Born in 1845, James William Murray was Michael, my husband's, great grandfather.
James William died on April 20th 1918. He was seventy three years old when he died and still resident at 13, New Street, Houndsditch, City of London, where he'd lived with his family for most of his adult life. Before he became ill he was working as an umbrella frame maker.
I thought James William might have died in the influenza pandemic which broke out in January 1918 and is thought to have infected 500 million people across the world. However, when I sent for his death certificate from the Government Record Office I found this wasn't the case. He died in The London Hospital from a strangulated inguinal hernia which caused Peritonitis (an inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen). Nowadays, although still a serious and potentially fatal condition, Peritonitis can be treated with antibiotics and the mortality rate is about 10%. Back in 1918 there would have been little chance of survival. Interestingly, the famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini died of Peritonitis in the 1920s after a fan asked to be allowed to punch him in the stomach. At the time Houdini had been suffering from appendicitis which the punch ruptured and Peritonitis set in. Refusing to get medical help he died within two days. Even without the Peritonitis, James William would probably not have survived the strangulated hernia and any post-operative complications. After his death no post-mortem was conducted, presumably because everyone knew that the condition would prove fatal.
James William was survived by his wife Kezia although his umbrella frame making business appears to have ended with him. Of his eleven children, only four were boys and three certainly went in for different occupations: Edward became a manager of a tea warehouse; Maurice was a delivery man for a butcher and later he became a lorry driver; and George went to work for a newspaper.
James William's grandfather was David Murray, born in Aberdeen (Scotland) in 1779. David had followed in his father's footsteps and become a mariner eventually settling in the Docklands area of Deptford in London. He married Ann Shipley and they had nine children moving at some point to the Cripplegate area of the City of London.
This then is our Murray connection to Scotland:
My husband, Michael, born in Stepney, London.
Michael's mum, Rose, born at 17, New Street, Houndsditch, City of London in 1908.
Rose's father, Maurice John Arthur Murray, born at 13, New Street, Houndsditch, City of London in 1880.
Maurice's father, James William Murray, born in Hoxton, London in 1845.
James William's father, John William Murray, born at Cripplegate, City of London in 1815.
John's father, David Murray, born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1779.
We've been on holiday to Scotland three times over the years. Once to the Isle of Skye and once to The Borders. The first time, however, was a five day tour. We drove up to Stirling and then on to Inverness, all the way around Loch Ness and then down to Oban before returning home via the English Lakes. I was learning to drive at the time and after the hump back bridges, narrow single track roads and wandering sheep I found driving in London's East End a doddle. On one of our trips Michael bought a tie in Murray Tartan which is a lovely design with really strong colours. He doesn't wear it very often and I'm not sure that David Murray would have worn tartan either.
The wearing of tartan by the Highland clans was banned by the British government in 1746 after the Jacobite rebellions. Although this was repealed in 1782, tartan evolved as the Scottish national dress rather than that of the Highland clans. As a sea-going mariner I can't imagine David Murray would have been bothered.
In 1822 King George IV visited Edinburgh for a Celtic Fest. organised by Sir Walter Scott. Tartan became the must-have design of the day. Twenty years after her uncle's visit to Scotland, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert made their first trip to the Scottish Highlands. The Queen and prince bought Balmoral Castle in 1848 and Prince Albert personally took care of the interior design, where he made great use of different tartans for carpets, curtains and upholstery. The Queen designed the Victoria tartan, and Prince Albert the Balmoral, still used as a royal tartan today. Ironically, as the craze for tartan ballooned the Highland population suffered massively from the Clearances, when thousands of Gaelic-speaking Scots from the Highlands and Isles were evicted by landlords to make way for sheep.
Michael's mum, Rose, always said she could remember her grandfather, James William Murray, very well. She told a tale that he would dance over crossed swords in the Highland manner at family gatherings. Apparently, it now emerges, the crossed swords were actually crossed umbrellas.
I'm a former primary school head teacher now enjoying family history, e-publishing and gardening. I'm the author of "Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood" and was delighted when the book became an Amazon 2015 bestseller in the Social History category. I'm the founder of Spurwing Ebooks which is at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for book details and information about new releases and special offers. Details of my books are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-Murray/e/B009R7CRVC and the other books I've published are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Murray/e/B007AQZMZK