Blair Castle Piper

Murray Clan History

The Beginning: Freskin Son of Ollec

Before the Norman conquest land ownership in England and Scotland was simple as it depended primarily on possession. You had it, you owned it. You wanted it, you fought for it. You found it, you kept it. This old system is known as the medieval system.

William the Conqueror changed all of that after his coronation in 1066, proclaiming that he (as King) owned all of the land in England. He granted land to his Knights and others according to his pleasure. In return for the grants of large pieces of land, William required among other considerations, that the grantee serve as a Knight in his army whenever the King requested this service. William the Conqueror’s action marked the end of the medieval system of land ownership and the beginning normanization or feudalization of England and Scotland.

Scotland didn’t see this change until after David I became king following the death of David’s brother, Alexander I, King of Scots, in 1124. David had seized the throne of Scotland from Alexander’s son Malcolm with the help of King Henry I of England. However, Malcolm didn’t quit in his attempt to reclaim his father’s title and acquired the backing of Angus of Moray, the Mormaer of Moray province. Angus was the grandson of Lulach Macgillecomgan, who succeeded Macbeth as King of Scotland in 1057. Angus rightly believed the king was going to take his land and with his Moray-men rebelled against David I in 1130.

One consequences of the change was the creation of the Murray Clan because, sometime before 1130, David I granted lands to many Normans and Flemish including Freskin Son of Ollec – considered to be the founder of Clan Murray. David’s aim was to create vassals who owed their fealty to the king with the aim of eventually calling on their service when needed. Freskin’s original grant was in West Lothian west of Edinburgh. In 1130 , Freskin was to service in fighting against Angus and his Moray-men. Freskin and others like him were successful in defeating Angus.

As reward for his part in putting down the rebellion of the Moray-men, Freskin was granted additional lands north of Elgin in Moray, close to the Firth of Moray, where he built Duffus Castle. The advantage to the King in granting lands to Normans such as Freskin is that they had no kin or ties to the areas where they were granted lands -heir primary loyality was to King David I. Freskin and his sons did marry into the Moravian aristocracy.

Interestingly, much later Andrew de Moray attacked Duffus Castle which was now owned by Sir Reginald le Chein, King Edward's Governor. The Le Chein family had gained possession of the castle through marriage to one of Freskin's grand daughters. For more intormation see:

Freskin was the progenitor of Clan Sutherland as well as the Clan Murray. He had a son named William who had sons named William and Hugh who obtained the lands of Sutherland after the rebellion of 1197. His brother was William de Moravia (or William Moray of Petty). Either William de Moravia or his son Walther acquired the lands of Bothwell through marriage to the daughter of David de Olifard – from this line of descent came the Abercairny branch of the Murray Clan. Walther was known as Walther of Bothwell.

Tullibardine Chapel

Built in 1446 by Sir David Murray of Dumbarton, an ancestor of the Dukes of Atholl. The Murray family home stood north of the chapel but today there is little trace of Tullibardine Castle.

The Murrays of Tullibardine

The exact linage after Walther or his brothers to the Murrays of Tullibardine is not clear. Burke’s Peerage says that Freskin’s grandson William Moray of Petty (William de Moravia) is the ‘probable’ ancestor of Sir Malcolm Murray, Sheriff of Perthshire.(1) Sir Malcom Murray’s son Sir William Murray succeeded his father and married Ada, daughter of Malaise, Seneschal of Strathern and thus acquired the lands of Tullibardine.

The next in line of succession was Sir William Murray Of Tullibardine who was Joint Governor of James VI, Keeper of Stirling Castle, 1572, and Comptroller of Scotland. He was succeeded by John Murray (Sir), 1st Earl of Tullibardine who was granted the Earldom of Tullibardine by James VI(creation of 1606).

At this point the Murray Clan also branches off to the Viscounts Stormont and, later, the Earls of Mansfield through Sir William’s son Andrew who married the daughter and sole heir of James Barklay of Balvaird. Sir Andrew’s son David Murray of Balvaird had a son, Andrew, who’s second son David Murray was created Viscount Stormont possible because he was instrumental in the rescue of James VI during the Earl Gowrie attack on James VI in 1600.

Upon the 1st Earl of Tullibardine's death, his son William inherited the title to became the 2nd Earl of Tullibardine.. William married Dorothea Stewart who was the daughter of the 5th Earl of Atholl (the last of the Stewart Earls of Atholl) who had died without male heir. William and Dorothea petitioned the king, Charles I, to allow their son to inherit the Earldom of Atholl and continue the Tullibardine line as a separate branch with William’s younger brother, Patrick, as the Earl of Tullibardine. The king accepted their petition and William resigned as Earl of Tulibardine but before all of the paperwork was processed, William died.

It wasn’t too surprising that the King was favorable to the petition from William and Dorothea because Dorothea was a blood relative to the king not to mention the King’s childhood relationship with the 2nd Earl’s father at Stirling Castle. Dorothea’s maiden name was Stewart – the royal line of the Stewarts used the spelling Stuart because the French language doesn’t use the letter w. In the French alphabet, the letter w is pronounced as double v and foreign words with the letter w are pronounced as a v. When it was finally sorted out after his death, William’s younger brother Patrick became the 1st Earl of Tullibardine and his nephew, William and Dorthea’s son, John, became the 1st Earl of Atholl.

William and Dorothea’s son John, 1st Earl of Atholl died in 1642 at the age of 32. His son John became the 2nd Earl of Atholl when he was only 11 years old. The 2nd Earl married Lady Amelia Sophia Stanley the heir of the 7th Earl of Derby from whom the Murrays inherited the Lordship of the Isle of Man. After the death of James 2nd Earl of Tullibardine (Patrick's heir), the 2nd Earl of Atholl succeeded, also, to the title of 3rd Earl of Tullibardine. Thus, two lines of the Murray family were united again. Note that one of the titles the present Duke holds is 12th Earl of Tullibardine.

The Dukes of Atholl

The 2nd Earl of Atholl
(The 1st Duke's father)
The 1st Duke of Atholl The 2nd Duke of Atholl

The first three dukes..

During the time of the Glorious Revolution, The 2nd Earl of Atholl (William and Dorotheas' grandson) made no clear choice between support of the Stuart King and William and Mary until the revolution was fait accompli at which time he gave his support to William and Mary.. At the time of Dundee’s insurrection against William and Mary, he decided to take the waters at Bath while the Jacobites took over Blair Castle and fought the Battle of Killiecrankie only a few miles from Blair Castle. The Jacobites captured Blair Castle in the Earl's absence. The 2nd Earl had 3 sons: Sir John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl who was created the 1st Duke of Atholl by Queen Anne in 1703; Charles Murray, 1st Earl of Dunmore; and William Murray, 2nd Baron Nairne.

The years between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and Culloden 1745 was a period of conflict for both the Murrays of Atholl and for Scotland. In between the Glorious Revolution and Culloden were the Act of Union and the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1719. The last Jacobite Uprising, which ended in the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden, was in 1745.

John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl was known as a devout Presbyterian and backed the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He supported the Act of Union in 1707 which ended Scotland's status of an independent state, and was part of an effort to take over Stirling Castle. For a period, however, he was placed under house arrest at Blair Castle for his supposed part in opposing the Union – possibly a result of a plot to discredit him. The 1st Duke retired to Blair Castle after his discredation and house arrest. Later, he was for a second time constituted Lord Privy Seal – a position which had been taken from him at the time of his descredaton.

James Francis Edward Stuart, the son of James II of England, was born in England but raised in France where he was taken by his mother, Mary of Modena, to escape harm during the turmoil surrounding his father’s deposition as King of England in 1688. He was known as the Old Pretender, Le Chevalier St. George or the old Chevalier. On his father’s death in 1701, he was declared King by Le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV, with the name of James III and VIII and was also as such recognized by several other states. However, none of these states recognise William III, Mary II or Queen Anne as legitimate British sovereigns. He was attainted for treason, 2 March 1702, and his titles forfeited under British law.

Lord George Murray

Whatever were the 1st Duke’s true political sentiments, the 1st Duke backed the English. Nevertheless his 2nd son William, Marquis of Tullibardine as well as his 5th son Lord George Murray were important players in the Jacobite movement which attempted by force to return the Stuarts to the throne. Both of them not only backed the successions of the Catholic Stuarts but were instrumental in the uprisings. The men of Atholl fought with the Jacobites during all three of the Jacobite rebellions.

Before the Jacobite uprisings began, the 1st Duke’s oldest son and presumed successor, John, had been killed at the Battle of Malplaquet – a bloody battle of War of the Spanish Succession. Thus, William, his 2nd son, became the Marquis of Tullibardine. (Traditionally, the eldest son of the Duke of Atholl holds the honary title of Marquis of Tullibardine.) The 2nd Marquis of Tullibardine also was know by the Jacobites as the Duke of Rannoch as well as the Duke of Atholl and used the title of Duke of Atholl in his correspondence during the time of his residency at Blair Castle.

William, Marquis of Tullibardine was quite visible during the uprisings of 1715. He took part in the great council held at at Braemar which was held under the pretense of a hunting event which had been called by the Earl of Mar. The first act of Earl of Mar and the Marquis as well as many Atholl men was to proclaim the Old Pretender King.. Almost simultaneously, the Duke of Athole was proclaiming King George at Perth. Later, the Duke was ordered by the English, to remain at Blair Castle to secure the peace of the county, of which he was Lord-Lieutenant.”

James Edward Stuart fled the country without success and the Marquis of Tullibardine fled to France until 1719 when another unsuccessful attempt was made to restore the Stuarts. During both of these first conflicts another of his sons, Lord George Murray, accompanied his older brother in the campaigns. An act of attainment was passed against William Murray for his actions ending his right of succession to the dukedom. Lord George was also attained but later was pardoned for his part in the rebellions of 1715 and 1719.

The period between 1719 and 1739 was one of peace between the Jacobites and the English. Between the rebellions of 1719 and 1745, John Murray the 1st Duke of Atholl had died in 1724 and was succeeded by his 3rd son James Murray leaving out William, Marquis of Tullibardine in the line of succession by the aforementioned decision of parliament. In 1739, the Jacobite cause was revived and an invasion of Scotland was planned by the Jacobites who had been living in various localities in France, the Vatican and the Netherlands. Lord George wasn’t in attendance at Bonnie Prince Charles' (Charles Edward Stuart the Old Pretenders' son) arrival in Scotland. However, once he was presented to the Prince, he was made Lieutenant-General of the Jacobite forces. During the uprisings, of 1745, the Marquis of Tullibardine spent much of his time at Blair Castle due to his bad health – rheumatoid arthritis.

Lt.-Col. Sir James Murray 2nd Duke of Atholl was the 3rd son of the 1st Duke as the 1st son had died and the 2nd had been attained for his part in the Jacobite rebellions. When he died in 1764, e was succeeded by his nephew, Sir John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl, who was Lord George Murray’s son as the House of Lords ruled that he was the rightful heir of his uncle, James Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl, notwithstanding the attainder of his father.

The 3rd Duke married his cousin, Lady Charlotte Murray, Baroness Strange. The Baroness Strange was the 2nd Duke’s daughter who inherited the title from her father. In 1765, the Sovereignty of the Isle of Man was sold to the British government for £70,000 and an annuity of £2,000 per year although they retained certain rights which were sold for £417,144 in 1828.

(1) p. 133. BURKE’S PEERAGE & BARONAGES. 106th ed. London : Fitzroy Dearborn, c1999

The 4th Duke of Atholl

John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl was born on 30 July 1755 to John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl and Lady Charlotte Murray, Baroness Strange. The children of his first marriage to Hon. Jane Cathcar included John Murray, 5th Duke of Atholl, and Lt.-Gen. Sir James Murray, 1st Lord Glenlyon.

In 1777 he raised a Regiment for public service, the 77th Regiment of Foot, or Atholl Highlanders. He held the office of Grand Master of the Freemasons [Scotland] between 1778 and 1780. He held the office of a Representative Peer [Scotland] between 1780 and 1786. He was invested as a Fellow, Royal Society (F.R.S.) on 9 November 1780. He held the office of Captain-General and Governor in Chief of the Isle of Man. He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Perthshire between 1794 and 1830. He was Colonel of the Perthshire Militia in 1798. He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Thistle (K.T.) on 4 April 1800.

The 4th Duke of Atholl was also known as the last Lord of Man. In around 1765, the Murrays sold inherited rights to the Isle of Man to the British government for £70.000 plus an annuity of £2.000 per year at this time. However, they continued to retain several of their soverign rights. In 1826, on receiving a further payment from the Crown of £416, 000, the Duke surrendered the remaining privileges of which he had possession. The 4th Duke’s grandmother Lady Charlotte, Baroness Strange had been pressing for this additional compensation for several years.

The 5th and 6th Dukes of Atholl

Sir George Augustus Frederick John Murray, 6th Duke of Atholl, was born 20 September 1814, and died 16 January 1864. His father was Lt.-Gen. Sir James Murray, 1st Lord Glenlyon and his mother was Lady Emily Frances Percy. His grandfather was Sir John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl. He became Duke of Atholl after the death of John Murray 5th Duke of Atholl in 1846. The 5th Duke died unmarried, childless and was of unsound mind.

George Augustus Murray was an officer in the service of the 2nd Dragoon Guards. He was Grand Master of the Freemasons [Scotland] between 1843 and 1864. He was Hereditary Sheriff of Perthshire. He, also, held the office of a Lord-in-Waiting between January 1846 and July 1846. Before the 5th Earl's death he held the title of 2nd Lord Glenlyon and managed the affairs of Blair Castle because of his uncle's incompetence. During the period before his uncle's death, he made a major contribution to both the Murray Clan and Scotland as a whole by welcoming Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to the family residence at Dunkeld in 1842 and offered the services of the Atholl Highlanders to guard the queen during her visits to Dunkeld. In 1844, he lent Blair Castle to Queen Victoria for a three week stay. The Atholl Highlanders received the Queen at the castle gates with an honor guard with the remainder of the regiment formed in front of the castle. The Atholl Highlanders acted as the Queen’s permanent guard during her stay at Blair Castle. When the Queen left Blair Castle, Lord Glenlyon accompanied her on horseback to her ship at Dundee

The Atholl Highlanders were originally formed as the 77th Regiment of Foot by the 4th Duke in 1777 and although they were originally formed to join English troops fighting in the American Revolution, they never saw action in the Americas. The original regiment was disbanded in 1783. George Augustus Murray, 2nd Lord Glenlyon, resurrected the regiment as a bodyguard in 1839. For the occasion of the Queen’s visit in 1842, he offered services the Atholl Highlanders to guard the Queen.

Queen Victoria was so impressed by the hospitality shown her during her stays in 1842 and 1844, that in 1845, she granted colors to the Atholl Highlanders. Today the regiment is the only remaining private army in Europe.

Evelyn Murray’s account of Queen Victoria’s granting colors to the Atholl Highlanders from the Fall 2006 edition of the Aitionn – the newsletter of the Murray Clan Society of North America:

“In recognition of Services given to Queen Victoria by the Athole Highlanders in 1842, and also during her three week residence at Blair Castle in 1844, Her Majesty was pleased to inform Lord Glenlyon, heir of the 5th Duke of Atholl, of her intention to present a pair of Colours to the Athole Highlanders. The Ceremony was duly arranged to take place on September 4th, 1845 and the Chronicles of the Athole family quote as follows:

“Wednesday, September 3rd - The battalion paraded to receive Prince George of Cambridge and Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, who arrived on that day to take part in the ceremony. The Highlanders encamped that night in the Castle Park.”

Before 1842, the royal family hadn’t visited Scotland for 200 years. The occasion of the Queen’s visit and her subsequent purchase of Balmoral and all of the resulting publicity along with the romantic picture of Scotland presented by Sir Walter Scott were probably the impetus for the new popularity of Scotland as a travel destination as well as the fashionableness of all things Scottish. This fashionableness and romanticism of all things Scottish included kilts and tartans which led to the creation of the Scottish tweed industry and the standardization of tartans according to clan.

The 7th Duke of Atholl

The 7th Duke of Atholl, John James Hugh Henry Stewart-Murray was born in 1840, the son of George Augustus Frederick John Murray, 6th Duke of Atholl and Anne Home-Drummond. He was baptized as John James Hugh Henry Murray but 1865 his name was legally changed to John James Hugh Henry Stewart-Murray.

The 7th Duke was educated at Eton College. He became a Lieutenant in the Scots Fusilier Guards in 1859 and a Captain in 1864. He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Perthshire in 1878. He was also Honorary Colonel of the 3rd Battalion, Black Watch and Colonel-in-Chief of the South African Scottish Regiment. He held the office of Chancellor of the Order of the Thistle in 1913.

He married Louisa Moncreiffe, daughter of Sir Thomas Moncreiffe of that Ilk and Lady Louisa Hay-Drummond. The 7th Duke and Louisa Moncreiffe had seven children including Lt.-Col. Sir John George Stewart-Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl and James Thomas Stewart-Murray, 9th Duke of Atholl.

The 8th Duke of Atholl

Lt.-Col. John George Stewart-Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl was the 5th child of Sir John James Hugh Henry Stewart-Murray, 7th Duke of Atholl and Louisa Moncreiffe. He was born at Blair Castle in 1871.

From the time of his birth until his father’s death, he held the title of the Marquis of Tullibardine. (The son of a Duke of Atholl becomes the Marquis of Tullibardine at his birth or at the time when his father becomes Duke.) He was educated at Eton and spent a good part of his life in the military. He joined the Royal Horse Guards as 2nd Lieutenant and was promoted to Captain after the Battles of Kartouum and Atbara. He fought in the Second Boer War and attained the rank of Brevet Major. In 1902, he was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel. He also fought in World War I and attained the rank of Temporary Brigadier General in 1918.

In 1900, Lord Kitchener ( British Commander in the Boer War) commanded the Marquisof Tullibardine to form a new yeomanry regiment which became The Scottish Horse. Volunteers were recruited by the Marquis of Tullibardine in South Africa as well as his father the 7th Duke of Atholl in Scotland. The tartan of the Scottish Horse is Murray of Atholl. The volunteers were mainly from the Atholl District, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Narin, Argyle and the islands. Eventually, The Scottish Horse became a full brigade. The 8th Duke was honorary Colonel Commandant of the Scottish Horse until his death in 1942 when he was succeeded by his widow the Duchess of Atholl. In 1956, George Iain Murray 10th Duke of Atholl presided at the opening of a new museum dedicated to The Scottish Horse in Dunkeld.

The 8th Duke of Atholl was member of the Order of the Thistle, the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of the Bath, and the Distinguished Service Order. He was on the Privy Council of the United Kingdom as well as being Aide-de-camp to George V. He was also Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland between 1918 and 1920. For 6 years he was Grand Master of Scottish Freemasons.

The 9th Duke of Atholl

James Thomas Stewart-Murray, 9th Duke of Atholl, the 7th and youngest son of Sir John James Hugh Henry Stewart-Murray, 7th Duke of Atholl and Louisa Moncreiffe, was born 18 Aug 1879, and died 8 May 1957. He was unmarried at his death. He succeeded to the title of 9th Duke of Atholl on 16 March 1942 upon the death of his brother Lt.-Col. Sir John George Stewart-Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl who died without children. Lady Dorothea Louisa Stewart-Murray, Lady Helen Stewart-Murray, Lady Evelyn Stewart-Murray, John Stewart-Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine, Lt.-Col. Sir John George Stewart-Murray, 8th Duke of Atholl, Major Lord George Stewart-Murray were his brothers and sisters – listed in order of birth date.

He was educated at Eaton College, and became a Major in 1st Battalion, Cameron Highlanders. He fought in the Boer War and World War I. In World War I he was wounded, captured and held as a Prisoner of War. Since neither he nor his brother the 8th Duke of Atholl had children, George Ian Murray, his distant cousin succeeded to the title of the 10th Duke of Atholl.

He also succeeded to the following titles on 16 March 1942: 11th Earl of Atholl; 14th Lord Murray of Tullibardine; 14th Baron Strange; 6th Baron Murray, of Stanley; 12th Lord Murray, Gask and Balquhidder; 9th Viscount of Balwhidder, Glenalmond and Glenlyon; 9th Lord Murray, Balvenie and Gask; 9th Earl of Strathtay and Strathardle; 9th Marquis of Tullibardine; 10th Lord Murray, Balvany and Gask; 12th Earl of Tullibardine; 10th Viscount of Balquhidder; 10th Marquis of Athole; 10th Earl of Tullibardine.

The 10th Duke of Atholl

George Iain Murray, 10th Duke of Atholl was born 19 June 1931. He was the son of Lt.-Col. George Anthony Murray and Hon. Angela Pearson. He died on 27 February 1996 at age 64, unmarried. He went by the nick-name of 'Wee Iain' possibly because he was small in his his youth although he ended up being 6 - 3.5 feet tall. He was educated at Eton College, Eton, Berkshire, England. He graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). After graduation he joined the Westminister Press his family's business which published regional newspapers. After the death of the 9th Duke, Iain Murray inherited the title from his great-great-great-grandfather Right Rev Lord George Murray who was the the second son of the third Duke of Atholl.

The Duke was an acknowledged expert in forestry which knowledge he used on the Atholl lands. He also resurrected the Atholl Highlanders. He also had a great interest in the Scottish Horse regiment as his father, who died in Italy when Iain was 10 years, was an officer in the regiment at his death. He was instrumental in opening the Scottish Horse Regimental Museum in Dunkeld. The tartan of the Scottish Horse is the Murray of Atholl and their pipe band wears the Murray of Tullibardine tartan.

Under his stewardship, he resurrected the Atholl Highlanders, the ceremonial private army of the Dukedom. He was an active member of the Conservative Monday Club. He died unmarried in 1996, with the title passing to his second cousin, John Murray.

Just prior to his death in 1996, the 10th Duke conveyed Blair Castle as well as his other lands into a charitable trust. As a result of his efforts, Blair Castle is one of the most visited castles in Scotland.

There are several online resources for information on the 10th Duke of Atholl including:

The 11th Duke of Atholl

John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl was born 19 January 1929 in Johannesburg, South Africa and died on May 15th 2012 in Haernertsburg, South Africa.

He received a BSc degree in Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, a leading South African university. He commands the only legal private army in Europe, the Atholl Highlanders. The army is based at Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl, every year the Duke returns to stay at Blair for the display put on by his army.

The Duke of Atholl is the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Murray.

He married Margaret Leach in 1956, and together they have three children:

* Bruce George Ronald Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine (b. 1960)

* Lord Craig John Murray (b. 1963)

* The Lady Jennifer Murray (b.1958)

The 12 Duke of Atholl

Bruce George Ronald Murray, the 12th Duke of Atholl, was born on April 6,1960

He attended Saasveld Forestry College before serving two years of National Service with the South African Infantry Corps. He is currently a volunteer member of the Transvaal Scottish Regiment, holding the rank of Lieutenant. Previously he managed a tea plantation, but then ran a signage business producing signs for commercial buildings. He was commissioned into the Atholl Highlanders in 2000, being appointed as Lieutenant Colonel. Upon his father's death he succeeded to all of his father's titles.

Marriage and children

The Duke had married Lynne Elizabeth, daughter of Nicholas Andrew, of Bedfordview in 1984. Together they have three children, two sons and one daughter:

Michael Bruce John Murray, Marquis of Tullibardine (born 5 March 1985)
Lord David Nicholas George Murray (born 31 January 1986)
Lady Nicole Murray (born 11 July 1987)

Divorced 2003, presently married to Charmaine Myrna (nee Du Toit) since 2009.1

1Wikipedia Article

Other History articles and links:

The history of the Abercairny branch of the Murrays can be found at (click the icon below to go to the site):