MURRAY, Lord James (1782-1837), of Cairdneys, Perth.

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



1807 - Feb. 1812

Family and Education

b. 29 May 1782, 2nd s. of John, 4th Duke of Atholl [S], by 1st w. Hon. Jane Cathcart, da. of Charles Schaw, 9th Lord Cathcart [S]. m. 19 May 1810, Lady Emily Frances Percy, da. of Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, 2s. 2da. KCH 1820; cr. Baron Glenlyon 17 July 1821.

Offices Held

Cornet, 10 Drag. 1798, lt. 1799, capt. 1801, half-pay 1802; capt. 6 W.I. Ft. 1804; maj. 79 Ft. 1805, brevet col. 1813; a.d.c. to Regent, 1813-19; maj.-gen. 1819; lt.-gen. 1837.

Ld. of bedchamber 1812-32.

Lt.-col. commdt. R. Manx fencibles 1806, col. (temp. rank) 1808, half-pay 1811-d.


Murray’s great-uncle George Murray* was keen to start him on a naval career, but his father decreed that he should enter the army like his elder brother John, who went mad in 1798 but lived to succeed to the dukedom in 1830. Atholl sought the lieutenant-governorship of the Isle of Man for him in 1805, but the request was turned down.1

Murray was returned unopposed for Perthshire in 1807 on the family interest, with the approval of Lord Melville. Classed by the Whigs in 1810 as ‘against the Opposition’ and by the Melvillites as one of the Members who ‘would probably support any line of politics Lord Melville might decidedly adopt’, he was inconspicuous in the House, where he is not known to have spoken. His only recorded votes were with government on the address, 23 Jan., and the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan., 5 and 30 Mar. 1810 (though it was subsequently reported that he had voted with the minority on the last occasion2) and against the release of John Gale Jones, 16 Apr. 1810. During his tenure of the Perthshire seat the bulk of county business was conducted by Sir Patrick Murray*.

Atholl failed to secure the peerage which he coveted for him from Perceval. In December 1811 his father-in-law the Duke of Northumberland asked the Regent, as a personal favour, to make Murray, whose ‘amiable manners, natural politeness and sweetness of temper’ he cited as additional recommendations, a lord of the bedchamber. The request was met and Murray, who handed over his seat to his brother-in-law, took up his duties when the Regent’s household was established early in 1812. Nothing came of speculation that his father-in-law planned to put him up for the vacant Northumberland seat in March.3

Murray was injured by flying glass when the Regent’s coach was attacked on 28 Jan. 1817 and appeared at the bar of the House to report the incident. He obtained a coronation peerage in 1821 and voted for the reform bill 11 years later. His passion for costly objets d’art led him into financial difficulties in his later years.4 He died 12 Oct. 1837.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Atholl Chrons. iv. 142, 148-9; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 3102.
  • 2. Morning Chron. 4 Apr. 1810.
  • 3. Prince of Wales Corresp. viii. 3180, 3267, 3277; Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 416; Northumb. RO, Middleton mss B.16/1, Scott to Sir C. Monck, 25 Mar. 1812.
  • 4. Colchester, ii. 600; Atholl Chrons. iv. 272-3, 382, 418.