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Andrew Haldane Murray

Life                                       1866 - 1916
Matriculation year             1887
Place connected                  Cape Colony

Andrew spent his early life in the Cape Colony (part of present-day South Africa), where he obtained his first university degree at the Cape University. After studying at Christ's, he also obtained an M.A. from the Cape University. Andrew worked as a teacher, including at Swellendam School, Cape Colony, as an Assistant Master, before becoming Inspector of Schools there in the 1890s. He narrowly predeceased his father, dying in combat in East Africa during 1916, in the First World War.

Connection to enslavement

Andrew Haldane Murray's father was Rev. Andrew Murray (the Younger), and his grandfather was the Rev. Andrew Murray (the Elder).¹ ² ³ ⁴


Rev. Andrew Murray (the Elder) was invited to the Cape Colony as a minister: he arrived there in 1822.⁵ It appears that he became the owner of a number of enslaved people: 15 years later, he and another individual (identified only as 'M. L. Neethling') claimed compensation for 59 enslaved people.⁶ ⁷ He and M.L. Neethling received £2033 6s 2d in compensation.⁶ The Legacies of British slavery project notes that this claim was contested, but has not been able to establish who unsuccessfully contested the claim.


The fact that Rev. Andrew Murray (the Elder) owned enslaved people is corroborated by his statement in a letter to his children, Andrew and John, in 1843, that 'the emancipated slaves cannot become small farmers here, as farms have become scarce and very dear', but that 'many of our late slaves are doing well as tradesmen, among others Damon is doing well as a mason.'⁸


A scarcity of detail about the claim for compensation is unfortunate, but it seems reasonable to assume that in the years between his arrival and him claiming compensation, the Reverend established himself and his family in South Africa at least partly through the proceeds of enslavement (presumably using enslaved labour in agriculture, given the large number of enslaved people he claimed compensation for in 1837).


Notably, one of Rev. Andrew Murray (the Elder)'s daughters, writing in 1909, recorded that 'long before slavery was abolished he had espoused the cause of the slave'. As an illustrative example, 'upon his marriage, as was the custom at the time, a female slave was given the bride to accompany her to her new home', but the Reverend 'first gave the girl her liberty before she set out with them'.⁹ ¹⁰ This claim is contained in a family history compiled by his daughter, in which she is keen to emphasise that 'in every good cause he took the lead'.⁹ Nonetheless, his reported espousal of the 'cause of the slave' must stand at odds with the fact that he appears to have owned a significant number of enslaved people at the time of their emancipation.


The Reverend's grandson matriculated at Christ's in 1887, 50 years after his grandfather had received compensation. However, the family had used enslaved labour while establishing itself in the Cape Colony. His father and grandfather had benefitted directly from the proceeds of enslavement, and - indirectly - Andrew Haldane Murray was therefore a beneficiary of his family's involvement in enslavement.


¹ Venn, J.A., ed. (1947) "Murray, Andrew Haldane". Alumni Cantabrigienses (Part 2). Vol.4, Cambridge University Press - via Internet Archive. ² Du Plessis, J., The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa (London: Marshall Brothers, 1919), p. 950 and p. 991. ³ For Rev. Andrew Murray (the Younger), in addition to his biography in footnote 2, Geni, 'Dr Andrew Murray, b2', 2022 [accessed 27th August 2022 ⁴ For Rev. Andrew Murray (the Elder), Geni, 'Rev Andrew Murray, SV/PROG', 2022 [accessed 4th August 2022]. ⁵ Du Plessis, J., The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa (London: Marshall Brothers, 1919), p. 40-44 and p. 55-56. ⁶ Legacies of British Slavery database, 'Cape of Good Hope 5199', [accessed 27th August 2022]. ⁷ Legacies of British Slavery database, 'Andrew Murray', [accessed 27th August 2022]. ⁸ Du Plessis, J., The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa (London: Marshall Brothers, 1919), p. 106. ⁹ Neethling, Maria, Unto Children's Children (London: TH Hopkins & Son, Limited, 1909), p. 34. ¹⁰ The Andrew Murray Family Association, 'Maria Neethling', 2017 [accessed 27th August].

More information about our research, including searchable databases, can be found here.

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