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Sir William Alexander - (c 1567-1640) - Earl of Stirling

He was born at Menstrie in the parish of Logie, Clackmannanshire, and after the death of his father was placed in the care of his granduncle, James Alexander, a merchant in Stirling. He was educated there and at the universities of Glasgow and Leiden and later became a tutor to the Earl of Argyle, who introduced him to the court of james VI in Edinburgh. There he became tutor to Prince Henry and was associated with the castalian band of poets who surrounded James. Political and social preferment followed his departure with the court to London after the Union of the Crowns in 1603: he was knighted in 1609; in 1621 he was granted the plantation of Nova Scotia and established the ill-advised baronetcies, a scheme that was foiled by the intervention of French interests in the area; five years later he became Secretary of State for Scotland; and in 1633 he was created Earl of Stirling. Towards the end of his life he encountered severe financial difficulties and he died in poverty on 12 September 1640 in London.
Alexander became one of the most powerful men of his generation but because of his involvement in political affairs he was unpopular in Scotland, where he attracted the scorn of many of his fellow countrymen. As a poet he wrote a number of tolerable sonnets, elegies and songs in Aurora (1604), and for Prince Henry he wrote the four Monarchicke Tragedies (1607) - Darius (1603, rev. 1607), Croesus, The Alexandrian and Julius Caesar —which lack any dramatic form owing to their over-rhetorical style, and are now little more than literary curiosities. His long poem of over 10,000 lines Doomes-day (1614) is an elaborate and tedious examination of sin, damnation and man's fall from grace. Works: Darius (1603); Aurora (1604); A Paraenesis to the Prince (1604); The Monarchicke Tragedies (1607); An Elegy on the Death of Prince Henry (1612); Doomes-day (1614)

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