He was born in the Isle of Man, the son of Rev. James Wilks and Elisabeth Christian, and came from a long lineage of Manxmen.
At the age of 18 he went to India on a military commission and was appointed to the Madras Army. He served as the Town Major at Fort Saint George, the capital of Madras Presidency and later he was appointed the acting Resident at Mysore. He was the author of the historical document entitled, Report on the Internal Administration of Mysore. This document was a continuation of report the survey of the Kingdom of Mysore undertaken by Lieut. Col Colin Mackenzie. He also wrote the book, Historical Sketches of the South of India In an attempt to trace the History of Mysore. This document also relates to the works of Lieut. Col Colin Mackenzie. Mark Wilks was the uncle of Mark Cubbon who was the Commissioner of Mysore and after whom the Cubbon Park in Bangalore is named.
After his return from India, Mark Wilks with the active help and co-operation of James Kirkpatrick, the East India Company Resident at Hyderabad, wrote one of the first histories of medieval South India: Historical Sketches of the South of India. This volume examined the rise of the Mysore Wodeyar Dynasty in the confusion following the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565.
In 1813 he was appointed Governor for three years of Saint Helena and the French Emperor, Napoleon is stated to have found Mark Wilks a highly engaging and affable man. On his return in 1816 he was elected to the Manx parliament, the House of Keys, the oldest uninterrupted parliament in Europe. In 1826, after the death of his father-in-law, he became speaker of the house. A portrait of Mark Wilks still hangs in the Manx Parliament Building.
He died at Kelloe House, Berwickshire. He had married twice. His second wife was Dorothy Taubman, daughter of the Speaker of the House of Keys, whom he married in 1813.
- "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 30 October 2010.