George Murray - Bishop 1814-1827

 Born 1784, eldest son of Lord George Murray (brother to John, 4th Duke of Athol) who had been at one time appointed Archdeacon of Man in the expectation that Bishop Crigan would soon die and allow him to assume the Bishopric. When Crigan's health improved Lord George accepted the Bishopric of St. David's in 1801 and died, unexpectedly, in 1803. His son, George Murray, when barely 24 (the minimum canonical age for becoming a priest) had been appointed Rector of Andreas and Archdeacon of Man in 1808 - an all too typical example of Murray nepotism. However the ultimate in 'jobbery' occurred on the death of Crigan in April 1813 when he was offered the Bishopric by his uncle, even though under age (minimum canonical age for consecration as Bishop is 30). The see was thus kept vacant until the following April when George Murray could be consecrated.

As a person Bishop Murray was described as "noble looking, of engaging manners, and of benevolent disposition, dignified and gentlemanly in his bearing"; Benjamin Philpot does not have much to say about his one time employer except that " he had obviously a contempt, for the Gospel truth." which probably just means that he was not the strong evangelical that Philpot was.

Murray obviously liked the Island,and was quietly unostentatious in giving charity to several around Bishopscourt, even continuing this after his departure. He rebuilt Bishop's Court employing Thomas Brine to restore the house to a gothic style - one act being to demolish the older chapel and replace it with one in a Georgian gothic style (this was itself replaced in 1858 by Bishop Powys's chapel).

The one event by which he will be remembered was the attempt to squeeze £6,000 pa out of the tithes - Gelling lays some of the blame for this at his 'strong willed and sometimes domineering' wife, certainly on reading her account of the affair one can only feel for the locals. After having caused riots on the Island, the British Government sensibly moved him to Rochester in October 1827 where, by all accounts, he was a successful and well liked Bishop.

References and Further Reading

J. Gelling A History of the Manx Church Douglas:Manx National Heritage 1998

A.G.Bradley Our Centenarian Grandfather, 1790-1890 London:[1925] - a biography of Rev Benjamin Philpot who was Vicar General and Archdeacon during Murray's and Ward's time.

Lady Sarah Murray A Memorial of the Isle of Man, 1825

A brief introduction to the House of Murray is given by J. Train Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Man chapter IX




Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2000