William Murray “Inchure” – Catechist

The Murrays were inhabitants of Strath Fleet in Rogart for centuries. Their introduction to the eastern portion of Sutherland harkens back to the time of Bishop Gilbert of Moray, (d. 1245), when he and his extended family were planted there by the King to establish order in what had been a barbaric hinterland.   Gilbert was later known as Saint Gilbert of Dornoch.

From this saintly past came a humble family of Murray’s who lived in Acheilidh, one of the more fertile situations in Strath Fleet. They lived on a holding that was known as Inchure, a name that has been a descriptor of this line of Murrays to this day.

The father of this post’s subject was John Murray “Inchure”, a catechist in his own right, who tended to the flock of his native parish of Rogart during the later years of the 18th century. The biographies of the day make no mention of John however his term was short due to an untimely death.

One of his students in matters of Grace was his son William. William was born 1784 and, as a teen, would have been witness to his father’s spiritual work.   William, so the family tradition goes, also received the training to be a catechist although it is not known whether he practiced in Rogart before emigration.

William married Christena Matheson of Strath Cornaig, a remote part of Dornoch Parish bordering on Rogart. She was a near relation of Rev. George Matheson, a blind preacher in Edinburgh and writer of several well known hymns.

In 1822 this couple joined the tide of migrants to Nova Scotia. This did not seem to be caused by eviction but rather a need to find a better living in the soon to be prospering parts of Nova Scotia. They arrived in Pictou of that year and then took passage to the port of River John. From there they found their way to their new home on the Clydesdale Road. Traces of this homestead can be found near the junction of the Clydesdale and Captain’s Roads.

As mentioned in previous posts, it would be some time before the people of Earltown would have the full attention of ordained clergy. William was one of those who conducted neighbourhood prayer meetings and continued his calling to the catechisms without compensation.

It will come as no surprise that his teaching left an impression on two of his sons, William and Robert, who went on to study theology.   William, in addition to a successful ministry in the Annapolis Valley, also served as a missionary in Jamaica. Rev. Robert was less inclined towards pastoral care but aspired to become the editor of the widely read “Presbyterian Witness” for many years. In addition to sound writing on religious matters, Rev. Robert was a proponent for confederation and debated his preference in his paper in response to the anti-confederate views of Joe Howe. Robert was also a hymn writer, From Ocean unto Ocean being the better known.

William Inchure’s other children were: Nancy, (Donald Murray), of Spiddle Hill, John – customs officer in Halifax, Alex, (Ellen Sutherland), on the home farm, Christy died young, Catherine, (married twice – Robert Sutherland and Andrew Campbell), and Hugh, a prospector in the Yukon.

William died at the early age of 57 in 1841. He is buried in the Village Cemetery.




Goodwin, William Murray, The Inchure Murrays,   unpublished manuscript

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