Alexander Murray (linguist)

Last updated

Rev Prof Alexander Murray FRSE FSA (Scot) DD (1775 – 15 April 1813) was a Scottish minister, philologist, linguist and professor of Hebrew and Semitic languages at Edinburgh University (1812).

Contents

Alexander Murray Alexander Murray 1867.jpg
Alexander Murray
The grave of Prof Alexander Murray, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh The grave of Prof Alexander Murray, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh.jpg
The grave of Prof Alexander Murray, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
Memorial at Alexander Murray's birthplace erected in 1975 Alexander Murray Cottage.jpg
Memorial at Alexander Murray's birthplace erected in 1975

Life

Murray was born on 22 October 1775, at Dunkitterick, Kirkcudbrightshire, where his father, Robert Murray, was a shepherd and farm labourer. [1] His first language was Galwegian Gaelic. [2]

Up until 1792, he had had little more than a year at school, but was self-taught in languages, and had worked as a tutor as well as a shepherd. He translated Arnold Drackenburg's German lectures on Roman authors, and when he visited Dumfries with his version in 1794, after unsuccessfully offering it to two separate publishers, he met Robert Burns, who gave him advice. [3]

The father of Robert Heron lent Murray books, and James M'Harg, a literary pedlar from Edinburgh, proposed that Murray should visit the university authorities. His parish minister, J. G. Maitland of Minnigaff, gave him an introductory letter to Principal George Husband Baird, which led to an examination. Admitted to Edinburgh University as a deserving student, Murray won his way in class and by private teaching. Completing the course, he became a licentiate of the church of Scotland. [3]

Murray early formed the acquaintance of John Leyden, and among his friends were Robert Anderson, Henry Brougham, Francis Jeffrey, Thomas Brown, and Thomas Campbell. In 1806, Murray was appointed assistant to James Murehead parish minister of Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire, whom he succeeded on his death in 1808. [3]

In 1811 Murray translated, with approbation, a letter for George III, brought home by Henry Salt the Abyssinian envoy. [3] It was from the Tigray Region, where Tigrinya is spoken. [4] On 13 August 1811, Murray wrote to the publisher Archibald Constable that he had mastered the Lappish tongue. In July 1812, after a sharp contest involving some bitterness of feeling, Murray was appointed professor of oriental languages in Edinburgh University, with support from Salt and Constable. He received from the university on 17 July the degree of doctor of divinity. [3]

Murray entered on his work at the end of October 1812, publishing Outlines of Oriental Philology (1812), for the use of his students. He lectured through the winter, against his strength, attracting both students and literary men to his room. His health completely gave way in the spring, and he died of consumption in Edinburgh, 15 April 1813. [3]

He is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, immediately north of the church.

Murray's Monument, an eighty-foot stone obelisk to his memory, was erected near his birthplace in 1835, and it received an inscription in 1877. It is north of the A712 road between Newton Stewart and New Galloway, in the Galloway Forest Park.

Artistic recognition

His portrait by Andrew Geddes, formerly in the possession of Archibald Constable, went to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. [3]

Works

Through Leyden, Murray became a contributor to the Scots Magazine, and he edited the seven numbers of that periodical from February 1802, inserting verses of his own under the signatures "B",' "X", or "Z". For three successive numbers he wrote a biography of James Bruce traveller, which he later expanded into a volume (1808). Constable the publisher then engaged him in September 1802 to prepare a new edition of Bruce's Travels. At the same period (1802-5) Murray worked for the Edinburgh Review [3]

Murray's early promise then faded, but he was an influential editor and biographer. His major work, the History of the European Languages, or Researches into the Affinities of the Teutonic, Greek, Celtic, Slavonic, and Indian Nations, was edited by David Scot, and published, with a detailed Life, by Sir Henry Wellwood Moncreiff, in 2 vols., 1823. [3]

To the Edinburgh Review of 1803 Murray contributed a review of Charles Vallancey's Prospectus of an Irish Dictionary; to the number for January 1804 he furnished an article on James Stanier Clarke's Progress of Maritime Discovery; and in January 1805 he discussed Thomas Maurice's History of Hindostan. His Letters to Charles Stuart, M.D., appeared in 1813. He figures as a lyrist on his "Native Vale" in Malcolm McLachlan Harper's Bards of Galloway. [3]

Family

Murray married, 9 December 1808, Henrietta Affleck, daughter of a parishioner. At his death he left her a widow, with a son and daughter.; she survived about twelve years, supported by a government pension of £80, which had been granted to her in return for Murray's translation of the Abyssinian letter. The daughter died of consumption in 1821, and the son, who was practically adopted by Archibald Constable, qualified for a ship surgeon, and was drowned on his first voyage. [3]

Related Research Articles

Scottish Enlightenment intellectual movement in 18th–19th century Scotland

The Scottish Enlightenment was the period in 18th- and early-19th-century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By the eighteenth century, Scotland had a network of parish schools in the Lowlands and four universities. The Enlightenment culture was based on close readings of new books, and intense discussions took place daily at such intellectual gathering places in Edinburgh as The Select Society and, later, The Poker Club, as well as within Scotland's ancient universities.

Dean Cemetery historic Victorian cemetery in western Edinburgh

The Dean Cemetery is a historically important Victorian cemetery north of the Dean Village, west of Edinburgh city centre, in Scotland. It lies between Queensferry Road and the Water of Leith, bounded on its east side by Dean Path and on its west by the Dean Gallery. A 20th-century extension lies detached from the main cemetery to the north of Ravelston Terrace. The main cemetery is accessible through the main gate on its east side, through a "grace and favour" access door from the grounds of Dean Gallery and from Ravelston Terrace. The modern extension is only accessible at the junction of Dean Path and Queensferry Road.

Archibald Constable Scottish printer and publisher

Archibald David Constable was a Scottish publisher, bookseller and stationer.

John Leyden was a Scottish indologist.

John Jamieson Scottish lexicographer

Rev John Jamieson was a Scottish minister of religion, lexicographer, philologist and antiquary. His most important work is the Dictionary of the Scottish Language.

Galloway area in southwestern Scotland

Galloway is a region in southwestern Scotland comprising the historic counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire.

Earl of Galloway

Earl of Galloway is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1623 for Alexander Stewart, 1st Lord Garlies, with remainder to his heirs male bearing the name and arms of Stewart. He had already been created Lord Garlies in the Peerage of Scotland in 1607, with remainder to the heirs male of his body succeeding to the estates of Garlies. This branch of the Stewart family were distant relatives of the Stewart King of Scotland.

Samuel Rutherford Scottish Reformed theologian

Rev Prof Samuel Rutherford was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.

Lochinvar lake in the United Kingdom

Lochinvar is a loch in the civil parish of Dalry in the historic county of Kirkcudbrightshire, Dumfries and Galloway Scotland. It is located in the Galloway Hills, around 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north-east of St. John's Town of Dalry. The loch formerly had an island on which stood Lochinvar Castle, seat of the Gordon family. In the 20th century the loch was dammed to form a reservoir, raising the water level and submerging the island with the ruins of the castle. The loch is used for trout fishing.

Thomas Thomson (chemist) Scottish chemist

Thomas Thomson was a Scottish chemist and mineralogist whose writings contributed to the early spread of Dalton's atomic theory. His scientific accomplishments include the invention of the saccharometer and he gave silicon its current name. He served as president of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow.

Lincluden Collegiate Church church in Scotland, UK

Lincluden Collegiate Church, known earlier as Lincluden Priory or Lincluden Abbey, is a ruined religious house, situated in the historic county of Kirkcudbrightshire and to the north of the Royal Burgh of Dumfries, Scotland. Situated in a bend of the Cluden Water, at its confluence with the River Nith, the ruins are on the site of the Bailey of the very early Lincluden Castle, as are those of the later Lincluden Tower. This religious house was founded circa 1160 and was used for various purposes, until its abandonment around 1700. The remaining ruins are protected as a scheduled monument.

Greyfriars Kirkyard graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland

Greyfriars Kirkyard is the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located at the southern edge of the Old Town, adjacent to George Heriot's School. Burials have been taking place since the late 16th century, and a number of notable Edinburgh residents are interred at Greyfriars. The Kirkyard is operated by City of Edinburgh Council in liaison with a charitable trust, which is linked to but separate from the church. The Kirkyard and its monuments are protected as a category A listed building.

Warriston Cemetery cemetery in City of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Warriston Cemetery lies in Warriston, one of the northern suburbs of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was built by the then newly-formed Edinburgh Cemetery Company, and occupies around 14 acres (5.7 ha) of land on a slightly sloping site. It contains many tens of thousands of graves, including notable Victorian and Edwardian figures, the most eminent being the physician Sir James Young Simpson.

<i>Edinburgh Encyclopædia</i>

The Edinburgh Encyclopædia was an encyclopaedia in 18 volumes, printed and published by William Blackwood and edited by David Brewster between 1808 and 1830. In competition with the Edinburgh-published Encyclopædia Britannica, the Edinburgh Encyclopædia is generally considered to be strongest on scientific topics, where many of the articles were written by the editor.

Hugh Murray FRSE FRGS (1779–1846) was a Scottish geographer and author. He is often referred to as Hew Murray.

Events from the year 1813 in Scotland.

References

  1. Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN   0 902 198 84 X.
  2. https://lowlandgaelic.blogspot.com/2017/11/
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Bayne 1894.
  4. Haigh, John D. "Murray, Alexander". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19588.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
Attribution

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Bayne, Thomas Wilson (1894). "Murray, Alexander (1775-1813)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . 39. London: Smith, Elder & Co.