MURRAY, John (1729-74), of Strowan, Perth.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1761 - 8 Jan. 1764

Family and Education

b. 25 Apr. 1729, 1st s. of Lord George Murray and bro. of James Murray of Strowan.  educ. Eton 1742-5; Soho Acad. 1746-7; Göttingen 1751-3.  m. 23 Oct. 1753, cos. Lady Charlotte Murray, da. and h. of James, and Duke of Atholl[S], 7s. 4da.  suc. uncle as 3rd Duke of Atholl 8 Jan. 1764. K.T. 23 Dec. 1767.

Offices Held

Capt. Loudoun’s Regt. June 1745-6; Scottish rep. peer 21 Aug. 1766-d.


Murray’s father took part in the 1715 and 1719 rebellions, escaped abroad, returned home on a pardon, and settled on his wife’s estates. Young Murray was brought up by his Hanoverian uncle, Duke James, who in 1745 obtained for him a commission in Loudoun’s new regiment.1 On the outbreak of the ’45 Murray, in great distress, wrote from Eton to Atholl:2

My father has declared for the Pretender, which of all things I was most afraid of, but as your Grace, who has so long been at the charge of my education, is for King George ... I shall lay down my life ... in his service. For although my father be not so much in the wrong ... as he has been for that party always ... yet it would be the greatest baseness in me ... not to be for King George as I have a commission from him and have always been educated as his subject ... I should be very much obliged to you if you would let me leave school and come down to Scotland, for I don’t doubt I could handle a broadsword or a musket well enough ... for though I love my father ... yet it is impossible for me to think that he has acted right.

Murray, however, was not allowed to serve, and in 1746 was deprived of his commission.3 Atholl, failing sons of his own, had long regarded Murray as eventual heir to the dukedom, and planned a marriage between him and his daughter.4 When, by Lord George’s attainder, Murray’s rights of inheritance became doubtful, Atholl sought to protect him from further suspicion of Jacobitism and rehabilitate him at court. In 1751 he sent Murray to Göttingen University, under ‘positive orders not to see or correspond’ with his father,5 and in 1752 directed him to go to Hanover, where the King was in residence, to be presented at court.

On returning home from Göttingen, John was married to his cousin, engaged in the management of Atholl’s estates, and was groomed for leadership in county politics. On 1 Apr. 1760 he presided at a meeting to petition Parliament for a Scottish militia; and shortly afterwards announced his candidature for Perthshire against his half-uncle Lord John Murray, and with Argyll’s backing was returned.

Freed by his father’s death, in October 1760, from suspicion of disloyalty, he entered Parliament as a firm supporter of Administration, attached himself to Bute, voted for the peace preliminaries, and supported Grenville’s Administration. On Atholl’s death, 8 Jan. 1764, Murray, although legal opinion unanimously supported his right to succeed to the dukedom, decided to petition the Lords for confirmation; and on 7 Feb. was confirmed in his right to the titles. In his later years Atholl became something of a recluse and lost much of his popularity. In 1774 he was stricken with apoplexy, accidentally drank a cup of hartshorn, and in delirium drowned himself in the Tay, 5 Nov. 1774.6

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Atholl Chrons. ii. 450, 456, 479, 481.
  • 2. Sir Herbert Maxwell, ‘A Jacobite General’, Cornhill Mag. 1908.
  • 3. Atholl Chrons. iii. 323.
  • 4. John Drummond to Morton, 22 Apr. 1740, Morton mss.
  • 5. Atholl Chrons. iii. 403.
  • 6. Ibid. iv. 57.