Political Biographies of the Mayors of Portsmouth (1836-1900)

MAYORALTY:- November 9th 1883-1884.
PROFESSION:- Solicitor
WARD:- St Mary's/St Jude's.
RESIDENCE:- Selbourne House, 32 Kent Road.
DECEASED:- 30th June 1899. age 55. (1)
BURIED:- Highland Road Cemetery.
Born in Portsmouth on 16th December 1844 Alderman Richard Marvin J.P. was the son of Richard Marvin J.P. partner in Marvin & King Auctioneers (which later became King & King). Richard junior was educated at T.B. Vickery's and Stockwell Grammar School. His first job was with the South Hants Bank but he turned to the Law becoming Articled to C.B. Hellard of 132 High Street. He moved to London to complete his training and was admitted solicitor in 1867. Moving back to Portsmouth he began to practice in 1869. In August of this year he married Mary Jane daughter of Thomas Crawter of Chobham Surrey, by whom he had one daughter. Following in his father's foot steps, who represented St Paul's Ward from 1864, he entered public life in 1879.
The meeting of the 9th November is the first official and most important meeting of the new Council year. The councillors and aldermen are dressed in their robes and the public gallery is usually full. The election of the mayor is the first item on the agenda. But by this date there were few contests - matters having been decided informally well before hand. Richard Marvin was proposed by Alderman King who said he was the first solicitor for nearly twenty years to hold the post. There were no other nominees and no dissenting voice. The council stood en bloc so Marvin was elected unanimously.
War breaks out in the Sudan. Nationally the Third Reform Act was passed. Locally there was still much sanitary work to be completed and gradually Portsmouth was becoming a very healthy spot in which to live. Additionally the Eye & Ear Infirmary was opened in Pembroke Road. Socially the high spot was the banquet given to Prince Edward Saxe Weimar on his retiring as Governor of the Southern Command. But perhaps Marvin's best service to the Borough was when he persuaded the Westminster government to consolidate the Portsmouth loans to 3½%. At the end of his mayoral year it was noted that he had transacted public business with frankness and urbanity which had charmed all. He was accorded a unanimous vote of thanks.
Richard Marvin met a sad end when on Friday June 30th 1899 he drowned off Southsea Beach. Despite indifferent health and contrary to his doctor's advice Marvin continued to enjoy a morning swim. Carrying his towel and folding chair at 9.00 a.m. on the morning of the 30th he made his way to the beach hiring a bathing machine from Mr Newnham. He was last seen swimming some 20-30 yards from the shore. When he did not return home by 10.00 a.m. concern was felt. Eventually the bathing machine was opened but there was no sign of Marvin. Despite a search the body was not recovered until a week later by licensed boatman Walter Bailey. The partly decornposed corpse was whereupon moved to the mortuary. The body was identified and the inquest was held in the Town Hall on Monday 10th July 1899. A verdict of accidental death was returned by coroner T.A. Bramsdon. After a service in St Jude's church the funeral took place in Highland Road cemetery. There was a history of coronary weakness in the family, his father havig collapsed and died of a heart attack at Cosham Railway Station some years previously.
A branch of the Marvin family was very prominent in the civic affairs of the City of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA. The Marvins (three brothers) went to the US from England in the C17th. Three descendants became mayors. The first was, Colonel Thomas E.O. Marvin (1837-1919), a lawyer by profession, was mayor 1872-73. As such he established a tradition which was followed by the next two generations of his family. The second Marvin to grace the chair of the New Hampshire Portsmouth was William Edward Marvin (born 1872) mayor 1905-1906. another lawyer by profession and a Democrat in politics. Thirdly, Robert Marvin enjoyed three terms as mayor 1934-35-36. (2)
Norman Gordon
'Reports & Obituaries'. Hant's Post July 7th & 14th 1899. Portsmouth Times, July 1st & 15th 1899 Southern Daily Mail July 8th 1899. Hampshire Telegraph, July 1st 1899. 2 Based on information supplied by Portsmouth Public Library, New Hampshire, USA.