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James Oswald

James Oswald was buried in the north aisle of the nave on 1st April 1769. A small rectangular brass with a decorated border now covers his grave and those of members of his family. The brass shows the symbols of the four Evangelists at the corners, with a border of entwined roses, thistles and shamrocks with the initials JO. His crest of a silver star of six points is shown at the top together with a shield on which is a figure pointing a telescope at another star. The inscription reads:

In memory of the Right Honble. James Oswald of Dunniker, the friend of David Hume and Adam Smith, Lord of [the] Treasury and Treasurer of Ireland, M.P. for the county of Fife, Lord of Trade and Plantations, Commissioner of the Navy. Born 1715, died 1769. This memorial was placed over his remains by his great grandson James Townsend Oswald of Dunniker, Fifeshire and other of his descendants in the year 1871. The site of the grave is in the north aisle, ten feet from the centre of the step of the doorway going into the grassplot.

Prior to this brass marker there were small memorial stones over the graves of James, his wife Elizabeth, Ann his sister in law, and George Oswald, James’s grandson.

His Life

James’s father was James Oswald the younger of Dunniker, Fife, Scotland and his mother was Anne (Durie). She was born 7th September 1698 and married James in 1714. She died at her son’s house in Westminster 29th March 1762 and was buried in the west cloister of the Abbey. James was born in 1715 and baptised at Kirkcaldy. He was educated at Edinburgh university and became a lawyer and Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy burghs. On 19th January 1747 he married Elizabeth Reynardson (nee Townsend). She died 20th September 1779 and was buried with him in the nave, aged 80. Their only child was James Townsend Oswald, who succeeded his father as M.P. and married Janet Gray. One of their sons, George born 6th May 1779, was in the Civil Service of the East India Company. He died unmarried aboard a ship returning from Bengal and was buried in the nave on 12th June 1819. George’s niece, Lady Augusta Bruce, married Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster, in the Abbey and is buried in Henry VII’s chapel. Ann Oswald (nee Buchanan), who died 13th February 1785 aged 65, was the wife of the Reverend Dr John Oswald, a prebendary of Westminster 1755-62 and later Bishop of Clonfert, Dromore and Raphoe in Ireland. She was married in 1755 but seems to have had no children and was buried in the nave (her husband is buried at Raphoe).

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Funeral

1st April 1769

Field

Politician

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Grave

Material Type

Brass

James Oswald
James Oswald grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

The biggest challenge we face is maintaining such a large physical collection of material within a historic building – believe it or not, there’s just not enough space for it all.

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