John Boswell - brother of the great biographer
John BoswellBorn 1743
Son of Alexander Boswell and Euphemia Erskine, and the older of James Boswell's two younger brother.In 1760 he joined the Earl of Loudoun's 30th Regiment of Foot as an ensign. In 1762 he was listed as lieutenant. He retired from active duty in 1764, but received half an officer's salary for the rest of his life.
John Boswell suffered from a mental disorder since his teens, which affected him periodically. In some periods of his life, he was treated by Dr. John Hall (1733-1793), and it is a fair guess, that he also stayed at Dr. Hall's private asylum, Saint Luke's House, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.1
A fictional version of John Boswell is the main character in Philip Baruth's 2009 novel "The Brothers Boswell".
- 1. See f.ex. Howells & Osborn (1984). A Reference Companion to the History of Abnormal Psychology, A-L. Greenwood Press. p. 398.
John paid James a surprise visit on January 1, 1763. In his journal, Boswell describes how John had had a terrible time in the preceding months, but seemed to be rather well again. They also had breakfast together on January 6 and 7, 1763 (with William Maxwell) and had tea together on February 5 and 9, 1763. John left London again on Feb. 10, 1763 (Correspondence of James Boswell and John Johnston, p. 52).
James, then in Berlin, received a letter from John on September 2, 1764 informing him of his choice to quit the army. Boswell was "vexed and angry[, b]ut recollecting his hypochondriac disposition, I resolved to make the best of it and be as kind to him as possible."