Murray, John (1659-1724) (DNB00)

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MURRAY, JOHN, second Marquis and first Duke of Atholl (1659–1724), eldest son of John, second earl and first marquis [q. v.], by his wife Lady Amelia Sophia Stanley, third daughter of James, seventh earl of Derby, was born at Knowsley, Lancashire, on 24 Feb. 1659. During the lifetime of his father he was known as Lord John Murray, until on 27 July 1696 he was created Earl of Tullibardine. He accompanied his father with the 'highland host' to the western shires in 1678 (Letter in Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. pt. viii. p. 34). On the arrival of the Prince of Orange he went to visit him in London, and notwithstanding the dubious attitude of his father, he seems to have done his best to further the interests of William in Atholl. When his father left 'his principality' for the south, he undertook to act as his delegate, and was at any rate desirous to prevent the clan joining Dundee. That he should prevent this was all that the government dared hope from his 'father's son;' but even in this he was unsuccessful. Dundee repeatedly wrote him urging him to hold the castle of Blair for King James, but receiving no answer, he induced Stewart of Ballochin, Atholl's confidential agent, to seize the castle in the name of the absent marquis. Lord John Murray then formally assembled fifteen hundred of the clan, with a view to induce or compel Stewart to deliver up the castle; but on learning that Lord John purposed to support William of Orange, the men immediately left their ranks, and after drinking success to King James from the water of the neighbouring river, returned to their homes. Murray thereupon endeavoured to dissuade General Mackay from his purposed march into Atholl, but in a despatch from Dunkeld on 26 July Mackay declared that if the castle was not in Murray's hands by the time he reached it he would have it, cost what it might, and would hang Ballochin over the highest wall (ib. p. 40), and that if Murray in anyway countenanced Stewart in holding out, he would burn it from end to end (ib.) In a later despatch on the same day Mackay ordered Murray to post himself in the entry of the pass on the side towards Blair (ib.) This order he obeyed, but was unable to muster under his command more than two hundred men, while large numbers of the clan afterwards joined the rebels under the command of his brother, Lord James Murray. The attitude of the clan roused serious doubts as to Lord John's sincerity, and Mackay wrote him : 'I can say little or nothing to your lordship's vindication, and as little to accuse you, except it bee by the practis of the kingdom who make the chiefs answerable for their clans and followers' (ib. p. 42). There can, however, be no doubt that Murray was entirely opposed to his brother's conduct, and was greatly embarrassed by it (ib. p. 43).

In 1693 Murray was appointed a commissioner to inquire into the massacre of Glencoe, and displayed great activity in securing evidence to bring its perpetrators to justice, affirming that it concerned 'the whole nation to have that barbarous action . . . laied on to the true author and contriver of it' (ib. p. 45). In 1694 he was given the command of a regiment, to be raised in the highlands. After the fall of Dalrymple, in 1694, he was appointed to succeed him as one of the principal secretaries of state for Scotland, along with the Earl of Seafield; and by patent, 27 July 1696, he was created Earl of Tullibardine, Viscount Glenalmond. and Lord Murray for life. From 1696 to 1698 he acted as lord high commissioner to parliament. Being, however, disappointed that Sir Hugh Dalrymple was made president of the session in preference to Sir William Hamilton of Whitlaw, to whom he practically promised the office 'for a considerable service he was to do in the Scots parliament,' he threw up the secretaryship on the ground that 'he could not justify his word given to him in any other way' (Macky, Secret Memoirs, p. 104). He remained unreconciled to the government during the reign of William, opposing the laying on of cess, and proposing a reduction of the land forces. He was also a warm supporter of the Darien colonisation scheme. After the accession of Queen Anne he was sworn a privy councillor, and in April 1703 appointed lord privy seal. On 30 June of the same year he was created Duke of Atholl, Marquis of Tullibardine, Earl of Strathtay and Strathardle, Viscount of Balquhidder, Glenalmond, and Glenlyon, and Lord Murray, Balvaird, and Gask; and on 5 Feb. 1703-4 he was made a knight of the Thistle.

According to Lockhart, Atholl, in the parliament of 1703, 'trimmed between court and cavaliers, and probably would have continued to do so' but for the Queensberry plot (Papers, i. 73; see Douglas, James, second Duke of Queensberry, and Fraser, Simon, twelfth Lord Lovat). The fact that Lovat owed his outlawry to the Atholl family was almost sufficient to discredit his story that he had been entrusted with confidential communications to Atholl, and in any case his known enmity against Atholl ought to have put Queensberry on his guard. The only adequate explanation seems to be that Queensberry was so irritated at Atholl's support of the act of security as to be ready to welcome any feasible means of securing his expulsion from office. There is doubtless exaggeration in Lovat's subsequent statement that Atholl was ' notoriously the incorrigible enemy of King James,' but there is no reason to suppose that he was then engaged in secret intrigues with St. Germains. Having been informed of Lovat's machinations by Ferguson the plotter [see Ferguson, Robert], Atholl presented a memorial to the queen, which was considered at a meeting of the Scots privy council at St. James's on 18 Feb. (printed in Caldwell Papers, i. 197-203). Although it was clear that Queensberry had, as regards the particular incident, been made the dupe of Lovat, Atholl found it impossible to clear himself from all suspicion, and consequently resigned his office. There seem to have been other reasons for doubting his loyalty. According to Burnet, he was not averse to a proposal that the ' Prince of Wales ' should be recognised as the successor of Queen Anne {Own Time, ed. 1838, p. 746). But whatever may have been his previous sympathies, his treatment by the whigs did, according to Lockhart, ' so exasperate him against the court ' that he ' became a violent Jacobite,' used all means to 'gain the confidence of the cavaliers,' and 'affected to be the head of that party and outrival Hamilton' (Papers, i. 73). He strongly opposed the union in 1705, and on 1 Sept. proposed a clause prohibiting the commissioner from leaving Scotland until the repeal of the act of the English parliament declaring the subjects of Scotland aliens. On the rejection of the clause he, with eighty members, entered his protest, and he also protested against the clause leaving the nomination of the commissioners with the queen. He continued his strenuous opposition to the union throughout all the subsequent discussions. Burnet states that 'he was believed to be in foreign correspondence and was strongly set on violent methods' to oppose it (Own Time, p. 800), and this is confirmed by Lockhart (Papers, i. 73). Through John Ker of Kersland [q. v.] negotiations were begun with the Cameronians to induce them to co-operate with the Jacobites in resisting the union by force, and the Duke of Atholl had undertaken to hold Stirling, when, according to Ker's account, Ker himself was induced by the arguments of Queensberry to dissuade the Cameronians from proceeding further (Ker, Memoirs, pp. 30-4). Notwithstanding his opposition to the union, Atholl did not decline 1,000l. offered to him by way of compensation for the imaginary evils it might entail upon himself personally.

Nathaniel Hooke (1664-1738) [q.v.], during his subsequent dealings with the Scottish Jacobites, found it impossible to obtain any definite promises from Atholl (see Negotiations, passim). At the time of the Jacobite expedition of 1708 Atholl was attacked by illness either real or feigned. On the failure of the enterprise he was summoned to appear before the council at Edinburgh, but sent a physician to swear that he was so ill as to be unable to obey the summons (Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 298). Thereupon the dragoons were ordered to seize his castle of Blair, but the order was countermanded upon 'just certificate of his dangerous illness' (ib, p. 300), and he was not further proceeded against. On the return of the tories to power in 1710, Atholl was chosen one of the Scots representative peers, and he was again chosen in 1713. On 7 Nov. 1712 he was named an extraordinary lord of session, and in 1713 he was rechosen keeper of the privy seal. In 1712, 1713, and 1714 he acted as lord high commissioner to the general assembly of the kirk of Scotland. Although on the death of Queen Anne he proclaimed King George at Perth, he was nevertheless deprived of the office of lord privy seal. As at the revolution, so at the rebellion of 1715, the house of Atholl was divided against itself. Atholl and his son Lord James were with the government, but his sons, William, marquis of Tullibardine [q. v.l, Lord George [q. v.], and Lord Charles [q. v.], followed the banner of the Chevalier.

On 27 July 1715 Atholl sent a letter to the provost of Perth offering to supply, if required, two or three hundred men to guard the burgh at the town's charge (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. pt. viii. p. 67). He also on 7 Sept. sent to Argyll information of Mar's movements, informing him at the same time that he would stop Mar's passage through his territory, and would guard the fords and boats on the Tay between Dunkeld and Loch Tay (ib. p. 67). Moreover, on 9 Oct. he wrote to the Earl of Sutherland beseeching him to come with all expedition to Atholl with what men he could collect, and assuring him that if he could bring between two and three thousand men he would soon recover the north side of the Forth (ib. p. 68), but to this letter he received no reply (ib. p. 69). After the battle of Sheriffmuir he intimated his intention of marching as soon as possible to Perth to recover the town from the rebels (ib. p. 70). This purpose was not carried out; but after the retreat and dispersion of the rebels he displayed great activity in collecting arms from those who had been in rebellion, and also endeavoured still further to ingratiate himself with the government by capturing, 4 June 1717, Rob Roy (Robert Macgregor), with whom he had for years been on friendly terms (ib. p. 71). Atholl died at Huntingtower, Perthshire, on 14 Nov. 1724, and was buried on the 26th at Dunkeld. By his first wife, Lady Catherine Hamilton, eldest daughter of Anne, duchess of Hamilton in her own right, and William Douglas, third duke of Hamilton, he had six sons and one daughter: John, marquis of Tullibardine, matriculated at Leyden University 22 Jan. 1706, became colonel of a regiment in the service of Holland, and was killed at the battle of Malplaquet, 31 Aug. 1709; William, marquis of Tullibardine [q. v.]; James [q. v.], to whom, on account of the rebellion of his brother William in 1715, the heirship of the estates and titles was conveyed by act of parliament, and who succeeded his father as second duke; Lord Charles [q. v.]; Lord George [q. v.]; Lord Randolph, died young; and Lady Susan, married to William Gordon, second earl of Aberdeen. By his second wife, Mary, second daughter of William, twelfth lord Ross [q. v.], whom he married in 1710, he had three sons : Lord John, Lord Edward, Lord Frederick, and a daughter, Lady Mary, married to James Ogilvie, sixth earl of Findlater and Seafield.

Lockhart states that Atholl was 'endowed with good natural parts, tho' by reason of his proud, imperious, haughty, passionate temper he was noways capable to be the leading man of a party which he aimed at' (Papers, i. 73). This estimate is corroborated by Macky: 'He is of a very proud, fiery, partial disposition; does not want sense, but cloaks himself with passion, which he is easily wound up to when he speaks in public assemblies' (Secret Memoirs, p. 184). Lockhart also adds that 'tho' no scholar nor orator' he 'yet expressed himself very handsomely on public occasions.'

[Burnet's Own Time; Macpherson's Original Papers; Lockhart's Papers; Macky's Secret Memoirs; Ker of Kersland's Memoirs; Carstares's State Papers; Luttrell's Brief Relation; General Mackay's Memoirs; Leven and Melville Papers (Bannatyne Club); Nathaniel Hooke's Negotiations (Bannatyne Club); Napier's Memoirs of Viscount Dundee; Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. and 12th Rep. App. pt. viii.; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 148-51.]

T. F. H.