Son of James Boswell (ca. 1672-1749) and Elizabeth Bruce. Father of the James Boswell (1740-1795). Married first (1738) to Euphemia Erskine (d. 1766) and later (1769) to his cousin Elizabeth Boswell. A graduate of the University of Leyden, Holland (graduating in December 1729). In 1748 he was appointed Sheriff-Depute of Wigtownshire. In 1754 Boswell was appointed a Lord of Session, taking the bench as Lord Auchinleck, and in 1755 he became Lord Justiciary. He is still remembered for saving the so-called Auchinleck Manuscript1 from destruction in 1740.
James (the biographer) and his father disagreed on a number of issues throughout their lives, including James' choice of career, his publishing schemes and his travels, as well as his choice of friends and, eventually, wife. Although he respected his father much, James, when he was about 25, stated that the only thing he had learned from his father was absolute honesty - a personality trait which is clearly evident in his surviving journals.