Important acquisitions

A poem descriptive of the ancient and noble seat of Hawk-head.

Author James Maxwell
Title A poem descriptive of the ancient and noble seat of Hawk-head.
Imprint Paisley: printed and sold for the author
Date of Publication 1786.
Language English
Notes This is an unrecorded topographical poem by James Maxwell (1720-1800), the self-styled 'poet in Paisley'. Maxwell worked as a packman, weaver, clerk, school usher, and stone-breaker; in 1787 he was awarded a charitable allowance by the town council of Paisley, which he continued to enjoy until his death. One of the most prolific versifiers of his day, Maxwell issued nearly 60 separate poetical pieces, most of them of not particularly high quality, although his biographer in ODNB notes that he represents "the terminus of the virile strain of poetry of Calvinist pietism in eighteenth-century Scotland". This particular poem is dedicated to the Dowager Countess of Glasgow, Elizabeth (d. 1791), daughter of Lord Ross. The final leaf carries some additional lines, seemingly printed after the poem had been sent to the press, celebrating the ice house with its pineapple and strawberry ice creams, and the pigsties which produce 'charming ham'. The Hawkhead estate, situated just over two miles south east of Paisley, had descended in the Countess of Glasgow's own family and came to her as sole heiress of the Ross barony. In 1914 the house became part of a mental hospital called Hawkhead Asylum (now Leverndale Hospital) before being eventually demolished in 1953. The provenance of this copy is noteworthy. It belonged to Alexander Boswell Dun, the son of James Boswell's tutor, John Dun, as can be seen by the ownership inscription 'Boswell Dun' at the head of the title page. John Dun had been hired as tutor by the biographer's father when he came to Auchinleck in 1749, and a few years later he became minister at the local church, through the patronage of Boswell's father. Alexander Boswell Dun of Rigg was presumably named clearly in honour of the Laird who had done so much for his father.
Shelfmark RB.s.2858
Reference Sources Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on 22/02/13
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