Murray, George (1759-1819) (DNB00)

MURRAY, Sir GEORGE (1759–1819), vice-admiral, of a younger branch of the Elibank family see Murray Sir Gideon and Murray Patrick fifth Lord Elibank settled at Chichester was the son of Gideon Murray for many years a magistrate and alderman of that city. In 1770 being then eleven years of age, his name was entered on the books of the Niger with Captain Francis Banks in the Mediterranean. His actual service in the navy probably began in 1772, when he joined the Panther, carrying the broad pennant of Commodore Shuldham on the Newfoundland station. He was afterwards in the Romney, the flagship of Rear-admiral John Montagu, on the same station ; and in the Bristol, with Captain Morris and Sir Peter Parker (1721-1811) [q. v.], at the bloody but unsuccessful attack on Sullivan's Island on 28 June 1776. In September he followed Parker to the Chatham, and in her was at the reduction of Rhode Island in December 1776. In the beginning of 1778 he was taken by Lord Howe into the Eagle, in which he engaged in the operations of the summer campaign against the French fleet under D'Estaing. On his return to England he passed his examination, 19 Nov. 1778, and on 31 Dec. was promoted to be lieutenant of the Arethusa frigate, with Captain Everitt. A few weeks later, the Arethusa, in chasing a French frigate in-shore, was lost on the Breton coast, and Murray became a prisoner. He devoted his enforced leisure to the study of French and of the organisation of the French navy, and after two years was released on parole, consequent, it is said, on M. de Sartine's approval of his spirited conduct in chastising an American privateer's-man, who had the insolence to appear in public wearing the English naval uniform and the royal cockade (Naval Chronicle, xviii. 181).

Murray was a free man by the beginning of 1781, and was appointed to the Monmouth, commanded by his fellow-townsman, Captain James Alms [q. v.] In her he took part in the action at Port Praya, and in the capture of the Dutch merchant-ships in Saldanha Bay [see Johnstone, George], and afterwards in the East Indies, in the first two actions between Sir Edward Hughes [q. v.] and the Bailli de Suffren. He was then moved into the flagship, the Superb ; was wounded in the action of 3 Sept. 1782 ; on 9 Oct. was promoted to the command of the Combustion ; and on 12 Oct. was posted to the San Carlos frigate. After the fifth action with Suffren he was moved into the Inflexible of 74 guns, in which he returned to England. He is said to have devoted the following years to study, and to have resided for some time in France in order to perfect his knowledge of the language and its literature. In 1793 he was appointed to the Triton frigate, and afterwards to the Nymphe, just captured from the French [see Pellew, Edward, Viscount Exmouth]. In her he was with the squadron under Sir John Borlase Warren [q. v.] when, on 23 April 1794, it fell in with four French frigates off Guernsey, captured three of them, and chased the fourth into Morlaix. The Nymphe, however, was some distance astern and had little part in the action (James, i. 222 ; Troude, ii. 323). In June 1795 she was attached to the fleet under Lord Bridport, and was present at the action off Lorient, on the 23rd.

In the following year Murray was appointed to the Colossus of 74 guns, in which he joined Sir John Jervis in the Mediterranean, and on 14 Feb. 1797 took part in the battle off Cape St. Vincent (James, ii. 40). In September 1798 the Colossus, having convoyed some store-ships up the Mediterranean, joined Nelson at Naples, and, being then under orders for home, Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) [q. v.] took the opportunity of sending by her a large part of his valuable collection. Unfortunately, as she drew near England she was wrecked on a ledge of rocks among the Scilly Islands, 7 Dec. 1798, with no loss of life, but with the total loss of her valuable freight. The circumstances of the wreck were inquired into by a court-martial on 19 Jan. 1799, when Murray was acquitted of all blame. He was immediately afterwards appointed to the Achilles, and in the next year was moved into the Edgar, which in 1801 was one of the fleet sent to the Baltic under Sir Hyde Parker. As a small 74, the Edgar was one of the ships chosen by Nelson in forming his squadron for the attack on the sea defences of Copenhagen, and on 2 April 1801 led the way in andnad a brilliant share in the battle [see Nelson, Horatio, Viscount]. He then commanded a squadron of seven line-of-battle ships off Bornholm, subsequently rejoining the fleet under Nelson.

On the renewal of hostilities in 1803, Murray was appointed to the Spartiate, but at the same time Nelson invited him to go with him as captain of the fleet in the Mediterranean. Murray hesitated, on the ground that such a service often led to a disagreement between an admiral and his first captain, and he valued Nelson's friendship too highly to risk the danger of an estrangement. This objection was overcome, and Murray accepted the post, which he held during the long watch off Toulon, 1803-5, and the voyage to the West Indies in 1805, being meantime promoted to be rear-admiral on 23 April 1804. On his return to England, in August 1805, he found himself, by the death of his father-in-law, to whom he was executor, involved in private business, which prevented him accompanying Nelson in his last voyage. In 1807 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the naval operations against Buenos Ayres, but the share of the navy in those operations was limited to convoying and landing the troops (James, iv. 281), and again embarking them when the evacuation of the place had been agreed on. On 25 Oct. 1809 he was promoted to be vice-admiral, was nominated a K.C.B. on 2 Jan. 1815, and died suddenly at Chichester on 28 Feb. 1819, in his sixtieth year (Gent. Mag. 1819, i. 281).

[Naval Chronicle (with a portrait), xviii. 177; Nicolas's Despatches and Letters of Lord Nelson, freq. (see index); official letters of Sir Edward Hughes, 1782–3, in the Public Record Office, and information kindly supplied by Mr. D. O. Murray.]

J. K. L.