John Boswell - Uncle of James Boswell
John BoswellBorn 1710
Died May 15, 1780
Son of James Boswell (ca. 1672-1749) and Elizabeth Bruce. Brother of Alexander and James Boswell. Father of Robert Boswell. According to Pottle, John Boswell was "an able physician, but [...]decidedly eccentric. He forsook the Kirk for the more "primitive" society of the Glassites, [...] demonstrated his antinomianism practically by frequenting bawdy houses, and was excommunicated by his sect".1
Boswell described him as "[having] been almost dead for more than a year" when his body finally died on May 15, 1780.
- 1. The Glassites were a Christian sect founded in Scotland about 1730 by John Glas (1695-1773). It later spread to America, where the members where known as Sandemanians, after Glas' son-in-law Robert Sandeman. The sect is now considered extinct, the last Elder of the Church in Edinburgh having died in 1999. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasite - See also (James Boswell, The Earlier Years 1740-1769, p. 21)
John Boswell was probably that of Boswell's relatives who understood him the best, and there are some identical traits in the two. They met occasionally, and were always happy in each other's company. On October 26, 1762, JB visited the doctor in Edinburgh, describing him as "a worthy affectionate man, a good physician, an agreeable companion and a great virtuoso." This was also the occasion when JB first got news that his brother John had suffered the first of many fits of insanity, which would haunt him for the rest of his life.
On October 31, 1763, James Boswell (then at Utrecht) received a most affectionate letter from his uncle, referring back to their last meeting on London (July 26, 1763). John Boswell wrote "the whole of one unexpected (to me lucky) meeting at London will ever be remembered as one of the most agreeable incidents of my life, as it was then I had confirmed to me the former opinions I had conceived very early of you. I hope however the friendship that is begun will increase; and although never could Mason say more heartily than you and I, "Happy to meet, happy to part," yet above all, happy on the thought to meet again..."
When James returned to Edinburgh and got established as an advocate, he and John occassionally met for social events or just for good company. On February 7, 1767 Boswell reports walking to Sir Alexander Dick's with John Boswell and a Doctor Livingston.