Clan Murray

Clan Murray (Moireach)

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[1]
Region Highland
Plant badge Butcher's Broom,[1] or Juniper
Pipe music The Atholl Highlanders
Bruce Murray
12th Duke of Atholl
Seat Blair Castle[2]
Historic seat Bothwell Castle[2]

Clan Murray ( listen ) (Clann Mhuirich in Scottish Gaelic) is a Highland Scottish clan.[3]


Origins of the Clan

See also: Freskin

The progenitor of the Clan Murray was Freskin who lived during the twelfth century.[3] It has been claimed that he was Pictish but it is much more likely that he was a Flemish knight, one of a ruthless group of warlords who were employed by the Norman kings to pacify their new realm after the Norman conquest of England.[3] David I of Scotland who was brought up in the English court, employed such men to keep hold of the wilder parts of his kingdom and granted to Freskin lands in West Lothian.[3] The ancient Pictish kingdom of Moray (Moireabh in Scottish Gaelic) was also given to Freskin and this put an end to the remnants of that old royal house.[3] In a series of astute political moves Freskin and his sons intermarried with the old house of Moray to consolidate their power.[3] Freskin's descendants were designated by the surname de Moravia ("of Moray" in the Norman language) and this became 'Murray' in the Lowland Scottish language.[3] The original Earls of Sutherland (chiefs of Clan Sutherland[note 1]) descend from Freskin's eldest grandson, Hugh de Moravia,[3][4] whereas the chiefs of Clan Murray descend from Freskin's younger grandson, William de Moravia.[4]

Sir Walter Murray became Lord of Bothwell in Clydesdale thanks to a marriage to an heiress of the Clan Oliphant.[3] He was a regent of Scotland in 1255.[3] He also started construction of Bothwell Castle, which became one of the most powerful strongholds in Scotland.[3] It was the seat of the chiefs of Clan Murray until 1360 when it passed over to the Clan Douglas.[3]

Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence, Andrew Moray took up the cause of Scottish independence against Edward I of England and he was joined by William Wallace.[3] Andrew Moray was killed following the Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, after which Wallace assumed command of Scottish forces.[3][5] It has been suggested that the whole war might have taken a different course if Moray had survived the battle at Stirling Bridge as he had shown significant skill in pitched battle, which Wallace lacked.[3] His son was Sir Andrew Murray, 4th Lord of Bothwell and third Regent of Scotland who married Christian Bruce, a sister of king Robert the Bruce.[5] This Andrew Murray fought at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.[3]

The lordship of Bothwell passed to the Douglases in 1360 when the fifth Murray Lord of Bothwell died of plague and his wife, Joan (herself daughter to Maurice de Moravia, Earl of Strathearn), took Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway and later Earl of Douglas, as her second husband.[3]

15th- and 16th-century 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.

The Murray's feuds with their neighbours were not as numerous as those of many other clans.[5] However, one incident of note, the Battle of Knockmary in 1490 pitted Murrays of Auchtertyre against the Clan Drummond.[5]

There were many branches of the Clan Murray who disputed the right to the chiefship.[3] It was not until the 16th century that the Murrays of Tullibardine are recorded as using the undifferenced arms of Murray in 1542, in a work that pre-dates the establishment of the Lord Lyon's register of 1672 and is considered of equal authority.[3] The claim to the chiefship by the Murrays of Tullibardine rested upon their descent from Sir Malcom, sheriff of Perth in around 1270 and younger brother of the first Lord of Bothwell.[3] The Murrays of Tullibardine consolidated their position as chiefs with two bands of association in 1586 and 1598 in which John Murray, later the first Earl of Tullibardine, was recognized as chief by numerous Murray lairds including the Morays of Abercairny in Perthshire who were amongst the signatories.[3]

In 1562, at the Battle of Corrichie, Clan Murray supported Mary, Queen of Scots against George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly.[6]

In 1594 the Murrays fought on the side of Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell at the Battle of Glenlivet against George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly, chief of Clan Gordon.[7]

17th century and civil war

In the early 17th century a deadly feud broke out between the Murrays of Broughton and Clan Hannay which resulted in the Hannays being outlawed.[8]

Sir John Murray of Tullibardine, who was created first Earl of Tullibardine in 1606, married Dorothea Stewart, heiress to the Earls of Atholl.[3] The Stewart earldom of Atholl became a Murray earldom in 1629 and a marquessate in 1676.[3]

The chief of Clan Murray, James Murray, 2nd Earl of Tullibardine, was initially a strong supporter of King Charles I, receiving the leader of the royalist army, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose at Blair Castle in 1644, and he raised no fewer than eighteen hundred men to fight for the king.[5] It was this addition of men that won Montrose the Battle of Tippermuir in 1644.[5]

18th century and Jacobite risings

Clan Murray of Atholl Tartan
Clan Murray of Tullibardine Tartan

In 1703 the Murrays as Earls and Marquesses of Atholl were created Dukes of Atholl, reaching the pinnacle of the peerage.[3]

War in France

John Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine was killed fighting for the British at the Battle of Malplaquet (1709), a major conflict of the War of the Spanish Succession between France and a British-Dutch-Austrian alliance.[5] In 1745, Lord John Murray's Highlanders fought for the British against the French at the Battle of Fontenoy.[9]

Jacobite rising of 1715

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 men of the Clan Murray fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in support of the Jacobites under William Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine.

Jacobite rising of 1719

At the Battle of Glen Shiel in 1719 men of Clan Murray fought under William Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine against the Government in support of the Jacobite cause. William Murray was wounded but escaped to France. On 25 July 1745 he landed land with the Young Pretender, (Charles Edward Stuart), at Borodale, Scotland to launch the Jacobite rising of 1745.

Jacobite rising of 1745

The first Duke of Atholl's younger son was Lord George Murray, a Jacobite general who was the architect of the early Jacobite successes of the Jacobite rising of 1745.[3] Most military historians concur that if Lord George Murray had been given the sole command of the Jacobite army that the Old Pretender (James Francis Edward Stuart) might well have gained his throne.[3] Lord George's elder brother, the next duke, supported the British-Hanoverian Government.[3] As a result, at the Battle of Prestonpans (1745), two British regiments, Murray's 46th and 42nd met a Murray regiment in the Jacobite lines led by Lord George Murray. George would go on to lead the Jacobite charge at the Battle of Falkirk (1746) and the Battle of Culloden (1746).[3] He died in exile in the Netherlands in 1760.[3]


After Culloden, on 27 April 1746, William Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine, who had landed with the Jacobite leader, Charles Edward Stuart in Scotland, suffering from bad health and fatigue, surrendered to a Mr Buchannan of Drummakill. He was taken to the Tower of London, where he died on 9 July. Lord George Murray escaped to the continent in December 1746, and was received in Rome by the Prince's father, the "Old Pretender" (James Francis Edward Stuart), who granted him a pension. Despite this, 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 years, and died in Medemblik, Holland, on 11 October 1760, at the age of 66. John Murray of Broughton who had been secretary to Prince Charles Edward Stuart earned the enmity of the Jacobites by turning king's evidence.

Atholl Highlanders

Main article: Atholl Highlanders

Although the Battle of Culloden was the last time the Highlanders of Atholl went to war, the Murray chief's ceremonial guard which became known as the Atholl Highlanders still has the unique honour of being Europe's only legal private army.[3] In 1845 Queen Victoria presented colours to the Atholl Highlanders.[3]


Castles that have been owned by the Clan Murray have included amongst many others:

Blair Castle, seat of the Duke of Atholl, chief of Clan Murray, since 1629.
The ruins of Bothwell Castle, early seat of the chiefs of Clan Murray.
Scone Palace, seat of the Murrays of Scone, Viscounts of Stormont.

Clan chief

Badges and crest

Lord Mungo Murray wearing belted plaid, around 1680.

The current Clan badge, (see above), depicts a demi-savage (the upper half of a wreathed, shirtless man) holding a sword in his right hand and a key in his left. The Clan motto reads "Furth, Fortune, and Fill the Fetters", meaning, roughly, "go forth against your enemies, have good fortune, and return with captives". The demi-savage badge was favoured by the late Duke of Atholl; the Clan continues to use it out of respect.

An older badge depicts a mermaid holding a mirror in one hand and a comb in the other, with the motto "Tout prêt", Old French for "Quite ready". This badge is found in many historical and heraldic sources, and remains a valid Murray device.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Clan Murray of Atholl Profile Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 Coventry, Martin. (2008). Castles of the Clans: The Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. pp. 444 - 450. ISBN 978-1-899874-36-1.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 284 - 285.
  4. 1 2 Sutherland, Malcolm. "A Fighting Clan, Sutherland Officers: 1250 – 1850". Page 3. Avon Books. ISBN 1-897960-47-6.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Clan Murray History. Retrieved on 12 January 2013.
  6. Mackay, Robert. (1829) History of the House and Clan of the Name MacKay. p.131 – 133. Quoting: 'Scots Acts of Parliament'.
  7. MacKinnon, Charles. Scottish Highlanders. Barnes and Noble Publishing. 1995.
  8. Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 162 - 163.
  9. Loudon's Highlanders History. Retrieved on 12 January 2013.


  1. The chiefs of the Clan Sutherland and Clan Murray shared a common ancestor in the direct male line. The surname of both families was originally "de Moravia" meaning "of Moray" or "of Murray" and as a result there were some people by the name of Murray who were septs of the Clan Sutherland in the far north. Most notably the Murrays or Morays of Aberscross who were the principal vassals of the Earl of Sutherland and were charged with the defense of the shire.

External links

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