Murray: Short History


Latest news

Get-togethers and reunions

Murray: Short History
Murray: Family Tree

Murray: Name Study

Murray Yarns
Photo album

Contact us

A Short History of John Murray
Born in 1785, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Very little of the early history of our progenitor John Murray is currently known. We know that he was born in about 1785, probably in Edinburgh, Scotland. At least, this is what has been recorded in a document housed in the Cape Archives. We are also aware that he applied for permission to remain at the Cape in 1807, having been born in "North Briton" and that he came to South Africa to assist his brother Samuel as a clerk in the business which he operated in 45, 46 and 47 Strand Street, Cape Town.

The marriage of his brother Samuel to Anna Prideham was childless and the couple are both buried in Cape Town. It is not known when and where John died or was buried. He married Martha Gysbertha de Milander from Stellenbosch at Cape Town on 20 February 1816. Martha was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church, Stellenbosch on 15 July 1792. This couple had 9 children. We know that John lived in a house named "Musselburgh Mount" behind (or near to) the Castle in the part of Cape Town known as New Market.

45 Strand Street and Other Addresses

According to the document showing his application for permanent residence in South Africa, he alleged that he came to the Colony in order to help his brother Samuel as a clerk in his business at 45 and 46 Strand Street. Afterwards, No. 47 Strand Street was also purchased. It is not certain whether 47 Strand Street belonged to John only, or jointly by the two brothers. The fact is, though, that in later documents John's address is given as 45 Strand Street.

When I lived in Gardens, Cape Town in 1985, I went to take a few photos of interesting buildings and streets in Cape Town. One such photo is that of MONEX HOUSE, which is built on 45 and 47 Strand Street. This is where, amongst others, the Portuguese Consulate was housed. Whether it is still there, I don't know. Because I have not been a Capetonian for a long time, I cannot remember all the details anymore, but I think the then Bank of the Orange Free State (OFS BANK) was also housed in the same building. On the photo of the building on the corner, 45 Strand Street, orange coloured signboards can be seen, most likely those of the OFS Bank. [It is not certain if the street numbers of those years (1818) were the same as they are today].

Riebeeck Square, where John Murray the whale-fishery owner and his son lived, is not far from the Strand Street properties. The square was initially known as Hottentotplein and later as Boereplein, before it was renamed to Riebeeck Square. Riebeeck Sqaure is situated between Shortmarket, Long, Wale and Buitengracht Streets.

From 1814 to 1815 our John lived in Longmarket Street (the actual number is not known). From 1816 to 1823 John Murray's residential address was 45 Strand Street, that is, on the corner of Longmarket and Strand Streets, where the OFS Bank would later be accomodated. In 1829 John Murray gave his address as Stellenbosch and in 1830 as Musselburgh Mount (near to the Castle in Cape Town). In 1833 he was back at Stellenbosch. No evidence could be found for where he resided in 1831, 1832 and 1834, nor thereafter. John's youngest son, Hermanus Johannes, was born in Bredasdorp in 1837 and was baptised there in 1844. In February 1854 (when John would have been 68 years of age) he witnessed the baptism of his grandson, John Herman, at Franschhoek. John Herman was the son of John Murray the teacher, and his wife Helena Josina de Milander (who was his cousin).

John the Whaler

In previous references to the Murrays, John Murray was incorrectly assumed to be the son of John Murray, the whaler. Later research has shown that there were more than three John Murrays, each with a son named John, living at the Cape at the same time. The dates of birth and death of some of these John Murrays do not correspond with the history of our family.

The Family of John the Teacher

The progenitor of the John Murray family in South Africa is John Murray who was born in about 1785, presumably in Edinburgh, Scotland. Very little is known about our progenitor. However, we are hard at work in trying to locate documents that give his place and date of birth and death and his date and place of burial. In the meantime we are hoping that one day a family member or some other interested party will find the lacking information and make it available to this web page.

According to the register of ship arrivals in the archives of the Port Captain and Habour Superintendent, Table Bay (Reference PC 3/1), John Murray arrived in Table Bay on 12 June1807 aboard the ship Orion. On 18 July 1807 he applied to the Earl of Caledon for Permission to Remain (CO3866 No 579). The application was filed on 30-7-1807. He married Martha Gysbertha de Milander of Stellenbosch on 20 February 1816. She was baptised at Stellenbosch on 15 July 1792. The couple that lived in Cape Town for a time, and probably also later resided in Stellenbosch, had nine (9) children.

Their 9 children were: Margaret Murray, John Murray, Robert William Murray, Mary Isabella Murray, Samuel Murray, Hamilton Murray, Martha Murray, Henry Murphy Murray and Hermanus Johannes Murray:

1. Margaret (1816 - 1833) no children.
2. John (1818 - 1882) seven children.
3. Robert William (1819 - ?) ten children.
4. Mary Isabella (1822 - 1899) no children.
5. Samuel (1824 - ?) seven children.
6. Hamilton (1826 - 1907) seven children.
7. Martha (1829 - ?) no children ?
8. Henry Murphy (1832 - 1869), seven children.
9. Hermanus Johannes (1837 - ?) ?

Any Murrays in South Africa, who think they may be a descendant of one of the above-mentioned Murrays, but are unsure of where they fit in, are requested to contact me.

My contact details are as follows:, Peter Murray, P O Box 66503, Riebeeckstad, 9469. 31 Benbow Avenue, Riebeeckstad. Tel. (057) 388-2952 (after hours).

(c) Peter Murray, 2005. Laas bygewerk 2011-01-14.