Alfred Thurtell Murray and Mary Everitt Murray


Mary Everitt MurrayAlfred Thurtell (Murray)

Information received from Maude Moorshead completed in about 1975 showed that the portrait of Alfred Thurtell Murray is a charcoal drawing by Harriet Rabone while the one of his wife Mary is a pencil sketch done by one of her sisters.

Alfred Thurtell was one of the children of John Thurtell and Anne Browne Thurtell. He was born about September 3, 1798, at Hobland Hall, Suffolk, England, and was baptised February 23, 1798, at Hopton, Suffolk (the Parish Register was apparently still using the old system of numbering years including February as part of the prior year). Alfred grew up at Hobland Hall and saved his brother Benjamin from a bull in the stable according to the latter's family.

Alfred's first cousin was the notorious John Thurtell, who was hanged in 1824 for the murder of William Weare. Alfred's bride- to-be, Mary Everitt of Caister Manor, Caister Castle, and/or her family objected to the last name Thurtell due to the scandal. On the day Alfred Thurtell married Mary Everitt in the Parish Church of Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, England, on December 29, 1829, he signed himself Alfred Thurtell Murray.

It is unknown why the name Murray was selected. Alfred's older brother James had already added the surname Murray. That name might have been chosen since they were good Presbyterians, and Murray is a good Scottish name.

Alfred and Marry Murray lived in London at first. He is described as a "flour factor" according to information received from Maude Moorshead and was an accountant in London according to Peter Murray's information. They had two sons born in London, George Everitt Murray and Alfred Everitt Murray, and had one or two babies who died, one of whom was named Thomas Everitt Murray and was born in 1835.

Alfred, Mary, and their children emigrated to South Africa to become part of the large British Settlement in what is now the Eastern Cape. Their son, Walter Everitt Murray, was born in 1837 on their farm "Layton" near Salem, which is near Grahamstown. Walter Everitt Murray was the first infant christened in St. John's Church, Bathurst, the oldest Anglican Church in South Africa. The family was no longer using the last name Thurtell at all by this time. Their home was burned by raiding tribesmen twice, and they moved in 1842 to Somerset East, South Africa, where their youngest child Jane (Jinny) was born in 1842. She was christened by the Dutch Reformed Predikant there, the Reverend John Pears, one of the many Scots ministers who had joined the Dutch Reformed Church.

Many years later, in 1855, the eldest daughter of the Reverend John Pears and his wife, Louisa Ann Ashcraft Pears, Ann Christine Pears was to marry the second son of Alfred and Mary Murray, Alfred Everitt Murray.

By 1856 Alfred and Mary Murray moved to the town of Graaff Reinet in South Africa. There Alfred was a Justice of the Peace, a town planner, and probably Churchwarden. Mary died in Graff Reinet in 1863. Alfred died there on April 25, 1875; and he is buried on his son Walter's farm Hoeksfontein in the Karoo.

The above pictures are from the collection of Michael Mooreshead, and the
biographical information was provided by Peter Murray and Maude Moorshead.

There were two other large Murray families in South Africa beginning in the early 1800's, but they are not related to the Thurtell/Murray family.  All of Alfred Murray's descendants have continued to use Murray as the family name; but all, or nearly all, of them are aware that the original surname was Thurtell.

Reverend Andrew Murray and his family also lived in the Graaff Reinet area.  Andrew Murray (May 26, 1794 - June 24, 1866) was born in the Milltown of Clatt in the Aberdeenshire-district of Scotland.  He arrived in South Africa in July 1822 from Scotland to act as minister to the mainly Dutch-speaking community of Graaff Reinet. He served the congregation in this capacity from 1822 until his death in 1866. He and his wife, Maria Susanna Magdalena Stegmann (March 5, 1809 – August 1889), had sixteen children.  More information can be found on this family at  They are not related to the family of Alfred Murray.

John Murray, who was born in about 1785, probably in Edinburgh, Scotland, applied for permission to remain at the Cape in 1807.  The document showing his application for permanent residence in South Africa showed that he came to the Colony in order to help his brother Samuel as a clerk in his business at 45 and 46 Strand Street. Afterwards, No. 47 Strand Street was also purchased.  The marriage of his brother Samuel to Anna Prideham was childless, and they are both buried in Cape Town.  John married Martha Gysbertha de Milander from Stellenbosch at Cape Town on February 20, 1816, and they had nine children.  More information about this family can be found at  This family is also not related to the family of Alfred Murray.


Additions and corrections are always appreciated!

Susan T. Miller
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Last updated June 24, 2006