The Late Mr James Murray.
This week it is our painful duty to record the death of Mr James Murray, sen, of “Rissmore,” Conjola. The deceased gentleman had been in failing health for a couple of months,the trouble being senile decay, and on Saturday afternoon last, about half-past 4 o’clock, he quietly, calmly, and peacefully breathed his last. It was really the wonderful spirit of a one-time vigorous manhood that enabled him to defy death so long, and the and was just the flickering away of mortal breath and the return of the spirit to Him who gave it. Deceased had reached the patriarchal age of nearly 78 years, 55 of which had been spent in the Milton district. The mortal remains were interred on the following Sunday afternoon on his own estate, a beautiful site for the sepulture having been selected in a commanding position a few hundred yards from the entrance gate to ” Rissmore,” and between the avenue and the Conjola schoolhouse. A large number of people from all parts of the district attended, and paid their last tribute of respect to the dead. The Rev. Father Baugh officiated at the grave. The late Mr Murray was born in the town of Kesh, County Fermanagh, Ireland, in 1821. When he had finished his education in his native town, which he did when he had reached the age of 17, his family decided on emigrating to this colony. They landed here in the beginning of the year 1839, over 60 years ago. The family first went to reside in the Wollongong district, which at that time was now country. On reaching man’s estate, James set out for the Milton district, which was then being explored by cedargetters and other venturesome spirits like himself who were on the lookout for suitable land on which to establish themselves. It is now 55 years since Mr Murray first set foot in Ulladulla, and at that early period the resident white families of Ulladulla could be counted upon the fingers of one’s hands, whilst the aborigines were numerous and fierce. The genial bonhommie that always characterised Mr Murray gained for him the confidence of the blacks in the Conjola neighbourhood, and he was looked up to with veneration, and regarded as a chief by the tribe whose headquarters were near his home. (The dusky inhabitants have long since become defunct). When the adventurous young pioneer had established himself and saw a prospect before him he returned on a flying trip to Wollongong, to put an important question to ” The girl he left behind him” (who, it might be stated, was a shipmate of his own). The answer to that question having been in the affirmative, Miss Anne McCauley became Mrs James Murray, and the worthy couple entered upon a union that was blessed to them both, and that has proved a blessing to the four sons and two daughters who have been the issue of it. Mrs Murray, though well advanced in years, survives her husband, and their children are all worthily filling their places in the world, a credit to themselves, and to the training of their honoured parents. Mr Murray, many years back, purchased the property then known as the ” Heifer Station,” and since more widely known as ” Rissmore.” This fine property of 500 acres he highly improved, and transformed into an ideal home. Here dairy farming and horse breeding were carried on with a large measure of success. The ” Squire of Rissmore” loved a good horse, and he never strode a bad one. Amongst the horses that he bred were some that gained a high reputation. These included the Wild Irish Girl, a jumping mare of some celebrity, which, after he sold her for £150, won the Grand National Steeplechase in Melbourne, whereupon her owner then refused £1000 for her ; Rissmore and Fermanagh, which raced in Mr Murray’s own colors a score or more years ago, and frequently carried the colors to victory at Wollongong, Shoalhaven, and local-meetings; and Moslem, who more than once paid his oats bill and something to spare in prize winnings, and who still does duty at the farm stud. Mr Murray was one of those gentlemen who raced for the love of the sport. He was too honest and high-minded to make a game of the thing like the professional horse owner. A little narrative will show the sterling character of the man. Something like a dozen years ago, when one of the big race meetings which were easily promoted in the ” good days” was being negotiated, Moslem distinguished himself by winning a treble. Needless to say that for the last race the public fairly tumbled over each other to get their money on Moslem, and the “books” stood to win or lose a ” pot.” The owner of the horse was approached to “sell” the race, and though he was offered five times the amount of the prize money to “go down” he indignantly refused the bribe, and declared that his horse would win if he could, and to make sure that the animal would not be tampered with, he put his own son James in the saddle, and the gallant equine demonstrated that the confidence of his owner and the public was not misplaced. Few racing men of the present school would be found to send their horses for the public when it would suit their pockets better to run “stiff.” Some five years ago a thoroughbred horse which Mr Murray was riding on the Main Road to Milton ran away with him, and in swerving into the bush the animal killed itself, and the old gentleman had his leg broken and sustained such a shaking that he never quite recovered from the effects. Mr Murray was one of the most hospitable of men, and visitors to “Rissmore,” no matter who they were, were certain to be treated in courteous, generous fashion. In this respect Mr Murray was “a real old Irish gentleman,” his hospitality being unbounded as it was warmly offered. He was a highly intelligent man, and versed in most of the current literature and politics of the day, and was an entertaining nar- rator of the early history of the district, He it was who laid out the first road towards Nowra, and he was one of the trustees in whose hands was placed the expenditure of the early grants for the opening and maintainance of the main road. In all public matters he took an active and intelligent interest. Though a loyal and liberal supporter of his own Church, he was broad minded and tolerant in regard to all other denominations, and frequently entertained visiting prelates and clergymen of the Anglican Church, while it was his proud boast that he had contributed of his means towards the erection of every place of worship in the settlement.
He had more than an ordinary field for usefulness ; he played his part on the stage of life in difficult times ; but he did his duty as a man, a citizen, a husband, and father—and that is the highest honor we can pay him. He leaves be hind him the aged, dearly-loved partner of the joys and sorrows and struggles and successes of his early and middle life, who is comfortably provided for; his sons, Edward, Charles (a magistrate of the territory), and James, well established at Conjola, and Bernard, a station inspector of the banks; and daughters Mrs W. J. Tarlinton, of Cobargo, and Miss Annie Murray (who did all that loving heart and devoted hands could do to ease the closing hours of her honored parent). To the sorrowing family we extend our deepest sympathy in this the hour of their bereavement. —
[The Shoalhaven Telegraph 2 August 1899. Abridged from the Milton Times.]