MURRAY, Lindley
Back Up Next

Lindley Murray

MURRAY, Lindley, son of Robert Murray and his wife Mary Lindley, was born in 1745 on the banks of the Swatara, in Lancaster, now Dauphin county, Pa.; died February 16, 1826, at his residence near York England. He received a good education, but having a dislike to mercantile pursuits, studied law, and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-one. The year after he married. His limited practice was temporarily interrupted by a visit to England, whither his father had preceded him in hope of benefiting his health. He returned to New York in 1771, and renewed the practice of law with marked success; tiring of it, however, when the Revolution broke out and New York was occupied by the British army, or having no sympathy with the cause of independence, he removed to Islip, on Long Island, and entered a mercantile life. We have always given Lindley Murray credit for his religious principles as having precluded him from taking part in the struggle between the Colonies and the mother county, but in a letter in our possession, written by William Darby to his friend, Mrs. Anna Dixon, the true incentive is, perhaps, given. Mr. Darby was well acquainted with the men of his time - he was intimate with the patriots of the Revolution, and learned much of the inward history of the people, concerning whom, it is to be regretted, he did not give his reminiscences. William Darby was born in the same neighborhood and was intimate with the Dixons and Roans, to the former of whom Murray was related, and through them learned more of him than biographers choose to tell. In the success and greatness of the man, we too often lose sight of the grave errors into which he may have fallen. But we are loath to dispel the bright halo which glimmers around the life of the celebrated grammarian. Sabine classes him among the Loyalists of the Revolution, and Darby, in contrasting him with his cousin, Robert Dixon, whose blood was the first Pennsylvania offering to the cause of independence, speaks of Murray’s taking sides with the enemies of his county. This we can easily understand. Surrounded by his religious friends whose peace principles would not allow them to take up arms - although many hundreds did, who were subsequently disowned for it - and in a city occupied by the king’s troops, he himself says he had little faith in the successful resistance of the Colonies. It was thus he beceam <sic> a Loyalist. His father’s business and his own thrived, and the rule of England was sufficient for him. We venture the opinion that there were really few instances where religious principles made men Tories. Mercenary motives were generally at the bottom of it. It is to be regretted that Lindley Murray’s silent influence should have been on the side of British oppression and tyranny. At the close of the war he had amassed a fortune, and, when peace had dawned, he sailed away from the land of his nativity and the home of liberty. His attachment to the home of his fathers, he said, "was founded on many pleasing associations. In particular, I had strong prepossessions in favor of a residence in England, because I was ever partial to its political constitution and the mildness and wisdom of its general laws....On leaving my native county, there was not, therefore, any land in which I could cast my eyes with so much pleasure, nor is there any which could have afforded me so much real satisfaction as I have found in Great Britain. May its political fabric, which has stood the test of ages and long attracted the admiration of the world, be supported and perpetuated by Divine Providence." In 1784 he went to England, and, after visiting several localities, purchased a small estate at Holdgate, about a mile from York, upon which he resided until his death. Living in ease and retirement, he entered upon a literary life which proved a successful one, and has inscribed his name high upon fame’s portals. In 1787 he published a small work entitled "The Power of Religion in the Mind," which passed through seventeen editions. His next work, and that by which he is principally known, was his "English Grammar," first published in 1795, and such was the unexpected demand for it that several editions were published during the same year. Following this appeared "English Exercises," and a "Key," an abridgement of which treatises were published in one volume in 1797. His other writings are "The English Reader," with an "Introduction and Sequel," "The English Spelling Book," a new edition of his Grammar, "Exercises and Key," in two octavo volumes, a selection from Horne’s "Commentary on the Psalms," and "The Duty and Benefit of Reading the Scriptures." Lindley Murray’s educational publications were not alone confined to his mother tongue. He prepared two French works, "Introduction au Lecteur Francois" and "Lecteur Francois," which soon came into general use, were highly commended, and passed through a large number of editions. His life in England was a busy one, as it was an eventful one. No American who made an European tour failed to visit Holdgate. His personal appearance, his unassuming demeanor and his conversational powers excited in the minds of all visitors great admiration. Lindley Murray married, June 22, 1767, Hannah Dobson, died in England and buried by the side of her husband at Holdgate.

Pages 421 - 422


Transcribed by Marjorie Tittle for the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - 30 Oct 2000 Copyright 2000 - All Rights Reserved; Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.