|Birth: ||Jul. 6, 1766|
|Death: ||Aug. 23, 1813|
Alexander Wilson (– August 23, 1813) was a Scottish-American poet, ornithologist, naturalist and illustrator.
He was born in Paisley, Scotland on July 6, 1766. He was born in the town of Paisley - in the west central lowlands, near Glasgow, Scotland - on July 6, 1766
Wilson, along with his cousin William Duncan left Scotland for a chance at at better life. They departed from Belfast on the American vessel "Swift" and landed in Delaware on July 14, 1794
Although Wilson's main interest at this time was writing poetry, he was fortunate enough to be a neighbor of William Bartram, the famous naturalist, who sparked an interest in ornithology in the younger man. Wilson then embarked on the project of authoring a book of North American Birds, including illustrations, which developed into a nine volume series American Ornithology (1808-1814
Sadly he died while completing the eighth and ninth volumes of his work. These works appeared under the care of his friend and biographer, George Ord
Coindicidentally, Alexander Wilson and George Ord are buried next to each other in the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Cemetery in Philadephia, PA
Intial biographical information supplied by A Scot from Glasgow (#47405172) on January 10, 2011.
Additional biographical information supplied by Berks-Dauphin Roots (#46608983) on 25 Feb 2013. This contributor has sponsored the memorial on that day.
Alexander Wilson, the son of a weaver and distiller, was born at Paisley, Scotland, on 6 July 1766. His mother died when he was nine, and when he was thirteen he began a three-year apprenticeship under his brother-in-law, who was a weaver. In protest against the plight of local weavers, in the early 1790s he wrote several satirical poems criticizing two manufacturers. This led to his being fined and jailed on several occasions, and to his decision to come to America, with his nephew William Duncan, in 1794.
In 1795, after failed attempts at weaving, an occupation he followed in Scotland, he initiated a new career as teacher near Frankford, Pennsylvania. He began teaching at Union School, Kingsessing on 25 Feb. 1802.
A self-taught artist and musician, he wrote to a friend in June 1803 that he was about to make a collection of our finest birds.
While at Union School, he became friends with the naturalist William Bartram, and Alexander Lawson, an engraver, who would help him develop his drawing and etching skills. Realizing his natural ability at drawing birds, he decided to create an American Ornithology.
In October 1804, in order to gather material for his work, Wilson set off by foot on an expedition to the Falls of the Niagara, accompanied by his nephew and Isaac Leech. Afterwards, he wrote a poetical narrative of the journey, The Foresters, A Poem Descriptive of a Pedestrian Journey to the Falls of Niagara.
He continued teaching at Union School after his return from Niagara. On several occasions, he utilized the rather inexpensive labor of his pupils for the purpose of drawing birds collected on travels. He made $100 annually and had forty-eight students in his final year of teaching.
In April 1806 he became an assistant editor for Samuel Bradford, a Philadelphia bookseller, who would publish his American Ornithology.
He was elected to the Society of Arts and to the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia. By 1813, due to incessant traveling, he was in very poor health. He died on 23 August 1813. The last volume of the American Ornithology was completed after his death from his notes and sketches.
A more detailed look on his life, research, and writings, can be found in The Life and Letters of Alexander Wilson, Clark Hunter; The Poetical Works of Alexander Wilson, J. Henderson.
Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church Burial Ground
Created by: Johnny
Record added: Nov 02, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 22621071