Sergeant James Carrick Miller Fairlie

Biography of Sergeant James Carrick Miller Fairlie

James Carrick Miller Fairlie was born on 1st March 1882 in Paisley, Renfrewshire. His father, Archibald, was a schoolmaster, and no doubt gave his sons a good academic grounding, for three of them attended University at the same time and all were very successful. The family home was at Endrickdale, Meikleriggs in Paisley, where James attended Paisley Grammar, though he finished his school education at Fettes College, Edinburgh. Aged twenty in 1902, he was a little older than most students when he first matriculated at the University of Glasgow. His younger brother William was already studying Medicine. From the very beginning, however, it was clear that James had an extraordinary ability to learn languages and he came to University with Prelim passes in Hebrew and Arabic as well as Classics. He had also taken ninth place in the competitive Bursary exam.

His academic record surpassed most of even his brightest contemporaries, and his name appeared twenty-four times on the prize-list. Among his distinctions were the Sanford scholarship in Greek (1904) and the coveted James Logan medal for the most outstanding graduate in the Arts Faculty, an honour he shared with Miss Constance Archibald. He graduated MA on 9th November 1905, with First Class Honours in Latin and Greek, taken in 1904, at the end of his second year, and First Class Honours in Hebrew and Arabic, taken the following year. By then he was also enrolled in Theology, and went on to take a BD in 1907, having shown the same ability to carry off prizes, including a Coulter Prize for the best ‘Exposition and Criticism of the Ritschilian Theology’ as well as the Cleland and Rae-Wilson Gold Medal. The Fairlie family had a lot to celebrate. His brother William graduated MB ChB in 1908. He went on to be a successful doctor, and added an MD to his qualifications. Another younger brother Robert Paul overlapped his siblings at university and also graduated MA in 1908. He became a minister in Ardrossan.

With such a family and academic history, James Fairlie seemed bound for high office in the church. On 6th August 1918, however, he enlisted at Montreal to serve in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, but not as a chaplain. He gave his profession as ‘newspaper reporter’. At the time he was unmarried and living in New York, at 307 West 29th Street. He was 35, and his dark hair was greying. He was 5 feet 7 inches, with a medium complexion and blue eyes. He recorded his next of kin as his mother, Christina.

During what remained of the Great War he served as a Sergeant in the 23rd Canadian Battalion. When the fighting was over he remained with the military at least for a short time as a teacher at the Khaki College of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada. The college had been set up to smoothe the transition of Canadian soldiers to demobilisation by offering them the chance of education and a means to take up their spare time while serving in Britain. He wrote to the University of Glasgow on 2nd March 1919 asking for a prospectus of classes there, so that he could compare the curriculum to what was provided for the 700 Canadian servicemen at the Khaki college where he would teach over the summer of 1919.

In the early 1920s, James is described as a Minister in the records of the General Council, and apparently still living in his family home in Paisley. By the middle of that decade, however, he is in London, and his occupation is recorded as ‘journalist’. Whether he attempted to return to the ministry and made a final career change to the newspaper world is not known, let alone why he did so. His academic ability would have taken him anywhere he was minded to go. His niece, Alison Fairlie went on to become a very distinguished linguist and scholar of French Literature. James Carrick Miller Fairlie died in November 1943 in Epsom.



Sergeant James Carrick Miller Fairlie
Rank: Sergeant
Regiment: 23rd Canadian Battalion
Degree: MA BD
Awards: N/A
Comments: N/A
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/481
Photo ID: N/A


University of Glasgow Registry, Faculty and General Council Records

University of Glasgow Roll of Honour Records (GUAS Ref: Ch 4/4/2/3/481)

Biography: Additional information contributed by Christopher Henzler

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