Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Marwick, James David

MARWICK, Sir JAMES DAVID (1826–1908), legal and historical writer, born at Leith on 15 July 1826, was eldest son of William Marwick, merchant of Kirkwall, and Margaret, daughter of James Garioch, also a merchant there. Educated at Kirkwall grammar school, he removed in 1842 to Edinburgh, where he was apprenticed as clerk to James B. Watt, solicitor before the supreme courts (whose daughter he married later). He also attended the law classes at Edinburgh University. Subsequently he became a lawyer's clerk at Dundee and, qualifying as a procurator, he, in partnership with William Barry, son of the town clerk, carried on legal business in Dundee till 1855. In that year Marwick returned to Edinburgh to found with the son of his first employer, J. B. Watt, then lately dead, the firm of Watt and Marwick, which soon gained a high position. In 1857 he entered the Edinburgh town council. Before his three years' term was complete the office of town clerk fell vacant. Town councillors were prohibited from accepting any paid appointment under the council till they had been a year out of office. But the post was kept vacant till Marwick was eligible, and in December 1860 he was chosen to fill it.

Marwick remained town clerk of Edinburgh until 1873, and became during that period a chief authority on Scottish municipal law and practice. On 11 March 1873 he was appointed town clerk of Glasgow at a salary of 2500l. (raised afterwards to 3500l.), with a retiring allowance of 1500l. after fifteen years' service. At Glasgow Marwick carried out the extension of the city by the annexation of fourteen suburban burghs. This labour, begun in 1881, was completed in 1891; and in 1893 he drafted the enactment whereby Glasgow was made a county. He resigned the office of town clerk of Glasgow in 1903.

Marwick was the recipient of many honours. In 1878 he was made an LL.D. of Glasgow University; he was knighted in 1888; in 1893 he was presented with the freedom of the burgh of Kirkwall. In 1864 he was elected F.R.S. Edinburgh.

He died at Glasgow on 24 March 1908, and was buried at Warriston cemetery, Edinburgh. He married in 1855 Jane, third daughter of James B. Watt; she survived him with two sons and five daughters. Before leaving Edinburgh in 1873 Marwick's wife was presented with a portrait of her husband, painted by Robert Herdman, R.S.A. Of two busts by George S. Templeton, R.A., publicly subscribed for in 1905, one in marble was given to Glasgow Art Galleries and the other in bronze was retained by Lady Marwick.

Marwick was a voluminous writer, chiefly upon Scottish municipal history. He was one of the founders of the Scottish Burgh Record Society, Edinburgh, and edited the publications (many of which were compiled by himself) from 1868 till 1897. His principal works are:

  1. ‘Extracts from the Burgh Records of Edinburgh, 1403–1589,’ Scottish Burgh Record Society, 4 vols., and index vol. 1869–92.
  2. ‘Observations on the Law and Practice of Municipal Corporations in Scotland,’ 1879.
  3. ‘Charters and Documents relating to the City of Edinburgh, 1143–1540,’ Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc. 1871.
  4. ‘Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow, 1573–1662,’ 2 vols., Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc. 1876–81.
  5. ‘Miscellany of the Scottish Burgh Record Society,’ edited 1881.
  6. ‘Report on Markets and Fairs in Scotland, prepared for the Commission,’ 1890.
  7. ‘Charters and Documents relating to the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity and the Trinity Hospital, Edinburgh, 1460–1661,’ Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc. 1891.
  8. ‘Charters and Documents relating to the City of Glasgow, 1175–1649,’ 3 vols., Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc. 1894–99, 1906.
  9. ‘The River Clyde and the Harbour of Glasgow,’ 1898.
  10. ‘The Water Supply of the City of Glasgow,’ 1901.
  11. ‘Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow, 1691–1717,’ jointly with Robert Renwick, Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc. 1908.

Posthumously published were:

  1. ‘The River Clyde and the Clyde Burghs,’ Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc., with portrait, and memoir by John Gray M'Kendrick, 4to, 1909.
  2. ‘Edinburgh Guilds and Crafts,’ Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc. 1909.
  3. ‘History of the Collegiate Church and Hospital of the Holy Trinity and the Trinity Hospital, Edinburgh, 1460–1661’ (founded on No 7, supra), Scot. Burgh Rec. Soc. 1911.
  4. ‘Early Glasgow,’ ed. by Robert Renwick, 1911. Marwick was editor of the ‘Records of the Convention of Royal Burghs of Scotland’ from 1866 till 1890.

[A Retrospect, autobiography, privately printed, 1874; Glasgow Herald, and Scotsman, 25 March 1908; Memoir by John Gray M'Kendrick, in above posthumous volume; private information.]

A. H. M.