13 April 1816
The Blaikleys originated in Armagh, Northern Ireland, and were farmers and linen bleachers by trade but Alexander's father crossed to Scotland and settled in Glasgow. There his wife, Ruth, had a workshop where embroideries backed on muslin were made. As a small boy Alexander and his brother were given the task of cutting of the surplus muslin. He thus developed at great skill in using scissors, leading him to create cut-out silhouette portraits and landscapes, a form of art very much in demand before the age of photography. For a while he and his father, who was unemployed at that time, toured Ulster, earning a living by Alexander's portraits.
He moved to London after the early death of his first wife. Her family, who attended the Glasite Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, provided introductions to members of the Sandemanian Church in Paternoster Row, London, England. In 1842 he remarried and settled permanently in London.
Alexander earned his living as an artist, specialising in landscapes and portraits. A journal that he wrote for his children provides a detailed account of the many commissions he undertook. He toured Europe and often resided in large country houses and castles while painting as many of his patrons were aristocratic, such as the Prussian Royal family and the Duke and Duchess of Montrose, or famous, like the actress Mrs. Siddons. One of his most well-known portraits is of Michael Faraday ♂ lecturing at the Royal Institution to an audience that included the Prince Albert and his young sons.