Alexander Nisbet (judge)

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Judge Alexander Nisbet (July 26, 1777, Montrose, Scotland – November 1857) was the youngest son of the Dr. Charles Nisbet D.D. and Anne Tweedie. He came to the US in 1785 with his parents and settled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where his father was appointed the first President of Dickinson College. He graduated from Dickinson College in 1794 [1] and studied law in Carlisle before being appointed Judge of the Baltimore Criminal Court in 1806.[2]

In 1806, Nisbet and several leading men formed the St. Andrew's Society of Baltimore. Nisbet served at that Society's 3rd President from 1830 to 1857. At the time of his death in 1857, he was the only surviving original member. In November 1857, when 80-year-old Judge Nisbet died in a fall from his bedroom window, the St. Andrew's Society chartered a railroad car from Calvert Station to attend the funeral, according to a report in The Baltimore Sun.[3] Alexander Nisbet served as the President of the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad from 1833-1835.[4]

He married Mary C. Owings of Maryland, had several children, but only the daughters survived to adulthood. Their home was known at the Montrose Estate, a northern plantation located north of Baltimore. It was named for his place of birth Montrose, Scotland. The estate contained 1,500 acres and was located just north of the Hampton National Historic Site.

All that is left of the Montrose Estate is the burial plot containing the graves of the Nisbet family. The grave site has been restored and a memorial service is held each August at the site by the St Andrew's Society of Baltimore. The burial plot is located along the York Turnpike at the 12th mile stone, at the former site of the Montrose Estate.[5]

Judge Alexander Nisbet's Obituary Notice: “The venerable Judge Alexander Nisbet, the last surviving member of the bench of the Criminal Court of Baltimore under the old Constitution, died suddenly at his residence, near Ellen-Gowan, on the line of the Northern Central Railway, at the early hour yesterday morning. His death was as the result of an accident, his body having been found beneath the open window of his chamber, from which he fell from some cause whilst opening it to receive some fresh air, a habit in which he often indulged. The deceased was a Scotsman by birth, and for the previous twenty-seven years, he filled the office of the President of the St. Andrew’s Society and was the only surviving member of the original association of that name, it having been formed in 1806 by a number of gentlemen including the deceased. For fifty-one years as Judge, Nisbet continued a faithful member of this institution, and by his death the last link is broken which bound the Society to it founders. He was appointed by the Governor of Maryland, Judge of the Criminal Court of this city and occupied that high position with much credit.” [6]


  1. ^ This History of Dickinson College 1783-1933, by James H. Morgan, 1933
  2. ^ The American quarterly register, Volume 14, By American Education Society, page 332
  3. ^ Baltimore Sun, December 23, 1991, by Robert A. Erlandson
  4. ^ The Monumental city: its past history and present resources, By George W. Howard 1873
  5. ^ Historic graves of Maryland and the District of Columbia, By National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Maryland, by Helen W. Ridgely 1908, page 133
  6. ^ The Baltimore Sun Nov. 24, 1857