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Clan Murray

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Title: Clan Murray  
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Subject: Clan Sutherland, Duke of Atholl, Clan Hannay, Murray (surname), Clan MacLaren
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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 (   ) (Clann Mhuirich in Scottish Gaelic) is a Highland Scottish clan.[3]


  • History 1
    • Origins of the Clan 1.1
    • Wars of Scottish Independence 1.2
    • 15th and 16th century clan conflicts 1.3
    • 17th century and Civil War 1.4
    • 18th century and Jacobite risings 1.5
      • War in France 1.5.1
      • Jacobite rising of 1715 1.5.2
      • Jacobite rising of 1719 1.5.3
      • Jacobite rising of 1745 1.5.4
  • Atholl Highlanders 2
  • Castles 3
  • Clan Chief 4
  • Badges and Crest 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Notes 8
  • External links 9


Origins of the Clan

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 neighbors 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

  • Clan Murray of North America
  • Clan Murray at
  • Clan Murray of Atholl at
  • Clan Murray History at
  • Abercairny Castle
  • Murray Clan Society of New South Wales, Australia
  • Clan Murray of Sweden

External links

  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.


  1. ^ a b c Clan Murray of Atholl Profile Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq 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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae 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. ^ a b Sutherland, Malcolm. "A Fighting Clan, Sutherland Officers: 1250 – 1850". Page 3. Avon Books. ISBN 1-897960-47-6.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g 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.


See also

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.

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.

Lord Mungo Murray wearing belted plaid, around 1680.

Badges and Crest

Clan Chief

  • [2], but the castle is open to the public.South Africa Although Blair Castle is still the seat of the Duke of Atholl, chief of Clan Murray he now lives in [2] who have their yearly spring gathering there.Atholl Highlanders The castle is also home to the [2].Robert Burns). In 1787 the castle was visited by Siege of Blair Castle (See: [2]
  • Bothwell Castle, a few miles north-west of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire was a property of the Murrays (or Morays) from the middle of the twelfth century and it had passed to them from the Clan Oliphant.[2] During the Wars of Scottish Independence Bothwell Castle changed hands between the English and the Scots on several occasions and held a strategic position.[2] The castle was the headquarters of the English Aymer de Valence, 2nd Earl of Pembroke but was surrendered to the Scots in 1314.[2] The keep was demolished at this time and although it was later made defensible it was never restored to its former glory.[2] The castle was rebuilt by Edward Balliol but in around 1337 it was taken by the Scots and again slighted by Sir Andrew Murray.[2] The last Murray laird of the castle died of plague in about 1360 and the property passed to the Earl of Douglas, then to the Douglas Earls of Angus, then to the Hepburn Earls of Bothwell, then back to the Douglas Earls of Forfar.[2]
  • Ormond Castle also known as Avoch Castle, three miles south-west of Fortrose on the Black Isle was formerly in Moray and a property of the Murrays.[2] It was once a strong castle but little remains.[2] Sir Andrew Murray died at Ormond Castle in 1338 and the lands went to the Douglases.[2]
  • Tullibardine Castle was about two miles north of Auchterarder, Perthshire and was a large building.[2] The nearby chapel was founded by Sir David Murray of Tulliebardine in 1446 and has been used as a burial place by the Murrays since the Protestant Reformation.[2] The chapel is now in the care of Historic Scotland and is open to the public.[2] The castle was a property of the Murrays from 1284 and Andrew Murray of Tullibardine supported Edward Balliol, playing an important part in the victory at the Battle of Dupplin Moor, and as a result he was executed for treason in 1332.[2] The Murrays of Tullibardine later fought at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, supported Mary, Queen of Scots and turned against her when she married the Earl of Bothwell.[2] Sir John Murray was made Earl of Tullibardine in 1606 and this title was advanced to Marquess of Tullibardine in 1676.[2] William Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine supported the Jacobite risings of 1715, 1719 and 1745, and he died in captivity in the Tower of London in 1746.[2]
  • [2] It was sold to the Mercers in 1805 but is now in the care of Historic Scotland and is open to the public.[2]
  • Balvaird Castle, four miles south of Bridge of Earn, Perthshire is a well preserved L-plan tower house that originally belonged to the Clan Barclay but passed to the Murrays of Tullibardine in 1500.[2]
  • Scone Palace two miles north of Perth dates from 1802 but incorporates older work that possibly dates from 1580.[2] The kings of Scots were inaugurated at Scone.[2] After the Reformation, Scone had gone to the Ruthvens but after the Gowrie Conspiracy mentioned above it was granted to the Murrays as Sir David Murray of Gospertie had been one of those who had saved the king's life during the conspiracy.[2] These Murrays were made Viscounts of Stormont in 1602 and Earls of Mansfield in 1776.[2] In 1716 James Francis Edward Stuart held court at Scone and James Murray, second son of the fifth Viscount supported the Jacobites, escaping to France.[2]
  • Comlongon Castle, eight miles south-east of Dumfries was held by the Murrays of Cockpool from 1331.[2] It is a substantial keep and tower that rises five storeys and stands alongside a castellated mansion.[2]
Scone Palace, seat of the Murrays of Scone, Viscounts of Stormont.
The ruins of Bothwell Castle, early seat of the chiefs of Clan Murray.
Blair Castle, seat of the Duke of Atholl, chief of Clan Murray, since 1629.

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


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]

Atholl Highlanders

After Culloden, on 27 April 1746, 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.


The first Duke of Atholl's younger son was Battle of Falkirk (1746) and the Battle of Culloden (1746).[3] He died in exile in the Netherlands in 1760.[3]

Jacobite rising of 1745

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 1719

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 1715

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]

War in France

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

Clan Murray of Tullibardine Tartan
Clan Murray of Atholl Tartan

18th century and Jacobite risings

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]

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]

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]

17th century and Civil War

In 1594 the Murrays fought on the side of Clan Gordon.[7]


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