Balfour was born in Leven, Fife, the son of Henry Balfour, a foundry owner. He was educated at the High School of Dundee and St Andrews University, and in 1844 moved to Liverpool, where in 1851 he founded Balfour Williamson with Stephen Williamson and David Duncan.
He was a committed philanthropist, and founded the Duke Street Home, to provide better conditions for sailors, and orphanages for seamen's children.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Methil Heritage website
- Robert Henry Lundie (1889). Alexander Balfour - A Memoir.
- Alexander Balfour by Albert Bruce-Joy, The Victorian Web, retrieved 1 January 2012