James Thurtell-Murray (1790-1867)
and His Descendants


James Thurtell, Schoolmaster and Farmer (according to Mrs Clist), auctioneer and registrar (according to the Post Office Directory for 1851), the author's great-great-great-grandfather, was born 17 Nov 1790 in Hopton, Suffolk, and was baptised there on 28 November 1790. He was the second child of a family of twelve: see further details of earlier Thurtell generations.

Mrs Clist recounts that James was the son of a Norfolk squire. The old home (from April 1804), she says, was at Hobland Hall in the Parish of Bradwell, Suffolk (52°33'18.63"N 1°42'43.22"E). (The family previously lived for a time at Hopton Hall Farm (52°32'41.82"N 1°42'26.61"E), Hopton parish, where most of the children were born; this was only about a mile away from Hobland Hall and then also in Suffolk, though now in Norfolk; this may explain Mrs Clist's mistaken placement of Hobland Hall in Hopton.) In a letter to his son Alexander, of 27 Apr 1866, James recalls planting trees at Hobland.

On 25 Oct 1818, James Thurtell married Sarah Holt of Colchester (b. 6 Oct 1794 in Lexden, Essex) in the Parish of St Leonard Shoreditch in the County of Middlesex, both being "of this Parish". To this end, James had borrowed £500 from his father who went broke some five years later (the debt is mentioned in the bankruptcy proceedings). The Ipswich Journal says, in its issue of Saturday 19 June 1819, that the marriage of James and Sarah took place at Lexden on 10 June 1819. This was presumably an additional ceremony. The couple had eight children, some of whom died young.

At the time their daughters Anne and Frances Jane ("Fanny") were baptised in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Parish of Danbury (on 20 July 1820 and 31 March 1822 respectively), James Thurtell gave his "abode" as Danbury and his profession as Farmer. James, says Mrs Clist, was "a student, a dreamer, a lover of books and learning. He was a schoolmaster, and wrote a book on his own methods of teaching English." [We have no other evidence of James's having been a teacher; could Mrs Clist have been confusing him with his son-in-law JLK?] Later in life, James was Secretary of the Hackney Building Society and lived at 430 Hackney Road, London, for many years (51°31'54.75"N, 0°03'38.94"W).

Some time in the 1820s, consequent upon some 'family troubles', the surname was changed to Thurtell-Murray. Some members of the family (e.g. Fanny on the birth certificate of her son John) continued to use Thurtell; some (such as the brothers who emigrated to California) used Murray, as did James and Sarah in their correspondence with their sons, and indeed in the 1851 census. Other branches of the family used names such as Turner and Manfred. (Peter Murray believes James was the first in the Thurtell family to take the name Murray, in 1824, five years before his brother Alfred; though where the name came from is a moot point. Sukie Hunter thinks James's father John Thurtell Senior changed his name to Murray at about the same time as James, i.e. immediately after his bankruptcy and return to Norwich.)

James [Thurtell-]Murray died on 1 December 1867, aged 77, a month after a serious fall from an omnibus, and was buried in Abney Park cemetery along with daughter Josephine. He left effects of "under £600".

James's widow Sarah lived another 21 years, dying at age 94 on 15 Mar 1889 at her daughter Anne's home at Brimscombe Court, Stroud, Glos., leaving effects valued at £701/14/6. She also was buried in Abney Park in the same grave as her husband and daughter.

Susan T. Miller has published much information about the Thurtell family on her website: http://www.thurtellfamily.net/geotf/index.html. Margaret Elaine Shearing (née Murray) wrote a family history, My Ain Folk, which has been published by her grand-daughter Margot Collett.

A number of members of the family emigrated to the New World before James's sons settled in California. In 1853, at the then advanced age of 62, "Aunt Everitt" (Anne Thurtell, sister of James and widow of George Everitt) travelled to New York and Guelph, Ontario, where she had a reunion with her brother, Benjamin Thurtell, and his family; her nephew, Edward Brookes Thurtell, came from his home in Jamestown, Wisconsin, for the reunion. (Susan Miller has published an 1847 letter from Benjamin to Edward.) The diary Anne kept of her trip shows her as an observant, and remarkably enterprising woman. She died in England in 1866, leaving a legacy to brother James (see correspondence).

The children of the James Thurtell-Murray family were as follows:

Born Married Died Buried Notes
Anne 2 Mar 1820
Danbury/Maldon, Essex
(1) Elijah Knox Davies
Bristol, 1Q 1846
1 child; EKD d. 5 Dec 1849
(2) Philip Charles Evans
6 Dec 1851
3 sons 3 daughters, plus 1 son and 2 daughters from Evans's previous marriage
28 Aug 1905
Stroud, Gloucestershire
- See details and correspondence below
Frances Jane ("Fanny") Baptised 31 Mar 1822
b. "Danbury Farm", Essex
John Leche Kraushaar
27 Mar 1846 at St Giles, Cripplegate
Had 7 children of whom 2 died in childhood and one as a young man. There was also a stillbirth.
21 Apr 1902
Bishopswood, Otterford
Daughter G. B. Sumption present
Chelmsine The author's great-great-grandparents
Ellen ca. 1823 - Died young - -
James ca. 1825 - Died young - -
Walter 9 Dec 1826
London
Mercedes Espinosa
(b. Chile c. 1822)
prob. in 1853;
had 6 children + Mercedes' daughter by previous marriage.
Also brought up 2 orphaned girls.
5 Oct 1875
San Luis Obispo, California
- See details and correspondence below
Emma ca. 1828 - Died young - -
Sarah Josephine ("Josephine") Prob. 1830/31
Bethnal Green Mddx
- 29 May 1853 Abney Park Cemetery -
Alexander 1 Oct 1832 Andrea Laing Baratie (b. Chile ca. 1838)
One child - stillborn or died soon after birth.
16 May 1870
San Miguel CA
- See details and correspondence below


Further details follow. Much of the information on the English branches of the family is derived from the 1881 and 1901 censuses, through the detective work of Sukie Hunter.

Anne Evans

"Strong-minded and practical" according to Mrs Clist; a ready writer and public speaker. Before her first marriage, she was living in Bristol (see exchange of letters with her brother Walter in America). She was a deeply religious woman and it has been suggested she was a voluntary worker in George Muller's Christian orphanages there.

By her first husband, Elijah Knox Davies, chemist and druggist, whom she married on 26 Mar 1845, Anne had one son, Elijah (b. 24 Dec 1848), who became a doctor/dentist but developed lung trouble and migrated to South Africa; there he married Emily Ellen Probart and practised in Hanover, Cape Province. Mrs Clist states that he returned to his mother's home in England to die, but he actually died on 11 Jan 1885, probably of tuberculosis, at 6 Citadel Terrace, Plymouth. (Perhaps this was a sanatorium?)

In a letter of 29 July 1863, Anne seems to be saying that she had lost her firstborn child when it was only a week old.

Anne's first husband died on 5 Dec 1849. On his deathbed, he is said to have asked Anne to hyphenate the surname of his infant son, so that the following generations were called Knox-Davies.

On 6 Dec 1851, Anne married Philip Charles Evans, a widower of Brimscombe Court near Stroud, Gloucestershire (51°43'29.75"N, 2°11'47.89"W). His first wife was Elizabeth Clutterbuck.

Evans was a wealthy woollen cloth manufacturer, born approx. 1810 in Avening, Gloucestershire, whose family (originally from South Wales) ran three mills with up to 400 employees. Brimscombe was strategically located on the Thames-Severn Canal and the Great Western Railway, and in the middle of a wool-growing area. The mill straddled the River Frome. Philip Evans also had a farm of 17 acres, employing 2 men and 1 boy.


Anne's marriage with Philip Evans produced six children (see details below).

The sons who went into the family business (Philip Evans & Sons, Ltd) ultimately appear to have been Philip, Arthur and Ted. The firm was said to specialise in scarlet cloth for army uniforms. Walter started in the family business but sold out to Philip in the late 1870s and emigrated to South Africa for the sake of his health. Ted had left the firm by 1911 and moved to Great Malvern, and his family had no further involvement with the business. In 1920, Philip and Arthur also having apparently retired, the firm was merged with the even older firm of Marling & Co. Ltd, of Stroud, to form Marling & Evans. The firm continued in business until 1968, when it changed its name to Marling Industries, although they apparently sold the Brimscombe mill in the 1950s.

See http://www.ashvillegroup.co.uk/asset-management/projects-archive/52-brimscombe-mill-stroud/
  • Walter (b. 1852, married Frances ["Fanny"] Apperly 2Q 1876, died in S.Africa 1922.)
    Born Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, Walter appears in the 1871 census as an 18-year-old "assistant cloth worker". Went to South Africa with his half-brother Elijah Knox-Davies. They went to Graaff Reinet to some Murray cousins (originally Thurtells) who had gone to live in South Africa. After their holiday they returned to England but Elijah went back to South Africa and married a Miss Probart (see above). Walter became a partner with his father Philip Charles and his half-brother Philip in their woollen mills in Brimscombe and in order to learn the business from the bottom up, he worked alongside the millhands.

    In 1876 he married Fanny Apperly, daughter of a mill-owning family in the district (Apperly, Curtis & Co, who made the special suiting for King Edward VII called 'Hydea' cloth) but soon after it was found that Walter had developed "a spot on the lung" (tuberculosis), so he sold his share of the mill to his half-brother Philip, and in 1877 went to South Africa with his wife and baby boy. They settled in Hanover, Cape Province, where Walter bought a house, a shop and two farms, one of which he named "Brimscombe" after his old home Brimscombe Court. Had a large family and in 1894 moved to Johannesburg and started a real estate business. Spent the Boer War days in East London, at Cambridge, where Walter was the commandant of the Cambridge Village Guard. The family returned to Johannesburg at the end of the war. Frances died in 1920; Walter remarried but died soon after.
  • Annie (b. 1854 m. Frank Butler Bomford)
    In the 1901 census, the 47-year-old Annie (b. at Stonehouse, Glos.) is living in "Penarth", Ashfield Avenue, King's Heath (Parish of King's Norton), Worcestershire, with her husband Frank B. Bomford, 54, "retired land surveyor". There are also: son Evans H., 19, mechanical engineer; daughters Honor S., 16, and Eleanor M, 14; son Roger S., 12; and one "general servant". All Annie's children were born in Evesham, Worcs. In 1901, Edward Bomford (17, also born Evesham, Worcestershire), son of Annie and Frank, was a banker's clerk in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. At boarding school in Alcester, Warwickshire, in 1881, along with Theodora, 13, daughter of Henry Bomford (see below), was Letitia Bomford (aged 12), born in Church Lench, Worcestershire, which is where Frank Bomford was born (could it have been his parents' place?); so how Letitia fits in is not clear.

    In the 1911 census, Annie Bomford, a 57-year-old Widow of "Private Means", is living at 95 Alcester Road, Kings Heath, with two single daughters, Honor Stacey, 26, and Elinor Mary, 24, Typist.

  • Arthur (b. 1855, "Cloth manufacturer" in the family business, m. Anne Iles; at least 4 children)
    In the 1901 census, the 45-year-old Arthur (b. Stonehouse Glos., "woollen cloth manufacturer - employer") appears with his 48-year-old wife Anne (b. Hawkesbury Upton, Gloucestershire), living at Hillsley Grange in the Parish of Thrupp (Stroud), very close to Brimscombe (see map). Present were also his sons Gerald, 20, apprentice cloth manufacturer, Percy, 19, undergraduate at Cambridge, William, 17, apprentice cloth manufacturer, and 6-year-old daughter Margaret. (All the children were born at Brimscombe.) There were also three female servants: nurse, housemaid and cook.
  • Edward Ebenezer ("Teddy" b. 1857, who went into the family business at Brimscombe; m. Dorothy Iles [said to be the sister of Arthur's wife, Anne] and subsequently Harriet Emily Davis)
    In the 1901 census, the 44-year-old Ebenezer ("woollen cloth manufacturer - employer") appears with his 44-year-old wife Harriett [sic] (b. Cardiff), living at Inglewood House in the Parish of Thrupp (Stroud). Present were also: his daughter Dorothy, 18; his sons (by his second wife) John, 5, and Lionel, 3; and daughter Lettice, 4 months. Dorothy was born at Brimscombe, the others at Thrupp. There were also three female servants: cook, housemaid and nurse (the first two from Glamorgan, like their mistress). Dorothy spent most of her childhood at Brimscombe Court with her grandmother and Aunt Maggie, as her mother died in childbirth and her father didn't remarry until Dorothy was 12½. She m. Arthur Pollock Dowglass in 1916. See under Margaret below.


  • Bessie Frances (b. 1858 m. Ernest Edgar Bone)
    In the 1901 census, the 42-year-old Bessie (b. at Stroud Glos.) is living in "Bryn Maelgwyn", Llanrhos, Carnarvon, with her 45-year-old husband Ernest E. Bone (b. Fenstanton, Hunts.), bilingual Solicitor. (The rest of the family, except for the cook and nurse, only speak English.) There are also: daughter Margery, 16; sons Philip, 11, Cedric, 9, Victor, 4; daughter Cicely, 2. A 41-year-old schoolteacher visitor, Ada Grist, the 25-year-old cook and 26-year-old nurse make up the total. Margery was born in Stroud, the other children in Wales. In "Bryn Maelgwyn Cottage" are a gardener, his wife and two children. These are all Welsh.

    In the 1911 census, Ernest Edgar Bone, 55, Solicitor, b. St. Ives Hunts., and Bessie Frances, 52, are living at Ivanhoe Fferm Bach Road, Llandudno, with: single daughter Margery Frances, 26, b. Brimscombe; son Ernest Edgar, 22, Solicitor b. Llandudno, Carnarvonshire; son Philip Charles Llewelyn, 21, Shipping Merchant's Clerk, b. Llandudno; son Victor Arnold, 14, Scholar, b. Llandudno; daughter Cicely Bessie, 12, Scholar b. Llandudno; and two female Domestic Servants.
  • Margaret Lucy (b. 1860). Unmarried, at least as late as 1901, when she is recorded in the census at Brimscombe Court with her widowed mother (see below). Known as "Maggie" or "Mag", she is found in later life dwelling at 'Fircombe', 17 Roumania Crescent, Llandudno. In 1911 her niece Dorothy (daughter of Edward) was living with her (Dorothy was married in the Llandudno area in 1916). Maggie seems to have died in 1918 (at least a Margaret L. Evans died in Conway RD in that year, although she was said to be 56 and actually Maggie would have been 58).

A black-and-white photograph of the portraits of James and Sarah at the top of this page, now in the possession of Lew Warden in California, bears on the back a note describing the colours in the originals (painted on ivory); the note was handwritten by D.A. Dowglass in Fairford, Glos. in 1949. Sukie Hunter speculates that Maggie retrieved the originals from Brimscombe Court when her mother died, along with Walter Murray's letters to his sister Anne. According to this reconstruction, after Maggie Evans's death in 1918, her effects in the house in Llandudno would heve been cleared up by Dorothy Dowglass and the letters sent to someone in California (Anita or Frances). Some of the originals of the likenesses are now held in a "scrapbook" in the San Luis Obispo Museum.

The 1901 census reveals the 81-year-old widow Anne Evans living "on her own means" at Brimscombe Court with her single daughter, Margaret L., 41, and three female servants (a cook, a lady's maid and a parlour housemaid). In the Brimscombe Court "Lodge" were a gardener, his wife and 4-year-old son. Anne Evans died here on 28 Aug 1905, leaving an estate valued at £647/9/4, so evidently she only had lifetime use of her stately home. After Anne died, Philip Jr moved in (he and his family were living at Brimscombe Court in 1911).


Brimscombe Court Brimscombe Court

Brimscombe Court



Tombi Peck has investigated what has happened to Brimscombe Court in the meantime.

From Evans's previous marriage to Elizabeth Clutterbuck, there were also one son (Philip Jr) and two daughters: Mary, who was pregnant late in 1867 (see Anne's letter of 21 Nov 1867); and Sarah Ann(e).




Frances Jane ("Fanny") Kraushaar


This is the line followed in the Clist narrative (q.v.) and in the main "Saga" text.

Fanny married John Leche Kraushaar and had seven children. Most of what little we know of her life is gleaned from letters written by family members. Her mother constantly refers to her as "poor Fanny" whose life is very hard.

The correspondence throws into relief various aspects which are glossed over in the Clist panegyric: in particular, the grinding poverty to which JLK's other-worldliness condemned his family, to the point that daughter Addy was only enabled to marry by a gift of °10 from her "American" Uncle Alexander Murray (see Addy's letter of 06 Sep 1867, but see also Anne's letter of 24 Feb 1870).

By his mother-in-law, JLK was deemed "gloomy and indolent". Her opinion of his "studious, pious" son John James (who resided with her in London for quite some time) was hardly better: he was "unobservant", "sluggish and absent-minded" (like his father), a "sad slowcoach" (like his father) and "something of a bigot". In her private correspondence, at least, Sarah did not mince her words. Even meek, "kind-hearted, unselfish" Fanny, though, according to her sister Anne, found her husband "tyrannical". These opinions contrast sharply with Mrs Clist's uncritical point of view.

In the 1901 census, the 79-year-old widow Frances Jane Kraushaar is shown living at Bishopswood, Otterford, with her 36-year-old daughter Grace Beatrice ("Tricie") and her 28-year-old son-in-law Arthur Emmanuel Sumption, "poultry farmer - on his own account - at home" (i.e. they lived at the farm and apparently had no employees). Fanny died here the following year (21 Apr 1902), leaving effects valued at £220.

(Tricie's first two children had died soon after birth and the third would follow suit. Only the fourth, also Arthur Sumption, would grow to adulthood. Ten years after this census, Tricie and her husband migrated to New South Wales, where two of her brothers, Frank and Alfred, had been living since the early 1880s.)




Walter Murray

Walter Thurtell-Murray (b. 9 Dec 1826 in London - d. 5 Oct 1875 in California), later known as Walter Murray, was a printer, miner, lawyer, and finally a Judge of the District Court of San Luis Obispo, California. For a time, he was also the publisher of the San Luis Obispo Tribune newspaper.

Walter had some legal training as a youth in England. (One story has it that a club of articled clerks determined to finance the emigration of two of their number to America, and that Walter Murray and Filmer were chosen by lot.) In August 1843, at the tender age of 17, Walter embarked for the United States (arriving in Boston aboard the 271-ton barque Velasco on 28 Sep 1843. He gained experience in the printing trade in Boston as a compositor for a Mr Turner at 27 Brighton Street (see his 1843-44 letters to his sister Anne). In his first letter home to his sister, he asks her not to address any further correspondence with him under the name Thurtell, so the use of the Murray name cannot have yet been consolidated in the family at that date. (He also appears as Walter Thurtell in the Velasco's passenger list (223K), which Susan Miller has found.)

After living in Boston and New York, in August 1846 Walter enlisted as a volunteer in the Stevenson Regiment towards the end of the Mexican War. Having travelled from New York around the Horn and seen action in Baja California, Mexico, he arrived in California on 21 October 1847. See his unfinished account of this experience (1846-47). When the regiment was disbanded in 1848, he moved on to goldrush country; in the mines, he made the acquaintance of Romualdo Pacheco, future Governor of California, who was a native of San Luis Obispo.

In 1851, in the town of Sonora (near what is now Yosemite National Park, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains) Walter became proprietor, with his former companion in arms, James O'Sullivan, of the first newspaper in Tuolumne County, the Sonora "Herald". Here in 1850, he had been joined by his young brother Alexander, who then also assisted with the newspaper. Dorothy Bilodeau says it was here Walter met and married the widow Mercedes Espinosa (see below) in 1853, the year of birth of her child by her first marriage. (According to later census information, Eliza was indeed born in California, not in Chile.)

Finally, in 1853, Walter settled in San Luis Obispo, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where he was admitted to the Bar and established a law practice. The "Walter Murray adobe" (sun-dried brick dwelling) still stands in a park at no. 747 Monterey Street opposite the SLO County Historical Museum and the Mission church. (This was the fifth, and one of the wealthiest, of California's 21 missions; it was built in 1772.) On the other side the park is bounded by San Luis Creek. The coordinates are approximately 35°16'48"N 120°39'52"W. The SLO Chamber of Commerce points out that the 1849 "white-washed building at the end of Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo is all that remains of the adobe home of Walter Murray". He "printed the first copies of San Luis Obispo's local newspaper, The Tribune" in the home, which is still on the "San Luis Obispo Path of History". The adobe now consists of only one room. A plaque on the door reads: Murray Adobe, Pre-1850.

Walter's was the first name on an 1858 Vigilance Committee roster and he took a leading role in hunting down the bandits who had committed murder on the Rancho San Juan Capistrano (see story below involving his brother Alexander's future wife). During a skirmish with Pio Linares and his gang, Walter was shot in the arm - see his letter of 28 May 1858 to his sister.)

Walter was a founding member of the first Masonic lodge in SLO on 16 May 1861. Governor Romualdo Pacheco, with whom Walter had become friendly "in the mines", also joined the Masonic lodge in SLO in 1861, after returning from a voyage to England. (He had dined with Walter's family in England and his mother Sarah in a letter describes him a "handsome, polished gentleman" and very "aristocratic"). By July 1863, Walter was "acting Master" of his lodge ( letter of 8 July 1863).

Walter Murray ran for political office; was appointed District Judge of the First Judicial District (the counties of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara) in December 1873, and was about to be formally elected to that office when he died of "gastritis", on 5 October 1875. See details in the letter from his widow Mercedes to Anne Evans of 19 Feb 1876.





[Lew Warden says this adobe was built ex novo by the City of San Luis Obispo.]

Walter Murray was articulate, held strong political views and is described as fluent in both French and Spanish. He married Mercedes Espinosa who had been previously married in Chile. Her first husband, apparently a Señor Quiseros, is said to have drowned while making the sea voyage from Chile. Her daughter by that marriage was born in California, according to the 1860 census.

Walter Murray and Mercedes had six children together as follows:
In addition to these, there was Eliza (b. 1853), Mercedes' child by her first marriage. Eliza suffered some unspecified medical condition, leading to "attacks". (Perhaps, like her mother, she was subject to asthma?) In a letter of 26 Aug 1875, Walter says she is is engaged to be married to a major domo in Santa Barbara. It seems she married Paul B. Sutcliffe on Sept. 20, 1878, and Gertrude Mercedes Sutcliffe was born Aug. 11, 1879. Furthermore, Eliza Sutcliffe married Maxeiemo (?) Vega, Feb. 11, 1882 and Mercedes Sutcliffe died July 20, 1888. It is not clear if Sutcliffe was the major domo or someone else. The three-year wait may have been because, after Walter's death, Mercedes needed Eliza at home. Eliza married four months after her mother died; what happened to Sutcliffe, we do not know.

Walter and Mercedes also raised two orphan girls, apparently sisters, whom Mercedes (in a letter of 15 May 1876) describes, like herself, as "Spanish" (though, for all we know, Mercedes' original intention may have been "hispánicas" rather than "españolas"). Their names were Emilia (or Amelia) and Espiridiona Godoy, born in about 1853 and 1861.

Much of Walter Murray's correspondence is preserved in the archives of Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, where original documents and transcripts were deposited for posterity by Walter's granddaughter Dorothy Bilodeau (née Unangst).

Susan Miller points out that he is very likely the Walter Thurtell indexed on the Family Tree Maker CD 256 of Boston, Massachusetts, Passenger Lists 1821-50 and is quite possibly the Walter Murray listed in the U.S. Census for Township Number 1, Tuolumne County, California on page 144, enumerated May 2, 1850. This shows him as Walter Murray, age 25, a miner born in New York. (He is listed with many other miners, so the information about his place of birth may possibly have been provided by a non-relative who did not know he was born in England.)

Walter Murray and his family appear in the 1860 U.S. Census in San Luis Obispo County, California, on page 35 (image 35 in the Ancestry.com online database). This shows Walter Murray as a lawyer aged 33 born in England with real estate worth $3000. Mercedes Murray is shown as a housekeeper age 37 with personal property worth $1500 born in Chile. Eliza is shown as a female aged 7 born in California, and Mercedes is shown as a female aged 2, also born in California.

In spite of his early start in California (before it even became a State), and the evident energy he brought to his activities in various fields, Walter's premature death meant he left only a modest estate to his family. He himself bitterly regretted having moved from Sonora to San Luis Obispo, and blamed his financial straits on that move (see letter of 28 May 1858).

See the obituaries published at his death.

After Walter's death, his widow Mercedes struggled financially with her large family, at one point opening a boardinghouse. She carried on some correspondence with her sister-in-law Anne Evans in England (see letters). She died of asthma on 9 May 1878, aged 55, just a few months after the death of her daughter Josephine (in January). In February of that same year, daughter Mercedes had been married, and in September, Eliza would marry.





Alexander Murray

b. London 1 Oct 1832 as Alexander Thurtell-Murray, d. 16 May 1870 in San Miguel, north of San Luis Obispo, California.

Leaving home at the age of 16, Alexander joined his brother in Sonora in the spring of 1850 and assisted in editing the "Sonora Herald". He then joined his brother in San Luis Obispo in November 1854.

Alexander married Chilean-born Andrea Baratie (née Laing - see story below) in October 1858. Alexander Murray is listed in the 1860 U.S. Census on Page 38 in San Luis Obispo County, California. This shows he was living in the Town of San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County, California, and lists him as Alexander Murray, a male aged 25 whose occupation is shown as barkeeper, whose real estate is worth $100 and whose personal property is worth $500. With him is Andrea Murray, aged 22, whose occupation is shown as housekeeper and whose place of birth is shown as "Chili". Also in the same family unit is William Church, a male whose age appears to be 40 and whose occupation is shown as gardener and who was born in England and has personal property worth $150.

Alexander kept a general (drygoods and groceries) store in San Luis Obispo, but had diverse interests: inter alia, he was Postmaster (1855-70), and for six or seven years had the agency for the Wells, Fargo stagecoach. He also sold a brand of sewing machines. From 1862 to 1866, Alexander was County Superintendent of Public Schools and for several years was Deputy Collector of US Internal Revenue. Like his elder brother, Alexander dabbled in mining enterprises. Having no children of his own, he frequently sent money to family members back in England (see correspondence).

According to his brother, he spoke Spanish and was a good businessman. (His estate seems to have been worth $16,000.)

He died of consumption (TB) on 16 May 1870 after resolutely refusing medical attention over an extended period. He was 37 (though even his mother in her letters seems unsure of the year of his birth). The last three weeks of his life were spent in San Miguel, nearly 40 miles north of SLO, because of the better climate. There he died; his brother brought his body back to SLO for burial. Like his brother, he was active in the Freemasons, and was buried by them. He was a member of Santa Barbara lodge, No. 192, F. and A.M. Over 40 Masons were present at the funeral, "and a concourse of several hundred persons".

See the obituary published in the Tribune (and almost certainly written by Alexander's brother Walter).

Alexander's wife Andrea was born on 9 Feb 1837 of an English seafaring father (Capt. George Foster Laing, b. Newcastle upon Tyne and once a ship's carpenter) and a Chilean mother (Francisca Joffre, b. Valparaiso, daughter of a Frenchman Jean-Pierre Joffre and his Spanish-born wife Mercedes Covarrubia, and related to the family of French General Joffre of World War I fame) in the town of Talcahuano on the Bahía de Concepción about 500 km south of Santiago. Her mother tongue was Spanish, but according to various censuses, she spoke and wrote English (Alexander told his sister she invariably read in English); after all, her father was English and she had been in the U.S. from the age of 15, arriving in 1852 with her sister Mary and Mary's husband Benjamin Hames - the year California officially became the 31st State in the Union. Captain Laing had settled with his wife and son in Oakland (which was then a small village) and Andrea joined them there, while her sister and brother-in-law soon went off to Soquel in Santa Cruz county (see the Early Days story below), there to found the town of Corralitos.

At the time she met Alexander, Andrea was the widow of the French Basque Bartolomé [Bartolo] Baratie, who had been murdered for his money by brigands on 12 May 1858. According to this story, which was written up by Walter Murray within weeks of the events, Baratie and his companion M. Jose Borel, two Frenchmen "from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties", had come down from Oakland to raise sheep on the Rancho San Juan Capistrano del Camote [camote = sweet potato], 45 miles from SLO. (This is in a north-easterly direction and is not the mission town of San Juan Capistrano, south of Los Angeles.) The rancho seems to be the settlement at 35°30'46.07"N, 120°12'17.53"W just north of Sandy Canyon. The Canatta is a canyon with a creek running into the San Juan so-called river about 6 miles from the Rancho. There was/is a trail coming down the Canatta from the San Luis Obispo area. The mouth of the Canatta is at 35°35'55.7"N 120°20'12.4"W or thereabouts.

Ten days after they settled in, the two Frenchmen were attacked and killed by a band of eight bandidos, who stole their savings ($2,700 plus watches, jewellery and livestock). Andrea was effectively kidnapped and had to ride north through the countryside for a week accompanied by one of the gang, Luciano Tapia, "El Mesteño" (the "Mustang" or "wild man"), but was released by him in a house near San Juan Bautista, a mission town about 100 miles south of Oakland and San Francisco. She took the stagecoach to Oakland but later returned by steamer to San Luis Obispo to give evidence against some of the culprits, who had been apprehended by Walter Murray's "Vigilance Committee of 1858". At that time, Andrea would have been 21 years old, and had lived for the previous five years in Oakland. Walter does not name her, except as "Madam Baratie", but refers to her as "a respectable and educated lady of mixed Spanish and English blood".

The lynching by the vigilantes of a number of the gang members (see Walter Murray's letter to sister Anne of 28 May 1858) and the evident animosity between the "Californians", Spanish-speakers who had been present before the 1847 treaty with Mexico (the majority), and the newly-arrived "Americans and foreigners" (the minority who, like Walter Murray, were certain of their moral superiority) give an idea of the difficult times the new state was experiencing. San Luis Obispo, being in an isolated location, was a wilder part of the west than many others. "From Monterey to Los Angeles was the lonely coast road, with occasional ranchos and the villages of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara widely separated, with many mountains in which were dark canyons ... offering concealment and seclusion, and to this region gathered the worst bandits of California."

It seems that during the trial, Andrea stayed with Walter and his wife (her countrywoman, who was extremely kind-hearted and hospitable) and 6 weeks later (on 18 July 1858) she married Walter's brother. It seems to have worked out well; Alexander repeatedly wrote indicating his happiness with the marriage. They had one son who, in March 1863, was either stillborn or died soon after birth (see letter from James Murray of 10 May 1863). Andrea's brother William seems to have worked briefly for Alexander in SLO in the early 1860s and her father, the Englishman George Foster Laing, spent the last three years of his life with Andrea and Alexander, before dying on 16 Apr 1864.

At Alexander's death in May 1870, Andrea was left a relatively wealthy widow. She married a farmer/policeman called Benjamin Muñoz who, in the census, appears to be 20 years her junior. Family tradition has it that he spent all her money and then ran off with another woman. (A niece, Carmen Hames, married another Muñoz in SLO.) Andrea was subsequently divorced and worked as a dressmaker, probably using the sewing machine that Alexander had bought for her in the early 1860s, and living over the years in a number of rented dwellings in San Luis Obispo. She used the name Andrea Murray.

At the end of her life, she is found (in the 1920 census) living with her niece Rebecca Deleissegues (née Hames) and her family in Nipomo, 26 miles south of San Luis Obispo on what is now Highway 101. Rebecca was born 9 Dec 1854 in Oakland. Her father, Benjamin Hames, a millwright, born in Rochester NY, had travelled widely and married Mary Carmen Laing (b. Valparaiso 1832, d. SLO 1902, Andrea's older sister) in Valparaiso, Chile. Rebecca's two older sisters were born in Chile before the family moved to California in 1852; her three younger siblings were born, as she was, in California. Rebecca's husband Albert Oliver Deleissegues, variously described as butcher and farmer, had a French father and a Californian mother; he himself was born in Monterey, California (1847) and died in 1921, only a year after Andrea.

Andrea's background is further elucidated in a text called Early Days in Corralitos and Soquel by Rebecca Deleissegues and Lucretia Mylar (and transcribed by Sukie Hunter), though some conflicting points about her kidnapping remain obscure. Given that he was personally involved and wrote within weeks of the events, Walter's accounts (in the newspaper and especially in his private letter to his sister) are to be believed for those aspects which he covers.

Andrea died of bronchitis on 10 May 1920, aged 83 (the age of 81 in the 1920 census must be wrong because it does not tally with ages she had previously and consistently given; perhaps toward the end - four months before her death - she was confused or unable to answer for herself). The inscription on her grave says "1837-1920".




For further insight into the family's history, see the transcriptions of their correspondence.