Archibald Alison (author)

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Archibald Alison
Archibald Alison.jpg
Archibald Alison
Born (1757-11-13)13 November 1757
Died 17 May 1839(1839-05-17) (aged 81)
Colinton, Edinburgh
Occupation Minister of religion
Nationality Scottish
Citizenship Great Britain
Alma mater Glasgow University
Balliol College, Oxford
Subject didactic and philosophical topics
Literary movement Scottish enlightenment
Notable works Essay on the Nature and Principles of Taste (1790)
Spouse Dorothea Gregory (m. 1784) (d. 1830)
Children William Pulteney Alison, physician
Sir Archibald Alison, advocate
Relatives Brother-in-law of the physician James Gregory

Archibald Alison FRS FRSE (1757–1839) was a Scottish episcopalian priest and essayist.

Early life[edit]

He was born at Edinburgh on 13 November 1757, to Patrick Alison,[dubious ] the provost of the Diocese of Edinburgh, himself a younger son of an Alison of Newhall, near Coupar Angus.

After studying at the University of Glasgow, where he established his lifelong friendship with Dugald Stewart, and at Balliol College, Oxford, he took orders in the Church of England, and was appointed in 1778 to the curacy of Brancepeth, near Durham. In 1784 he married Dorothea Gregory, youngest daughter of Professor Gregory of Edinburgh.


The next twenty years of his life were spent in Shropshire, where he held in succession the livings of High Ercall, Roddington and Kenley. In 1800 he moved back to Edinburgh, having been appointed senior incumbent of St Paul's Chapel in the Cowgate. For thirty-four years he filled this position with much ability; his sermons were characterised by quiet beauty of thought and grace of composition. His preaching attracted so many hearers that a new and larger church was built for him.

His last years were spent at Colinton near Edinburgh, where he died on 17 May 1839. He was interred at St John's Episcopal Churchyard in Edinburgh.


Alison published, besides a Life of Lord Woodhouselee, a volume of sermons, which passed through several editions, and a work entitled Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste (1790), based on the principle of "association". His elder son, Dr William Pulteney Alison (1790–1859), was a distinguished Edinburgh medical professor. His younger son was the historian Sir Archibald Alison, 1st Baronet.