MURRAY, John (c.1768-1827), of Clermont, Fife.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1807 - Apr. 1811
11 May 1811 - 1818

Family and Education

b. c.1768, 1st s. of Sir Robert Murray, 6th Bt., of Clermont by 2nd w. Susan, da. of John Renton of Lamberton, Berwick; half-bro. of Sir James Murray (afterwards Pulteney), 7th Bt.* educ. Westminster. m. 25 Aug. 1807, Hon. Anne Elizabeth Cholmley Phipps, da. of Constantine John Phipps, 1st Baron Mulgrave, s.p. suc. half-bro. as 8th Bt. (and to £600,000) 26 Apr. 1811.

Offices Held

Ensign, 3 Ft. 1788, lt. and capt. 1793; a.d.c. to Field Marshal Freytag in Flanders 1793, to the Duke of York 1794; maj. 1794; lt.-col. 2 batt. 84 Ft. 1794; British commr. Red Sea 1799; brevet col. 1800; q.m. Indian army 1801; maj.-gen. 1805, brig. 1806; lt.-col. 79 Ft. 1806; col. 3 W.I. regt. 1809; lt.-gen. 1811; col. 56 Ft. 1818; gen. 1825.


Murray pursued a chequered military career on the heels of his half-brother James. This involved him in service in Flanders, the Cape, India, Aden, with the German Legion in Sweden and Portugal (1808) and in Portugal under Wellesley (1809). He returned home out of pique at the preferment of a junior officer under whom he would not serve; nor did Wellesley want him back (February 1811); ‘he is a very able officer, but when he was here before he was disposed not to avoid questions of precedence, but to bring them unnecessarily to discussion and decision’.1

Murray had little time for a parliamentary career at home, but he was a paying guest of James Kibblewhite* at Wootton Bassett from 1807 until 1811, when he succeeded to his half-brother’s seat at Weymouth. He scarcely drew attention to himself in the House. He voted with ministers on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, and was in their minorities on the Scheldt expedition, 26 Jan., 23 Feb. and 5 Mar. He also voted against the release of the radical Gale Jones on 16 Apr. and against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. After service in Sicily, he was at home in time to vote against a broader administration, 21 May 1812.

At the election of 1812 Murray headed the poll at Weymouth, canvassing on a wider basis than the three other candidates on the Johnstone interest: he denied hostility to them, but refused to pay his share of their expenses. He was not implicated in the petition against the return of the other three and on 10 Jan. 1813 sailed to Spain. His unauthorized retreat after besieging Tarragona in June 1813 led to his court martial at Winchester (16 Jan.-7 Feb. 1815) on charges of unmilitary conduct, neglect of duty, disobedience to written instructions and neglect of proper arrangements for re-embarking his troops, artillery and supplies. He was found guilty of an error of judgment in respect of the last charge, but otherwise acquitted and the Regent waived the admonition recommended by the court.2 He was thus able to resume his career. On 3 Mar. 1815 he voted against the corn bill. He was on the government side on the Duke of Cumberland’s grant, 29 June, 3 July 1815. He voted with them for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and on questions arising out of it, 10, 11 Feb. 1818. He then went to Italy and paired with ministers on the ducal grant, 15 Apr. 1818.

For a year before the election of 1818, Murray was jockeying with the Johnstone trustees for the control of Weymouth. They attempted to isolate him, but he took advantage of their weaknesses. In August 1817 he assured government that he had always supported them and had spent over £10,000. Thomas Wallace* complained, ‘his interest exists at the expense of the Johnstone interest by which he was introduced into Weymouth’. In December 1817, by ‘plausible stories’ he tried to convince the Treasury that the Johnstone interest, which had had to compromise with its opponents, was hopeless and that he could secure the return of four friends of government, even if they remained neutral. As it was, he secured admission to the corporation, asked for patronage and in other ways attempted to extend his interest. In his election campaign he described himself as ‘the steady friend of the poor’.3 All in vain, for he was defeated. He died at Frankfurt-on-Main, 15 Oct. 1827.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Wellington Despatches, iv. 588.
  • 2. Northumb. RO, Wallace (Belsay) mss S76/2/59; 3/38, 62, 81, 89; 5/1, 3-5, 12; The Trial of Lt.-Gen. Sir J. Murray Bart. (1815); DNB.
  • 3. Wallace mss S76/20/32, 72; 76/37/12; Add. 38268, f. 7; 38269, f. 293; 38458, f. 223; Coutts Bank, Murray of Dunerne mss, election handbills 1818.