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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (M)
Murison Family of Gamrie


Our thanks to Chris Duff for sending this in.

As far as we know, it all started with my 5gt-grandfather John Murison (c1690-c1765), who was a crofter on the lands of Alexander Gordon, Laird of Troup, in the parish of Gamrie, Banffshire.  We know little of this gentleman, except he married twice, was said to be illiterate and he made sure his sons were not by ensuring they received a fair amount of education.  John was comfortably well off by all accounts and could obviously afford to do this.  John's descendants generally were countryfolk and remained in the Gamrie and Alvah area as crofters and blacksmiths until the mid-1800s. 

John's son Andrew, however, got itchy feet and made his way to Edinburgh.  He wrote to his father with news of developments in the city, including "the building of a great large street."  A couple of years later (1754) he was in London, reporting back on the sight of troops embarking for Virginia as the French were making encroachments there.  Back in Edinburgh, he got into importing/exporting and advising his brother James on his business, who was a merchant at Troup and getting into trouble for evading customs duties and not paying his bills.   Another of Andrew's brothers, William, had apparently joined a militia and been sent to the East Indies.  Upon his return, he deserted.  Andrew procured his freedom without punishment, but William showed no gratitude, so Andrew decided to have no more to do with him. 

It appears Andrew became a lawyer and we learn he has been engaged in the trial of Mungo Campbell, an ExciseOfficer, for shooting the Earl of Eglinton; involved in the trial of a horse-stealer; and generally travelling the courts of the West Circuit.  Brother William is an embarrassment.  He's gone completely off the rails and is regarded as "a begger and common vagabond."  He was taken up by the Sheriff of Jedburgh on one occasion and only escaped imprisonment when the judge discovered he was Andrew's brother.  Brother James is not much better - his business methods leave a lot to be desired, with unpaid bills and imported goods seized as contraband.  Andrew advises him to give up smuggling.  Half-brother Peter manages to acquire 21,000 Pounds (a lot of money in 1763) from somewhere and buys the estate of Delgaty (Dalgety?).  (Five years earlier he had contracted venereal disease and had had to leave the service of Lord Prestongrange.)  He also tries to persuade William to go to America and offers to pay his passage, but William refuses.  James, meanwhile, continues to lose money and thinks he must marry a rich woman to keep him the rest of his days.  He does marry about five years later (c1775), having decided to go on the straight and narrow and go into the brick-making business.  Whether he actually did so is not clear, but it is known he was not a happy man when he died in 1803.

Meanwhile, back on the farm things are generally as they should be.  James' son James married a lawyer's daughter from Leith and was Sheriff's Officer for Gamrie when he died at Newtack in 1833.  His son, Francis, married a blacksmith's daughter from Inverness and was a tenant of Protstonhill Croft, Gamrie.  Francis' son, Francis, carried on the blacksmith tradition at the smithy at Itlaw, having married the daughter of a Fueur in Dufftown.  Another of Francis' sons, James, caught a boat to Canada around 1870 and found his way to St Thomas in Ontario where he got a job on the Great Western Railway.  He writes to his blacksmith brother telling him drunkeness is common as drink is cheap, and sends news of former employees of the Great North of Scotland Railway who have also emigrated to Ontario.  Food is plentiful, but James prefers his porridge and thinks that others would do well to eat such food. 

Farmland is available and James decides to rent a farm, which he does in 1874.  He talks about his younger brother, John, who must have followed James to Ontario and who intends to start lead mining.

1874 saw an epidemic of "tifid fever" (typhoid?) due to the town of St. Thomas having outgrown its drainage facilities.  James is a succesful farmer and in 1880 rents another farm.  He describes a trip to Chicago on the occasion of "a fraternal gathering of the Knights Templars."  He tells Francis if he had worked in Canada as hard as he had worked as a blacksmith he would have been an independent man by now.  The Canadian Murisons continued to live around St. Thomas and Elgin West until the turn of the 20th century, when the name petered out.

The Industrial Revolution touched every family.  James worked on the railways in Canada before going back to farming.  Francis the blacksmith had a son, Francis, who became a marine engineer; another son, James went to South Africa and worked for South African Railways.  Yet another son, John, became a marine engineer and spent his life sailing the southern seas with the British Steam Navigation Company and his son, Duncan, was a Master Mariner with the same company.  END

Chris Duff (whose mother was a Murison)

Alastair:  This little story is as I know it at present.  Some of it comes from my grandfather's and my Uncle Duncan's researches, and other parts come from precis of letters lodged at the National Archives of Scotland by my grandfather.  One day, I'll have the chance to read these documents and fill out this story.


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