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Is there any connection between James Boswell and Boswells of Oxford?


Boswells of Oxford was Oxford's oldest independent and still trading department store when it closed down in 2020. It was founded by a Francis Boswell in 1738, two years before James Boswell, the biographer, was even born. It stayed in the possession of Francis Boswell's descendants until 1890 when it passed on to Arthur Pearson of the Oxford Drug Company. At the time of its closure, it occupied the building at 1-4 Broad Street.

There is nothing to indicate any immediate family relationship between the Boswells of Auchinleck and the Boswells of Oxford, and one might have expected James Boswell to mention it, had he been aware of any such relation. Boswell visited Oxford from April 23 to 26, 1763, and stayed at the Blue Boar Inn, which was located on the corner of St Aldate's and Blue Boar St, where the Museum of Oxford stands today. This was only a few hundred meters from 50 Cornmarket Street, the location of the first Boswells of Oxford. 

Read more about the history of Boswells of Oxford here.