Murray, John (1732-1809) (DNB00)

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MURRAY, JOHN, fourth Earl of Dunmore (1732–1809), eldest son of William, the third earl, by the Hon. Catherine Nairn, third daughter of William, second lord Nairn, was born in 1732. He succeeded to the peerage in 1756, and sat in the House of Lords as a representative peer of Scotland in the twelfth and first two sessions of the thirteenth parliament of Great Britain (1761–9). In 1770 he was appointed governor of the colony of New York, to which was subsequently added that of Virginia. He arrived in New York in October 1770, and met the House of Assembly at Williamsburg, Virginia, in the spring of 1772. After a brief session he prorogued the assembly, and did not again convene it until March 1773, when he dissolved it upon its adoption of resolutions for the appointment of a committee of correspondence to concert common action on the part of the colonies in the struggle with the mother country (12 March). A vote for a public fast upon occasion of the passing of the Boston Port Act led to another dissolution in May 1774. In the following autumn Dunmore aggravated the disaffection of the colonists by concluding a disadvantageous peace with the Ohio Indians. They appointed a convention to meet in May 1775, and Dunmore prohibited it by proclamation. He also, on the night of 20 April, had part of the powder removed from the Williamsburg magazine to the Magdalen man-of-war in James River. The people thereupon armed, volunteers by thousands flocked into the town, and peace was only preserved by payment of the value of the powder. On 1 June Dunmore convened the assembly to consider Lord North's conciliatory propositions. While they were under discussion a riot occurred (5 June), and Dunmore shifted the seat of government to the Fowey man-of-war lying off Yorktown twelve miles off. The assembly continued its deliberations and forwarded to him various bills to which he refused to give his assent without the attendance of the burgesses on board the ship. This the burgesses voted a high breach of their privileges, resolved that the governor had abdicated, and constituted themselves a convention, and vested the executive in a committee of safety. Meanwhile Dunmore collected and manned a small flotilla, and began a series of desultory operations on the river banks. An attack on Hampton was repulsed with loss on 25 Oct. On 7 Nov. he proclaimed freedom to all negroes who should rally to his standard. On 9 Dec. he was severely beaten in an encounter with the colonists at Great Bridge, about twenty miles from Norfolk. On 1 Jan. 1776 he reduced Norfolk to ashes. On 1 June he occupied Gwynn's Island in the Chesapeake, whence he was dislodged with loss by Andrew Lewis on 8 July. He thereupon disbanded his troops and returned to England, where he had already, January 1776, been elected to the seat in the House of Lords left vacant by the death of the Earl of Cassilis. He was rechosen at the general elections of October 1780 and May 1784. From 1787 to 1796 he was governor of the Bahama Islands. He died at Ramsgate in May 1809.

Dunmore married at Edinburgh on 21 Feb. 1759 Lady Charlotte Stewart, sixth daughter of Alexander, sixth earl of Galloway, by whom he had issue five sons and four daughters.

[Hist. Journ. Amer. War (Mass. Hist. Soc.), 1795, pp. 5, 20, 32; Douglas's Peerage, i. 485; Proceedings of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1 June 1775, Williamsburg; Campbell's Virginia, 1860, pp. 569 et seq.; Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc. 2nd ser. ii. 223; Winsor's Hist. Amer. 1888, vi. 167-8, 238, 611, 618, 713-14; Virginia State Papers, ed. Palmer, 1652-1781, p. 265; Lords' Journ. xxx. 103, xxxii. 146, xxxiv. 546, xxxvi. 178, xxxvii. 73; Parl. Hist, xviii. 137-8; Ann. Reg. 1776; Gent. Mag. 1809, pt. i. p. 587; Add. MSS. 21730 f. 147, 22900 ff. 176, 210, 24322 ff. 122, 129, 133-9; Horace Walpole's Journ. Reign of Geo. III, i. 492, 497, ii. 19.]

J. M. R.