Boswell, John (DNB00)

BOSWELL, JOHN (1698–1756), author, was descended from a Gloucestershire family, and was born at Dorchester 23 Jan. 1698. After attending the school at Abbey Milton in Dorsetshire, under the Rev. George Marsh, he proceeded to Balliol College, Oxford, as a commoner. Before taking his bachelor's degree in 1720 he acted as tutor to Lord Kinnaird. He subsequently went to Cambridge and took his degree of M.A. at St. John’s College. He was ordained deacon at Oxford and priest at Wells, and in 1727 was presented to the vicarage of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton. He was also, from 1730, prebendary of Wells Cathedral. He died in June 1756, aged 58. There is a Latin inscription to his memory in Taunton church.

He published the following works: 1. ‘A Sermon on Psalm xvi. 7, preached on the anniversary of the Restoration; 1730. 2. ‘A Method of Study, or an Useful Library, in two parts; part i. containing short directions and a catalogue of books for the study of several valuable parts of learning, viz. geography, chronology, history, classical learning, natural philosophy, &c.; part ii. containing some directions for the study of divinity, and prescribing proper books for that purpose,' vol. i. 1738, vol. ii. 1743, 8vo. The author professed that his object in this work was to assist the poor clergyman in his studies, and to induce the young gentleman to look into books. 3, ‘Remarks on the Free and Candid Disquisitions,’ two pamphlets published in 1750 and 1751. 4. ‘The Case of the Royal Martyr considered with Candour, or an Answer to some Libels lately published in prejudice to the memory of that Unfortunate Prince,’ 1768, 8vo, two vols. The author's name is not attached to this work. The authority for ascribing it to the vicar of Taunton is John Nichols (Literary Anecdotes). It is a reply to two books published in 1746 and 1747: the first is a tract issued anonymously, but written by G. Conde, jun., woolstaper of Exeter, entitled ‘A Letter to a Clergyman relating to his Sermon on 30 Jan.,’ and the second, Thomas Birch’s ‘Enquiry’ into the Earl of Glamorgan’s negotiations with the Irish catholics. It was written and designed for the press in 1745, and announced for publication in 1754, but delayed apparently for an extension, which, as stated on p. 220, vol. ii., was left unfinished in consequence of the author's death.

[Some Account of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, 1846, pp. 43, 49; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, ii. 607; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 208.]

C. W. S.