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Pembroke Lathrop Murray (1846–1929)

by Chris Clark

This article was published:

Pembroke Lathrop Murray (1846-1929), journalist and soldier, was born on 26 July 1846 at Kangaroo Point, near Hobart, son of Robert William Felton Lathrop Murray and his wife Eleanor, née Dixon. In 1849 he went to England with his mother to join his father who had returned to claim his estate in Shropshire. Following his father's death in 1850 his mother sold the property and returned to Melbourne in 1853.

Initially Murray intended to train for the law and in March 1863 was articled to a Melbourne solicitor. On 30 September 1865 he sailed for England 'to study for the Bar for three years', but returned in November 1866. He moved to Sydney and on 21 May 1870, describing himself as a reporter, married Margaret Mary Therese McDermott at St Patrick's Catholic Church. That year his The Three Bears and Little Silverhair the Charming, a burlesque pantomime, was produced at the Royal Victoria Theatre on Christmas eve, his dialogue being described as 'smart, witty and fresh, being full of new-made puns and social and political hits'.

In 1871 Murray enlisted in the New South Wales volunteer artillery; he was appointed second lieutenant in 1874 and promoted lieutenant next year. On 5 September 1876 he was commissioned in the colony's permanent artillery. Promoted captain in October 1878, he went to Newcastle in September 1879 with troops sent to settle a colliery strike.

During these years Murray continued writing, contributing articles and stories to the Australasian as 'L' for over fifty years; these were chiefly on early Melbourne and Sydney, and the last appeared two days after his death. He also wrote on military subjects. The first of two articles published in the Sydney University Magazine in 1878-79 was an account of the development of artillery. Despite his journalistic activities he suffered recurring indebtedness which threatened the loss of his commission, a situation averted by financial assistance from his brother Kynaston. He was granted brevet rank of major in 1888, confirmed in rank in 1891, and for several years commanded a company of artillery in Sydney.

Following his wife's death he married Dublin-born Constance Nora Frances Connors on 2 May 1900 at St Patrick's Church. During the arrival of the governor-general Lord Hopetoun in Sydney on 15 December Murray commanded a 100-man guard of honour. In March 1901 he went to South Africa in charge of troops on the Ranee, and saw active service until July with the column under Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Williams. He returned to Sydney in February 1902 but almost immediately was appointed paymaster to the 3rd and 4th Battalions, Australian Commonwealth Horse, as a captain. He sailed again in April, returning in August, and was retired on 1 September with honorary rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Murray was probably the compiler of an unpublished 1903 manuscript entitled 'Historical record of the New South Wales regiment of Royal Australian Artillery'. He was employed after retirement in the Department of Defence, Melbourne, where he compiled and edited The Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa (1912). He described his work—still a standard source—as 'not a history of the war' but 'a statistical register and reference'.

He returned to Sydney about 1926 and lived at Woollahra. Survived by two sons and two daughters of his first marriage, he died in the Sacred Heart Hospice on 26 September 1929 and was buried in South Head cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Journal (Legislative Council, New South Wales), 1875-76, 2, p 797, 1876-77, 2, p 593
  • London Gazette, 2 Apr 1902
  • Town Courier (Hobart), 28 Feb 1849
  • Argus (Melbourne), 2 Oct 1865, 24 Nov 1866, 11 Oct 1929
  • Sydney Moring Herald, 26 Dec 1870, 28 Sept, 1 Oct 1929
  • private information.

Citation details

Chris Clark, 'Murray, Pembroke Lathrop (1846–1929)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 21 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 July, 1846
Bellerive, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


26 September, 1929 (aged 83)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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