John Murray Scotland Jamaica United States

Biography of John Murray

John Murray was the second son born to Eleanor and John Murray, Sr., a wealthy landowning family who lived in the town of Philiphaugh, Selkirk. Murray Sr. (d.1753) served as MP for the Burghs district (1725-34) and Selkirkshire (1734-53), while Eleanor was the daughter of Lord Basil Hamilton and grand-daughter of the third Duke of Hamilton.

John Murray attended the University of Glasgow in 1742, studying under Alexander Dunlop. This education prepared him for his first career as a lawyer. He became an Advocate in 1748.

Meanwhile, the untimely death of his older brother in 1747 had made John the heir of his father. Upon the latter's retirement from politics in early 1753, he thus hoped for his son to succeed him as MP for Selkirkshire. When he died later that year, however, a conspiracy led by the Duke of Argyll forced John to abandon his father's seat. He instead became MP for the Linlithgow Burghs, until 1761.

1768 was John's Annus Horribilis. A humiliating electoral defeat was accompanied by the mysterious burning-down of his grand mansion in Hangingshaw. These vocational and financial difficulties forced him to concentrate his energies on land speculation in the Americas, with the help of his cousin, John Rutherford, who lived in North Carolina. This gamble proved to be ill-advised: the cousins failed to make sufficient returns on investments in eastern Florida and the island of St John. To escape the ire of his creditors, Murray fled with his family to North Carolina in 1769.

After struggling to achieve any success there, Murray quietly returned to Scotland in the 1780s. But he wasn't back for long: the only thing that we know of his twilight years was that he made another stab at finding better luck in the New World, this time emigrating to Jamaica with his family. He died there on 28 February 1800.


Other Online Resources

Archival Materials

  • Addison, W. Innes, The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow, 1728-1858


John Murray
Born 4 April 1726.
Died 28 February 1800.
GU Degree: Arts, 1742-1743;
University Link: Student
Occupation categories: lawyers; politicians
English snippet: Arts student at the University of Glasgow in 1742; Advocate and MP
Record last updated: 24th Mar 2014

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland, Philiphaugh
Place of Birth

Jamaica Jamaica, No Region
Place of Death

United States United States, North Carolina

University Connections

University Roles

  • Student