MURRAY, John


MURRAY, John
I. (c. 1775-18—)
discoverer of Port Phillip Bay
was probably born about the year 1775. In August 1801 Governor King (q.v.) described him as a young man, and Murray told King that he had been at sea since June 1789. He was master's mate on the Porpoise, and in March 1801 was first mate on the Lady Nelson under Lieutenant Grant (q.v.) on the voyage to Western Port, where he assisted Barrallier (q.v.) in surveying the harbour. In August Grant asked permission to return to England, and on 3 September Murray was appointed to act as lieutenant-commander of the Lady Nelson. In October he voyaged to Norfolk Island, and on his return was instructed by the governor to finish the exploration of the south coast. Starting on 12 November a course was made towards the Kent group. After leaving these islands he made for Western Port which was sighted on 7 December, but unfavourable weather caused much delay. Running along the coast to the west an opening was discovered on 5 January 1802, but as there was a big sea at the entrance, Murray went to King Island and surveyed its east coast. On 30 January he left King Island for Western Port and next day the mate, Bowen with five men was sent in the launch to examine the harbour to the west now known as Port Phillip. Bowen returned to report that there was a good channel into the harbour, and on 14 February the Lady Nelson sailed through the heads. Murray named the bay Port King, in honour of the governor, who, however, renamed it Port Phillip, and the eastern point at the entrance was called Point Nepean after the then secretary of the admiralty, Sir Evan Nepean. The islands to the north were named Swan Isles and the mount to the east Arthur's Seat. On 8 March Murray formally took possession of the port in the name of King George the Third. He left Port Phillip on 12 March and was back in Sydney 12 days later. On 22 July the Lady Nelson sailed with the Investigator under Captain Flinders (q.v.) on a voyage to the north-cast of Australia, but it was difficult for the smaller vessel to keep up with the Investigator, and towards the end of November Murray was given orders to return to Sydney. King had asked that Murray should be confirmed in his command of the Lady Nelson, but in April 1803 he received word that Murray's account of his service in the navy was incorrect. Murray stated that the matter could be explained and went to England for that purpose. Apparently he succeeded as he was appointed an admiralty surveyor, in which capacity he executed several charts dated between 1804 and 1807. Nothing more is definitely known of his movements. A small vessel, The Herring, of four guns, under the command of a Lieutenant John Murray foundered in November 1814 (W. L. Clowes, The Royal Navy, Vol. V, p. 555). But the name is a common one and there may be no connexion. P. St J. Wilson, in his The Pioneers of Port Phillip, says that Murray rose to the rank of captain in the navy, and afterwards lost his life with a ship under his command outside Port Phillip heads but the authority for this statement could not be traced.
Historical Records of Australia, ser. I vols. III, IV: Ida Lee, The Logbooks of the "Lady Nelson"; F. P. Labillière, Early History of the Colony of Victoria.
II. (1851-1916)
politician
was the son of James Murray, who with his wife came from Aberdeen to Melbourne in 1839. They afterwards settled in the Warrnambool district where their son was born in 1851. When about 20 years of age he visited Scotland but returned to Victoria and became a grazier. In 1883 he opposed Francis (q.v.) for the Warrnambool seat in the legislative assembly, but was defeated. Francis, however, died in 1884, and Murray obtained the vacant seat and held it until his death some 32 years later. He was often opposed, and in his early days his indulgence in drink threatened his career. He, however, conquered this weakness, and afterwards as an advocate of temperance did not hesitate to mention the danger he had been in. He became known as a capable debater, but his opportunity for office did not come until June 1902, when he became chief secretary and minister of labour in the Irvine ministry and held these offices until February 1904. Bent (q.v.) then became premier and Murray took the portfolio of minister of lands. He could not, however, agree with Bent over the principle of compulsory purchase in connexion with a land bill which was in his charge, and resigned after a dramatic scene on the floor of the house. Murray then sat in opposition and was a caustic critic of the ministry. In January 1909 Bent was defeated and Murray became premier and chief secretary. Though a good manager of the house Murray could not but feel that his younger and more energetic treasurer, W. A. Watt, was the real force in the cabinet, and in May 1912 resigned the premiership in his favour, retaining the office of chief secretary until Watt's defeat in December 1912. He was again chief secretary in the second Watt ministry from December 1913 to June 1914 and in the Peacock (q.v.) ministry from June 1914 to November 1915. The cabinet was then reconstructed and Murray retired at his own request on account of failing health. He died suddenly at Warrnambool on 4 May 1916. He married Miss Bateman who survived him with three daughters.
Murray was a big man physically, good-natured and well-read, an excellent speaker with a fund of humour and irony. An able administrator with a tendency to indolence, he was a good leader in the house, often turning the laugh against his opponents, and managing difficult measures with much tact and success.
The Argus and The Age, Melbourne, 5 May 1916; The Age Annual, 1885; private information

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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