MURRAY, John (-d.1640), of Lochmaben, Dumfries; St. Martin's Lane, Westminster and Guildford Park, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

10th but 6th surv. s. of Sir Charles Murray (d.1605) of Cockpool, Dumfries and Margaret, da. of Hugh, 4th Bar. Somerville [S]. educ. Court, Edinburgh. m. by 1613, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Shaw of Broich, Stirling, 1s. 1da.; 1da. illegit. cr. Visct. Annand [S] 28 June 1622, earl of Annandale [S] 13 Mar. 1625. suc. bro. 1636.1 d. 22 Sept. 1640.2

Offices Held

Commendator, Dundrennan Abbey [S] 1599-1606;3 kpr. Guildford Park, Surr. 1608,4 Eltham Park, Kent 1616-at least 1625;5 provost, Lincluden [S] 1612; forester and constable, Falkland [S] 1614;6 commr. disorders in middle shires 1618, 1622, 1635;7 j.p. co. Dur. 1619-at least 1636, Northumb. 1622-d., Surr. 1623-d.;8 commr. gaol delivery, co. Dur. 1619-39;9 steward, Annandale [S] 1625;10 gov. of Connaught [I] by 1625,11 co. Donegal [I] 1627;12 commr. Forced Loan, co. Dur., Northumb., Surr. 1627.13

Page to Anne of Denmark [S] by 1602;14 groom of the bedchamber 1603-22;15 kpr. of the privy purse 1611-25;16 gent. of the bedchamber 1622-5;17 PC [S] 1626-d.18


Murray came from a family prominent in the Scottish borders and followed his elder brothers to Court where, by 1603 he was highly in the favour of King James, whom he accompanied to England. As a groom of the bedchamber, he was one of the most trusted of the king’s immediate circle, one through whom James would communicate his will to others, such as the earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), and through whom outsiders, such as Sir Francis Bacon*, would hope to reach the king’s ear.19 He was particularly employed, as a Scottish statute of 1617 noted, ‘in the public affairs of this realm of Scotland’, providing a Court contact for prominent Crown servants north of the border.20 Described by another Scottish courtier, Thomas, Viscount Fentoun, as ‘that honest gentleman’, he seems, on the whole, to have performed his manifold duties and exercised his great influence with discretion and without provoking undue resentment or envy.21 He was nonetheless careful to see that his services did not go unrewarded. A flood of rewards came unabated throughout the reign; annuities, from £20 in 1604 to £200 in 1611,22 gifts and forfeitures, such as £2,000 out of recusants’ lands in 1607,23 leases and grants of lands in England, Scotland and Ireland.24 In 1605 he was granted a lease of the Cumbrian manor of Plumpton, though it may have been some years before he could obtain possession owing to a prior claim by Sir Richard Musgrave*. At the same time he also acquired the reversion to the keepership of Guildford Park,25 which fell in three years later. In 1620 he was granted the park itself in fee farm. This property was reputed to be ‘one of the finest grounds ... in England, and of good value’.26

Murray was naturalized by an Act of 1610 with two of his fellow grooms and his elder brother Richard.27 His English tenants in the north were troublesome to him,28 but in Surrey Murray established excellent terms with the local gentry, notably Sir George More*, who had reported his naturalization bill on 24 May 1610, and the Stoughtons. He also received gifts of wine, sugar and boars from the Guildford corporation, a borough where More and the Stoughtons had strong electoral interests.29 A bill for the naturalization of Murray’s wife, then of the queen’s bedchamber, was passed by the Lords in 1614, but got no further than a first reading in the Commons, on 23 May.30 In 1618 Murray became an undertaker on a large scale in the Ulster plantation, receiving 10,000 acres in Donegal.31 In the same year, he was also granted the profits of lands in London that had been given for religious purposes during the medieval period and which should have been forfeited to the Crown at the Reformation but were still allegedly in the possession of the corporation and the livery Companies. The attorney-general, (Sir) Henry Yelverton*, was ordered by the king to make the best composition he could for Murray, but Yelverton was subsequently accused of exceeding his instructions in drafting the City’s new charter, and was fined in Star Chamber. In November 1620 Chamberlain, reporting a rumour (not the first of its kind) that Murray was about to receive a peerage, commented that Murray was ‘not altogether so potent as he was esteemed, seeing he cannot protect the attorney, who relied wholly upon him’.32

In December 1620 Murray became the first Scotsman to be elected to the Westminster Parliament, when he was returned for Guildford with the support of (Sir) George Stoughton* and probably also of Sir George More.33 He received 15 committee appointments, but made no recorded speeches. There is no evidence that he sought to re-introduce the bill for his wife’s naturalization. He was appointed to attend the conferences with the Lords on the petition against recusants (16 Feb. 1621), monopolies (13 Mar.), and Sabbath observance (24 May).34 He was also named to the committee to consider the subsidy bill (7 March). His lesser legislative concerns included Guildford’s bill for the Wey navigation (6 Mar.), three naturalization bills (17, 19 and 22 Mar.), and measures against ‘the secret receiving of any gifts, or pensions, of any foreign prince or state’ (25 May) and for the regulation of parliamentary elections (28 November).35 He was a natural choice for the committee on Ireland appointed on 26 Apr. on the motion of Sir John Jephson.36 Equally naturally he was one of the courtiers chosen on 3 Dec. to help present to the king the Common’s petition on war and the prince’s marriage, which so antagonized James.37 With (Sir) Humphrey May, Sir Henry Mildmay and Sir George Goring he was appointed on 18 Dec. to deliver the House’s reply to the message from the king, read by the Speaker earlier that day, threatening an imminent prorogation.38

Murray was sufficiently adroit to attach himself to the new favourite by betrothing his only son to Buckingham’s niece in 1622, and in the same year he was promoted to gentleman of the bedchamber and given a Scottish peerage.39 Henceforward his Scottish interests predominated, though he continued to reside principally at Guildford. The reluctance of the Commons in 1621 to admit Sir Henry Carey I* (Viscount Falkland), because of his Scottish peerage, may have deterred him from seeking re-election and there is no evidence that he stood again. With the new reign he lost his position in the inner circle at Court but in 1626 he was appointed to the Scots Privy Council, and for the rest of his life was an important figure in Scots government.40 He built a house on the site of the Dominican friary in Guildford during the 1630s,41 and he weathered threats, especially from lord deputy Wentworth (Sir Thomas Wentworth*), to his Irish holdings.42 Although at least seven of his elder brothers attained adult life, none of them left male issue, and he succeeded to the family estate in 1636. He died in London in September 1640 and was buried on 13 Oct. at Hoddam in Scotland; there is no evidence of a will or grant of administration. His only son fought with Montrose, but died without issue in 1659. Murray’s Guildford property passed to a great-niece, whose second husband, Thomas Dalmahoy, was elected for the borough in 1664.43

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Scots Peerage ed. J.B. Paul, i. 223-7; State Pprs. and Misc. Corresp. of Thomas, earl of Melros ed. J. Maidment, i. 127.
  • 2. Oxford DNB.
  • 3. Registrum Magnum Sigillum Scotorum, 1593-1608, p. 281; Reg. PC Scot. 1619-22, p. cxlv.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 414.
  • 5. C66/2096; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 55.
  • 6. Registrum Magnum Sigillum Scotorum, 1609-20, pp. 254, 366, 658.
  • 7. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, pp. 43, 59; Reg. PC Scot. 1619-22, p. 673; 1625-7, p. cxlv; CSP Dom. 1635, p. 510.
  • 8. C231/4, ff. 89, 154; C193/13/1; SP16/405; C66/2858.
  • 9. C181/2, f. 346v; 181/5, f. 134.
  • 10. Registrum Magnum Sigillum Scotorum, 1620-3, p. 298.
  • 11. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 55.
  • 12. CPR Ire. Chas. I, 166.
  • 13. C193/12/2, ff. 12, 57, 42v.
  • 14. CSP Scot. xiii. 931.
  • 15. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 47; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 442.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 36; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 73.
  • 17. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 442.
  • 18. Reg. PC Scot. 1625-7, p. 249.
  • 19. D.H. Willson, King Jas. VI and I, 268; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, iv. 40.
  • 20. APS, iv. 575; Oxford DNB.
  • 21. HMC Mar and Kellie, ii. 54.
  • 22. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 88; C66/1888.
  • 23. C66/1742.
  • 24. Oxford DNB.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 219, 223, 233.
  • 26. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 318, 328; VCH Surr. i. 400.
  • 27. Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in Eng. and Ire. ed. W.A. Shaw (Huguenot Soc. of London xviii), 14.
  • 28. APC, 1629-30, p. 85.
  • 29. HMC 7th Rep. 677; CJ, i. 432a; Add. 6174, ff. 132v, 138v; Surr. Hist. Cent. BR/OC/6/1, pp. 1, 6, 12, 19.
  • 30. LJ, ii. 704a; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 318.
  • 31. CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 224; CSP Carew, 1603-24, p. 403.
  • 32. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 545; 1619-23, pp. 4, 192; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 328.
  • 33. Add. 6174, f. 138v.
  • 34. CJ, i. 522b, 551a, 626a.
  • 35. Ibid. 539b, 559b, 563a, 570b, 626b, 650a.
  • 36. Ibid. 593a.
  • 37. Ibid. 657b.
  • 38. Ibid. 668b.
  • 39. HMC Mar and Kellie, ii. 123.
  • 40. Ibid. 232.
  • 41. VCH Surr. iii. 554.
  • 42. CSP Ire. 1647-60, pp. 177, 228.
  • 43. CP, i. 265.