The Murrays were one of the senior families within the Scottish aristocracy, and during the period covered by this book the head of the family, John Murray, became the Dukes of Atholl. Three of his sons fought on the Jacobite side during the ’15, but their most famous and controversial contribution to the Jacobite cause was Lord George Murray’s role as one of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s chief advisors during the ’45. Ironically the promotion to duke of Atholl reflected John Murray’s loyality to the monarch of the day, and he even played a part in the Glorious Revolution and the expulsion of James II.
This book follows the history of two generations of the family – John Murray, earl of Tullibardine and first duke of Atholl, and his six sons. The text is supported by the family’s impressive archive of letters, which despite some gaps after include both sides of conversations, and allow the character of various members of the family to emerge.
The sons of the family don’t come across well. John, the oldest son and heir, who died six years before the ’15 revolt ran away to join the army. The second son William ran away to join the Navy, then after his brother’s death generally refused to accept his responsibilites, while at the same time whinging if he wasn’t given all of the money he demanded. The third son James, who ended up inheriting the Duchy, doesn’t get a chapter to himself, so doesn’t really emerge as a character. Charles and George, the younger sons, also demonstrate the same inability to live within a budget and the shared refusal to accept that they should.
In contrast John Murray, the First Duke, comes across well, as does his first wife Katherine Hamilton and his mother-in-law Anne, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, both of whom emerge as widely respected and responsible for most of the periods of peace within the family.
When we reach the ’15 itself some of the problems that plagued the Jacobite cause throughout its existence quickly come to the fore, most importantly the lack of common aims. The deposed Stuarts were firmly focused on London and the unified British throne. In contrast many of their Scottish supporters wanted to end the Union, and would probably have soon become disillusioned with any restored Stuart monarchy, once the restored monarch copied his Stuart predecessors and stayed firmly in England (the same was true during James II’s campaigns in Ireland, where his cause was undermined by the disagreements between his Old Irish supporters, for whom the expulsion of the England and independence were the aim, his Old English supporters (the largely Catholic English establishment in Ireland) and his English supporters). The Catholic Stuarts also had to try and win over their largely Episcopalian Scottish supporters. Despite some successes, the ’15 was largely doomed by the late arrive of the ‘old pretender’, James Stuart, and the inconclusive battle of Sheriffmuir, at which one of the brothers fought.
This is a valuable look at one of the most significant families in early eighteenth century politics, and helps demonstrate how so many families could genuinely find themselves on opposing sides during the Jacobite revolts, and yet still remain devoted to each other.
1 – Scotland in the Seventeenth Century
2 – John Murray, Earl of Tullibardine
3 – Murray and Fraser: An Ill-Fated Feud
4 – The Duke of Atholl
5 – Katherine – Wife, Sister, Mother
6 – Hamilton and Nairne Families
7 – Johny
8 – William, Marquis of Tullibardine
9 – Charles and George
10 – The Rising Begins
12 – Preston
13 – Sheriffmuir
14 – Court Martial – Guilty Verdict
15 – The King Arrives, Too Little Too late
16 – Charles at Chester Castle
17 – Exile
Author: Rosalind Anderson
Publisher: Pen & Sword History