Three Very Interesting Old Wills

THE MURREY family of Douglas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was possibly the most important among the merchant class. The most famous was John Murrey, who had a lease of all the Manx lead and copper mines from the Lord. He issued the first coinage, which had the legend : John Murrey 1668 His Penny. I.M., and Quocunque Gesseris Stabit on the reverse. The family resided in Murrey’s Court close to the old Market.

His son, also named John, married Susanna Patten, a first cousin of Bishop Wilson’s wife, and in 1706 gave to old St. Matthew’s a clock. When the new St. Matthew’s was built (in 1897) this clock was placed inside the tower, where it now lies. The Vicar and Wardens have kindly agreed to present this clock to the Museum.

According to The Old Church Plate of the Isle of Man (Jones, 1907), John and Susanna Murrey in 1727 gave a large silver flagon to St. Matthew’s with the Dublin date letter 1728-9.

The son of John Murrey and Susanna Patten and grandson of the John of ‘ Murrey’s Pence ‘—also John—was born in Douglas, but went to England and became a member of the English Bar. During the reign of George I he was appointed ambassador at Constantinople and continued in the office until after George III. He died at Venice in his sister Elizabeth’s house, her husband being British Consul there.

John, who married Susanna Patten referred to, had a cousin ( ?) David, ‘ a merchant in Douglas,’ who made a will in the year 1702, a copy of which is attached.

We have been favoured with a certified copy (transcript No. 748) by Dr. Chart, the Deputy-Keeper of the Records of Northern Ireland.

General Collection.

Document No. 227.

1702 Will of David Murrey, of Douglas Merchant

To the poor of Kk Braddan & Douglas £20 1

I remit such debts owing to me by the poor in the com book or what may not be collected by Mr. Samuel Watleworth of Peele.2

William Corlett and his sister Margaret to enjoy the houses during the life of the survivor of them.

Should my son John3 wish to live in England, then my son David to make him some allowance in consideration of the house & gardens which fell due to me by the death of my dear father.

To my daughters Susan and Margaret all my linen equally between them, said linen to be divided by my dear cousin Mrs. Margaret Broughton. My daughter Margaret to the care of my cousin Broughton, & my daughter Susan to the care of my cousin John5 & cousin Susan Murrey of Chester.

What my son John owes me is to be remitted to him.

To my cousin Mrs. Margaret Broughton 20/-.

To Mr. William Walker6 20/-.

My cousin Jo : Murrey5 to see to the finishing of the spinning of the tobacco that I may leave in the workhouse for the benefit of my children till my son David be inclined to follow said business.

To my sister Murrey, my cousin Susan & my cousin Hannah Murrey a mourning ring each.

To my brother Ald. Robert Murrey & his son John Murrey of Chester, my cousin Wm. Quaile of Dublin, and my cousin John Murrey of Duglas, a broad piece of gold each, & they to act as overseers.

Residue of my substance to my children, viz:

John, David, Robert, James, William, and my daughters Margaret & Susanna, and appoint all sd children to be exors.

In witness whereof 8 May 1702.


Witnesses : Wm. Walker, Jo: Broughton, John Murray.

Probate granted 9 Aug., 1703 to John Murray, of Liserpalude 8 in England Merchant, son of & one of the exors of testator.

It would appear that David Murrey made a subsequent will which was proved in 1704, when he left the Rev. William Walker £5 per annum ‘ for the care and education of any children of his & to the Chapel of Douglas a silver sacramental cup.’ Walker afterwards became Rector of Ballaugh and Vicar-General, and was Bishop Wilson’s closest friend.

David Murrey, who dealt in timber and tobacco, must have been a very successful trader, for his estate amounted to the sum of £3,396 ; he was perhaps the richest man in the country.

David, son of the above merchant, perished at sea in 1709. He, like his father, traded in tobacco and timber.


1 Vide ‘ Isle of Man Charities,’ p. 103.

2 Samuel Wattleworth, of Peel, became Archdeacon in 1703. He died in 1718 aged 72, and was buried in St. German’s Cathedral. His mutilated headstone describes him as ‘ a lover of his country.’

3 John, the eldest son, continued to live in Liverpool and is believed to have been a successful merchant, owning several ships engaged in foreign trade. He is set down in the Manx Manorial Roll of 1703 (fol. 31) as ‘ John Murrey of Liverpool,’ and held several properties in Old Douglas adjacent to old St. Matthew’s Church in the Market Place, and described as ‘ a dwelling house, outhouses, shop, backside, Sharp’s sellar, gardens, formerly belonging to David Murrey, his grandfather, and willed to him by his father, David Murrey, of 5s. 9d. rent, compounded for in 1643 by David Murrey, his grand-father.’ John of Liverpool signed the will as a witness, and was one of the executors.

4 David, the second son, was also one of the executors. He is entered in the Manorial Roll of 1703 (fol. 32) for ‘ a sellar called Hutchin’s sellar, of 12d. rent ; and for another sellar at the back of old Mr. Murrey’s shop rent 6d.’ David and his wife Margaret, in 1741, gave to St. Matthew’s Chapel a domestic silver salver. Jones in his ‘ Church Plate ‘ (1907) suggests that he was the son of John and Susanna Murrey, the donors of the flagon dated 1728; but it is more likely that they were brothers. Another generous member of the Murrey family, Elizabeth, in 1742 gave to the same chapel a plain silver beaker.

5 Testator’s cousin John gave the clock to St. Matthew’s. It bore the letters I M on its dial. He lived in Murrey’s Court and about 1720 bought the estate of Ronaldsway. This farm remained in the family till about 1817, when it passed by marriage to the family of Christian, of Ballachurry, Andreas (A. W. M., ‘ Manx Worthies’).

6 William Walker, who witnessed the will and to whom testator gave 20/-, was then only 23 years old. He was the master of the Douglas Grammar School attached to St. Matthew’s. He was the outstanding ecclesiastic of his day (see above).

7 Alderman Robert Murrey, of Chester, testator’s brother, was the owner of ‘ a sellar called Sloane’s sellar ‘ situated near to Murrey Court at the old chapel.

8 ‘ Liserpalude ‘ is, of course, meant to be Liverpool. According to the Liverpool Town Books, 1550-1862, ed. by J. A. Twemlow, 1918, there are on record no spellings of the name like this. The nearest is Lyverpule, Liverpolio and Liver-polium.


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