Archibald Alison

Historian & Lawyer | Number 46

Archibald Alison (1792-1867) was the son of a Scottish cleric and essayist who bore the same name. He qualified as an advocate and became Sheriff of Lanarkshire in 1834. He wrote two standard texts on criminal law, and served as Lord Rector both at Marshall College Aberdeen and the University of Glasgow.

He was also admired as a keen historian, whose magnum opus was a ten volume 'History of Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Restoration of the Bourbons'. This was the first detailed academic study in English of the French Revolution. He also wrote about Marlborough's military campaigns.

His work was mocked by Disraeli in his novel 'Coningsby' through the character of Mr Wordy, whose history proved that Providence was on the side of the Tories.

His older brother William was a distinguished physician and social reformer.


His work was mocked by Disraeli in his novel 'Coningsby'