On 16 June 1865, David Wishart, a slater, and his wife, Christian Taylor became parents to their fourth child, a boy, and name him Alexander William. The family were subtenants at Caldhame Feus, a farm northwest of the village of Marykirk, at the time of Alexander’s birth, and were resident there in 1869 when Christian (also known as Christina) fell ill with an inflammation of her uterus and died on 2 June after three days of fever.
By the time he was fifteen, Alexander had left home and found work as an agricultural labourer on a farm in Stracathro. Two years later, and claiming to be 19 years-old, he joined the Royal Artillery and was sent to Egypt in 1883, where the British army had fought the previous year. In March 1884 Alexander was present at the Battle of Tamai in the Sudan, possibly serving with the 6th Mountain Battery, Scottish Regiment of Artillery. Twelve months later he was promoted to Bombardier and took part in the second Suakin Expedition which was undertaken to clear Mahdist forces from the region and protect the construction of the Suakin-Berber railway.
Alexander returned to the UK from Egypt on 24 March 1886 whereupon he was discharged by purchase – i.e. he bought his way out of the military, which at the time cost £18 (but subsequently refunded half the fee when he re-enlisted in 1915.) By 1891 he had settled in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool and married a local widow named Mary Willis on 25 April 1892. Initially working as a metal dealer, Alexander moved into the ‘theatrical arts’, where he was employed as a private detective for the Music Publisher’s Association. The job entailed tracking down copyright abuse of sheet music which at times could be quite dangerous, with Alexander being assaulted numerous times while carrying out his work. Mary helped out with the business, and by 1911 they had moved to one of the late-Victorian terraced houses on Empress Road in the Kensington district of the city.
On 3 February 1915, Alexander re-enlisted in the military and joined No. 17 Supernumary Company, 2/5th King’s Liverpool Regiment. Men of these companies were often much older (Alexander was almost 50), or of a medical category that meant they were only fit for home service. As he already had military experience and would be of immediate use to the army, Alexander was embodied for service and promoted to sergeant five days later. Perhaps initially employed guarding railways and other vulnerable points around Liverpool, Alexander was eventually posted to guard duties at the POW Camp in Eastcote, Northamptonshire by the spring of 1916. In April, Supernumary Companies went on to form the Royal Defense Corps, with Alexander assigned to the 122nd Protection Coy (and then later the 123rd and the 149th companies) though suffering from painful hernias, he was eventually discharged from service in November 1917 as being medically unfit.
After the war, Alexander worked in the civil service and by 1939 was living in Woolwich, where he died on 28 October 1944.