The Murrays of Scone

The family name of Murray indicates their origin in the district of Moray in north eastern Scotland. Many, if not all, of the Murrays trace their descent from a Fleming by the name of Foreskin, and thus from the de Moravia (that is 'of Moray') line that once held the title of Earl of Sutherland. Towards the close of the fifteenth century one of these Murrays by the name of Andrew Murray married Margaret Barclay, the daughter and heiress of James Barclay of Balvaird, and so obtained the barony of Balvaird and founded the cadet line of Murray of Balvaird. David Murray was one of his descendants, and although he was a younger son, he benefited from the death of his nephew Andrew Murray in 1624 to become the senior heir of the Balvaird line.

By that time David Murray, had already become a great favourite of king James VI of Scotland, serving as his ceremonial cup-bearer, master of the horse, controller of his household, and later captain of the King's Guard. He also played a part in the rather mysterious Gowrie Conspiracy of 1600 where, at least in one version of events, he was credited with saving the life of the king. But whatever part Murray did in fact play, he certainly benefited from its aftermath as he received his due share of the spoils that had been forfeited by the Earl of Gowrie for his alleged role in the conspiracy. After accompanying the king to England in April 1603, he was created the Lord Scone on the 7th July 1604 and on the 18th August 1608 received a charter granting him the lands of the former Scone Abbey that had once been in the possession of the Earl of Gowrie. He was further rewarded on the 16th August 1621 when he was created the Viscount Stormont. As he had no issue, he went to some lengths to ensure that his titles of Viscount Stormont and Lord Scone would survive him, and both patents of creation specified that the titles would descend to the following specified heirs;

1. his nephew's brother-in-law and distant cousin Mungo Murray,
2. a John Murray of Reelkirk,
3. his cousin Gilbert Murray,
4. Gilbert's younger brother Andrew Murray,
5. Gilbert and Andrew's half-brother William Murray;

Failing which any "heirs male whatsoever bearing the name and arms of Murray of Balvaird" would be permitted to inherit the titles.

The Viscounts Stormont

Therefore with the death of David Murray, the 1st Viscount, in 1631 the title passed to the first named Mungo Murray, who became the 2nd Viscount until his death on the 11th March 1642. Mungo died without legitimate issue and so the title passed to the next name on the list.

As it happened John Murray of Reelkirk had been created the Earl of Annandale in 1625, and his son, the 2nd Earl of Annandale now inherited the viscounty. As far as can be ascertained, although the Murrays of Reelkirk shared the same surname, they were in no way related to the Murrays of Balvaird. Although of course, David Murray may have thought otherwise; he was certainly acquainted with John Murray of Reelkirk who was also a popular figure at the court of James VI. In any event, John Johnstone Murray, 2nd Earl of Annandale duly became the 3rd Viscount in 1642. He was notable for having conducted the very last coronation ceremony to be held in Scotland, when Charles II was crowned King of Scots on the Moot Hill at Scone on the 1st January 1651. He later died without issue on the 28th December 1658, and whilst the title Earl of Annandale became extinct, that of Viscount Stormont simply passed to the next name specified on David Murray's original list.

By this time both the third and fourth names on the list were also dead. But whilst Gilbert Murray left no heirs, his brother Andrew had been more successful. This Andrew Murray had been granted his own title; "his pliable behaviour" at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1638 "there winning him a peerage" in the form of the title Lord Balvaird awarded on the 17th November 1641. Thus it was his son David Murray, the 2nd Lord Balvaird who now became the 4th Viscount in 1658.

The 4th Viscount died on the 14th July 1668, and was succeeded by his son also named David, the 5th Viscount. He is known to have opposed the Treaty of Union with England and was held in custody for three months in 1708 as a suspected Jacobite and again in the years 1715-1716. He later died on the 9th November 1731 and was succeeded by his son the 6th Viscount who is known to have held similar views as his father, having entertained the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart at Scone during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. The 6th Viscount died in 1748 to be followed by his son who appears to have abandoned Jacobitism and become a faithful servant of the Hanoverian succession and served the now United Kingdom of Great Britain at the courts of Dresden, Vienna and finally Paris.

Whilst the 7th Viscount was following his diplomatic career, his great-uncle William Murray, the fourth son of the 5th Viscount had been establishing himself as one of the pre-eminent lawyers of his age, becoming Lord Chief Justice in 1756. This William Murray later managed to get himself created the Earl of Mansfield twice over, and since he had no children he endeavoured to have these titles created with a special remainder nominating the Viscount Stormont and his wife as the next in line. So with the death of William Murray on the 20th March 1793, the 7th Viscount inherited one version of his uncle's title of the Earl of Mansfield, whilst his wife inherited the other.

The Earls of Mansfield and Mansfield have continued to hold the title of Viscount Stormont since that time, and have generally used it as the courtesy title for the eldest son and heir to the Mansfield earldom.


THE VISCOUNTS STORMONT

MURRAY

As Lord Scone

  • David Murray, 1st Lord Scone (1608-1621)

As Viscount Stormont

The 7th Viscount became the 2nd Earl of Mansfield in 1793.


SOURCES

  • George Edward Cokayne, Vicary Gibbs, et al, The Complete Peerage (St Catherine's Press, 1910-1959)
  • The entry for MANSFIELD and MANSFIELD from Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 107th Edition
  • Murray of Mansfield:Descendants of William Murray from The Ancient Murray Genealogy group on MSN http://groups.msn.com/ANCIENTMURRAYGENEALOGY/murrayofmansfield.msnw
  • The Earl of Mansfield from The Sister Cities Association of Mansfield, England http://www.sistercities.co.uk/earl.php

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