The assassination of Mr. James Murray of Adair Estate,
November 1860, in the county of Donegal, Ireland
The Webmaster has been assisting a resident, near Letterkenny
in Co. Donegal, Eire, to trace family history of James Murray whose story
appears below, with a view to contacting descendants.
James Murray was born about 1827, probably in Perthshire in
Scotland, the son of David Murray and Catherine Cameron. On 9th February
1858, aged 31, at Viewforth, Edinburgh, he married Mary McLaren aged 22. The
bride was born at Killin, Perthshire to John McLaren and Catherine Christie. The
groom was stated to be a labourer, but believed to have become a shepherd in
later times. The marriage witnesses were D. Ferguson and Andrew Kinross.
Two children were born at Tentagh, Churchill, Co Donegal,
Ireland. The first being Catherine Murray in 1859 and Jemima in April 1861 about
5 months after the murder of her father.
Readers will likely be aware of the "Highland
Clearances" that took place in Scotland, but such clearances were not
particular to that area (including 'Lowland
Clearances' in Scotland). Landowners found that they could make more
money from the tending of sheep on their land than the usually very small rents
they could raise from tenants of small farms or crofts. So it was on the
Adair Estate in County Donegal in Ireland. Ireland was entirely under British
control at this time and many landowners owned large estates in Ireland (see
below). James Murray travelled with his wife from Scotland and took a
position to likely become a shepherd and tend to the estate. In order to
facilitate this major change in land use the tenants of the farms on the estate
were substantially dispossessed. Not surprisingly they were aggrieved by
this action of the landowner. James Murray became the target of their
vengeance and as you can read in the newspaper cutting below, was murdered at
The following is reproduced from The
LONDON TIMES newspaper at the time, November 1860
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
The latest particulars published in reference to the assassination
of Mr. John (JAMES) Murray in the county of Donegal, of which I appraised you
yesterday by telegram, are as follows:-
“It appears Murray left his cottage about 10 o’clock on Tuesday
morning, accompanied by two or three dogs, to look after his master’s
estate, and had travelled nearly a mile and a half from
home when he met his fate. The police had been scouring the
country from the first suspicion that Murray had been foully made away
with. Their search, however, on Tuesday and Wednesday proved
ineffectual. The tenantry on the Adair estate were warned to turn out,
they being familiar with the district, and search for the missing
land-steward, whom they shortly succeeded in finding at the foot of the
precipice, at the distance from his house mentioned above, about 9
o’clock on Thursday morning, and they at once brought the intelligence
to a party of police preparing for a day’s search, and all hastened to
the spot and found the corpse of poor Murray. He lay on his back, on a
ledge of one of the rocks near the foot of the precipice, with his face
turned upwards. One of his arms lay across his breast, and the other by
his side. His hair was dishevelled, clotted with blood, and the eyes
open. The body bore marks sufficient to prove that Murray met his death
by violence. The poor fellow seems to have made a desperate fight for
life, for all along the edge of the precipice footmarks indicate that a
struggle took place. The face of the murdered man presented a sad
spectacle. Immediately under the right eye was a frightful wound, as if
inflicted by a blunt instrument, and there was a similar wound on the
right temple. Murray’s skull, upon examination, was found to have been
completely smashed in. His shirt and the breast of his coat were torn by
the hands of the fiends who murdered him.
Near where the corpse lay was found a five-barrelled revolver,
with the stock smashed. The police state that the wood part was
completely wrenched from the steel work. Upon inspecting this weapon it
was found that one of the barrels had been discharged. Near to the body
was found a large stone, weighing about seven pounds, covered with blood
and hair. There was also found near the body a button which corresponded
with those on his shirt. The body was carried to the cottage which he
had left only two mornings before in health and strength. One can well
imagine the feelings of his poor widow and on receiving the remains of
her dead husband. He has left one child.”
The Webmaster has been informed that the police were unable to
identify the culprit/s. The estate tenantry were unable or, more likely,
unwilling to assist with the murder enquiry and so the landowner took
severe sanctions against them. He evicted all the tenants from his estate.
The following extract from THIS
WEBSITE gives a little more.
"The estate of Glenveagh was created in 1857-9 by the
purchase of several smaller holdings by John George Adair from Co. Laois.
Adair incurred infamy throughout Donegal and Ireland by evicting some 244
tenants in the cold April of 1861. Most of the evictions took place at the
edge of the estate, along the shore of Lough Gartan. Many of the
dispossessed made their way to Australia while others found refuge with
relatives or were forced into the Workhouse." Adair Estate is now
James's widow, Mary returned to Scotland and she married
Lachlan McIntyre on 4th June 1867 at Comrie, Perthshire. They had children,
Peter, at Comrie (26 NOV 1867); at Monzievaird, Perthshire, John ( 28 AUG
1869), Margaret (1872) & James (1874); Mary, at Comrie (c.1874); Christina at
Errol (c.1881). It seems that Catherine Murray (b.1859) may have died as no
further record has been found of her.
Mary and Lachlan lived at Monikie and she died there on 10th
October 1901. Hear name and some family members appear on the 1901 Census for
Broomwell House, Monikie shortly before her death.
Jemima, daughter of Mary and James, came to Scotland with her
mother. She married William Gow on 9th June 1882 at Inchcoonans, Errol,
Perthshire. They had children David at Errol (19 JUL 1882); John (c.1889) &
Jemima (10 APR 1891) both at Perth; Peter at Aberdalgie (29 JUL 1897), all
Perthshire. David married Emma Gertrude Piggot on 26th December 1918 at
Carlisle, England and their son, John Murray Gow, was born in Perth on 17 JUL
1925. Peter Gow married Helen Anderson at Perth on 17th September 1949.
Jemima (1861) died at Stobhill Hospital in in Glasgow in 1944.
Her son Peter (1897) lived at the same usual address as his mother at that date.
On the occasion of Peter's marriage (after his mother's death) aged 53, the
address given for one of the witnesses was the same, 297 Ardgay Street, Glasgow
as Peter and his mother.
From Mary's second marriage, son Peter McIntyre married Annie
Lauder on 29th March 1893. They had a son also called Peter born at Kinbuck,
Dunblane, Perthshire on 14 FEB 1896 who married Christina Penman Laing and he
died on 20 FEB 1969 at Falkirk R.I. usual address 7 Vale View, Stenhousemuir,
Stirling Council tell me "Peter and Christina McIntyre are listed as
registered voters there up until to 1970 (this is an
obvious registration error as Peter died in February 1969). After this
point the house appears to have no registered voters (so was most likely
unoccupied) until 1974, when residents under the name of McLean become
evident." If any descendants of this couple, or any family are reading
this, please make contact.
Her daughter, Mary McIntyre had an illegitimate daughter named
Mary Craig born about 1890 according to census records.
Jemima (1891) is believed to have moved to Canada in 1911.
The Webmaster has more detail
and documents about this family that he has researched on behalf of
the lady in Letterkenny. She particularly wishes to make contact with a
descendant of JAMES MURRAY whose sad demise started this tale.
Can you please assist? It
is believed that some members of the family emigrated to Canada and/or
the United States of America. Are you descended from anyone shown above,
or related to them?
A GEDCOM file can be provided to anyone who
can show some connection.
The Webmaster cannot obviously vouch for the veracity of
all the above and any reader who can add to this story, or wish to
comment are invited to do so, preferably with sources.
LOCAL INTEREST ¤
FAMILY HISTORY INTEREST ¤
NEWBIGGING INTEREST ¤
ARLENE'S LISTS ¤
LOCAL BUSINESS ¤
'DOWN THE AGES'
CHURCH PAGES ¤
CHURCH MAGAZINE ¤
OLD BOOK EXTRACTS ¤
STIRLING SURNAME ¤
MONIKIE MEMORIAL HALL ¤
'THE MONIKIE STORY'
WEB PAGES LIST ¤
SEARCH THIS WEBSITE ¤
CONTACT & EMAIL
Please press the BACK BUTTON for your previous page.
This page was updated - 09 December, 2014