Patrick Murray d.1671

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Patrick MURRAY d.1671

Biographical Note

Son of Sir Walter Murray of Livingstone (d. 1659), who was the third and youngest son of Sir Gideon Murray of Elibank (d. 1621). His mother was Elizabeth Pringle, daughter of John Pringle of Torsonce. Little is known about his early life and education.

Murray’s main interest was botany. He had his own botanic garden in Livingston, with over 1,000 species of plant. At his death, these were transferred from Livingston to Edinburgh by his friend Sir Andrew Balfour 1630-1694. Alongside Balfour and Robert Sibbald, Murray is cited as one of the founders of the Edinburgh Botanical Garden.

On 2nd September 1668, around age 36, Murray embarked on a grand tour, which took him through England and France. He was given guidance on his trip by Balfour, whose posthumously published Letters writen to a friend… Containing excellent directions and advices for travelling thro' France and Italy, (Edinburgh, 1700) were addressed to Murray. The work contains one of the few descriptions which exist of Murray, describing him as having

“a particular Genie inclining him to studie Natural History, and all the wayes and means, how to improve the Arts, most usefull to his Countrie; He studied Mathemathicks & delighted much in the practical part of them, & employed much of the revenue of that plentiful estate he had from his ancestors, in purchasing instruments and curious books which treated on these subjects…[sic]” (Balfour, p.iv-v).

He died of fever in 1671 in Avignon, France.


Murray is known to have had a large botanical library, the majority of which appears to have been bought while he in Paris, Toulouse, and Montpelier between 1669 and 1671. Almost all of the books catalogued with his provenance in the library of the Royal College Physicians Edinburgh, were purchased in these cities, as evidenced by the annotations with date and location of purchase left by Murray. Examples of books purchased while in France include classic works on medical botany such as Dioscorides’ De materia medica (RCPE M 3.8); the French botanist Jean Rule’s De natura stirpium (RCPE ST 2.10); and more contemporary works, such as Thaumatographia naturalis, in decem classes distincta (Amsterdam, 1661) by Polish scholar John Jonston (1603-1675) (RCPE C 2.35).

Not much is known about Murray's library before he embarked on his grand tour, though he is recorded as having prepared for this by reading "Voyages, and such books as might best inform him of what he was to inquire for in foreign countries” (Balfour, p.v). Books at the RCPE inscribed by Murray before 1668, are on astronomy and mathematics. This includes Ptolemaeus parvus (Lyon, 1659) by the Italian mathematician and astronomer Andrea Argoli (1570-1657), inscribed “Pa Moray June 28 1665” (RCPE V 2.28). Murray also owned two incunabula: one work by the German Astrologer and mathematician Joannes Regiomontanus (1436-1476) (RCPE INC 1.2), which was bound with work by another German mathematician Johannes Stöffler (1452-1531).

The full extent of Murray’s library is unknown, but evidence suggests it was of a notable size. In 1699, Charles Preston wrote to Han Sloane, “You mention a catalogue of Bottanick Books near Edr . I suppose it is the catalogue of the Library of the famous bottanist here Murray of Levingston who dyed in France herborizing…” (Quoted in Cowan, p.52) Murray’s books of medical interest were purchased by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1705, where they remain, but the rest of his library appears to have been dispersed. Bird lists approximately 90 medical books, printed during the sixteenth-century owned by Murray, and preserved mostly in the RCPE. Many of Murray’s books were later acquired by James Sutherland ca.(1638-1719), first Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, and are now in the National Library of Scotland.

Characteristic Markings

Murray inscribed his name "Pa Moray" inside his books, and often added the place and date of purchase, such as "Paris:Mar: 31. 1670" in his copy of Pierre Belon's La nature & diuersité des poissons (Paris, 1555) Suther.38)


  • Balfour, Andrew. Letters writen to a friend, by the learned and judicious Sir Andrew Balfour, M.D Containing excellent directions and advices for travelling thro' France and Italy with many curious and judicious remarks and observations made by himself, in his voyages thro' these countreys. Published from the author's original M.S, Edinburgh : s.n.; Printed in the year, MDCC 1700
  • Bird, D. A Catalogue of Sixteenth-Century Medical Books in Edinburgh Libraries, Edinburgh, 1982
  • Betteridge, Robert. The library of James Sutherland, Edinburgh, 2013.
  • Cowan, John Macqueen. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Vol. xix Edinburgh, 1933-38.
  • The Scots Peerage: Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, containing an Historical and Genealogical Account of the Nobility of that Kingdom, Vol. 3