Welcome to the Official Clan Murray Society of North America.
A Delaware incorporated non-profit organization
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John 11th Duke of Atholl, Chief of the Murrays
January 19, 1929 - May 15th 2012
Obituary for John Murray by Bruce 12th Duke of Atholl
Today we are here to say goodbye to John.
More officially he was addressed as Your Grace, The most noble John Murray, Duke of Atholl, Colonel, My Lord, Knight of the Order of St. John and a string of six other courtesy titles which I shant bore us with now. In these capacities he was Chief of the name and arms of Murray, Colonel of the only private army in Europe and patron of The TVL Scottish Regimental association and the Keepers of the Quaich.
Much more importantly he was a loving husband, a lovable dad, a concerned father-in-law, a wise brother-in-law, a doting grandfather, great grandfather, reliable hiking partner, empathetic employer, wise advisor, counselor, but mostly a friend. To some of us he was many of these people, and to complete strangers he was a considerate and polite gentleman, often also a generous Good Samaritan.
John was born in Johannesburg in 1929 to a retired Royal Artillery officer father and a pioneering family mother. He grew up in the mountains of The Downs, in the Wolkberg and his parents from a very early age nurtured his love of nature. He attended prep school in Parktown under the militant and barbaric guidance of retired army officers cum teachers who, clad in raincoats and gumboots, and armed with canes, used to scrub the forlorn boys in a big communal bathhouse, which must have resembled an abattoir!
No doubt this character-building phase of his young life cast the mould of a man who would become someone to admire and emulate. He completed his high schooling at Michael House where he was forced to do an extra year of school, as he was too young to be allowed to leave, having completed his matric at the age of 17. His ability was, however not confined to academics. He was accomplished cricketer and was once severely beaten for being the gun bearer in a successful bush buck poaching expedition on the extensive school grounds!
Evidently he was not all brains and daring and shortly after finishing his degree in engineering at Wits and Rhodes, he bumped into Peggy somewhere and they were married on 15 Dec 1956. Theirs was an exemplary, lasting partnership; the kind that we all envied and the obvious result of such a partnership are happy, healthy, naughty children, grand children and a great grand son.
His chosen profession of land surveyor led him into remote areas of southern Africa where he left, unwittingly and obviously unintentionally, countless monuments to himself in the form of trig beacons which he built, roads and dams (like Kariba) & farm boundaries which he surveyed and thousands of subdivisions in residential areas of our country. He led a life of true adventure, often having to run away from wild animals or sleep atop a trig beacon to avoid scorpions! His love of simple, beautiful things was always something to be admired as was his bountiful and varied knowledge and wisdom. He had a way with numbers and words, regularly correcting our pronunciation or grammar. In fact less than 24 hours before he left us, he enlightened us as to the meaning of Lexicology and the origin and use of the word Lex in our vocabulary! Checking up on his knowledge with the use of a dictionary was always a waste of time.
He was a man that didn’t need material wealth or social status to prove success. So it was a huge shock to him to learn that he had inherited the title of 11th Duke of Atholl in 1996.
Rather reluctantly but diligently and honorably, he did his duty. Being a man of such humble personality, be struggled with being in the limelight as it were, and experienced first hand the rude and impersonal intrusion of the press into his very private life.
However, at Blair castle, he immediately became the “popular Duke” preferring to be called John by everyone, from the humblest shepherd to other loftily titled peers. He was especially popular with the officers and men of his personal bodyguard, the 150-year-old Atholl Highlanders, a regiment granted colors by Queen Victoria in 1845. His own military background was brief, a 3 month stint in the Grahamstown Regiment, where he said his most memorable action was jumping off the back of a lorry, properly dressed in a kilt, in front of a line of school girls standing on the pavement! However, he persevered and successfully led the regiment on many parades over a period of 15 years. He has left an indelible mark at Blair Castle and he will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by everyone who knew him.
About 20 years ago Dad and I were wandering around that little neck just to the east of the Iron Crown peak in the Wolkberg, when it became time to seek a spot to sleep. I of course, was apprehensive about this, knowing the Eastwood ability to choose a completely miserable site. But at last we sat down, both satisfied with our choice, and stoked up our pipes. He looked up to the Iron crown and said “ When I feel it’s time to pop off, what I’ll do is drag myself up to the trig beacon there, chain myself to it and toss the key out of reach in case I change my mind.”
“I have heard” he said, “that popping off from exposure is quite a pleasant way to go.”
“Ok” I said, “if that were your choice, we would respect it.”
“But remember” I said, “someone is going to have to bring you off the mountain in the morning, and that’s going to be a bloody mission!”
He considered this very briefly and said, “Don’t worry son, when I die I won’t be a mission for anyone.”
He is remembered for so many things but especially his humility. Up to the very end he maintained his dignity and modesty, abhorring the thought of being a burden to anyone. Even in passing to the higher order he did so. Without fuss or drama.
Other obituraries can be found at the following sites:
The Murray Clan Society of North American was founded in 1969 at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games by Horace Murray and Harrell Murray III for the purpose of education, fellowship, recreation, and the preservation and promotion of Scottish and Murray Clan heritage and traditions. The first member of the Society was Evelyn Murray
His grace George Iain Murray, the 10th Duke of Atholl appointed Horace Murray as Lieutenant to the Chief. Later Stanley B. Fleming was appointed Lieutenant to the Chief for Canada by his grace John Murray, the llth Duke of Atholl.
Bruce,12th Duke of Atholl has appointed Stanley B Fleming as Lieutenant to the Chief for Canada, and Harrell Murray III as Lieutenant to the Chief for the United States.
Today, the Murray Clan Society membership spans the world with branches in Scotland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand as well as North America.
The initial membership is US $25.00 or the Canadian equivalent. The annual dues are $20 US or the Canadian equivalent.
Join the Fun! Join the Murray Clan! You can join the clan if your last name is Murray or any of the allied families of the Murray Clan (Balneaves, Dinsmore, Dunsmore, Fleming, Moray, Murrie, Neaves, Piper, Pyper, Smail, Smale, Small, Smeal, Spaulding.)
Application forms can be downloaded from the Membership page. The Clan Society publishes a newsletter (The Aitionn) four times a year (roughly January, April, July, and September). Members receive The Aitionn as a benefit of membership. Contact the newsletter editor.
The most important event of the year for the Murray Clan is the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The AGM location moves to a different area of the country each year in order to give members who attend a chance to meet new people and possibly a new part of the country. The 2006 AGM was held at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highlands Games at Fergus, Ontario. The 2007 AGM was held the the Longs Peak Scotch and Irish Festival at Estes Park, Colorado. The 2008 AGM was held at the Maine Highland Games, Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, Maine, on the 16th of August. In the first week of June 2009, the AGM will be held at the Greater Greenville Games at Furnam University, Greenville, SC. The 2010 AGM will be held at the Detroit Highland Games in Livonia, MI on the first weekend of August. The 2011 AGM found us in Washington State at the Scottish Highland Games in Enumclaw, WA. The 2012 AGM was held in Fair Hills Maryland in May 2012.
The 2013 AGM will be held in Florida in January 2013.
The AGM is only one weekend a year but each state has several games and festivals where the Murray Clan has a tent. A list of the events where the Murray Clan Society of North America will have a representative and a tent can be found on the Events tab (above).
Murray Clan Society of North American Membership
The following maps are based on membership as of October 2007. The symbols on the maps are graduated in size according to state or province membership as a percentage of the total membership in the Murray Clan Society of North America – the larger the symbol, the larger percentage of membership.
Western United States membership
Eastern United States Membership