Clan Murray has the unique honour of maintaining Europe's only legal private army. Their stronghold of Duffus Castle was once one of Scotland’s strongest castles.
‘The families of the Moray or Murray Clan, are descended from the 12th Century Flemish warlord Freskin. His progeny adopted the surname ‘de Moravia’ meaning ‘from Moray’ – the area of north east Scotland where Freskin had been given lands by King David I. Freskin’s descendants thrived and several branches of the family were honoured with titles including the Gordon Earls of Sutherland, the Earls of Dunmore, the Earls of Mansfield, and the Dukes of Atholl. The Chief of the Clan is His Grace Bruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl, who commands the only legal private regiment in Europe, the Atholl Highlanders, and takes their salute every May at Blair Castle.
To select just a few of many notable Murrays throughout the pages of Scottish history we note: the great Sir Andrew Moray, Guardian of Scotland, who led the Scottish army with William Wallace to victory over Edward 1st in 1297; Lord George Murray, a brilliant Scottish Jacobite general; the "silver-tongued" William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, who rose to become Lord Chief Justice in 1756 and was known for ground breaking judgements such as his declaration that slaves were free once they set foot on English soil; and in more recent years Sir Andy Murray who became World No.1 tennis champion in 2016.
Traditionally clansmen put juniper in their bonnets to recognise each other in battle and a clan motto is ‘Furth Fortune and Fill the Fetters’ or ‘go onward with fortune and return with hostages’.
There are many variations on the name Murray, including Moray, Murrie, Murry, MacMurray, Morrow and the Irish O’Murray, Murrihy, and O’Muireadhaigh. There are also other families closely associated with the Murray Clan, by allegiance and descent through the female line. These include Balneaves, Dinsmore, Dunsmore, Fleming, Geraghty, Ginnsmore, Neaves, Piper, Pyper, Smail, Smale, Small, Smeal, Spaulding, Thomas and Tomas.
Famous Murray clan members
There have been many notable Murray achievements written on the pages of Scottish history. Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell took up the cause of Scottish independence against Edward I of England and joined forces with William Wallace. The two men led their combined army to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Scotland. Andrew died from wounds he received in battle. Lord George Murray was a Scottish Jacobite general most noted for his 1745 campaign under Bonnie Prince Charlie into England. William Murray, the Lord Chief Justice, was known for ground breaking judgements such as his declaration that slavers had no rights over their slaves on English soil.
It’s recorded that President Franklin D Roosevelt's great-great-great grandfather was Dumfries-born James Murray, who sailed to Nova Scotia in the 1740s.
Of course, in more recent years Andy Murray, from Dunblane in Perthshire, has become the world’s no.1 tennis player, and won the Wimbledon tennis championship for the second time in 2016.
The current clan chief is His Grace Bruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl. The Duke commands the only legal private regiment in Europe, the Atholl Highlanders. You can see them in all their splendour at the annual parade at Blair Castle.
Murray clan members traditionally recognised each other by placing juniper or butcher’s broom in their bonnets.
Clan Murray sights to explore
You won’t forget your visit to Blair Castle. It is a simply stunning building with towers, turrets, twisting staircases and labyrinthine corridors. You can admire the beautiful paintings and furniture, and see a fascinating collection of weapons, hunting trophies and souvenirs of the Murray clan. The Atholl Highlanders, the private army of the Duke of Atholl, are a unique attraction. Save some time to stroll around the beautiful castle grounds and look out for the 62.7 m (206 ft) Grand Fir, which is the second tallest tree in Britain.
This was an early seat of the clan, becoming a property of the Murrays the middle of the 12th century. Within easy reach of Glasgow, it commands a leafy bend in the River Clyde.
If you’re travelling into the Highlands, stop off at this magnificent historic house, one of the finest examples of late Georgian Gothic style in Britain. The State Rooms are open from April till the end of September, and you can organise a group during the winter by appointment. The Palace grounds are also open to the public. The kings of Scots were inaugurated at Scone in ancient times, and in 1600 the lands were granted to the Murrays.
Lord George Murray was a talented general who led the Jacobite charge at the Battle of Culloden. Despite his military sharpness, the cause was defeated. You can learn all about how this tragic event affected your family at the excellent visitor centre at the battle site near Inverness.
Other sites associated with the clan include Huntingtower Castle in Perthshire givne to the Murrays of Tullibardine and Urquhart Castle, on the shores of Loch Ness. One of Scotland’s most famous castles, it was famously besiged by Andrew Moray