Murray, Robert (d.1673) (DNB00)
MURRAY or MORAY, Sir ROBERT (d. 1673), one of the founders of the Royal Society, was a grandson of Robert Moray of Abercairney, and son of Sir Mungo Moray of Craigie in Perthshire, by his wife, a daughter of George Halket of Pitfirran, Perthshire. His brother, Sir William Moray of Dreghorn, was master of the works to Charles II. Robert was born about the beginning of the seventeenth century, was educated at the university of St. Andrews and in France, and took military service under Louis XIII. Richelieu favoured him highly, and he attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel, probably of the Scots guard. He returned, however, to Britain soon after the civil troubles began, and was knighted by Charles I at Oxford on 10 Jan. 1643. He left England immediately afterwards to take up his command in France, came to be on good terms with Mazarin, and fought with his regiment in Germany. With a brother and another fellow-officer of the Scots regiment he was made a prisoner of war in Bavaria in 1645. In the same year James Campbell, earl of Irvine, colonel of the Scots regiment, died, and Moray was appointed in Irvine's place. He was also nominated by the Scots as a secret envoy to negotiate a treaty between France and Scotland by which it was proposed to attempt the restoration of Charles I. His release from Bavaria was therefore obtained, and, arriving in London, he was in constant communication with the French envoy, De Montereul. He revisited Paris in 1646 in order to bring the negotiation to a conclusion. Subsequently he recommended the king's surrender to the Scots, and was with Charles both at Newark and Newcastle. In December 1646 he concerted with William Murray, later Earl of Dysart [q. v.], at Newcastle, a plan for the king's escape from Scottish custody, which was barely frustrated by the royal captive's timidity (cf. Gardiner, Great Civil War, and Hamilton Papers, Camden Soc., i. 106-46, where, in addition to numerous references to Moray, are a number of his letters). Moray left Newcastle just before the king was delivered by the Scots to the army. De Montereul complained that Moray deceived him as to the Scots' intentions through this critical period. Clarendon mentions him as 'a cunning and a dexterous man,' employed by the Scots in 1645 in a futile negotiation for the establishment of presbyterian government in England (Hist. of the Rebellion, iv. 163, Macray's edit.)
Moray resumed his career in France after the downfall of monarchy in England, and the Scottish parliament sent cargoes of prisoners to recruit his corps. He continued at the same time in the confidence of Charles II, and seems to have been with him in Scotland in 1651, when he received the nominal appointments of justice-clerk and lord of session, and was nominated privy councillor. In 1653 he took arms in the highlands under William Cunningham, ninth earl of Glencairn [q. v.], but the collapse of the rising, and perhaps the disclosure of a plot to destroy his credit with the army, induced him, in May 1654, to join the king in Paris, with his brother-in-law, Alexander Lindsay, earl of Balcarres [q. v.], and Lady Balcarres (Lady Anna Mackenzie), whom he called his 'gossip' and 'cummer.' They were subsequently joined by Alexander Bruce, afterwards second Earl of Kincardine [q. v.], Moray's correspondence with whom is of singular interest. Between 1657 and 1660 Murray was at Maestricht, Bruce at Bremen. His life, he tells Bruce, was that of a recluse, most of his time being devoted to chemical pursuits. The cultivation of music, although 'three fiddles' were 'hanging by his side on the wall' as he wrote, was relegated to better times. The letters show literary cultivation, wide knowledge, strong common sense, as well as nobility of mind and tenderness of heart.
Moray repaired to London shortly after the Restoration, having first successfully conducted a negotiation with the presbyterians regarding the introduction of episcopacy into Scotland, a measure which he, however, desired to postpone. He was reappointed lord of session and justice-clerk in 1661, but never sat on the bench. He was also a lord of exchequer for Scotland, and became deputy-secretary on 5 June 1663. Thenceforward, down to 1670, the government of that country was mainly carried on by Lauderdale, the king, and himself [see Maitland, John, second Earl and first Duke of Lauderdale]. Charles had great confidence in him, and his counsels were uniformly for prudence and moderation. Despatched to Scotland by Lauderdale in May 1667, he executed with firmness and skill his difficult task of breaking up the cabal between the church and the military party. His tour of inspection through the western counties included a visit to James Hamilton, third marquis and first duke [q. v.] Until Lauderdale finally broke with him in 1670, Moray was his zealous coadjutor, sparing no pains to maintain him in the royal favour. Yet the disinterestedness and elevation of his aims were universally admitted. He was devoid of ambition; indeed, as he said, he 'had no stomach for public employments.'
Moray took an active share in the foundation of the Royal Society, and presided almost continuously over its meetings from March 1661 to July 1662. He watched assiduously over its interests, and was described by Huygens as its 'soul.' He imparted to it his observations of the comet of December 1664 (Birch, Hist. of the Royal Society, i. 508, 510), and his communications on points connected with geology and natural history were numerous.
Moray mixed largely in London society. Burnet regarded him as 'another father,' and extols him as 'the wisest and worthiest man of the age' (Hist. of Ms own Time, ii. 20). His genius he considered to be much like that of Peiresc, and his knowledge of nature unsurpassed. 'He had a most diffused love of mankind, and he delighted in every occasion of doing good, which he managed with great discretion and zeal' (ib. i. 101-2). His temper and principles were stoical, but religion was the mainspring of his life, and amidst courts and camps he spent many hours a day in devotion. Wood calls him 'a renowned chymist, a great patron of the Rosicrucians, and an excellent mathematician,' and asserts that 'though presbyterianly inclined, he had the king's ear as much as any other person, and was indefatigable in his undertakings' (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 725). Charles II, indeed, thoroughly esteemed him, and often visited him privately in his laboratory at Whitehall. The king used to say, in illustration of Moray's independence of character, that he 'was head of his own church,' Evelyn styled him his 'dear and excellent friend' (Diary, ii. 84, 1850 edit.) Pepys speaks of him as 'a most excellent man of reason and learning, and understands the doctrine of musique and everything else I could discourse of, very finely' (Diary, 16 Feb. 1667). Yet his brilliant gifts left no lasting impress on his time. Many of his letters to Huygens, whom he kept informed of the progress of science in London, have been recently published at the Hague (Œuvres Completes de C. Huygens, iii. iv. 1890-1).
He died suddenly on 4 July 1673, in his pavilion in the gardens of Whitehall, and was buried at the king's expense in Westminster Abbey, near the monument to Sir William D'Avenant [q. v.] About 1647 Moray married Sophia, daughter of David Lindsay, first lord Balcarres. She died at Edinburgh on 2 Jan. 1653, and was buried at Balcarres. They had no children.
[Correspondence of Sir Robert Moray with Alexander Bruce, 1657-1660, by Osmund Airy, Scottish Review, v. 22 (the materials for which were furnished by a manuscript copy of the letters in question lent by Mr. David Douglas of Edinburgh, the originals being in the possession of the Earl of Elgin); notes from the archives of the French foreign office (despatches of De Montereul to Mazarin 1645-8) kindly supplied by Mr. J. G. Fotheringham of Paris; the Lauderdale Papers, vols. i. ii., published by the Camden Soc., 1884-5, ed. 0. Airy; Phil. Trans. Abridged, ii. 106 (Button); Birch's Hist, of the Royal Society, iii. 113, and passim; Chambers's Biog. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen (Thomson); Burke's Hist, of the Landed Gentry, i. 540, 7th edit.; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, i. 168; Lord Lindsay's Memoir of Lady Anna Mackenzie, p. 32, 1868 edit.; Chester's Registers of Westminster, 1876; Stanley's Hist. Memorials of Westminster Abbey, p. 297; Biog. Brit. (Kippis), art. 'Brouncker;' Thomson's Hist, of the Royal Soc.; Poggendorff's Biog.-lit. Handworterbuch.]