After studying at Aberdeen, Wattie went to the University of Oxford. He was First Class in Mods. (the name of the first public examination for the degree of B.A. at Oxford) in 1883. Again he was First Class in Lit. Hum. (literae humaniores, the name of the examination for the B.A. at Oxford).
After he receiving his B.A. from Oxford, Wattie taught at George Watson's College, Edinburgh. He became a lecturer in English at the Church of Scotland Training College in Aberdeen around 1893. In 1896 he became one of His Majesty's Inspectors in Edinburgh. After three years in Edinburgh, he moved to Keith, in Banffshire. This posting lasted around four years after which he was based in Broughty Ferry, just outside Dundee. After two years he returned to his native city of Aberdeen. In Aberdeen he lived first at 60 Queen's Road, then at 1 Rubislaw Dens, then at 14 Hamilton Place. In 1910 he was appointed Chief Inspector of Schools, and in 1927 Senior Chief Inspector for Scotland. He retired in 1927.
James Wattie married Katherine C D Wattie (born in Aberdeen about 1865). Their daughter Katherine won a bursary to Aberdeen University in 1912-13:-
The third bursar was Miss Katherine B MacPherson Wattie (seventeen), a daughter of Mr James MacPherson Wattie, H.M. Inspector of Schools. She was educated at the Aberdeen High School for Girls, and won the Town Council Gold Medal for University Subjects as dux of the school recently.
Wattie joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in January 1889 when he was teaching English at George Watson's College, Edinburgh. He remained a member of the Society through his career, leaving the Society around 1921.
After Wattie died in 1943 his daughters Nora Isabel Wattie MB ChB (Assistant Medical Officer in the Public Health Department in Glasgow), Mary F C Wattie (married name Grant) MA, Katherine B M Wattie (married name Cope) MA, and Patricia M Wattie (married name Espinasse) founded the Wattie Prize in Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. The prize is:-
... to commemorate the name of James Macpherson Wattie, their father, the prize is awarded annually to the best candidate in English Language in the English Honours examination, provided that his or her work shows distinction.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson