Select Murray Miscellany

Here are some Murray stories and accounts over the years:

The Outlaw Murray of Philiphaugh

The incident of the Outlaw Murray refusing homage to the King but finally giving way on being installed as Sheriff of Ettrick Forest has long been considered to be merely a picturesque legend perpetuated by a well known ballad. 

"Who ever heard, in ony times,
Siccan an outlaw in his degree,
Sic favour get before a King,
As did Outlaw Murray of the forest free?"

However, the story may also have been true as well. 

This Murray, John Murray, lived at Hanginshaw in Effrick Forest and came from one of the oldest families in Selkirrkshire.  Legend has him as a man seven feet tall who commanded his own retinue of followers.  He may have been the origin of the term "muckle-mouth" Murray or big mouth Murray.

He was outlawed, but possibly for different reasons.  In 1460, he was in fact recorded as the Queen's herdsman in Ettrick Forest and, a year later, obtained a charter for Philiphaugh.  He did give his submission during the King's occupation of Ettrick Forest.  And the Murrays of Philiphaugh were certainly Sheriffs of the Forest before 1530.

Sour John of the Spiceries

John Murray went to London as a young man, pushed his way in trade, and became a rich merchant.  His dealings were probably in East India goods as he was ordinarily known as "Sour John of the Spiceries."

He would appear to have entertained some expectation of being buried in grand style in his local churchyard of Newlands back in Peeblesshire.  When he did return to Scotland, he occupied himself in constructing a mausoleum to receive his remains, bearing an inscription in Latin and Greek which read as follows:

"This stony fabric is erected as a memorial in gratitude here, because I am purified by the holy fount."

Sour John of the Spiceries died in 1625 at Halmyre and was laid to decay in state in the aisle which he had prepared for his reception.  But every vestige of posthumous finery has long since gone and nothing is left to distinguish the spot from the graves of parishioners.

Clan Murray and the '45

During the Jacobite uprising, Murrays fought on both sides.  The Chief of Clan Murray, the Duke of Atholl, supported the British Government; but three of his sons chose to support the Jacobites.  This resulted in the forces of the chief and his sons fighting against each other in battle.  At the battle of Prestonpans in 1745, two Murray regiments, the 46th and 42nd, fought for the British Government.  On the other side was another Murray regiment led by the Duke of Atholl's son, Lord George Murray.  Lord George Murray was in fact the Jacobite general who was responsible for their early successes in the campaign.      

William Murray had fought on the Jacobite side in 1715 and returned in 1745, landing in Scotland at the same time as Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Meanwhile, John Murray of Broughton served as the Prince's secretary.

After the defeat at Culloden in 1746, William Murray was captured but died in prison later that year in London.  Lord George Murray escaped to the continent and died in obscurity there.  John Murray earned the enmity of the Jacobites by turning King's evidence.  Other Murrays fled Scotland.  One group ended up in Wicklow, Ireland.  Others left for America.

John Murray and Lord Byron

The first John Murray of the publishing dynasty that bore his name had been born in Edinburgh, the only surviving son of Robert McMurray.  According to the family legend, Robert had appended the "Mc" to distance himself from his brother who had fought for the Jacobites in the 1715 uprising and ended up a wanted man.  John had dropped the "Mc" once he had established himself in London.

It was really his son, the second John Murray, who made this publishing house one of the most important and influential in Britain.  He was a friend of many of the leading writers of the day and launched the Quarterly Review in 1809.   His home and office at 50 Albemarle Street in Mayfair was the center of a literary circle, fostered by Murray's tradition of "four o'clock friends," afternoon tea with his writers.

Murray's most notable author was Lord Byron who became a close friend and correspondent of his.  Murray published many of his major works, paying him over £20,000 in rights.  In 1812 Murray published Byron's second book Childe Harold's Pilgrimage which sold out in five days, leading to Byron's observation: "I awoke one morning and found myself famous." 

In 1824 Murray participated in one of the most notorious acts in the annals of literature.  Byron had given him the manuscript of his personal memoirs to publish later on.  Together with five of Byron's friends and executors, he decided to destroy Byron's manuscripts because he thought the scandalous details would damage Byron's reputation.  The two volumes of memoirs were dismembered and burnt in the fireplace at Murray's office.

James Murray the Loyalist

For James Murray, Britain was always the center of his world and North Carolina the edge.  He had arrived there in 1735 and become a planter along the Lower Cape Fear.  An early letter of his expressed gratitude to an Edinburgh relative for his continued correspondence, fearing that he "would be forgotten in this remote part of the world."

In 1763 Murray removed himself to Boston and lived there through the Boston Tea Party and the early days of the Revolution.  The letters he wrote at that time were moderate in their tone.  But in them he wholeheartedly supported the British Government.  The patriots seemed to him traitors. 

"You will have heard long before this reaches you what a spirit the Stamp Act has raised in these colonies which, for want of power on the part of the Crown, to check into these three great towns, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, has gone to very great lengths indeed, particularly in New York. The truth is, we are children of a most indulgent parent who have never grown to manhood and have acted accordingly. 

The Stamp Act, so far from being a hurt to the colonies which they pretend to be unable to bear, will be a necessary spur to their industry.  The difficulty will be to keep that industry from being employed on articles that will interfere with the Mother Country and to preserve the benefit and dependence of America to Britain as long as may be.  But in the process of time, this extensive fertile country, cultivated as it will be by millions of people healthy and strong, must by the nature of things preponderate.  Our comfort is that period seems to lie far beyond our day."  

Murray remained in Boston until 1776 when, on the evacuation of the city, he left for Halifax, Nova Scotia where he died five years later in poverty and in exile. 

The Murder of James Murray in Donegal

James Murray had became a very unpopular figure with the Glenveagh and Derryveagh tenants on the Adair estate.  He would capture their animals which trespassed and demand a ransom for their release; and, it was said, he also sought compensation from them by falsely swearing that eighty five of his employer's blackfaced sheep had been killed or stolen.  Then, in January 1860, he delivered notices to the Derryveagh tenants to leave their holdings.  

Thus his murder, discovered on November 15, 1860, was perhaps no surprise.  The following was the account of the murder which appeared in The Times of London.

"It appears Murray left his cottage about ten o'clock on Tuesday morning, accompanied by two or three dogs, to look after his master's estate.  He had travelled nearly a mile and a half from home when he met his fate.  The tenants of the Adair estate had been warned to turn out and search for the missing land steward, they being familiar with the district.  They succeeded in finding him at the foot of a precipice about nine o'clock on the Thursday morning and they at once brought the intelligence to a party of police. 

Murray was lying on his back on a ledge of one of the rocks of the precipice, with his face turned upwards.  One of his arms lay across his breast and the other by his side.  His hair was dishevelled, clotted with blood, and the eyes were open.  The body bore marks sufficient to prove that Murray had met his death by violence.   The poor fellow seemed to have made a desperate fight for life, for all along the edge of the precipice footmarks indicated that a struggle had taken place.  The face of the murdered man presented a sad spectacle.  Immediately under the right eye was a frightful wound, as if inflicted by a blunt instrument; and there was a similar wound on the irght temple.  Murray's skull, upon examination, was found to have been completely smashed in.

The body was carried to the cottage which he had left only two mornings before in health and strength.  One can well imagine the feelings of his poor widow on receiving the remains of her dead husband."

Murray's murderer was never caught.  But Adair, alleging a conspiracy among his tenants, used the killing to complete the evictions.

Andrew Murray, A Revivalist in South Africa

One of four children born to Andrew and Maria Murray, Andrew Murray was raised in what was considered then the most remote corner of the world - Graaff Reinet, near the Cape in South Africa.  It was here, after his formal education in Scotland and three years of theological study in college in Holland, that he returned as a missionary and minister.  Murray consistently drew large crowds when he preached and led many to trust Christ as their Savior. 

When revival came to Cape Town, Murray initially was hesitant.  He didn't want to be swept away in the heart of emotion.  But one Sunday evening during the youth fellowship meeting an African servant girl rose and asked permission to sing a verse and pray.  The Holy Spirit fell upon the group and she prayed.  In the distance there came a sound like approaching thunder.  It surrounded the hall and the building began to shake.  Instantly everyone burst into prayer. 

Murray walked up and down the aisle, trying to quiet the people.  But a stranger in the service tiptoed up to him and whispered: "Be careful what you do.  For it is the Spirit of God that is at work here."  And Murray soon learned to accept the revival praying.    

Chalmers Murray and His South Carolina Sea Islands Novel

“The finest picture of the Sea Island Negroes even written: simple, vivid, and taut...raw and outspoken,” read the Library Journal’s back cover blurb for the novel Here Come Joe Mungin, written by Chalmers S. Murray in 1942.

Murray and his sister, natives of Edisto Island, had grown up on their father’s farm in an area populated by blacks, the descendants of the slaves of the Sea Islands, and were isolated from the other white people on the island.  Murray knew the blacks well – so well in fact – that his parents carefully “screened” the black boys he played with.  His father made two thousand dollars a year operating a general merchandise store “that catered largely to Negroes,” Murray recalled in Turn Backward O Time In Your Flight, his 1960 reminiscence of growing up on Edisto Island.  He had been born there in 1894.

Murray grew up around Negro spirituals and superstitions, he stored knowledge of Negro myth and folk sayings, and he understood the area’s Gullah speech and in his writings often seems charmed by it.  He knew the ritual of the Negro churches and the difference in sophistication the black preachers from Charleston had over the rural Island black preachers.  During his work with the FWP he learned Negro work songs, saw what they ate, witnesses their despair, observed their rage and gained a gauge for their temperaments.  He was thus well suited to write Here Come Joe Mungin, his "raw and outspoken” novel of the Sea Island Negroes.

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