National Records of Scotland

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William Alexander (c 1567-1641)

William Alexander (c 1567-1641)

Poet and politician

William Alexander was born at Menstrie Castle, Clackmannanshire. He served as a tutor to the young Archibald Campbell, earl of Argyll during his grand tour of Europe. He went on to tutor James VI's son Henry. He followed James to London, when he became James I of England, and was knighted in 1609. After the death of Prince Henry, William became a courtier in the household of Prince Charles. He was a poet, composer and playwright as well as a tutor. His output includes a collection of songs 'Aurora' (1604), an epic poem 'Doomsday' (1614 and 1637) and the tragic plays 'Darius', 'Croesus', 'The Alexandrian Tragedy' and 'Julius Caesar' (1603-7). In 1621 he was granted a charter for Nova Scotia on the North American continent. His attempts at colonisation came to nothing and the territory was passed to the French as part of the marriage negotiations of Charles I. From 1626 he served as Secretary of State for Scotland and was created first earl of Stirling in 1633. He died bankrupt in London.

Testament of William Alexander, earl of Stirling

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/60 pp 24-27

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