James Hay - 15th Earl of Erroll

Name
James Hay
First name
James
Last name
Hay
Date of birth
1726-04-29
Place of birth
Falkirk, Scotland
Date of death
1778-07-03
Gender
0
Alias
James Boyd
Lord Boyd
15th Earl of Erroll
Biography

Son of William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock (d. 1746), and Anne Livingston. He married, firstly, Rebecca Lockhart, daughter of Alexander Lockhart, Lord Covington, with whom he had a daughter. He married, secondly, Isabella Carr (1747-1808) with whom he had twelve children.

In 1758, he succeeded his maternal great-aunt, Mary Hay, 14th Countess of Erroll as the 15th Earl of Erroll, also changing his surname from Boyd to Hay. 

Life with Boswell

Boswell met the Earl in the evening of August 24, 1773, as he and Dr Johnson visited Slains Castle, the seat of the Earl, north of Aberdeen. They had spent most of the day there on an invitation from Charles Boyd, the Earl's younger brother, and were invited to stay the night. The Earl arrived home around nine in the evening, together with a Captain Gordon of Park1, and they had a late supper. 

Boswell later wrote that he was "was excessively pleased with Lord Erroll. His stately person and agreeable countenance, with the most unaffected affability, gave me high satisfaction," adding that "I could with the most perfect honesty expatiate on Lord Erroll’s good qualities as if I was bribed to do it. His agreeable look and softness of address relieved that awe which his majestic person and the idea of his being Lord High Constable of Scotland would have inspired." 

The ruins of Slains Castle
Present-day ruins of Slains Castle, where Boswell and Johnson visited James Hay, the 15th Earl of Erroll (Monty Vorster / Slains Castle / CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

  • 1. Probably John Gordon (d. 1781), a son of Sir James Gordon, 2nd Bart of Park (d. 1727) and Margaret Elphinstone.

Isabella Carr - Lady Erroll

Name
Isabella Carr
First name
Isabella
Last name
Carr
Date of birth
1747
Date of death
1808-11-03
Gender
1
Alias
Lady Erroll
Biography

Daughter of Sir William Carr of Etal (d. 1777). In 1762 she married James Hay (d. 1778), 15th Earl of Erroll,  with whom she had twelve children.

Life with Boswell

Boswell met Lady Erroll (as she then was) when he visited Slains Castle together with Dr Johnson on August 24, 1773.  Boswell wrote, that "Lady Erroll received us politely, and was very attentive to us in the time of dinner" and that "After dinner my lady made her young family stand up in a row. There were eight, just steps of stairs, six girls and two boys, besides a young lady of four weeks old who did not appear. It was the prettiest sight I ever saw."

 

Charles Boyd - Captain in the Jacobite Life Guards

Name
Charles Boyd
First name
Charles
Last name
Boyd
Date of birth
1728-02-10
Date of death
1782-08-03
Gender
0
Biography

Boyd was the son of William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock (1705-1746), and Anne Livingston (d. 1747).

He fought on the Jacobite side with his father at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, while his elder brother James (1726-1778) and twin-brother William (1728-1780) both fought on the Government side. Their father was captured and beheaded at the Tower of London, while Charles escaped and went into hiding on Arran before going into exile in France for about 20 years until pardoned. While waiting for his execution at the Tower, the 4th Earl wrote to his eldest son, James, the following about Charles who had by then gone into hiding:

Use all your interest to get your brother pardoned and brought home as soon as possible, that his circumstances, and the bad influence of those he is among, may not induce him to accept of foreign service, and lose him both to his country and his family. If money can be found to support him, I wish you would advise him to go to Geneva, where his principles of religion and liberty will be confirmed, and where he may stay till you see if a pardon can be procured for him. 1

Following his return to Scotland, Boyd lived for the most part of his time in Aberdeen and at Slains Castle north of Aberdeen with his older brother and their respective wives and children. According to Boswell, during his stay on Arran in 1745-46, Boyd "had found a chest of medical books left by a surgeon there, and had read them till he acquired some skill, in consequence of which he is often consulted."

He married, firstly, Jeanne Antoinette Wyandt, a French lady whom he met during his exile, with whom he had at least two children. He married, secondly, Anne Lockhart, a sister of his brother's first wife and daughter of Alexander Lockhart of Covington.

Life with Boswell

Charles Boyd and Boswell were fourth cousins, sharing a common ancestor in William Cochrane, 1st Earl of Dundonald (1605-1685). They do not appear to have met each other until August 24, 1773, when Boswell and Johnson were invited to Slains Castle, the seat of Boyd's older brother James, 15th Earl of Erroll. In his journal, Boswell described Boyd's informal medical practice, which he found "but a foolish amusement of vanity, and no doubt of benevolence too."

In the afternoon, Boyd accompanied Boswell and Johnson in a coach ride first to Dunbuy, and then on to Bullers of Buchan, two remarkable natural features a few miles north of Slains.

Roderick MacLeod - Professor of Philosophy

Name
Roderick MacLeod
First name
Roderick
Last name
MacLeod
Date of birth
1727
Date of death
1815
Gender
0
Alias
Professor MacLeod
Biography

Professor of Philosophy, and Principal of King's College, Aberdeen.

Roderick MacLeod was the son of Donald MacLeod, 3rd of Talisker, and Christina, daughter of John MacLeod, 2nd of Contullich.

MacLeod was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, from where he obtained his M.A. in 1746. A few years later, in 1749, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at his alma mater. He later became Sub-principal and, in 1800, Principal of the college. 

In 1780, at the age of 53, he married Isabella Christie (1759-1832), with whom he had numerous children.

Life with Boswell

Boswell met Professor MacLeod at Sir Alexander Gordon's in Aberdeen on August 23, 1773, together with several other professors, on his and Dr Johnson's tour of Scotland. Boswell noted in his journal that "Professor MacLeod was brother to Talisker and brother-in-law to the Laird of Coll. He gave me a letter to young Coll."

 

James Leslie - Professor of Greek

Name
James Leslie
First name
James
Last name
Leslie
Date of birth
1727-01-11
Place of birth
at Haddington
Gender
0
Alias
Professor Leslie
Biography

Leslie's father was Rector successively of the schools of Haddington and Dalkeith. 

At some point in the late 1740s, Leslie was hired as Tutor to Sholto Douglas (1732-1774), Lord Aberdour, son of James Douglas, 16th Earl of Morton (1702-1768). In 1751 he accompanied the young Lord to Leyden University, where they stayed until 1753. Clearly satisfied with the services done by Leslie to his son, Lord Morton settled on Leslie an annuity of £40.

The next year, in 1754, he was offered the position of Professor of Greek at King's College, Aberdeen, a position which he accepted and stayed in until his death in 1790.

He died on May 24, 1790. An obituary in the Aberdeen Journal read as follows:

His attachment to his pupils, and his unwearied exertions to instruct them in the principles of languages to preserve order and regularity in their behaviour and to enforce the practice of every moral and religious duty will render his memory dear to all who have been under his care.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Leslie did not publish any writings, and he is largely unknown today. The main source for information on his life is the 17 page biography An Aberdeen Professor of the Eighteenth Century by J. G. Burnett, published in The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. 13, no. 49 (Oct. 1915).

Life with Boswell

On August 23, 1773, in Aberdeen, Prof. Leslie, together with Dr. Gerard and Prof. MacLeod, came to meet Boswell and Dr Johnson at Sir Alexander Gordon's. Johnson had just been presented with the Freedom of the City of Aberdeen earlier in the day. Boswell later wrote that "We had little or no conversation in the morning. Now we were but barren. The professors seemed afraid to speak."

James Dunbar - Professor of Moral Philosophy

Name
James Dunbar
First name
James
Last name
Dunbar
Date of birth
1742
Date of death
1798-05-28
Place of death
in his rooms at King's College, Aberdeen
Gender
0
Alias
Professor Dunbar
Biography

Dunbar was a Scottish writer and Professor of Moral Philosophy.

He was educated at King's College, of which he was elected a regent in 1766. He taught moral philosophy as a Professor there for the next 30 years. In 1783 he became a founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

James Dunbar published two works: De Primordiis Civitatum Oratio in qua agitur de Bello Civili inter Magnam Britanniam et Colonias nunc flagrante (1779), and Essays on the History of Mankind in rude and uncultivated ages (1780).

Life with Boswell

On August 23, 1773, Dunbar dined with Boswell and Johnson at Sir Alexander Gordon's in Aberdeen. Also present were Provost Jopp and Professors Ross and Gordon.

James Jopp - Provost of Aberdeen

Name
James Jopp
First name
James
Last name
Jopp
Date of birth
1722-04-13
Date of death
1794-07-07
Gender
0
Alias
Provost Jopp
Laird of Cotton
Biography

Merchant and five-time Provost of Aberdeen.

Jopp was the son of Andrew Jopp (d. 1742), a tailor and merchant in Insch, and Janet Innes. In 1752, he married Jean Moir (1730-1782), a daughter of the Rev. George Moir, with whom he had 11 children, 6 of them surviving to adulthood.

He made a considerable fortune as a wine and cloth merchant, and in 1776 purchased the lands of Cotton from Lady Diana Middleton. Jopp was elected Provost of Aberdeen several times, from 1768 to 1770, from 1772 to 1774, from 1776 to 1778, from 1780 to 1782 and again in 1786, although he refused to act as Provost following his last election due to health issues.

 

 

Life with Boswell

On August 23, 1773, Boswell and Dr Johnson went to the Town Hall in Aberdeen, where Johnson was presented with the Freedom of the City by Provost Jopp. According to Boswell, "Provost Jopp did it with a very good grace." The Provost dined with them later that day at Sir Alexander Gordon's, together with Professors Ross, Dunbar and Gordon.

Margaret Hamilton - Mrs Dallas

Name
Margaret Hamilton
First name
Margaret
Last name
Hamilton
Gender
1
Alias
Mrs Margaret Dallas
Biography

Married to James Dallas of Cantray (d. 1746), with whom she had at least two children, Isabella (1741-1792) and William (d. 1773-1774).

Life with Boswell

Margaret Hamilton was likely a distant relation of James Boswell's, probably sharing a common ancestor in Sir James Hamilton, 1st of Dalzell.

On August 23, 1773, in Aberdeen, Boswell went to see her, together with Mrs Isabella Riddoch (née Dallas, her daughter) and Prof. Thomas Gordon. Boswell did not write anything about their meeting, remarking only that he had not seen her since he was a mere child.

Alexander Gerard - Prof. of Divinity

Name
Alexander Gerard
First name
Alexander
Last name
Gerard
Date of birth
1728-02-22
Place of birth
at Garioch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Date of death
1795-01-22
Gender
0
Alias
Dr. Gerard
Biography

Minister, philosopher and one time Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Gerard was born in 1728, the son of Gilbert Thomas Gerard (1660-1738), Minister of Chapel-Garioch, and Marjorie Mitchell (1704-1785). In 1757 he married Jane Wight (1730-1818), with whom he had several children.

He graduated MA from Aberdeen in 1744, before continuing his theological studies at Edinburgh. He became licensed as a Preacher in the Church of Scotland in 1748, before returning, in 1750, to Aberdeen as a Lecturer at his Alma Mater, Marischal College. He became a long-serving Professor in Aberdeen, holding the positions as Professor of Moral Philosophy at Marischal College from 1752 to 1760 and of Divinity first at Marischal from 1760-1771 and then at King's College from 1771 until his death in 1795. From 1760 until 1771 he was even Minister of Greyfriars Church in Aberdeen.

Gerard gained some reputation as a writer in his own time for his Essays on Taste (1759) and Genius (1774), and in 1780 a volume of his Sermons was published.  On the occassion of the latter, Gerard's friend James Beattie wrote the following in a letter to Sir William Forbes dated May 23, 1780:

Dr. Gerard's "Sermons" in one volume 8vo, are just now sent me; but I have not had time to read a single page. I am sure they will be sensible and instructive. The author was my master, and I have the greatest regard for him. He was more than my master - he was my particular friend, at a time when I had very few friends.

Life with Boswell

Gerard came to see Boswell and Dr Johnson in Aberdeen in the morning of August 23, 1773, together with several other local scholars, including Principal George Campbell, Sir Alexander Gordon, Prof. Thomas Gordon, and Prof. John Ross

He came to see them again after dinner that day, this time with Professors Leslie and MacLeod. They talked about Bishop Warburton (1698-1779), and Gerard accused the poet Thomas Warton (1728-1790), a friend of Johnson's, of "the most barefaced plagiarism" of the Abbé du Bos in his Observations on the Faerie Queence of Spenser (1754), with which Dr Johnson disagreed. Boswell, as was his habit, "talked of difference of genius to try if I could engage Gerard in a disquisition with Mr Johnson. But I did not succeed."

 

James Riddoch - Minister at Aberdeen

Name
James Riddoch
First name
James
Last name
Riddoch
Date of death
1778
Gender
0
Biography

Riddoch completed his academical studies at Aberdeen, and after some time as a clergyman in Perth, he became Pastor of the newly founded St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Glasgow in 1750. A few years later, he was appointed to the larger congregation at St. Paul's Church in Aberdeen, and he stayed here until his death in 1778. He married firstly one of his congregation (name unknown to this author), who died shortly after giving birth to their first child, a girl, ca. 1759.  A few years later, he married Isabella Dallas, a distant relation of James Boswell's.

Few objective details are known about his personal life, but a curious memorial printed in Samuel Clapham's Sermons, Selected and Abridged, Chiefly from Minor Authors (1803) reads as follows:

During his residence at Aberdeen, he married an amiable and accomplished young lady, one of his congregation: their affection was mutual. But his happiness was of short duration; she lived only to bring him a daughter, and left him a most afflicted husband. [...] Riddoch, for the sake of having his daughter, whom he most affectionately loved, well educated, married a second time; but, unfortunately for himself, a woman of a taste and turn of mind altogether dissimilar to his own. His daughter died about the age of seventeen. After this time he is said never to have known comfort. His circumstances, in consequence of his marriage, became embarrassed, his health declined, and he sunk, prematurely, into his grave, universally regretted, and lamented." 

After Riddoch's death, his widow asked her husband's old friend Professor James Beattie to edit and publish Riddoch's sermons, and in 1782 Sermons, on several Subjects and Occasions were published in two volumes. It had not been without trouble, though, as Beattie wrote in a letter to Sir William Forbes dated April 11, 1780:

I have, since the college broke up, been hard at work upon Mr. Riddoch's manuscript sermons; but I have only got through five of them, and there are still twenty-five before me. Never did I engage in a more troublesome business. There is not a sentence, there is hardly a line, that does not need correction. This is owing partly to the extreme innacuracy of the writing, but chiefly to the peculiarity of the style; an endless string of climaxes; the unmeasurable length of the sentences; and such a profusion of superfluous words, as I have never before seen in any composition. To cure all these diseases is impossible yet, to do my old friend justice, I must confess, that the sermons have, in many places, great energy, and even eloquence, and abound in shrewd remarks, and striking sentiments. They are gloomy, indeed, and will suggest to those who never saw the author, what is really true, that, in preaching, he always had a frown on his countenance.

Life with Boswell

On August 22, 1773, Boswell and Johnson were invited for tea by Mrs Riddoch, a distant relation of Boswell's and an old flame of his, during their stay in Aberdeen. Riddoch himself was, according to Boswell, "ill and confined to his room." Although apparently not meeting Riddoch on this occasion, Johnson borrowed a volume on psalms by the French bishop Jean-Baptiste Massillon (1663-1742).

Boswell called on Riddoch on the next day, together with Prof. Thomas Gordon, and found him "a grave worthylike clergyman". In the evening, Boswell and Johnson went back and, according to Boswell, "sat near an hour at Mr Riddoch's. He could not tell distinctly how much eduation at the college here costs, which disgusted Mr Johnson. I had engaged to Mr Johnson that we should go home to the inn, and not stay supper. They pressed us, but he was resolute. I saw Mr Riddoch did not please him. He said to me, "Sir, he has no vigour in his talk."."

 

 

Literature

Riddoch's sermons are sometimes available via AbeBooks, but be aware that most copies are modern day print-on-demand editions, while the original 1782 editions are exceedingly rare. A few are printed in Clapham's Sermons, Selected and Abridged, Chiefly from Minor Authors (1803) mentioned above.