Ayrshire Meeting

Robert Boswell of Auchinleck

The annual Ayrshire meeting of the Boswell Society took place on Saturday 8 October 2022 at Caprington Castle, near Kilmarnock, the home of William Cuninghame of Caprington. After a most enjoyable dinner served in the Dining Room, the members were entertained with a talk on Dr William Roxburgh given by Robert Boswell of Auchinleck.

William Roxburgh (1751–1815) was born in Ayrshire and spent much of his life in India, where he was superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden. He was instrumental in researching many examples of botany, and gave the Frankincense plant the genus name Boswellia. It was interesting to note that this was named in honour of Dr John Boswell, ancestor of both William Cuninghame and Robert Boswell.

Watercolour illustration of Boswellia, commissioned by 
William Roxburgh (RBG Kew collection).

William Roxburgh: The Founding Father of Indian Botany (RBGE)

Lichfield in March

The first in-person meeting of the Society since the start of the pandemic was held in March in the Guildhall in Lichfield, hosted by Richard and Marilyn Davies. Our speaker was lawyer, researcher and author, Julia Bracewell, on the topic of ‘The Misfortune of Mary Bryant: James Boswell and the Bleak House Will’. Julia is currently writing a book about the relationship between Boswell and highway-woman, Mary Bryant, and spoke to us about her fascinating research. Seventeen members were able to attend this event in person and we look forward to welcoming members back to future meetings at other venues in the near future.

Sad news

We are deeply saddened to pass on the news that our Chairman, David Boswell, died at home on the 1st of February. David was a descendant of Dr John Boswell (the biographer’s uncle), and had been involved with the running of the Society for many years. He will be greatly missed by Joan and his family, as well as by our members and friends who knew him over many years and had the pleasure of meeting him at our regular gatherings.

Meeting on Sat 30th October

The next meeting of the Boswell Society will take place on Saturday, 30th October at 2 pm.

Dane Love has kindly agreed to be the speaker and will be discussing his recent book,
The History of Ochiltree: Village and Parish. Dane is a past president of the Boswell Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He has written many books on Scottish subjects, especially on the history of Ayrshire.

This final meeting of the year is timed around the date of James Boswell’s birth, on 29th October. It is traditionally held in Auchinleck, but this year we are continuing with our virtual meetings, so the event will be conducted via Zoom. A link will be emailed to members in advance.

We hope as many members as possible will be able to attend what promises to be a fascinating talk about this part of Ayrshire. 

Next Meeting Sat 9 Oct

We are delighted to announce that Professor Richard B. Sher will be the speaker at our next virtual meeting on Saturday 9th October at 2pm BST. Professor Sher’s talk is titled “The prop and stay of your life?”: Samuel Johnson, Margaret Boswell, and James Boswell’s Relocation to London’.

Professor Sher has published widely on topics relating to 18th-century Scotland and has recently edited the correspondence between James Boswell and Sir William Forbes, as part of the Yale Boswell editions: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-the-correspondence-of-james-boswell-and-sir-william-forbes-of-pitsligo.html.

Access will be via Zoom and is free to members of the Society. A link will be emailed to members shortly before the date of the meeting.