From 1777 to 1783 James Boswell was a columnist for the London Magazine, writing a total of seventy essays under the pseudonym the Hypochondriack.
John TrotterBorn 1713
This biography may be in need of a check-up - there seems to be conflicting information about the identity of the Trotter mentioned by Boswell. The below may be entirely correct, but it needs checking. (8-Feb-2015)
Upholsterer. Son of Alexander Trotter (d. 1767) and Anne or Jean Steaurt (1690-1767). Brother of Archibald Trotter. Married (1752) to Anne Locke (d. 1759) with whom he had four children. A niece of his mother's married John Coutts and another niece married William Cochrane, which explains (or confirms) the close ties between Trotter and the Coutts'.1 John Coutts and Archibald Trotter (John Trotter's brother) were also sometime partners in the banking firm which in 1762 was owned by Coutts' sons, James and Thomas.
Trotter came to London as a young man and became wealthy selling homegoods to rich Londoners. He is registered as having had a business in Thrift Street, Soho, London from at least 17552 until at least 1789,3 at which point the street had long since changed name to Frith Street.4
Ca. 1780 he seems to have bought Horton Manor, Surrey. The sources are not entirely consistent as to whether this John Trotter was an upholsterer (History of Surrey), army contractor (Topograhy of Surrey) or possibly both, which does of course leave room for speculation as to whether it is the same man. It seems, however, that the army contractor John Trotter was in fact Trotter's nephew, which should explain the confusion.
Boswell clearly identifies the Trotter in London Jounal as a bachelor, not a widower with four children. He may of course have been unaware of Mr. Trotter's family situation; the children may well have been taken care of by family members or schools. Perhaps Boswell was just referring to him as a bachelor because he was unmarried, not withstanding that he had been.
Either John Trotter, or his nephew of the same name - or both? - were sometimes referred to as John Trotter of Soho Square. Frith Street lies just next to Soho Square
- 1. http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/british/ss4tz/stewart11.htm
- 2. Kent's Directory for the Year 1755. 22nd edn., 1755, KENT, Henry. London
- 3. Kent's Directory, 1789 ... 57th Edition, 1789, KENT, Henry. London
- 4. Thanks goes to Anne Trotter and Tim Powys-Lybbe for supplying me with additional information about John Trotter
Life with Boswell:
Boswell went to dine with him in the company of James and Thomas Coutts, and William Cochrane on May 19, 1763. Present were also a Mrs. Elliot, Mr. Stewart, Miss Rutherford and others unnamed. Trotter was described as" originally from Scotland, but has been here so long that he is become quite an Englishman. He is a bachelor, an honest, hearty, good-humored fellow".