Alexander Carlyle

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Very Reverend
Alexander Carlyle
File:Henry Raeburn - Rev. Alexander Carlyle.jpg
Portrait of Rev. Alexander Carlyle, 1796, by Sir Henry Raeburn.
Born (1722-01-26)26 January 1722
Cummertrees, Dumfriesshire
Died 28 August 1805(1805-08-28) (aged 83)
Occupation minister at Inveresk
Nationality Scottish
Alma mater University of Edinburgh;
University of Glasgow;
University of Leiden

Very Reverend Alexander Carlyle DD FRSE (26 January 1722—28 August 1805) was a Scottish church leader, and autobiographer.


He was born in Cummertrees, Dumfriesshire, the son of Rev Willam Carlyle, the local minister and brought up in Prestonpans, East Lothian.

He was a witness to the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 where he was part of the government Edinburgh militia. He missed the battle as he had been sent to lodge in nearby houses. Carlyle was educated at the University of Edinburgh (M.A. 1743), University of Glasgow and University of Leiden.[1]

From 1748, until his death he was minister at Inveresk in Midlothian (just west of Prestonpans), and during this long career rose to high eminence in the Church of Scotland not only as leader of the moderate or "broad" Church section, but as Moderator of the General Assembly 1770 and Dean of the Chapel Royal in 1789. He was associated with Principal Robertson as an ecclesiastical leader.[2]

His striking personal appearance (ruddy complexion) earned him the nickname of Jupiter Carlyle. His autobiography, which was ed. by Hill Burton, and published 1860, though written in his closing years and not extending beyond the year 1770, is interesting as a picture of Scottish life, social and ecclesiastical, in the 18th century. Carlyle's autobiography recalled the Porteous Riots of 1736, and his friendship with Adam Smith, David Hume, Charles Townshend and John Home, the dramatist, for witnessing the performance of whose tragedy Douglas he was censured in 1757. [3] He was also a member of The Select Society and of The Poker Club.[4]

He was a founder member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in November 1783.

He is buried in Inveresk churchyard.[5]


Alexander married Mary Roddan (d.1804) in 1760.[6]

The majority of their children died young. On death he bequeathed his belongings to his nephew, Carlyle Bell.[7]

See also



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