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Murray, Andrew (1813–1880)

by D. Camfield

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

Andrew Murray (1813-1880), journalist, was born on 16 May 1813 in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, son of Rev. William Murray and his wife Marianne, née Bridges. Educated in Glasgow and at its university where in 1836 with a work on Oliver Cromwell he won the Peel Club's first prize essay, he arrived at Port Adelaide in January 1839. He formed the drapery business of Murray, Greig & Co., but it failed in November 1842. He became editor of the South(ern) Australian early in 1843 and its proprietor from 31 October 1844 to 19 August 1851. Opponents called it 'a tame rag … not worth the postage', but it was noted for mild editorials, general support of the government and catering for the wealthy pastoralists who disliked the South Australian Register for favouring small farmers. From 1845 Murray had also acted as government printer and at his office in Rundle Street issued many periodicals, the weekly government gazette and annual South Australian almanacs and directories. In January 1852 he founded the conservative Adelaide Morning Chronicle but sold it in May 1853. On 2 November 1841 he had married Jessie, sister of Catherine Spence.

In 1852 they moved to Melbourne where Murray joined the Argus as its commercial editor and political writer. In the late 1850s he bought land at Boroondara, naming his house Balwyn from the Gaelic bal and the Saxon wyn, meaning 'the home of the vine'. Balwyn Road and district were named after it. First to grow vines there, he made wine and won prizes at the Geelong National Show of 1866 for both his white and red wines. On 2 October 1868 he was elected president of the Vinegrowers Association. Active in the district's affairs, he served as chairman of the Boroondara Roads Board in 1864-68 and helped to form a local committee under the 1866 Common Schools Act, becoming its chairman. The board flourished and he was able to gain such concessions as a fair proportion of the toll fees for the Richmond Bridge. He commanded the respect of his colleagues.

Murray's strongly decentralist attitude to government was reflected in his newspapers. Editor of the Argus in 1855-56, he then founded, owned and edited Murray's Prices Current in 1862-67 and Bear's Circular and Rural Economist in 1862-75 at his office at Bourke Street West. The Economist emphasized free trade and catered exclusively for the squatting, proprietary and agricultural interests. His editorials reiterated the hope that 'reason and England will prevail against democracy and America'. A staunch conservative in his attacks on pure democracy, he preferred local self-government ruled over by those he termed 'the respectable and educated classes'.

Murray had the disposition and manners of a gentleman and his regal air fitted him well as chairman of various committees. In 1874 he retired from publishing and lived at Boroondara until 1877 when he moved to Yarragon, Gippsland. He died there on 8 October 1880 of gastritis and was buried in the Presbyterian section of the Kew cemetery. He was survived by his wife, four sons and five daughters.

A portrait is in the Camberwell Town Hall.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Maclean, Balwyn 1841-1941 (Melb, 1941)
  • G. Pitt, The Press in South Australia, 1836 to 1850 (Adel, 1946)
  • South Australian News, 15 May 1842
  • South Bourke Standard, 1861-73
  • Australasian, 3 Oct 1874, 9 Oct 1880
  • J. A. Allan, History of Camberwell (State Library of Victoria and Camberwell Public Library).

Citation details

D. Camfield, 'Murray, Andrew (1813–1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/murray-andrew-4277/text6917, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 20 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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