Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Murray, Thomas (1792-1872)

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MURRAY, THOMAS (1792–1872), printer and miscellaneous writer, was born of working-class parents in 1792, in the parish of Girthon, Kirkcudbrightshire. He was educated at the parish school, and at Edinburgh University, which he entered in 1810. Thomas Carlyle, Alexander Murray [q. v.], the oriental scholar, and he were early friends, and walked together from Galloway to Edinburgh each session during their college career. A regular correspondence passed between Carlyle and Murray for some years afterwards. One of Murray's letters appears in Froude's 'Carlyle.' Murray was destined for the ministry of the established church, but, after obtaining license and preaching for some time, he took to literary pursuits. He became connected with Sir David Brewster and a staff of writers on 'Brewster's Cyclopædia,' and formed the acquaintance of Leonard Horner [q. v.] and John Ramsay McCulloch [q. v.], who imbued him with his free-trade principles and a taste for political economy. In 1843 he was one of the founders, and for many years afterwards (1843–72) secretary, of the Edinburgh Galloway Association, the prototype of numerous county associations now flourishing in Edinburgh. In 1846 he was one of the founders and original members of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution (of which Thomas Carlyle was president till his death), and acted for about thirty years as secretary of the Edinburgh School of Arts (1844–72). For six years (1854–60) he was a member of the Edinburgh town council, where he acted with the whig or moderate liberal party. In 1841 Murray established in Edinburgh the printing business of Murray & Gibb, the firm afterwards becoming her majesty's printers for Scotland. This business proved most successful, and still flourishes under the name of Morrison & Gibb. He died at Elm Bank, near Lasswade, on 15 April 1872. He left a widow (Janet, daughter of Alexander Murray of Wigton) and two daughters, one of whom married Sir William Wilson Hunter, K.C.S.I. Murray was sagacious and kindly, and made many friends. He was a patient, if not profound, scholar of the old Scottish type, and had commenced the study of Gaelic at the time of his death.

His works, apart from pamphlets, are: 1. 'The Literary History of Galloway: from the Earliest Period to the Present Time,' Edinburgh, 1822, 8vo. 2. 'The Life of Samuel Rutherford,' Edinburgh, 1828, 12mo. 3. 'The Life of Robert Leighton, D.D., archbishop of Glasgow,' Edinburgh, 1828, 12mo. 4. 'The Life of John Wycliffe,' Edinburgh, 1829, 12mo. 5. 'Biographical Annals of the Parish of Colinton,' Edinburgh, 1863, 8vo. Murray also edited Samuel Rutherford's 'Last Speeches of John, Viscount Kenmure,' Edinburgh, 1827, 12mo; and 'Letters of David Hume,' Edinburgh, 1841, 8vo.

[Obituary notice in the Scotsman, 16 April 1872; information supplied by Lady Hunter.]

G. S-h.