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Sir John Marjoribanks, Bart., Lord Provost of Edinburgh


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 experience.

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 swords.''

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.


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