Mavor was born on 8 December 1854, in Scotland, the eldest of nine children of a Free Church minister and school-master. He died in Glasgow on 31 October 1925. James Mavor was educated at the University of Glasgow, but did not receive a degree because an attack of typhoid fever preventing his writing his examinations. His only degree was the Ph.D. awarded him by the University of Toronto in 1912 to mark his twentieth anniversary as a professor there. In Glasgow, he edited the short-lived Scottish Arts Review while also being assistant editor of Industries, an engineering journal. He was a member of the Social Democratic Federation when it was founded in 1884 and then, together with William Morris, broke away to found the Socialist League, which Mavor left in 1886 (to protest the signing of his name, without his permission, to a statement). In 1889, Mavor was named professor of political economy and statistics at St. Mungo's College, Glasgow, a small school, primarily of medical students. He joined the Scottish Liberal Club in 1890, but his empirical research continued for some years to focus on social questions such as the Scottish railway strike and labor colonies as a remedy for unemployment (Mavor 1891, 1892, 1893). As his memoirs recall, he was acquainted in the late 1880s and early 1890s with Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde, unusual company for either a socialist or a professor.
From The Biographical Dictionary of American Economists in Oxford Reference.