John Murray

John Murray III (1808 – 1892) was head of the publishing firm that was first established in 1768.

The founder, the first John Murray, was born in Edinburgh in 1737. Seven generations of Murrays have run the business. It is now owned by Hodder Headline publishers.

Lord Byron, David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, Benjamin Disraeli, William Ewart Gladstone, Herman Melville, Washington Irving and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were among the distinguished writers published by the London-based firm, with artists such as J M W Turner providing illustrations for Murray books.

When Bishop Thorold  (Bishop of  Rochester)started his great scheme for the evangelisation of the slums of his diocese (now the South London Church Fund), it was John Murray who suggested to him to include in it the poor district of South Wimbledon, which had sprung up ‘like a mushroom under his eyes.’ He had noticed with dismay the growth of its mean streets and population in the course of his work as a J.P. The formation of
a new parish, the salaries of workers, and the building of the Church of All Saints, were all abundantly helped by him, as an inscription in the church now testifies.

The inscription in All Saints’ Church in memory of John Murray

The amount given by him to private cases of distress, whether poor authors or others, will never be known.

John Murray lived at ‘Newstead’ in Wimbledon. In 1851 some of the outlying portions of Wimbledon Park, were being sold off and Murray bought a few acres on the brow of the hill overlooking the lake and with scarcely a building in sight. There he built himself a house of very modest dimensions, but in the course of
thirty or forty years it, as well as the grounds, had grown to two or three times their original size. The name decided on in the end was Newstead, and there he spent many of the happiest days of his life. He was a staunch and devout old-fashioned Churchman of a very moderate type, averse from all extremes.

But in one way he was ahead of his own generation of Churchmen, for, when the movement was started in Oxford, by men of a younger generation, for assimilating the proved results of modern criticism and showing them to be compatible with the doctrine of Biblical Inspiration, and most of those of his standing held aloof in displeasure, he welcomed it and gladly published their book ‘ Lux Mundi.’

John Murray died in April 1892, barely one month before the Consecration of All Saints’. Ironically the publication of his will in the local press lies in the adjoining column to that describing the Consecration of the church to which he gave so much.

On S. James day 1898 the font was given to All Saints’ by the children of John and Marion Murray in memory of their parents.

The Font

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