James Murray (British Army officer)

James Murray (British Army officer)

James Murray (21 January 1721, Ballencrieff, East Lothian, Scotland – 18 June 1794, Battle, East Sussex) was a British military officer, whose lengthy career included service as colonial administrator and governor of the Province of Quebec.

He was a younger son of Alexander Murray, 4th Lord Elibank, and his wife Elizabeth (Betty) Stirling. Educated in Haddington and Selkirk, he began his military career in 1736 in the 3rd Scots Regiment in the Dutch service. In 1740 he served as Second-Lieutenant in Wynyard’s Marines, under his brother Patrick Murray, 5th Lord Elibank, in the unsuccessful attack on Cartagena. He returned as Captain in 1742. He served as Captain of the grenadier company of the 15th Regiment of Foot during the War of the Austrian Succession, being severely wounded at Ostend in 1745, and distinguishing himself at Lorient in 1746. In December 1748, he married Cordelia Collier, of Hastings.

James Murray purchased his majority in the 15th Regiment of Foot in 1749, and the lieutenant-colonelcy in 1751. He commanded his regiment at Rochefort, 1757, defending Sir John Mordaunt in his subsequent court-martial. He commanded a battalion in the 1758 siege of Louisbourg.

When Louisbourg was taken, Murray accompanied General Wolfe on a raiding expedition northwards along the west coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. While Wolfe destroyed French settlements along the Gaspe Peninsula, Murray harried the poor French fishing settlements along Miramichi Bay. Among the destruction were the homes and Church at St. Anne's, now called Burnt Church.

Murray served under General James Wolfe at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. He was the military commander of Quebec City after it fell to the British. Lévis managed to defeat Murray and the British in the Battle of Sainte-Foy in 1760, but he had to abandon the siege of Quebec due to a lack of supplies and the arrival of a British relief fleet.

He encouraged his favourite nephew Patrick Ferguson to follow him in a military career. He also assisted another nephew, Patrick Murray, illegitimate son of his brother George.

In October 1760, he became military governor of the district of Quebec and became the first civil governor of the Province of Quebec in 1764. As governor he was sympathetic to the French-Canadians, favouring them over British merchants who came to settle in the wake of the conquest and allowed the continuance of French civil law. The dissatisfaction of British settlers led to his recall in 1766 (however he remained governor in name until 1768) but his precedents were preserved in the Quebec Act. Murray successfully argued for the Quebec Act to continue slavery in Quebec as it had existed under the French; an advertisement appeared in the "Quebec Gazette" in 1769 for a "negro woman, aged 25 years, with a mulatto male child... formerly the property of General Murray".cite book |last=Cooper |first=Afua |title=The Hanging of Angélique |publisher=Harper Collins |date=2006 |isbn=0002005530]

Murray was lieutenant-governor and then governor of Minorca from 1774 to 1782. In 1780, he married, as his second wife, Ann Witham, daughter of the Consul-General there. During the American Revolutionary War, he defended Fort St. Philip, at Port Mahon, against a Franco-Spanish siege for seven months (1781-82), until forced to surrender. He was known as ‘Old Minorca’ Murray as a result.

He then returned to his home, Beauport Park, in Hollington, Sussex, where he died. Further honours came to him in his last years: he was appointed General, and Governor of Kingston upon Hull in 1783, and Colonel, of the 21st Regiment in 1789.


His first marriage had been childless, but by his second, he had six children (two of whom died in infancy):
*James Patrick Murray, later a Major General, who m. Elizabeth Rushworth
*Cordelia Murray, who m. Rev. Henry Hodges
*Wilhelmina Murray, m. James, 4th Lord Douglas of Douglas
*George Murray (died in infancy)
*Elizabeth Mary Murray (died in infancy)
*Anne Harriet Murray

He and his wife also brought up his older brother Patrick, Lord Elibank’s illegitimate daughter Maria Murray.

"See also: List of Governors General of Canada and List of Lieutenant Governors of Quebec"



* Browne, G. P. " [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2085 Murray, James] ", in "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online", University of Toronto and Université Laval, 2000
* Murray, Colonel Hon. Arthur C., "The Five Sons of "Bare Betty", London, 1936.
* James Murray. [http://www.canadiana.org/ECO/PageView/11333/0002?id=b3e730745825085b "Journal of the Siege of Quebec"] , 1760
* James Murray. [http://www.canadiana.org/ECO/PageView/74382/0004?id=b3e730745825085b "Report of the Government of Quebec in Canada"] , June 5, 1762


* [http://www.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca National Battlefields Commission. The Plains of Abraham, Quebec, Canada.]
* [http://1759.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca From the Warpath to the Plains of Abraham. Virtual Exhibition.]

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