Obituary: James More, Edinburgh City Council Depute Town Clerk

Born 19 September 1916 in Wallasey, New Brighton, Merseyside, died 25 February 2017 in Edinburgh, aged 100.

Jimmy More, one of the last City Council’s Depute Town Clerks, died aged 100 peacefully in an Edinburgh care home. He was the first son of a master mariner, Captain George More and Mrs Molly More. Captain More had earlier won a bronze medal for gallantry from the Royal Humane Society for saving 2 Russian sailors from the River Neva at St Petersburg. He has christened James More but sometime later as a student he signed himself James N. More. When asked what the “N” stood for, he answered “nothing”. Simply James Nothing More.

The family moved back to Edinburgh soon after his birth and lived in the Trinity area. He was educated at Trinity Academy from age 5-9 and then at Heriot’s where he left at age 14. He started work in a legal office in Leith (Philp & Ross) now Beveridge, Philp & Ross while awaiting a place in the navy to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. However, the senior partner thought he had potential and suggested he should follow a career in the law. He agreed and soon became an apprentice to a Practising Solicitor and sat various examinations, the equivalent of a school leaving certificate run by the Solicitors Scotland Act at the University of Edinburgh. He then served a three-year apprenticeship. During that apprenticeship, he sat Scots Law Examinations incl Criminal Law and Conveyancing exams for which he got a special diploma.

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Following all that, as an individual, he petitioned the Court of Session and was then admitted as a solicitor. This finally happened after the war.

By that time his parents had purchased a large house and a smallholding just outside Dechmont in West Lothian where they kept various animals including horses and he was a keen horseman and enjoyed riding out.

During that time, he had gone on holiday to the Isle of Man where he met a young Lancashire lass from Manchester in Douglas in 1934. He was almost 18 and she was 15. After a five-year courtship, they were married at the outbreak of war in September 1939. That love affair was only broken after 72 years when his wife passed away in 2006.

Later in September 1939, he signed up for the war, applied for a job with Christian Salvesen in the Merchant Navy and was admitted as an Ordinary Seaman.

His first trip was to South Georgia on a whale transport ship. In the North and South Atlantics he encountered quite a lot of bother – the main one was when they got close to the great German Warship the Graf Spee in the South Atlantic and had to look for some sort of defence. They managed to find a World War 1 303 rifle and I guess it was fortunate that the great ship left them alone.

Having been paid off, he joined the Ben Line sailing the North Atlantic and on the Far East Trade in 1941.

On cessation of hostilities, he looked for a job and obtained one with the Edinburgh City Council where he worked for the rest of his business life retiring in 1976 aged 60 having reached the position of Depute Town Clerk.

During his time with Edinburgh Council he had a secondment for six months in 1958 to Hawick and acted as Town Clerk there to cover for a temporary illness of the then incumbent.

As far as his sporting life was concerned, he played for Trinity Accies 1st XV initially as prop and then hooker from the age of 16 until the outbreak of war, captaining the 1st XV in 1938/39. He never played after the war as he was then almost 30 and had a family to care for. However, he was an avid follower of both Heriot’s Rugby and Cricket Clubs.

After retiring from business, he took up golf and initially was a member at Ravelston Golf Club in Edinburgh and after moving to North Berwick he joined the Glen Club there as well as Tantallon managing to get his handicap down to 16. He enjoyed his golf up until the age of 85.

Although he travelled the world during the war in the Merchant Navy he never once ventured onto an aircraft, mainly because his wife didn’t want to fly.

However, they went vast distances – regularly on holiday to places as far apart as Crieff Hydro and Peebles Hydro and once, believe it or not, went to the Marine Hotel in North Berwick for a holiday whilst living in North Berwick.

Jimmy was a man of substance in every sense, gutsy, formidable and wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone.

Most importantly to his family he was a wonderful father and friend as well as mentor and a much loved grandfather and great grandfather. His passion for life and strength of character will be greatly missed.

His wife Gladys Kathleen (nee Baker) predeceased him and he is survived by his two sons Hamish and George, his daughter Heather, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

CONTRIBUTED