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MURRAY, Hugh (1814-1869)

MURRAY, Hugh (1814-1869)

Hugh Murray.

Hugh Murray.

Hugh Murray of Colac was among the founders of Geelong College, as a member of the Corresponding Committee which undertook to promote the College to prospective students in 1861.

A son of the pioneering Tasmanian settler, grazier and wine merchant, Hugh Murray (1789-1845) and Jean nee Carmichael (1788-1871), he married the Scotland born Elizabeth Young (1823-1892) at Hobart on 22 April 1841.

Five of Hugh Murray's sons including Andrew Strachan Murray (1847-1930), Augustus Morris Murray (1849-1915), Ernest Murray (1852-1936), Chester Jervis Murray (1855-1940), and Kenneth Murray (1857-1900), were educated at Geelong College. There is no record indicating that another brother, Hugh Murray (1848-1889) attended Geelong College.

Alexander Henderson described Hugh Murray in 'Hendersons Australian Families' Volumne 1: 'Hugh Murray of Borongarook, Colac, Victoria, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in September, 1814, came out to Van Diemen's land with his parents in 1823, and was educated at Dr. Thomson's school in Hobart Town.

In 1836 he decided to settle in Port Phillip and the account of his settlement at Lake Colac and also conditions prevailing at that time, are best described in the following extract from a letter written by him to Governor Latrobe, 18th August, 1853:- 'The Colac country was first occupied in September, 1837, by myself accompanied or immediately followed by Messrs. G. F. and A. Lloyd and William Carter; my flock consisted of 100 ewes, and theirs jointly of 500, which we joined together for mutual protection. These sheep were brought from Van Diemen's Land, at a cost of about £3 per head, the price there at that time being £2.

'We were the only occupants of the country for about six months, our nearest neighbour being Mr. Thomas Ricketts, who occupied a station on the River Barwon about ten miles distant at the point where Gellibrand and Hesse were last seen .....

'I first heard of the Colac country from a party who were in search of Gellibrand and Hesse in August, 1837, under the guidance of Rev. Mr. Naylor, and believe they were the discoverers of it. ...

'The Colac tribe of narives was not numerous when we came here - men, women and children not numbering more than 35 or 40. From their own account, they were once numerous and powerful, but from their possessing a rich hunting country, the Barrabool, Leigh, Wardy Yalloak and Jancourt tribes surrounding, made constant war upon them, and the tribe, from having been the strongest, became the weakest. The extent of their country was a radius of about 10 miles from Lake Colac except on the south, where in the extensive Cape Otway Ranges there was no other tribe.

'We had very little intercourse with them for the first eighteen months, their demeanour towards us being always treacherous and dishonet, They never lost an opportunity of stealing our sheep - at first by night carrying off a few from the fold, but afterwards became more daring, and drove off a score or two in the day time from the shepherd. These they would take to some secure corner and feast upon them, breaking the legs of those they did not at once kill, to detain them. In such cases the settlers assembled and pursued them, and when their encampment was discovered they generally fled, leaving behind them their weapons, rugs, etc., which, together ith their huts, were destroyed. ...

'After about two years our acquaintance became more friendly, and they began to be employed upon our stations.'

Hugh Murray, in 1837, took up Illiminyte or Borongarook run, and about the same time the Warrion run, on Lake Corangamite. His brother, Andrew, joined him in partner­ship, and Wool Wool Station was also acquired by them in 1845; the partnership was eventually dissolved, and Andrew settled on Wool Wool, Hugh retaining Borongarook and the Warrion. In 1854 Hugh also acquired Gnoora Reet Forest run, near Colac.

When Hugh Murray first arrived at Colac in 1837, his residence was a small building where the old Royal Hotel later stood in Murray Street East, and, in 1851, he built a residence known as Borongarook House, from timber grown, and bricks made, on the estate. (Borongarook House was owned by a member of the family, Hugh Murray's grand­son, Russell Mervyn Murray, General Manager of Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited, Tasmania, until 1938).

He was prominent in public affairs in Colac for many years, became first president of the Shire in May, 1864, and laid the foundation stone of the first Shire Hall. He was first Justice of the Peace for the Colac district, and Murray Street, Colac, was named after him. He was also one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church at Colac.

He married, in 1841, Elizabeth (b. Edinburgh, Scotland, 23rd March, 1823; d. Borongarook House, 11th June, 1892), daughter of Thomas Young, solicitor, of Hobart, who came to Van Diemen's Land from Scotland with his parents in the ship 'Portland' in September, 1824.

Hugh Murray died at 'Borongarook House', Colac, 28th July, 1869, having had issue seven sons and two daughters, ..., and five children who died in infancy, viz., Russell, Jessie Carfrae, Alice Stodart, Lizzie and Lillian.'

The Geelong Advertiser in July 1869 noted his death: 'One by one are those hardy pioneers whose enterprise first made this portion of Australia known as a country suitable for colonisation, passing from among us. Only a very short time ago we were called upon to record the death of Mr John Calvert, and it now becomes our painful duty to make known the death of his brother-in-law, Mr Hugh Murray, which sad event occurred yesterday morning at Colac, - at 1 am., and the news being telegraphed to town caused much sorrow among our elite, by whom the deceased gentleman was much respected, and by whom it had for some time past been expected, as he had been long suffering.

Mr Murray, the son of an old Tasmania colonist, first landed in Victoria in the year 1836 or '37, and formed one of four gentlemen, the other three being Mr G. T. Lloyd, who' is now a resident of Geelong ; Mr A. Lloyd and Mr Augustus Morris, who first took up land near the beautiful lake of Colac, and there he was contented to dwell for the remainder of his years, following a pastoral life, and manfully fighting his way through the many difficulties that all squatters had in the early years of this colony to contend against. He never aspired to a political life, but contented himself when the district around him became thickly populated, with local honors, and devoted himself to the service of the community in which be resided by taking an active part in the local Shire Council, over which body, although he repeatedly signified his desire to retire, he held the honorable position of president until the hand of death was laid upon him.'

He died at Barongarook, Colac on the 28 July 1869 aged 55 years.

Sources: The Argus (Melbourne) 29 July 1869 p4 (NLA); Geelong Advertiser 29 July 1869 p2 (NLA): Hendersons Australian Families pp70-71.

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