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Archibald Alison was born on the 29th December 1792 at the manse in Kenley Shropshire, his parents the Rev. Archibald Alison and his wife Dorothea (nee Gregory). In the year 1800 the family moved back to Edinburgh as his father thought that he could give his sons a better education and more independent careers.

Sir Archibald Alison 1st Baronet

After studying under a private tutor, and at Edinburgh University, he was, in 1814, admitted to the Faculty of Admirals, at which he ultimately attained some distinction, becoming in 1834 the sheriff of Lanarkshire. In 1853, he received an Honorary Doctorate of civil law by the University of Oxford.

Alison married Elizabeth Glencairn Tytler in 1825, they had 2 sons Archibald and Frederick and daughter Ella Frances Catherine, both sons became distinguished British Army Officers.

He was elected Lord Rector successively of Marischal College, Aberdeen and of the University of Glasgow. On 25 June 1852 he was created a baronet during Lord Derby’s administration by Queen Victoria..

(Presentation of a sword to Sir Archibald Alison at City Hall Glasgow)

sir archibald alison presentation of the sword

Alison was a criminal lawyer, historian and High Tory 'political philosopher', the author of numerous books and articles, especially for Blackwood' s Magazine, including an attack on Malthus and liberal political economy in 1840 (Principles of Population and their Connection with Human Happiness), a 10 volume History of Europe during the French Revolution (1833-1842), and an autobiography, Some Account of my Life and Writings: an Autobiography by the late Sir Archibald Alison (largely written in 1851-2, completed in 1862 but published in 1883). 

sir archibald alison possil house

Sir Archibald Alison died at Possil House, Glasgow 23rd May 1867 aged 74, he was interred in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh.

Sir Archibald Alison 1st Baronet Dean Cemetery

Alison enjoyed great popularity in Glasgow, so much so that his funeral was attended by a crowd of 100,000 to 150,000 people. His Grave lies amid the “Lords Row” against the Western wall and is modest in comparison to most in the section.

Sir Archibald Alison, Master Mason Glasgow Kilwinning Lodge No.4

Affiliate and Past Master Saint Mark’s Lodge at Glasgow No.102

Sir Archibald Allison 441

Affiliate member of Lodge Glasgow at Glasgow No.441

May 5th 1865

Sir Archibald Allison 441 2

Extract taken from the Provincial Grand Lodge Website, PGLG History

"At a special meeting of the Grand Lodge of Scotland held in Glasgow on Tuesday 1st June 1847 present, the M.W. and most noble Duke of Athole etc, etc, and above five hundred brethren. The Grand Lodge having been opened in ample form etc, etc, His Grace said it afforded him great pleasure to present Archibald Alison, the historian of Europe with his Commission and personally install him into office. The usual obligations were then administered to Bro. Alison who returned thanks etc, etc."

The Provincial Grand Master then named as his depute Alexander Hastie M.P. Lord Provost, George Walker-Arnot as Substitute Grand Master, Sir James Campbell, Senior Warden, William Ramsay M.A., Junior Warden, Bro. Dreghorn, Secretary, Bro. Norman McLeod D.D. as Chaplain. At the first meeting thereafter the Roll of Lodges was made up to the No.333, a total of 13 Lodges. Regalia, jewels, aprons, sashes and collars for nine Office-Bearers were ordered. Dates for Visitations were arranged and the R.W. Masters of the Lodges instructed to let Provincial Grand Secretary know, at least two days in advance, where the Lodge was meeting.

In 1849 Caledonian Railway Lodge No.354, and the old Lodge of Glasgow St. John No.3½. was added to the Roll, now more felicitously called St. John 3bis. In 1851 Commercial No.360 and in 1852 Lodge St. Clair No.362 brought the Roll up to 17 Lodges. By 1858 the offices of Architect, Jeweller, Bible Bearer, Master of Ceremonies and a Board of Provincial Grand Stewards had been introduced. In 1858 Sir Archibald Alison and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow was present at the laying of the Foundation Stone of the Second Freemason's Hall in Edinburgh, the Provincial Grand Master being on the toast list. The Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow was the only Provincial Grand Lodge present.

Archibald Alison, Provincial Grand Master was a lawyer by profession who became Sheriff of Lanarkshire in 1834. At his appointment in 1847 as Provincial Grand Master he enjoyed a European reputation on the strength of his monumental History of Europe (usually 14 volumes of 650 pages each). His Mother Lodge was Glasgow Kilwinning No.4 although he later became R.W.M. of St. Marks No.102.

In 1852 Queen Victoria conferred upon him the title of Baronet. Sir Archibald left the day-to-day administration to Walker-Arnot who became his Deputy. Walker-Arnot, Professor of Botany at Glasgow University did marvellous work for several years in the Province as their Lodge Minute Books testify, notably in the case of Lodge Star No.219 whose Minutes bear witness to his industry by a twenty-five years Balance Sheet in his own hand going back to 1825 thus enabling him to come to a mutual agreement about arrears due to Grand Lodge and for which Grand Lodge extended to him a special vote of thanks. Sir Archibald died in 1867 and was succeeded by Captain Archibald Alexander Speirs M.P. of Elderslie.

sir archibald alison pgm