The late Sir John Marjoribanks was the eldest son of
Edward Marjoribanks, Esq., of Lees, near Coldstream. This gentleman was
a native of Linlithgowshire, and owner of the small estate of Hallyards.
He married a daughter of Archibald Stewart, Esq., Lord Provost of
Edinburgh, at the commencement of the Rebellion in 1745, and who was
afterwards tried on suspicion of favouriug the Pretender. For many years
a wine merchant in France, Mr. Marjoribanks resided at Bordeaux till
1770, when, on succeeding to the estate of Lees as heir of entail, he
returned with his family to Scotland.
Sir John, who was born at Bordeaux, entered the army
in early life, and was afterwards a Captain in the Coldstream Guards. He
married, about the year 1790, Miss Rarnsay of Barnton. Shortly
afterwards, he sold his commission, and bought the estate of Eccles, in
Berwickshire, to which he retired. Here he remained for a number of
years ; and by his judicious management in farming a great portion of
his own lands, nearly doubled the value of the property in the course of
a few seasons.
The father of a numerous family, Sir John at length
removed to Edinburgh, a town residence affording greater facilities for
the education of his children. He now became a partner in the
banking-house of Mansfield, Rarnsay, & Co.; and, entering the Town
Council in 1811, was chosen to fill the office of Chief Magistrate in
1814-15. In the latter year, he was created a Baronet; and succeeding,
by the death of his father, to the estate of Lees, was elected M.P. for
the county of Berwick,
While Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir John displayed
much zeal in carrying forward the improvements of the city ; and he may
be considered as the chief promoter of the New Jail and the Regent
Bridge. This elegant approach (opened when Prince Leopold entered the
Scottish metropolis in 1819) had been projected so early as 1784, under
the Provostship of Sir James Hunter Blair, and the authority of an Act
of Parliament procured; but iu consequence of other undertakings, and
the want of funds, the Act was allowed to expire, and the design fell to
the ground. It remained for Sir John to effect an object, not less
useful than ornamental; and that the progress of the work might be
facilitated, he is understood to have made a serious inroad on his own
resources, calculating no doubt on a return which we believe he did not
The freedom of the city having been voted to Lord
Lynedoch, "the gallant Graham," who distinguished himself so much in the
Peninsular War, Sir John gave a grand dinner on Saturday, the 12th of
August, 1815, in honour of the Prince Regent's birth-day, at which were
present Lord Lynedoch, the Earl of Morton, Lord Audley, Sir David Dundas,
the Lord Chief Baron, the Lord Chief Commissioner, Admiral Sir Wm.
Johnstone Hope, General Wynyard, Sir James Douglas, Sir Howard
Elphinstone, Right Hon. William Dundas, member for the city, Charles
Forbes, Esq., M.P., Sir H. H. M'Dougal, Sir John Dalrymple, Mr. Earle,
Mr. Sedgwick, and a party of nearly one hundred of the principal
inhabitants of Edinburgh.
"After the cloth was removed, and the usual series of
toasts had been given, the Lord Provost proposed the health of Lord
Lynedoch; and, presenting his lordship with the freedom of the city in a
gold box, addressed him as follows:—
"Lord Lynedoch—I have the honour, in the name of the
Magistrates of Edinburgh, to congratulate your lordship on your safe
return to this country, after a series of services rendered to it, which
not only reflect the greatest credit on your lordship, but do high
honour to your country.
"My Lord, in the very commencement of the French
Revolution, your lordship, with penetrating discernment, foresaw the
imminent danger to which everything dear to mau had become exposed, and
leaving the distinguished situation to which your birth, talents, and
the esteem you were so eminently entitled to hold in this country, you
betook yourself to the profession of arms, in which you have rendered
the country services which it is out of my power to enumerate. In the
war of the Peninsula, which happily turned the fate of Europe, as a
Commander-in-Chief, and afterwards as second to the immortal Wellington,
one invariable line of victory attended your course ; and if Ireland can
proudly claim Wellington as her own, Scotland has the gratification to
feel that ' Proximos illi tamen occupavit Graham honor es.'
"My Lord, the Magistrates of Edinburgh sincerely
wish—a wish in which I am sure we are joined by the country at
large—that your health may be long preserved to enjoy the high esteem
and gratitude of your countrymen, and those honours which his Royal
Highness the Prince Regent has, in the name of our revered King, so
justly conferred upon your lordship."
Lord Lynedoch, with that feeling and diffidence so
characteristic of merit, in returning thanks to the Lord Provost and
Magistrates, for the honour they had conferred upon him, expressed
himself as overpowered by the over-rated estimation in which any
services he had been able to render to his country had been held. That
he had had the particular good fortune to serve under that greatest of
all men, the Duke of Wellington ; and to have served under his orders,
and to have commanded British troops, almost insured success. He must,
however, say, that nothing could be more gratifying to his feelings than
the mark of approbation which he had this day received from the
magistracy of the metropolis of his native country; and if anything
could add to it, it would be the very handsome terms in which that
testimony had been conveyed to hiin by the Lord Provost.
The healths of the Lord Chief Commissioner, and
Charles Forbes Esq., M.P. for Beverley, upon whom the freedom of the
city was lately conferred, were also drank; and each of these gentlemen
made suitable speeches iu return.
The Lord Provost then proposed the health of the city
Member, to whose unremitting exertions, his lordship stated, together
with those of the Right Hon. Lord Melville, the city of Edinburgh was
entirely obliged for the late grant towards finishing the College. His
health was drank with the greatest enthusiasm.
Lord Lynedoch begged leave to give a toast; and after
stating that he had not intended to have taken so much liberty with the
company, he could not resist proposing the repetition of a toast given
by that venerable warrior, Prince Blucher, at a grand dinner given by
the Duke of Wellington to all the high official characters now assembled
in Paris, and by them received with the utmost applause—"May the
Ministers not lose by their pens what the army has gained by their
During the latter period of his life, Sir John
resided chiefly on his estate at Lees, and was much respected in the
neighbourhood for his beneficence and many acts of kindness to the poor.
He died on the the 5th of February, 1833, in the seventy-first of his
age, having been born in 1762—the same year with his Majesty George
IV., whom he was said very much to resemble in
certain points of feature and person.
Sir John was succeeded by his second son
William—(Edward, the eldest son, died in India)—on whose death the
following year the title and estates devolved on his son John, a minor,
who was born in 1830.