers concerning James Boswell which were not selected for inclusion in Part I of the Boswell Collection. There is a small quantity of family papers, including a copy of James's grant of £ 500 to his daughter Veronica; a folder of letters by Thomas David Boswell; a few Montgomerie family papers concerning debts and inheritances; and Memorials and Petitions Concerning the Countess of Sutherland. Additional information about Lt. John Boswell during the early years of his mental illness is provided in six folders of personal bills and receipts from 1760-68; four letter received by him in 1763 and 1765; and the catalogue of a circulating library in Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Most of the papers left uncatalogued, however, were Estate Papers and Land records. Eight folders of estate correspondence contain many letters from Andrew Gibb and James Bruce, who were assigned to deliver weekly reports on conditions at Auchinleck during Boswell's frequent absences. They are very detailed, conveying many requests for decisions on such matters as the proper number of years to rent a particular farm, what sort of crop rotation should be carried out on the Mains, and how much should be spent on repairs to the roofs at Pennyland. There are also letters from the tenants to Gibb and Bruce on such topics, which in many cases were sent on to James with the weekly reports.

Estate Papers also includes accounts of haymaking, and servants' wages: reports on "Improvements to the Entailed Estate" as required by Scottish law; bills and receipts; liming and mining records; five folders of rental information; and suits against tenants. There are four folders of memoranda and notes, some in James Boswell's hand, on estate matters, including several which show considerable concern for the tenants. "My gratuity of 40 shillings yearly was meant as charity to John Wilson in the view of his leaving my estate. But if he is to be my tenant he is not to expect it." Box 169, folder 2953)

The Land Records of individual farms are located in folders 2988-3013 and provide more information on farming at Auchinleck during this lairdship. Material on any specific farm may include letters from and to tenants, tacks, bills and receipts, notes, and miscellaneous memoranda. For example, the file on Dalblair (Box 170, folder 2993) contains letters by two tenants to James Bruce, a letter to James Boswell by one of them, notes on the conditions of the tack by James Boswell, a copy of the tack, and various bills and receipts for rents and produce. It is clear, from the number and specificity of these records, that Boswell was far from uninterested in Auchinleck, but it is also clear that it was almost impossible for an absentee laird to be a good manager.


Sir Alexander Boswell succeeded to Auchinleck in 1795. While many of his personal papers were selected for inclusion in the Catalogue, Boxes 172-78 hold a few family and estate papers which were not removed. The family papers include twenty-four folders of correspondence. There are short notes to Sir Alexander from political colleagues such as George Canning, Castlereagh, Dalhousie, Eldon, Liverpool, and Strafford. Among the letters from Sidmouth is one announcing Sir Alexander's receipt of a baronetcy. Folder 3080 contains a letter signed Rob Sinklest which attacks Sir Alexander's support of the 1816 Corn Bill: "They say your ar making a jil to burie Pur folks in. There is a tomb at Auchinleck that your forfather has papered before. If this Bill pas, you ar ingaged in: your ar to have your duelling there ar long."

Sir Alexander's family correspondence includes two letters from Euphemia Boswell to Andrew Gibb; letters to his wife, Grizel Cuming Boswell, conveying family news, financial concerns, and his wishes to return home; and several letters by James Boswell the younger. Family business matters, including the increasing financial difficulties of the Boswells, are discussed in detail in the eight folders of correspondence with Hamilton Douglas Boswell, a cousin and the family's legal agent.

Other family papers include a few documents concerning the confinement of Euphemia Boswell; records of his difficulties in entering heir to the estate; papers concerning his proposed repairs to the manse at Auchinleck; the Catalogue of Greek and Latin; and an obituary of Sir Alexander. Folders 3105-19 hold "Papers collected by James Boswell the younger," apparently while working on the re-issue of Malone's edition of Shakespeare. There are manuscript pages and collected page proofs of the 1821 edition and a copy of the catalogue of Malone's library. More interesting are the papers James labelled "Papers of no value," which probably derive from Malone's researches in Stratford-on-Avon. There are five folders of apparently miscellaneous and unrelated receipts and scraps from that town, most dated between 1659 and 1681. Documents of the inheritance suit between John Henslowe and Edward Alleyn are located in folders 3117-19.

The estate material is extensive and includes detailed reports on the finances of Auchinleck by Sir William Forbes and Hamilton Douglas Boswell; rental statements; mining records for both the coal works and the lime works; and six folders of the correspondence of estate managers and tenants; and lists of servants' wages, haymaking costs, and dairy expenditures. Sir Alexander kept extremely accurate account of "Improvements to the Entailed Estate," and it is possible to reconstruct many of the farming practices and finances of Auchinleck in the early nineteenth century from these papers.

Sir Alexander purchased the neighboring barony of Ochiltree and the lands of Pennymore, and papers concerning these lands are located in Box 177, folders 3131-32. The Land Records contain more correspondence than in preceding series, as well as more items actually written by the tenants themselves, including bills, planting plans, and viewings. Turnpikes seem to have been a major source of disputes. Folders 3137-38 hold the records of the Bellowmiln sucken for 1800-04, revealing the tenants' dislike of this outmoded "bondage" to a specific mill.

Sir Alexander was an active participant in the Ayrshire militia, and folders 3158-61 contain his commissions, muster lists, orders, list of "voluntary" contributors to patriotic organizations, with notes on those who refused to give, and various other papers.

In addition to the usual financial items, the Parish Records include "Queries Concerning the Poor of the Parish of Mauchline," a list of questions on subjects ranging from the practice of begging to Bible ownership and the need of the poor for savings banks (Box 178, folder 3164).


Auchinleck passed to Sir James Boswell, Sir Alexander's eldest son, in 1822. Many of Sir James's papers concern his attempts to break the entail on the estate. In 1835 he petitioned successfully to excamb some of his entailed lands for unentailed property. He sued to break the entail completely in 1848, probably motivated by his lack of a direct male heir and need for money. The heirs in tail countersued, and the records of Boswellv. Boswell are located in Boxes 180-81, folders 3192-3210. They include notes for the attorneys, pleadings, and the final judgement in favor of Sir James, on the basis of an erasure in the original entail. Scattered through the legal instruments is much valuable genealogical information which was gathered as evidence during the dispute.

Although Sir James never sold Auchinleck, his Estate Papers reveal continuing financial troubles. Most of these cover the period from 1822 to the mid 1830s, although there are some later rental intromissions accounts. Folders 3219-27 hold estate correspondence, mostly letters between the estate managers and the tenants concerning specific problems. The rental accounts are located in Boxes 183-84, folders 3252-61, and indicate steadily declining revenues from the estate. In 1836 it is noted that "the surplus rental cannot amount to more than £ 1,000," and by 1880 Auchinleck ran a deficit of over £ 4,000 in one year.

Estate Papers also documents Sir James's other sources of income: leases of mineral rights to the Lugar Iron Works, which eventually failed to return profit, and settlements paid to him by the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock, and Ayr Railway Company.

Family Papers include financial papers; the inheritance suit of Thomas David Boswell; Sir James's provisions for his widow and children; and Janet Theresa Boswell's marriage contract. Correspondence is located in folders 3264-69 and consists almost entirely of brief notes on specific occasions. An 1881 letter to P. C. D. Boswell from D. Scott Moncrieff confirms the financial ruin of the estate: "It is with no ordinary feeling of pain and emotion that I venture to urge the necessity of selling such a nobel inheritance...if it should realize something like £ 250,000, there will be a reversion of something like £ 90,000 for her Ladyship after paying all debts" (Box 184, folder 3265).

Sir James, unlike the preceding five lairds, made no land purchases. Land records are located in Box 185 and contain correspondence, tacks, bills and receipts for grain and services, and notes and memoranda concerning farming techniques, particularly the construction of drainage dykes.


Series XX, Additional Papers, is housed in Boxes 186-92 and is divided into three sections: Other Boswell Papers, Related Papers, and Other Papers.

Folders 3317-18 hold the correspondence of George Boswell of Barglachan, an Auchinleck farmer who emigrated to Ohio in 1852 after his property was auctioned for non-payment of debt. A letter of 1851 indicates how deeply emotional a situation the auction was for him: "there was a brigt ligt..there was something came and spaek. It told me the Roup could not be prevented but that it had been brought round that the purpose of God according to Election might stand, but that it would turn out to God's glory." His subsequent letters describe their voyage to New York and journey to Ohio, the aid given them by other Scots, their crops and farming techniques, and the prosperity of the new country. "I never tasted better pork. . . we have a good frame house with five glass windows" (Box 186, folder 3317). The family's apparently successful adjustment to life in America can be traced throughout the correspondence.

Other Boswells also includes a list of tacks on Auchinleck lands in 1932, "Particulars of the Estate of Auchinleck," and "Plans of the Estate." These last are from an undated sales offering and provide much useful detail about the later history of the barony lands.

The second section, Related Papers, contains a variety of material either collected by the lairds of Auchinleck or concerning families connected to them. Included are a commission signed by Mary Queen of Scots and sealed with her Great Seal; a group of charters pertaining to the Bonar of Rassy family; and a debt progress of the Primroses of Rosebery, perhaps related to the Bruce family. The Campbells of Loudoun are represented by a charter, a lawsuit against Cunningham of Craigends, and documents concerning disputes over teinds (Box 186, folder 3336 and Box 194, folder 4029).

Memorabilia which could not be assigned definitely to a specific laird have been placed in Box 187, folders 3345-51. These include a small painting on wood of Moses striking the rock, possibly eighteenth-century; a scrap of beadwork; and a broken example of the Great Seal of Richard Cromwell. Printed items consist of a 1732 catechism and several titles dealing with the Presbyterian "Synods" controversy of the 1730s and 1740s.

There are also three folders of writings in this section. "Ane meditasione for wakning the secur sowle" is a religious exercise in a mid or late seventeenth-century hand. An analysis of political conditions throughout the world, with special reference to the future of Great Britain, is offered in "Universal Politics; or, the Politics of Reason and Good Sense." It was composed around 1785, and the author devotes much attention to "recent events in the former Colonies," claiming to have spent four years in Nova Scotia and to have conversed with Samuel Adams, George Washington, and other American figures. He is possibly the Rev. William Doyle, whose "Universal Religion; or, the Religion of Reason and Good Sense" is found in Series II of Part I (Box 21, folder 481).

Other items of interest in this section are instructions by Queen Elizabeth to Sir John Fortescue, a portion of an unidentified proclamation by King James VI, and a recipe book containing entries in various eighteenth and nineteenth century hands concerning such topics as lotion for chapped skin, "India pickle," and "good Civet." Box 188, folder 3363 holds an undated and highly decorated "Supplicatio ad Papam" of doubtful authenticity.

Other papers consists of legal documents with no apparent connection to any of the lairds or the land progresses. Most of them are eighteenth-century and may have become separated accidentally from the "Bundles" of James Boswell, writer in Ayr. They have been grouped by type of document and arranged alphabetically by type and chronologically within each type. The series concludes with eighteen folders of "wrappers." These are documents or scraps of documents which were used as covers for bundles of other papers. Many of these are vellum, and some contain much early text, although others have been scraped or damaged. An attempt has been made to file the more intact vellum examples first, followed by the less interesting items.


  • 1428 - 1936
  • Majority of material found within 1700 - 1795


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Boswell Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Please see Description of the Papers.


102.75 Linear Feet (197 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Boswell Collection contains the correspondence, diaries, and manuscripts of author James Boswell; estate records, letters, personal and professional papers, and other materials documenting the lives and careers of ten generations of Boswells and their possession of the barony of Auchinleck; and correspondence relating to the political career of Alexander Bruce, Earl of Kincardine.


The charts on the following pages trace the main family of the Boswells of Auchinleck. Lairds of Auchinleck is a brief reference list of the lairds and their wives only, while the following chart includes all children of lairds. For charts of several branches of the family and related families, see Appendix I.

The names of the lairds and their wives are underlined in all charts except the first. An asterisk preceding an entry indicates that additional information can be found on another chart.

The information contained in the charts, as in the biographical sketches, has been drawn from a variety of published and unpublished sources, including the Dictionary of National Biography, several volumes of the Yale Edition of the Private Papers of James Boswell, and Jasper John Boswell's History and Genealogical Tables of the Boswells (Vol 1, privately printed, 1906; Vol 2, unpublished manuscript photocopy in the files of the Boswell Editorial Project). When information obtained from the papers in the Boswell Collection contradicted the published sources, the primary source was preferred.


I. Thomas Boswell (d. 1513) m. Annabella Campbell

II. David Boswell (d. 1562?) m. 1531? Janet Hamilton

III. John Boswell (d. 1609) m. ca. 1562 Christian Dalzell

-----------------------------------1580? Katharine Stewart

IV. James Boswell (d. 1618) m. 1590 Marion Crauford

V. David Boswell (d. 1618) m. 1613? Isobel Wallace

----------------------------------2m. Margaret Stewart

VI. David Boswell (1640-1712) m. 1667? Anna Hamilton (d. 1711)

VII. James Boswell (1672-1749) m. 1704 Lady Elizabeth Bruce (1673-1734)

VIII. Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck (1707-1782) m. 1738 Euphemia Erskine


----------------------------------------------------2m. 1769 Elizabeth

-------------------------------------------------------------Boswell (d. 1799)

IX. James Boswell (1740-1795) m. 1769 Margaret Montgomerie (1738?-1789)

X. Sir Alexander Boswell (1775-1822) m. 1799 Grizel (Grace) Cuming

-----------------------------------------------(d. 1864)

XI. Sir James Boswell (1807-1857) m. Jessie Jane Montgomerie Cuninghame

--------------------------------------------(d. 1884)


-----Thomas Boswell (d. 1513) m. Annabella Campbell

----------David Boswell (d. 1562?)

----------Alexander Boswell of Kilvermouth (d. 1586) m. Janet Boswell of


--------------------------------------2m. 1525 John Cuningham of Caprington

-----David Boswell (d. 1562?) m. 1531? Lady Janet Hamilton

-----------------------------------------(d. after 1573)

----------John Boswell (1532?-ca. 1609)

-----John Boswell (1532?-ca. 1609) m. ca. 1562 Christian Dalzell

----------James Boswell (1567?-1618)

----------*John Boswell of Duncanziemore

----------Robert Boswell

-----------------------------------2m. Katharine Stewart

----------*William Boswell of Knockroon m. Margaret Inglis

-----James Boswell (1567?-1618) m. 1590? Marion Crauford

----------David Boswell (d. 1661)

----------*James Boswell of the Hill m. 1638? Agnes Cuningham of Caprington

----------John Boswell (d. 1643?)

----------(Family genealogy mentions "other three sons with three of their

----------sisters went to Germany" and a "Davys" who "dyed in Scotland")

-----David Boswell (d. 1661) m. 1613? Isobell Wallace

----------Marion Boswell m. Alan, Lord Cathcart

----------Isobell Boswell (d. before 1662) m. ca. 1635 Quintagern Reid of


--------------------------------------------2m. 1657 John Schaw of Sornbegg

----------Jean Boswell m. Gordon of Carlstoun

----------Margaret Boswell m. David Blair of Adamstown

-------------------------------2m. Lady Margaret Stewart

--------------------------------------2m. Sir James Hamilton

-----David Boswell (1640-1712) m. 1667? Anna Hamilton (d. 1711)

----------James Boswell (1672-1749)

----------*John Boswell of Balmuto (d. 1749) m. 1726 Margaret Henderson

------------------------------------------------------(d. 1790)

----------Jean Boswell (d. 1698?) m. 1697? Lieut. John Campbell

----------Margaret Boswell m. 1702 Hugh Campbell of Barquharrie

----------*Ann Boswell m. 1708 George Campbell of Treesbank

-----James Boswell (1672-1749) m. 1704 Lady Elizabeth Bruce


----------*Veronica Boswell (1704-ca. 1742) m. 1729 David Montgomerie of


----------David Boswell (1706-1709)

----------Alexander Boswell (1707-1782)

----------John Boswell (1710-1780) m. Anne Cramond

----------James Boswell (b. 1710) m. ----

----------David Boswell (1711-1712)

-----*Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck (1707-1782) m. 1738 Euphemia Erskine


----------Euphemia Boswell (1739-1741)

----------James Boswell (1740-1795)

----------John Boswell (1743-ca. 1798)

----------Elizabeth Boswell (1746-1751)

----------(Thomas) David Boswell (1748-1826) m. 1783 Anne Catherine Green

----------------------------------------------------*2m. 1769 Elizabeth Boswell

-----------------------------------------------------------------(d. 1799)

-----*James Boswell (1740-1795) m. 1769 Margaret Montgomerie (1738-1789)

--------------Boswell (1770-1770)

----------Veronica Boswell (1773-1795)

----------Euphemia Boswell (1774-1837)

----------Alexander Boswell (1775-1822)

----------David Boswell (1776-1777)

----------James Boswell (1778-1822)

----------*Elizabeth Boswell (1780-1814) m. 1799 William Boswell

-----Sir Alexander Boswell (1775-1822) m. 1799 Grizel (Grace) Cuming (d. 1864)

----------Sir James Boswell (1807-1857)

----------Janet Teresa Boswell (d. 1836) m. 1826 Sir William Francis


----------Grace Jane Boswell (d. 1890) m. 1843 Gen. Rawdon Vassall of

------------------------------------------------Balhary (d. 1884)

----------Margaret Emily Boswell (1814-1817)

-----*Sir James Boswell (1807-1857) m. 1830 Jessie Jane Montgomerie

----------------------------------------------Cuninghame (d. 1884)

----------Julia Grace Jessie Jane Boswell (d. 1905) m. 1867 George Mounsey

----------Louisa Boswell (d. young)

----------Emily Harriet Boswell (d. 1898) m. 1873 Richard Wogan Talbot, 5th B.

-----------------------------------------------Talbot de Malahide (1846-1921)

-----Emily Harriet Boswell (d. 1898) m. Richard Wogan Talbot, 5th B.

------------------------------------------Talbot de Malahide (1846-1921)

----------James Boswell Talbot, 6th B. Talbot de Malahide (1874-1948)

---------------------------------------2m. Isobel Charlotte Gurney (d. 1932)

-----James Boswell Talbot, 6th B. Talbot de Malahide (1874-1948) m. 1924

--------------------------------------Joyce Gunning Kerr (ca. 1900-1980)

DAVID BOSWELL, 1640-1712

David Boswell was born in 1640, the eldest son of James Boswell of the Hill and Agnes Cuningham. He attended the local grammar school and studied for a short time in Edinburgh, but his lack of grounding in Latin prevented further study. His uncle David Boswell disponed the barony of Auchinleck to him shortly before his death in 1661. According to the family memoirs, "at his comeing to the estate he found it very low and almost sunk," burdened with life-rents, dowries, and numerous other debts. In addition, the daughters of the fifth laird brought suit to be recognized as heirs of line, and David was forced to establish his legal right to Auchinleck.

The sixth laird's careful management effectively saved the barony. To reduce the burdens, in 1667 he sold "all of the barony north of the church" to William, Lord Cochrane. David kept his own rental books and accounts, pursued claims to the superiority of several lands, and enforced his right of collecting teinds. He sold some of the woods of Auchinleck to raise cash, but also began a system of planting which was followed and enlarged by his son and grandson.

David was a strong supporter of the Covenanters during the Restoration, and in 1678 he was summoned before the Privy Council on the charge of attending field conventicles. The outcome is not known, but ten years later he and his tenants signed an obligation not to attend such meetings. He was commissioned captain of the parish militia in 1689.

David married Anna Hamilton, daughter of Hamilton of Dalzell, in 1667. Five children survived to adulthood. David disponed the barony to his eldest son, James Boswell, in 1702. About that time he was "afflicted with a palsy" that impaired his memory, and he spent the last years of his life in seclusion at Auchinleck, where he died in 1712.

JAMES BOSWELL, ca. 1675-1749

James Boswell was the eldest son of David Boswell and Anna Hamilton. He attended the University of Glasgow and was then apprenticed to Robert Crawfurd of Crawfurdstown as a writer. In 1695 he went to Leyden to read Civil Law, remaining there through 1697. He passed advocate on his return to Scotland, attracted the favorable notice of Lord Whitelaw, and began building what became a large and lucrative practice. After 1702, he assumed most of the responsibility for managing Auchinleck because of his father's increasing disability.

He married Lady Elizabeth Bruce in 1704. The youngest daughter of the second Earl of Kincardine, she is said to have had a portion of 20,000 marks. While Boswell pursued his legal career, staying in Edinburgh during term, she took charge of the estate business, keeping the accounts, collecting rents, and negotiating tacks and contracts. By these means they succeeded in clearing Auchinleck of debt, and they purchased additional lands, including the barony of Trabeoch. Boswell was interested in estate improvements, and he encouraged his tenants to use more advanced crop rotations, to remove their lands from runrig, and to establish the weaving of linen. Both Boswells were devout Presbyterians, and Boswell was an active patron of Auchinleck parish, contributing to and overseeing repairs to the church buildings as well as participating in the selection of ministers.

Four children of James and Elizabeth survived to adulthood. The eldest, Veronica Boswell, married David Montgomerie of Lainshaw in 1729. Alexander Boswell, the eldest son, was born in 1707. Three years later, twin sons, John and James, were born. Elizabeth died of dropsy in 1734, an event which left James prey to what his son called "a constant melancholy." This was increased by his physical sufferings from stranguary, and he withdrew from most activities, spending much time on religious pre-occupations. He died in 1749.


Alexander Boswell, born in 1707, was the eldest son and heir of James Boswell and Lady Elizabeth Bruce. After attending the University of Edinburgh, he read Civil Law at the University of Leyden and was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1727. After his mother's death in 1734, Alexander assumed most of the responsibility for the family estate, even purchasing most of the lands sold by his grandfather sixty-seven years previously. In 1738 Alexander married his cousin Euphemia Erskine, grand-daughter of Lady Mary Bruce Cochrane.

His first official position was as Sheriff of Wigtown (Galloway) in 1748. He resigned in 1750, shortly after inheriting Auchinleck, to attend to his "private affairs." With the support of Robert Douglas, Alexander was nominated to the Court of Sessions in 1754, receiving the additional appointment to the High Court of Justiciary in the following year. He acquired a reputation as a skilled and prudent judge whose decisions were admired by his colleagues.

Alexander's financial success enabled him to purchase much new land, including the regality of Templand. He built the present Adam-style Auchinleck House, which was completed in 1762, and designed the extensive landscape gardens that surrounded it. The Improvement movement interested him, and he carried out systematic plantings of trees, enclosed farms, and promoted the use of lime by his tenants. He established the first coalworks on barony land at Birkieknaw. Lord Auchinleck also amassed perhaps the most distinguished book collection in Scotland, particularly of Greek and Latin texts in early editions.

Euphemia Erskine Boswell died in 1766. The couple had three sons: James Boswell the biographer; John Boswell, whose brief career in the Army ended with his first attack of insanity in 1763; and Thomas David Boswell, who went into business and traded in Spain for many years before becoming head of the prize department of the Navy. Lord Auchinleck's second wife was his first cousin Elizabeth Boswell. They were married on Nov. 25, 1769, which was also the wedding day of James Boswell. There were no children of this second marriage.

Alexander's later years were marked by increasing ill-health, including a painful bladder condition. He resigned from the High Court of Justiciary in 1780, although he remained on the Court of Sessions until his death. He continued to be active in the management of his estate, which he entailed upon his eldest son in 1776, "in the hopes and belief that I have fallen on a method of preventing children from being independent of their parents," noting proudly that Auchinleck "has many uncommon beauties and conveniences." Alexander, Lord Auchinleck, died in Edinburgh on August 25, 1782.

JAMES BOSWELL, 1740-1795

A succinct account of James Boswell's life can be found in the Dictionary of National Biography. For more information, see Frederick A. Pottle's James Boswell: the Earlier Years 1740-1769 and Frank Brady's James Boswell: the Later Years 1770-1795.


Sir Alexander Boswell was born at Auchinleck in October 1775, the third child of James Boswell and Margaret Montgomerie. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and began a Tour on the Continent shortly after his father's death in 1795. He married Grizel (Grace) Cuming, of Edinburgh, in 1799.

James Boswell had left his estate in a confused and burdened condition, and it was over a decade before the inheritance questions were settled. Alexander and his family primarily resided at Auchinleck, and Alexander purchased much new property, including the neighboring barony of Ochiltree. He was magistrate and deputy-lieutenant of Argyleshire, and lieutenant-colonel of the Ayrshire cavalry. In 1816 and 1820 he was elected to Parliament from Plympton Erle in Devonshire. Alexander accepted the Chiltern Hundreds in 1821, and was created a baronet in that same year.

Sir Alexander was an antiquarian and author whose published pieces include Songs, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1803); "Clan-Alpin's Vow" (1817); and twelve contributions to George Thomson's SelectCollection of Original Scottish Airs (1817). He founded a private press at Auchinleck in 1815, issuing his own works and reprints of rare 16th century editions, including the Roxburghe Club printing of the Poems of RichardBarnfield. In recognition of his bibliographic interests, Boswell was nominated to the Roxburghe Club in 1819. He was poet laureate of the Harveian Society of Edinburgh, as well as the main organizer of the public subscription to the Burns monument. He laid its foundation-stone on Burns's birthday in 1820.

Like his father, Sir Alexander frequently contributed anonymous articles and letters to newspapers. During 1821 he published a series of such lampoons and attacks on James Stuart of Duncarn in Tory papers. Stuart discovered the identity of his attacker early in 1822 through documents seized in a lawsuit against the Glasgow Sentinel. Sir Alexander had been called to London on the death of his brother James, but he received and accepted Stuart's challenge on his return to Edinburgh. They fought on March 26 at Balbarton. According to later testimony, neither man took aim, but Stuart's shot broke Sir Alexander's collarbone. He was carried to Balmuto, where he died the following day. He was survived by his wife, his son and heir Sir James Boswell, and two daughters, Janet Teresa Boswell and Margaret Amelia Boswell.


Alexander Bruce was the second son of Sir George Bruce of Carnock and Mary Preston of Valleyfield. He received an excellent education and developed interests in the classics, mathematics and the sciences. A Royalist, he was obliged to leave Scotland early in 1657 and traveled in Germany and Holland until the Restoration, often with the Stuart court. In Hamburg he worked with the Dutch mathematician Hugens de Zulichem (Eliezer) to perfect a method of making pendulum clocks accurate at sea. In 1659 he married Veronica van Aerssen van Sommelsdyck, daughter of Lord Sommelsdyck and Spyk and Lucia de Waltes. Although his eldest brother was still living at this time, Bruce is called the Earl of Kincardine in the marriage contract "through the weakness and innocency in which his elder bother is fallen."

Kincardine returned to Scotland at the Restoration and was named a Privy Councillor and Commissioner of Treasury, in addition to which he was awarded the salt-excise. His estate contained extensive coal-works and salt-works, and Kincardine took great interest in them. He also possessed quarries of superior stone and marble, some of which was used in the re-building of St. Paul's. His interest in fisheries was considerable, and he was an investor in the Greenland whaling industry.

His political involvements required most of his attention. In 1665 he was accused by James Sharp of attending an illegal communion service at Tullialoun, but his career was not damaged, and the following year he commanded a troop of horse during the Pentland Rebellion. He was appointed an Extraordinary Lord of Session and King's Commissioner in 1667. Kincardine had begun his political career as an ally of the Duke of Lauderdale, and served as his deputy at Whitehall for a short time in 1674. He consistently opposed the government's persecution of conventiclers, however, which led to his being ordered to retire to Scotland in 1674. Two years later, he and the Duke of Hamilton were dismissed from the Privy Council.

Kincardine had five children who lived to adulthood. The eldest son, Charles, Lord Bruce, died on the Continent in 1680, unmarried. The peerage was inherited by his second son, Alexander, along with the impoverished estate, which was further burdened by settlements on Lady Kincardine, who lived until 1701. According to the Scots Peerage, Alexander, 3rd Earl, "became blind, of weak intellect," and there were questions about his sanity. He died unmarried in 1705. His three sisters sued for the title to pass to the heir of line, Lady Mary Bruce Cochrane, but the suit failed.

Lady Mary Bruce married William Cochrane of Ochiltree in 1684. His second daughter Anne married Sir David Murray of Stanhope. The youngest, Lady Elizabeth Bruce, cared for her elder brother until her marriage to James Boswell of Auchinleck in 1704.


The first chart, BOSWELLS OF FIFE, contains information on the direct ancestors of the first laird, Thomas Boswell. The following charts document several branches of the Auchinleck family and are arranged by generation of separation. Finally, charts are included for two closely related families, the Bruces and the Cochranes of Ochiltree.

The collateral lines are often poorly documented, particularly for the seventeenth century, and these charts should be considered guides research rather than definitive genealogies. Each family has been followed from its foundation (when possible) to the last generation whose members are documented in the Boswell Collection.

The number of marriages between cousins in the Boswell families means that the researcher should be prepared to consult as many as three different tables for complete information. An asterisk preceding an entry indicates that additional information can be found on another chart.

The information is drawn from a variety of sources, the unpublished manuscript of Volume 2 of Jasper John Boswell's unpublished History andGenealogical Tables of the Boswells and the papers in the Boswell Collection. In cases of contradiction among sources, the primary source was always preferred.


-----Sir John Boswell of Balgregy (d. 1429) m. Margaret Jardyn

----------David Boswell

----------daughters (one m. Sir John Auchinleck of Auchinleck)

-----David Boswell of Balmuto m. Elizabeth Malvil of Raith

------------------------------2m. Isobel Wemyss

----------David Boswell

----------Robert Boswell, parson of Auchterderran

----------Elizabeth Boswell m. 1455? Robert Douglas of Lochleven

----------Janet Boswell m. 1462? John de Ramsay

----------[Katharine Boswell m. 1481? Thomas Molray of Seafeild]

-----David Boswell of Glasmount m. 1464 Grizel Wemyss

----------Sir Alexander Boswell of Balmuto (d. 1513)

----------Euphemia Boswell m. 1485 Alexander Meldrum

----------[Isobel Boswell m. 1489? Thomas Lundy]

----------Gelys Boswell m. 1493 William Balram

-------------------------------2m. 1480 Margaret Sinclair

----------William Boswell of Lochgellie

----------*Thomas Boswell (d. 1513) m. Annabella Campbell

----------Robert Boswell, pastor of Auchterderran

----------John Boswell, pastor of Kinnoul

-----Sir Alexander Boswell of Balmuto (d. 1513) m. Elizabeth Ramsay

-----------------------------------------------2m. Alison Sandilands



The Boswells of Duncanziemore and Craikston

-----John Boswell of Duncanziemore m. Jean Campbell of Horsecleuch

----------Quintagern (Mungo) Boswell of Craikston (d. ca. 1669) m. Margaret Reid

---------------John Boswell of Craikston (d. 1692?)

---------------David Boswell of Craikston

-----David Boswell of Craikston (1660-1728) m. 1680 Jean Hunter

----------James Boswell "went to Maryland"

----------*John Boswell m. Margaret Ferguson

----------Charles Boswell m. [1770's] "went to Jamaica"

----------Elizabeth Boswell m. John Mitchell of Hallglenmuir (d. ca. 1758)

----------Susanna Boswell m. John Rankine

----------Margaret Boswell (d.1740) m. John Black

----------Jean Boswell (1708-1753)m. John Weight

-----James Boswell (d. by 1758?) m.

----------*David Boswell of Leith m. Elizabeth Boswell of Knockroon


-----*David Boswell of Leith m. Elizabeth Boswell of Knockroon

----------James Boswell

----------John Boswell

----------Montgomery Boswell

----------Agnes Boswell

----------other children?

The Boswells of Knockroon

-----William Boswell of Knockroon (d. 1658) m. Malvina Stewart

----------John Boswell of Knockroon (d. 1713?) m. 1690 Margaret Montgomerie of Lainshaw (b. 1666)

---------------Elizabeth Boswell (1695-1764) m. John Ferguson

---------------Agnes Boswell (b. 1704) "died unmarried"

---------------William Boswell (b. 1710) "died young"

----------Elizabeth Boswell (1695-1764) m. John Ferguson

---------------*Margaret Ferguson m. John Boswell of Duncanziemore/Craikston

----------Margaret Ferguson m. John Boswell of Duncanziemore/Craikston

---------------*Elizabeth Boswell m. David Boswell of Leith

---------------John Boswell of Knockroon (1741-1805) m. 1766 Christian Hamilton

---------------Jean Boswell

---------------Margaret Boswell

---------------"other children"

----------John Boswell of Knockroon (1741-1805) m. 1766 Christian Hamilton

---------------Hamilton (Douglas) Boswell (d. 1824) m. 1806 Jane Douglas (1779-1862)

---------------Margaret Boswell m. Charles Dalrymple

---------------Christian Boswell m. Alexander Walker

---------------Jacobina Boswell m. William Hamilton of Dowan

---------------Charlotte Boswell

----------Hamilton (Douglas) Boswell (d. 1824) m. 1807 Jean Douglas (1779-1862)

---------------John Douglas Boswell (1811-1863) m. Christian Hamilton of Dowan (1811-1901)

---------------Patrick Douglas Charles Boswell (1815-1892) m. 1856 Annabella A. C. Innes

---------------six daughters?



-----John Boswell of Balmuto (d. 1749) m. 1726 Margaret Henderson (d. 1790)

----------Marie? (d. young)

----------Margaret Boswell (d. young)

----------*Elizabeth Boswell (d. 1799) m. 1769 Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck (1707-1782)

----------Claud Boswell, Lord Balmuto (1742-1824) m. 1783 Anne Irvine


Campbells of Treesbank

-----Ann Boswell m. 1708 George Campbell of Treesbank

--------------Campbell of Treesbank?

-------------------James Campbell of Treesbank (d. 1776) m. 1763 Helen Macredie

------------------------------------Jean Campbell (d. 1789)

-----------------------------------------------------------2m. 1768

-----------------------------------------------------------*Mary Montgomerie

------------------------------------------------------------(d. 1777)



-----Veronica Boswell (b. 1704?) m. David Montgomerie of Lainshaw

----------*Margaret Montgomerie (ca. 1738-1789) m. 1769 James Boswell

----------James Montgomerie (d. 1766) m. Jean Maxwell

----------*Elizabeth Montgomerie (d. 1776) m. Capt. Alexander Montgomerie-Cuminghame

--------------------------------------------2m. John Beaumont

----------*Mary Montgomerie (d. 1777) m. 1768? James Campbell of Treesbank (d. 1776)

---------------George James Campbell (b. 1768)

---------------David Campbell (b. 1771)

----------Elizabeth Montgomerie (d. 1776) m. Sir Alexander Montgomerie-Cuninghame

---------------Sir Walter Montgomerie-Cuninghame m.

--------------------*Jessie Jane Montgomerie-Cuninghame m. Sir James Boswell (1807-1857)

John Boswell Branch

-----Dr. John Boswell (1710-1780) m. 1742 Anne Cramond (1710-1777)

----------Robert Boswell (1746-1801)

----------James Boswell (1744-1767)

----------Bruce Boswell (1747-1807) m. Mary Lindsay (b. 1755)

----------Alexander Boswell (d. 1783)

----------Elizabeth Boswell (1743-1807)

----------Anne Cramond Boswell (1753-1821)

----------Euphemia Pauline Boswell "died in infancy"

----------Margaret Boswell "died young"

-----Robert Boswell (1746-1801) m. Sibella Sandeman

----------Anne Boswell (1772-1837) m. 1810 Alexander Carre

----------Mary Boswell (1774-1859) m. 1800 William Roxburgh

----------Elizabeth Boswell (1776-1861) m. 1809 John Robert Anderson

----------Alexander Boswell (1781-1850) m. Mary Sandeman (1785-1865)

----------Margaret Catherine Boswell (1785-1877)-----m. 1807 Major-Gen. Nicholas Carnegie

----------John Boswell (1770-1772)

----------Sibella Boswell (b. 1777) "died young"

----------Robert Bruce Boswell (1783-1791)

----------*William Boswell (d. 1841) m. 1799 Elizabeth Boswell (1780-1814)

----------Sibella Boswell (1787-1833) m. 1807 William Egerton

----------Jane Boswell (1789-1769) m. 1811 Henry St. George Tucker

----------Veronica Boswell (1791-1840)

----------John James Boswell (1793-1839) m. Anna Mary Wellwood

----------John Campbell Boswell (1796-1841) m. Elizabeth Leith

-----*William Boswell (d. 1841) m. 1799 Elizabeth Boswell (1780-1814)

----------James Paoli Boswell (1802-1821)

----------Elizabeth Margaret Montgomerie Boswell (1803-after 1873) m. John Williams

----------Bruce Boswell (1805-1855) m. Anne Tronson

----------Sibella Boswell (1806-1807)

----------Robert Cramond Boswell (1807?-1823)

----------William Boswell (1809-1809)

----------Alexander Boswell (1809-1809)

----------Elizabeth Frances Boswell (1810-1812)

----------Annie Boswell (1812-1813)


-----Thomas David Boswell (1748-1826) m. 1783 Anne Catherine Green

----------Maria Boswell

----------Thomas Alexander Boswell (d. 1852) m. Jane Maria Barker

---------------Thomas Charles William Boswell (d. at 18)


-----Sir George Bruce (d. 1625) m. Margaret Primrose

----------George Bruce (d. 1643) m. Mary Preston of Valleyfield

----------Alexander Bruce, of Alva (d. 1638?)

----------Robert Bruce of Broomhall (d. 1652) m. Helen Skene

----------Anne Bruce m. 1641? Sir James Arnot

----------Magdalen Bruce m. Sir John Erskine

----------Christian Bruce m. Laurence Mercer of Aldie

----------Nicola Bruce (d. 1671) m. Sir John Morrison of Dawsie

----------------------------------2m. John Dick of Braid

----------Margaret Bruce (d. 1652) m. Francis Nicholls

-----George Bruce (d. 1643) m. Mary Preston of Valleyfield

----------Edward Bruce, 1st E. of Kincardine (d. 1662)

----------Alexander Bruce, 2nd E. of Kincardine (ca. 1630-1681) m. 1659

----------Veronica van Aerssen van Sommelsdyck (ca. 1633-1701)

----------Magdalen Bruce m. Sir John Arnot

----------Mary Bruce m. 1655 David Erskine, Lord Cardross

-----Alexander Bruce, 2nd E. (ca. 1630-1680) m. 1659 Veronica van Aerssen van Sommelsdyck (ca. 1633-1701)

----------Charles, Lord Bruce (1660-1680)

----------Alexander, 3rd E. (ca. 1666-1705)

----------Mary Bruce m. ca. 1681 William Cochrane of Ochiltree (d. after 1716)

----------Anne Bruce (d. 1705) m. 1684 Sir David Murray of Stanhope

----------*Elizabeth Bruce (1673-1734) m. 1704 James Boswell of Auchinleck (1672-1749)


-----William Cochrane of Ochiltree (d. after 1727) m.1681 Lady Mary Bruce (d. after 1739)

----------Charles Cochrane of Ochiltree (1683-1752)

----------Alexander Cochrane (1686-1708)

----------George Cochrane (1689-1709)

----------Major-General James Cochrane (1690-1758) m. [Margaret Hawkison?]

----------Thomas Cochrane m. 1721 Elizabeth Ker

------------------------------2m. 1744 Jean Stuart

----------Euphemia Cochrane (1693?-1721) m. Lieut.-Col. John Erskine (1660-1737)

----------John Cochrane (1694-1707)

----------Basil Cochrane (1701-1788)

----------Anne Cochrane (d. 1779) m. 1725 Sir George Preston of Valleyfield (d. 1719)

-----Euphemia Cochrane (1693?-1721) m. Lieut.-Col. John Erskine (1660-1737)

----------Mary Erskine (1715-1766) m. Rev. Alexander Webster (1707-1784)

----------Elizabeth Erskine (1717-after 1759)

Appendix II: Glossary of Scots and Legal Terminology

This glossary has been compiled from several sources, including the Oxford English Dictionary and John Dalrymple's Essay Toward a GeneralHistory of Feudal Property. It is not intended to be a complete list of Scottish words or feudal law terminology, and the definitions are not exhaustive. Rather, it is a guide to some of the unfamiliar words appearing frequently in the papers of the Boswell Collection.

backbond A document by which a person receiving or holding a seemingly absolute title to property acknowledges that he is actually holding it in trust for a specified reason, and binds himself to return it or account for it after that purpose is served. The true owner of the property is usually the grantor of the absolute deed and the grantee of the backbond.

barony In Scotland, a large freehold estate, almost always held directly from the King; the owner is called the laird, which is not a title of nobility but "goes with" the land.

bond Generally, a legal document by which a person binds himself, his heirs, executors, or assigns to pay another person or his representatives a sum of money. There are many types of bonds in Scottish law, including the backbond and the heritable bond.

cain, kain Rent payment in kind made by tenants to a feudal superior.

clare constat Latin for "It is clearly established," meaning that the feudal superior is satisfied that his late vassal died enfeoffed in the land, and that the person claiming entry into his estate is the nearest lawful heir. A preceptof clare constat is a deed executed by a superior in order to complete the title of his vassal's heir to the lands held by the dead vassal.

composition Specialized meaning: fee paid to be admitted as a burgess.

dispone To make over or assign property legally and formally, usually by means of a disposition.

distreyne Distrain: to seize goods or property in order to enforce payment of debt.

dittay Statement of legal charges.

entry Entry into possession or occupation of lands, especially the act of taking possessing of lands by setting foot on them ("entering" them.) See also non-entries.

escheat In English feudal law, the lapsing of land to the Crown on the death of an intestate tenant or owner without heirs. In Scottish law, escheat has a wider sense, including confiscation or forfeiture of property at law (e.g. upon conviction of treason). A simple escheat is an absolute forfeiture; a liferent escheat is forfeiture of all profits accumulated during the forfeited person's lifetime.

excambion Exchange or barter, particularly of land

feu Estate in land held on condition of homage and service to a superior lord, by whom it is granted and in whom ownership remains (English fee). Or, a feudal tenure of land in which the vassal substitutes an amount of grain or money for military service. In modern usage, a perpetual lease at a fixed rent.

feu simple Estate in land which belongs to the owner and his heirs perpetually, not limited to any particular class of heirs.

fiar Owner of the feu simple of a property. See also: life-rent.

fiars The annually fixed prices of different kinds of grains.

grassum Fine paid to a feudal superior when making entry into a feu.

heritable bond Bond for a sum of money, the security for which is a conveyance of land out of heritage to be held by the creditor until the debt is paid. A heritable security is usually created by enfeoffing the creditor in the lands conditionally, i.e. in case of non-payment. Many of the title transfers in Land Purchases and Land Records are actually executions of Heritable bonds and/or backbonds.

heritors Literally, owners of heritable property; usually refers to men who owe the "parish" or "public" burdens (minister's salary, road taxes, etc.).

horning Outlawing. By the seventeenth century, an action against a delinquent debtor issued under the signet, charging him to pay or "be put to the horn" (declared rebel).

intromit To interfere with property belonging to another person.

laird A Scottish landowner who holds land directly from the Crown; a tenant-in-chief of the King. Not a title of personal nobility. A laird is referred to by the name of his holding; the current holder of Auchinleck is referred to as Auchinleck.

liferent Income a person is entitled to receive for life, or the right to receive that income. Often granted in marriage provisions for widows; usually reserved by the holder of a feu if he transfers title to the feu itself before his death.

mail Payment, fee.

mains The "main" farm of an estate, usually farmed by the laird directly rather than feued.

master In the phrase "Master of" followed by the name of a land holding (e.g. "Master of Auchinleck"): the eldest son and heir presumptive of the laird of that land.

non-entry Failure of an heir to enter land and to obtain investiture in it from his feudal superior. Non-entries are the feudal fines arising from this failure. Most often seen as a "gift of the non-entries" (i.e., a remission of the fines) by a superior to the heir.

outquyt To free lands from a wadset by paying the debts upon them.

poind To seize and sell the goods of a delinquent debtor. Usually seen as part of a "writ of horning and poinding," ordering the debtor to make restitution or to be declared outlaw and forfeit his goods.

progress In progress of the writs, means "such a series of title- deeds of a landed estate as is sufficient in law to constitute a valid and effectual title thereto." The best documentation consists of sasines and charters, but many other types of legal instruments may be found in them.

rase, raise To draw up a legal summons, letter, etc.

resignation Form by which holder of a feu returns it to the hands of the feudal superior and/or transfers title of a heritable feu to the next heir.

retour See service.

reversion Obligation by a creditor which allows that his debtor may redeem land in which he had enfeoffed the creditor as security. Usually found in combination with heritablebonds, backbonds, and/or wadsets.

roup Auction.

sasine As a verb, the act of giving possession of feudal property. An instrument of sasine is the legal document that records and proves a transfer of property, and is the decisive proof of ownership in Scottish law. After 1614 all sasines were required to be registered in the Book of Sasines.

service Procedure for determining who is the heir to a dead person. A general service determines who is the heir to someone generally, while a special service discovers the heir to a particular estate. A retour is the report of the inquest in a particular service, with the jury's verdict, and these are either general or special also.

sucken The group of tenants in thirlage to a particular mill, required to bring their grain to it and to keep it in repair.

tack Lease for a specified period of time. Usually applied to farms and land property, but liferents, teinds, and other forms of income can also be leased.

tailzie An entail, binding the descent of a property through a specified line of heirs.

teinds Tithes. Originally owed to parish churches, after the Reformation the right to collect these was often sold to the heritors of the parish or other notables. The 1633 Act of Teinds was an attempt to regularize the situation.

thirlage Being bound, as a tenant, to bring one's grain to the landlord's mill and to keep that mill in repair.

tocher Dowry agreements and the dowry itself.

towst Tax or other impost.

wadset Type of mortgage in which title to land is conveyed as security for a debt, with an explicit reservation of power by the debtor to recover the lands if the debt is paid (usually within a specified period).

writer Counterpart of the English "solicitor." Lawyer who can advise clients and prepare causes, but who is not allowed to present them at the Bar.

w.s. Abbreviation for "writer to the Signet," the highest classification of writers.

Guide to the Boswell Collection
Under Revision
by Diane J. Ducharme
March 1988
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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