National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

John Murray (1737-1793)

John Murray (1737-1793)

Bookseller and publisher

John Murray worked on the Gordonstoun estate and served in the marines at Chatham before purchasing a bookselling business in Fleet Street, London in 1768. He changed his surname from McMurray to Murray and started publishing reprints of fiction, poetry and drama. He expanded into medical and scientific titles, translations and historical works, edited the ‘English Review’ and wrote pamphlets on topical issues. By the time of his death on 6 November 1793 he had published over 1000 titles. The publishing house was continued by his son and successive generations, all named John Murray, well into the 20th century.

The papers of the founder, the family firm and its famous authors are held by the National Library of Scotland in the John Murray Archive.

Birth in 1737

John Mcmurray was born on 1 January 1737, the son of Robert Mcmurray, Writter [Writer to the Signet], and Jane Ross, his spouse. The entry in the Old Parish Register for Edinburgh gives the date of baptism as Friday 7 January and the witnesses (W) as Patrick Mcdonall and William Hamilton, merchants. Inst (instante mense) shows he was born on a date (1st) in the same month as the baptism.

Birth and baptism entry for John Murray

Birth and baptism entry for John Murray (56 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/21, page 4