Alexander Spotswood, son of Catharine Maxwell and her second husband, Dr. Robert Spottiswoode, was born in 1676 in the Tangier Garrison, Morocco. Spotswood's father was the surgeon for the garrison and served in that capacity until his death in 1680. The Tangier garrison was ordered closed in 1683 because of the high cost of maintaining it in a hostile environment created by frequent attacks from the Berbers. The last of the troops and their families departed Tangier in 1684. After the Tangier garrison closed, Alexander Spotswood traveled to England with his mother and her third husband, the Reverend Doctor George Mercer, who had been the garrison schoolmaster. This trip to England in 1684 was the first time he had seen his homeland.

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