Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/285

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Ml/RKAY, (ZIR) ROBERT, a statesman and natural philosopher, appears to have been born about the commencement of the seventeenth century. He was a son of Sir Robert Murray of Craigie, by a daughter of George Halket of Pitferran. According to his intimate friend, Burnet, he served in the French army, and having found great favour with the all potent Richelieu, was early promoted to a colonelcy. 1 When the difficulties of Charles 1. assumed their most alarming aspect, he returned to Scotland, and raised recruits for the royal army. When the king was with the Scots army at Newcastle, he seems to have attempted an escape, designed by Sir Robert. " 1 he design," says Burnet, " was thus laid : Mr Murray had provided a vessel by Teignmouth, and Sir Robert Murray was to have conveyed the king thither in disguise ; and it pro- ceeded so far, that the king put himself in the disguise, and went down the back stairs with Sir Robert Murray. But his majesty, apprehending it was scarce possible to pass through all the guards without being discovered, and judging it hugely indecent to be catched in such a condition, changed his reso- lution, and went back, as Sir Robert informed the writer."* About this period, it is probable that he had not received his title, and that he may be identified with "Mr Robert Murray, quarter-master general," who, on the occasion of the town of Berwick (which was ordered to be dismantled at the treaty of the two kingdoms) petitioning to be permitted to keep three pieces of ordnance, and the two gates of the bridge, was "sent to Berwick wilh his majesty's recommenda- tion, to take notice what may be the importance of that petition, and report the same to the house." 3 After the fall of the royar cause, he appears to have been recommended by the parliament of Scotland to the French government, and to have obtained from Mazarine a continuation of the favours extended to him by Richelieu. On th 22nd May, 1650, two letters from France were read to the parliament of Scotland, one from the young king, the other from the queen regent, in answer to the letter of the parliament in favour of Sir Robert Mur- ray ; in which " both did promise, from their respect and love to the Scots nation, they would see their desire performed, so far as possibly the convenience of their affairs would permit, and that he should be paid oft' his arrears." 4 We afterwards find the parliament exhibiting their favour, by sending him a few cargoes of prisoners, to serve in his ranks. Of two hundred and eighty-one soldiers, taken at Kerbester, where the marquis of Montrose Mas finally defeated, after some disposals to coal mines, &c., the remainder " are given to lord Angus and Sir Robert Murray to recruit their French troops with." 5 It is probable that he was an officer in the Scots guards. He continued in the confidence of Charles II., and Mas connected with the obscure negotiations of Montreville with the in- dependents and presbyterians, for the purpose of procuring their assistance at as cheap a rate as possible to the conscience of the king, or under the form of pro- mise M'hich might admit the easiest and safest infraction on his part. The mo- deration of Sir Robert in matters connected with the church, evinced in this trans- action, may have been the reason why Clarendon termed him " a cunning and a dexterous man;" and accused him of attempting, under the pretext of bringing the king to peace with the Scots, a coalition betwixt the Roman catholics and presbyterians, to the destruction of the church of England.

On the 21st May, 1651, while Charles Mas in command of the army in Scotland, Sir Robert was appointed justice-clerk ; and, on the 6th of June, he was chosen a lord of session, and nominated a privy councillor. 6 But the sub- version of the courts by Cromwell prevented him from sitting in judgment. Burnet mentions that he was in great credit with the remains of the king's

1 Burnet's Own Times, i. 59. * Mem. of D. of Hamilton, 307. * Balf. An., iii. 337. 4 Half. An., iv. 17. * Ib. 18. 35, Act. Par., vii. 616. Ib.