The Trust Founders

Marjorie F James (1926-2000)

Marjorie was born at The Burn, Glenesk, Brechin, the only daughter of Pleasaunce and Herbert Russell. Her father had extensive business interests, including cattle-breeding and arable farming on the family estate, which stimulated Marjorie’s own interest in farming, horticulture and estate management. Her brother James was killed in action in Italy during World War II, thus Marjorie became the sole heir to a considerable fortune.

After the War Marjorie pursued interests in education, mental health and in Psychoanalysis (at one time also Objects of the Nineveh Trust). She sought to rekindle her farming interest and in 1951 she bought a farm at Little Nineveh near Benenden, Kent which, with great energy, she and Tom developed together. Their involvement expanded and several Kent farms, ultimately totalling almost 1000 acres, were purchased in the Sissinghurst area and combined. This business became T&M James (Farms) Ltd. Its success and development occurred under the management of Robert Lewis (now a Nineveh Trustee). John MacGregor also became a valued advisor and friend to Marjorie in this process (also now a Trustee).

The farm allowed Marjorie to more fully develop her horticultural and agricultural pursuits: she helped edit a horticultural journal; although the heavy Wealden clay was not a promising environment, the garden and surrounding plantations at Little Nineveh became a wonderful haven with unusual shrubs and trees gathered, and given by many friends, from across the world. Marjorie was unable to have children and her later years were cut short by increasingly severe rheumatoid arthritis, which ultimately caused her death. Despite her long illness, which she faced with great stoicism, she returned many times to Scotland to enjoy the highland countryside and fly fishing.

Tom and Marjorie’s quiet generosity and extensive interests were widely appreciated by their friends. It was her wish that the Nineveh Trust would continue to support after her death her wide interest in everything to do with the countryside, in farming and horticulture, and the countryside’s preservation.

Thomas E James, MA, BCL, PhD, FKC (1911 – 2007)

Having gained a BA at Christ Church, Oxford in 1935 Tom was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1938. But in World War II he enlisted in the RAF as Aircraftsman 2nd Class, seeing action in Italy (his landing-ship was torpedoed under him) and France, rising to the rank of Squadron Leader. His legal training and fluency in German and other languages meant he was active in debriefing captured military. After the War he worked for the Control Commission in Berlin.

Tom’s experiences motivated him towards an academic legal career. He was appointed Lecturer at King’s College, London in 1947, then successively Reader (1958), Professor (1965), Vice-Dean (1969), Dean (1970), Emeritus Professor (1971) and Fellow (1974). He was an expert on the law concerning children and juvenile delinquency. His research led to a key paper The Age of Majority (Am J Legal Hist 1960; 4: 22-33), among other publications and books, tracing how the age of 21 years came to signify adulthood. His work contributed to the debate in the UK on the reduction of the age of majority to 18 years.

In 1959 Marjorie and he were married and despite Tom’s very full academic career they developed their farming and charitable interests in Kent. At Little Nineveh he kept pigs for a time. His legal training was put to good business use. Tom attributed any success he enjoyed to Marjorie’s love, and he and Marjorie formed an inspirational and complementary team. A driven man of strong opinions, he was challenging, personally insightful and wanted evidence of “fire in the belly”. Without children, they appointed Tom’s nephew, Mike, a Trustee to represent their views and aims for the Nineveh Trust after their deaths.

Tom and Marjorie believed that nothing is ever done except by an individual. They were motivated to help gifted people whose gifts, they felt, were hampered through lack of funds. Tom’s Estate, in succession to Marjorie’s, underpins the objectives of the Nineveh Charitable Trust.