It’s Complicated …The Relationship of William Murray and Girzel Grant

Readers of this blog may also be interested in following the posts on historylinksdornoch.   The blog explores the history and archaeology of Dornoch and surrounding areas in Sutherland, Scotland.   It is a collaboration between Historylinks museum in Dornoch and the Centre for History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Ritchie.  Dr. Ritchie is an enthusiastic scholar of the history of Sutherland, particularly in the areas of religion, education, emigration and women’s issues.

You will find a post entitled  It’s Complicated …The Relationship of William Murray and Girzel Grant: Part 1.     This couple, who embodied the notion that opposites attract,  were parents to three emigrant families to West Pictou and Earltown.   Janet Murray MacIntosh settled near Elmfield in 1812, Robert Murray “Valley” settled near East Earltown in 1819 and Donald Murray “Craig” settled several years later atop the Craig in Loganville.   Part II will appear in the near future after which this blog will flesh out the continuing story of the family in Nova Scotia.

Enjoy !!

Achany Letters # 2


This letter was written by Alex Murray, brother of William’s wife Sybella Murray MacKay.  Alex was also a brother of Robert Murray, “Stager” of Earltown and he makes mention of his brother in the greetings.  Alex is living in the Parish of Creich on the opposite side of the Kyle of Sutherland from William’s home parish of Kincardine, Ross.   Consequently he is well acquainted with William’s family and friends.

Of particular historical interest is the mention of clearances taking place nearby.  It would appear to be the Glen Calvie clearance after which the people took refuge in the churchyard of Croick.



To William M’Kay,   Newfield

Earltown Settlement

By Pictou Nova Scotia

North America


Clashnashinag, May 30, 1845


Dear Brother by receiving this short epistle you will understand that I received your most welcome letter on the 15th of April last, and I am overjoyed to hear that you and your wife and family and the rest of my relations there were in the land of the living and in the place of hope at the date of your letter.   As this leaves me at present, my wife and family, my Brothers and Sisters, and all our relations as far as I know, except Alexr M’Kay’s wife, my uncle’s daughter – she is always sickly. Hugh my uncle is poorly in health. He got a fall about six or seven years ago and he is going on crutches since.   Appy my Aunt died last year

I think you forgot writing to Mr. Alex Ross and sister – they are always inquiring about you when they happen to see me. Please to give my best respects to Christian and her husband – I forgot his name, to Kenneth and his wife, to George and his wife to John and William, not forgetting Robert, my brother, and his wife and family. And tell him that I did not forget him yet but he thinks I did. I would to like to hear from him now and then; But for myself I would sooner travel a days journey than to begin to write, for my hand shakes and my sight fails me.

I am told that a number of the tenants in Gleann Palawarg** in Ross Shire were summoned out of their farms and has no place to go to…and I a m told that that a civil officer or a lawyer came dwon from Edinburgh for to see them and that he desired them to put tents up in the churchyard for such a time and then to take rooms in Tain and to be good to themselves.   I suppose that the Man that put them out must provide for them while they live, or give back their farms to them again. There is some of the great men that would not allow the lower people to live at all if they could. They are worse since this separation took place than before.

I have nothing particular to acquaint you of at present. Provisions are cheap and plentiful, oatmeal 16 s per bole, potatoes __ per bole, very little demand for cattle.

Remember me to David Grant and wife and tell him John his brother is well and that his wife died. Remember me to Strachan Gordon. Adam and his wife wishes to be remembered to you all – there is none of his children living but Barbara and Anne.   My wife and sisters joins me in sending our best respects to you and your wife,

I remain your loving Brother Ales’er Murray



** Very hard to transcribe. It could be Balawairg, Balawaing, Calawairg.