Clan Murray

Clan Murray
Clan Murray
Crest badge
Murray Clan Badge by Willscrlt with Shadows 250x300 on Transparent White Background.png
Crest: On a Wreath Or and Sable a demi-savage Proper wreathed about the temples and waist with laurel, his arms extended and holding in the right hand a dagger, in the left a key all Proper.
Motto: Furth, Fortune, and Fill the Fetters
Region Highland
Plant badge Butcher's Broom, or Juniper

Duke of Atholl arms.svg
His Grace John Murray
The 11th Duke of Atholl
Historic seat Blair Castle

Clan Murray is a Highland Scottish clan. The Murrays were a great and powerful clan whose lands and cadet houses were scattered throughout Scotland.



Origins of the Clan

Famed for their patriotism from earliest times they boasted a royal origin. They are descended from the Flemish nobleman Freskin de Moravia (also progenitor of Clan Sutherland and possibly Clan Douglas). Flemish and Norman lords crossed the North Sea and established themselves in the Scottish realm at the invitation of the Kings of Scots from the early 12th century. Freskin and his son were granted extensive lands in Moray and intermarried with the old line of Celtic Mormaers from Moray. They took the name 'de Moravia', i.e. 'of Moray' in Latin. The descendants of his grandson William de Moravia's descendants became Lords of Bothwell. The name became more generally written simply as 'Moray' (or variants), deriving from the great province of Moray, once a local kingdom, by the end of the 13th century. From him descend the principal houses of Murray: Tullibardine, Atholl, Abercairney and Polmaise. The name Murray is believed to derive from Pictish *Moritreb, meaning 'seaward settlement', referring to the ancient province, the Mormaerdom of Moray much larger than the present county of Moray, running along the coast of the Moray Firth, north of the Grampians. MacMurray, Moray, Murry, Morrow, and Morogh are all variants of the family name.

Wars of Scottish Independence

In the 14th century during the Wars of Scottish Independence the Clan Murray led by Andrew de Moray was co-leader of the Scots against the English invaders at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, where the Scottish army was victorious. His son, Chief Sir Andrew Murray, 4th Lord of Bothwell, third Regent of Scotland, married Christian Bruce, a sister of King Robert the Bruce. He was captured by the English at Roxburgh in 1333. He was released in time to relieve his wife who had been bravely holding out and defending Kildrummy Castle against the English and won the pivotal Battle of Culblean. In March 1337 a Scots army under Sir Andrew Murray recaptured Bothwell Castle which was being held by the English.

15th century and Clan Conflicts

A romanticised Victorian-era illustration of a Clan Murray Chieftain by R. R. McIan from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands published in 1845.

In 1431 the Battle of Drumnacoub took place where Angus Dubh Mackay, chief of Clan Mackay defeats Angus Moray of the branch of Murrays who supported their relatives the Clan Sutherland near Tongue.[1]

In 1480 the Battle of Skibo and Strathfleet took place where John of Islay, Earl of Ross, chief of Clan Donald invaded Sutherland and fought against men of the Clan Sutherland and their relatives from branch of the Clan Murray who supported the Sutherlands.[2]

In 1490, Battle of Knockmary, This battle was between the Clan Murray against the Clan Drummond and Clan Campbell.[3]

16th century and Clan Conflicts

The eldest of Murray of Tullibardine's seventeen sons, Sir William Murray of Tullibardine, had, with other issue, William, his successor, and Sir Andrew Murray, ancestor of the Viscounts Stormont. His great-grandson, Sir William Murray of Tullibardine, was a zealous promoter of the Reformation in Scotland. George Halley, in the curious document already quoted, says that "Sir William Murray of Tullibardine having broke Argyll's face with the hilt of his sword, in King James the Sixth's presence, was obliged to leave the kingdom. Afterwards, the king's mails and slaughter cows were not paid, neither could any subject to the realm be able to compel those who were bound to pay them; upon which the king cried out – 'O, If I had Will Murray again, he would soon get my mails and slaughter cows'; to which one standing by replied – 'That if his Majesty would not take Sir William Murray's life, he might return shortly'. The king answered, 'He would be loath to take his life, for he had not another subject like him!'. Upon which promise Sir William Murray returned and got a commission for the king to go to the north, and lift up the mails and the cows, which he speedily did, to the great satisfaction of the king, so that immediately after he was made lord comptroller". This office he obtained in 1565.

In 1542 the Battle of Alltan-Beath took place. Donald Mackay of Strathnaver, chief of Clan Mackay decided to invade and molest the lands of Clan Sutherland. He burned the village of Knockartoll and stole many goods from Strathbrora. The Clan Sutherland and their relatives in Clan Murray led by Hutcheon Murray of Abirscors with Gilbert Gordon of Garty decided to attack the Mackays at a place called Ailtan-Beath. The Mackays fled and much of the stolen booty was recovered. Donald MacKay was captured and imprisoned in Foulis Castle, Ross-shire by commandment of the Queen Regent.[4]

In 1562 at the Battle of Corrichie, the Clan Murray support Mary, Queen of Scots against George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly.[5]

In 1594, Battle of Glenlivet, the Murrays fought on the side of the Earl of Argyll whose forces consisted of 10,000 Highlanders from Clan Campbell, Clan Forbes, and the Chattan Confederation of Clan MacKintosh. Their enemy was the Earl of Huntly whose forces consisted of 2,000 Highlanders from Clan Gordon, Clan Comyn and Clan Cameron.

17th century and Civil War

Highland chieftain Lord Mungo Murray wearing belted plaid, around 1680.

In the early 17th century a deadly feud broke out between the Murrays of Broughton and the Clan Hannay which resulted in the Hannays being outlawed.

Sir John Murray, the twelfth feudal baron of Tullibardine, was brought up with King James, who in 1592 constituted him his master of the household. On 10 July 1606 he was created Earl of Tullibardine. His lordship married Catherine, fourth daughter of David, second Lord Drummond, and died in 1609. Sir John Murray's eldest son, William, second Earl of Tullibardine, married Lady Dorothea Stewart, eldest daughter and heir of line of the fifth Earl of Athole of the Stewart family, who died in 1595 without male issue. He eventually, in 1625, petitioned King Charles the First for the earldom of Athole. The king received the petition graciously, and gave his royal word that it should be done. The earl accordingly surrendered the title of Earl of Tullibardine into the king's hands, 1 April 1626, to be conferred on his brother Sir Patrick Murray as a separate dignity, but before the patents could be issued, his lordship died the same year. His son John, however, obtained in February 1629 the title of Earl of Athole, and thus became the first earl of the Murray branch, and the earldom of Tullibardine was at the same time granted to Sir Patrick. This Earl of Athole was a zealous royalist, and joined the association formed by the Earl of Montrose for the king at Cumbernauld, in January 1641. He died in June 1642.

Chief of Clan Murray, James Murray was to begin with a strong supporter of King Charles and received the Marquess of Montrose at Blair Castle in 1644. However at the Battle of Tippermuir in 1644 James Murray led 1,800 men of the Clan Murray in support of the Scottish Covenanters against the Royalists.[6][7]

18th century and Jacobite Uprisings

Clan Murray of Atholl Tartan
Clan Murray of Tullibardine Tartan
War in France

Clan Murray fought for the British at the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709 against the French in France. The Battle of Malplaquet was one of the main battles of the War of the Spanish Succession. It was fought on 11 September 1709 between France and a British-Dutch-Austrian alliance (known as the Allies). Later in 1745 Lord John Murray's Highlanders fought for the British at the Battle of Fontenoy against the French.[8]

Jacobite rising of 1715 to 1719

Men from the Clan Murray fought at the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719 under William Murray, against the British government and in support of the Scottish Jacobite rebels. Their commander William Murray was wounded but escaped to France only to return with Prince Charles Edward Stuart for the Jacobite rebellion in 1745.

Jacobite Uprising of 1745 to 1746

During the Jacobite Uprisings of 1745 to 1746 many Murrays fought on both sides. The Chief of Clan Murray who was John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl supported the British Government however three of his sons betrayed him and 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, called 'Murrays 46th Regiment' and 'Murray's 42nd Regiment' fought for the British government. However at the same battle there was another Murray regiment on the Jacobites' side led by Lord George Murray who was the son of the chief Duke of Atholl. John Murray of Broughton served as secretary to Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

In December 1745 Lord George Murray was one of the main Jacobite commanders involved in the Siege of Carlisle which was taken on 13–15 December. He also fought at the Clifton Moor Skirmish on 19 December 1745. Although three of his sons had joined the Jacobite rebels John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl the chief of Clan Murray himself actually remained loyal to the British government and he helped apprehend the Jacobite rebel Robert Roy MacGregor.

The Duke of Atholl's son Lord George Murray, was the Jacobite general responsible for the Jacobite's initial successes during the early part of the 1745–1746 rebellion. Another Jacobite commander, William Murray even landed with Jacobite leader Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 at Borodale 25 July. He was the main Jacobite commander at the Battle of Prestonpans, Battle of Falkirk (1746) and the Battle of Culloden.


After the Battle of Culloden in 1746 William Murray tried to escape however as he was suffering from bad health and fatigue he surrendered on 27 April 1746 to Mr Buchannan of Drummakill. He was then taken to the Tower of London where he died on 9 July 1746. Lord George Murray escaped to the continent in December 1746, and was well received in Rome by the prince's father, James Francis Edward Stuart, who granted him a pension. Despite the father's hospitality, when Murray journeyed to Paris the following year, the prince refused to meet with him. Murray lived in numerous places on the continent over the next few years, and eventually died in Medemblik, Holland on 11 October 1760 at the age of 66. Meanwhile, the prince's erstwhile secretary John Murray of Broughton earned the enmity of the Jacobites by turning king's evidence.


The ruined inner hall of Bothwell Castle

Clan Chief

Badges and Crest

The current Clan badge (depicted at the beginning of this article) depicts a demi-savage (the upper half of a wreathed, shirtless man) holding a sword in the right hand and a key in the left. The clan motto appearing with this badge reads "Furth, Fortune, and Fill the Fetters", which roughly translates to "go forth against your enemies, have good fortune, and return with captives". The demi-savage badge was the one favoured by the late Duke, and the Clan continues to use it out of respect.

An older Clan badge depicts a mermaid holding a mirror in one hand and a comb in the other. The motto that appears with this version is "Tout pret", which is Old French for "Quite ready". This older badge is still found in many books and heraldry shops, and it remains readily recognizable.

See also


  1. ^ "Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland". p.65 – 66, by Sir Robert Gordon (1580 -1656).
  2. ^ ’Conflicts of the Clans’ published in 1764 by the Foulis press, written from a manuscript wrote in the reign of James VI of Scotland. [1]
  3. ^ "". 
  4. ^ History of the House and Clan of the Name MacKay" by Robert MacKay (1829). p.114 – 118: Quoting from "Genealogical history of the Earldom of Sutherland" by Sir Robert Gordon (1580 -1656).
  5. ^ "History of the House and Clan of the Name MacKay" (1829). p.131 – 133 by Robert MacKay: Quoting 'Scots Acts of Parliament'.
  6. ^ "Battle of Tippermuir 1644 – ScotWars". 
  7. ^ "Clan MURRAY". 
  8. ^ "Loudon's Highlanders". 

External links

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