Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 135,172 pages of information and 215,041 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
1822 Born in Glasgow
Died 1903 aged 82.
1903 Obituary 
WE have to record with regret the death of Mr. James Buchanan Mirrlees, of the firm of Mirrlees, Watson and Co., Glasgow, who died in his eighty-second year at his house, Redlands, Kelvinside, Glasgow, on the 16th inst. He retired from business about five years ago. He had been declining in strength for some time, and his death was not unexpected.
The business of Mirrlees, Watson and Co. was founded in 1840 by the three brothers M'Onie, a name closely associated with engineering enterprise in Glasgow ever since. On the retiral of Mr. William M'Onie from the firm in 1848, Mr. Mirrlees joined the business, the title becoming M'Onie and Mirrlees. Two years later Mr. Peter M'Onie died, and Mr. Mirrlees took into partnership Mr. William Tait, the title of the firm, however, remaining the same until 1858, when it was changed to Mirrlees and Tait.
Ten years later, due to the failing health of Mr. Tait, Mr. W. Renny Watson - who, as Sir W. Renny Watson, predeceased Mr. Mirrlees by about a year - was taken into partnership, and the firm became Mirrlees, Tait and Watson.
In 1882, further accessions to the copartnership took place, the firm becoming Mirrlees, Watson and Co.
In 1889 the business of the firm was am amalgamated with the Yaryan Company, whose patent rights in evaporators for the United Kingdom and British Colonies the firm bad secured two years previously. The new organisation, under the Companies assumed the title of Mirrlees, Watson and Yaryan Company, Limited, but in 1900, on a reconstruction of the proprietary, the shorter and more convenient title of Mirrlees, Watson Company, Limited, was adopted. Under this designation it has since carried on its extensive home and foreign business.
Up to the year 1885 the output of the Company consisted almost exclusively of machinery for the production, manufacture, and refining of sugar. Although still largely engaged in this industry, the company has, owing to the decline which has taken place in it within recent years, turned its attention to other branches of engineering, among which may be mentioned evaporating machines for all purposes, distilling plants for fresh water supply, condensing plants, evaporative condensers, air and circulating pumps, high-speed engines, &c. At the present time the company is engaged upon the construction of two sets of water distilling plant for the Egyptian Government, which, when completed and in place, will rank among the largest installations of this kind of machinery in the world.
Mr. Mirrlees was born in Glasgow in 1822, and came of Glasgow stock. The wealth which he acquired in his long connection with the prosperous business of his company was generously and unobtrusively shared by him with every good and benevolent scheme brought before him. In civic and public life he took his part, having been a member of the Town Council of Glasgow and, for a time, Dean of Guild. He was a director of the Clydesdale Bank, and of other boards of commercial companies. One of his sons represents the Mirrlees, Watson Company in South Africa, and his son-in-law, Mr. Baird, is chairman of the board of directors of the company. Mr. Mirrlees was twice married, and he is survived by his second wife.
1903 Obituary