Alexander Carlyle (1722-1805)
Alexander Carlyle, a Church of Scotland minister, was born in Dumfriesshire and grew up in Prestonpans near Edinburgh. He was a popular representative of Edinburgh’s intellectual élite – the ‘literati’ – and he became a member of the Select Society.
Carlyle studied arts and divinity at Edinburgh University along with a number of others who would later become part of the moderate party of the Church of Scotland, such as Adam Ferguson, William Robertson, Hugh Blair and John Home. For most of his life Carlyle was minister of Inveresk near Edinburgh. He completed the local parish report for the ‘Statistical Account of Scotland‘ which was compiled by Sir John Sinclair.
Carlyle wrote sermons and pamphlets, but no longer works during his lifetime. More than 50 years after his death his memoirs and other papers were published as an autobiography, which is now seen as one of the most important first-hand accounts of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Image: ‘The Rev Alexander Carlyle, 1722 -1805. Divine and pamphleteer’, by Sir Henry Raeburn, 1796. By courtesy of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.