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Robert Murray (1821-circa 1865) Papers

Robert Murray (1821-circa 1865) Papers

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ROBERT MURRAY (1821-circa 1865) PAPERS, 1836-1904

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Murray, Robert, 1821-circa 1865
Title:Robert Murray (1821-circa 1865) Papers
Quantity:0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Robert Murray Papers detail ship captain Robert Murray's life at sea from 1836 to 1864.
Collection Number:MH 164

Series List

SERIES I. Business Papers
SERIES II. Personal Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Robert Murray Papers detail ship captain Robert Murray's life at sea from 1836 to 1864. This collection is organized into two series.

Series I. Business Papers consists primarily of documents and business correspondence from the ship Franklin, which sailed from New York to San Francisco to Mazatlán, Mexico, to Pernambuco, Brazil, to Hamburg, Germany, and finally back to New York, 1860-1862. The Franklin documents are arranged in chronological order.

The documents in folders 3 and 4 list Robert Murray as first officer on the voyage from San Francisco to Hamburg, Germany, but he took on the duties of captain off the coast of Brazil when the current ship master, Solomon Freeman Jr., fell ill with consumption. In February 1862 the Franklin docked at Grimsby, England, where Freeman was removed to London and later died. The personal correspondence to Murray in regards to Freeman's death and last wishes were added to Series I as business correspondence.

Folder 5 contains various certificates of discharge for Murray listing the ships' names and the ship masters, and an order to Murray to sail the schooner F.R. Hassler to Jacksonville, Florida. There are two letters of recommendation for Murray from the master of the ship James Cruikshank and the ship Ostrich. The series is arranged chronologically by date.

Series II. Personal Papers consists of 47 letters, personal receipts, and certificates. Folder 6 contains personal receipts, a card detailing a naval academy class, a letter of recommendation from the Naval Academy, and a Mason certificate. The oversized items include Murray's indenture and a certificate of competency from the Committee of Privy Council for Trade.

He wrote to his wife, Sarah, while onboard the Franklin. His letters to Sarah detail his life on the Franklin, his relationship with Captain Freeman, and the death of Captain Freeman. His siblings' letters are of general family business. Folder 10 contains a letter from Murray's son Robert Franklin Murray to Sarah Murray and thank you notes from Robert's two children to their aunt Fannie M. Murray. Folder 11 contains miscellaneous items Murray picked up in his travels such as ship building-related business cards, a list of ships stores from Grimsby, England, a hospital money table from the Custom House in Boston, an exchange schedule of Hamburg- English and American currency, and invoice of goods for the African market, and James Murray's business announcement, 1861.

Biographical Sketch

Robert Murray was born in 1821 in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Captain John and Margaret Murray. He had four siblings: John Murray, James Murray, E.M. Murray and Margaret Murray. In 1836 he was indentured, at age 16, to John Inglis, the ship master of the ship Greenock. Murray attended the Naval Academy in London from 1842 to 1845; he was certified in Navigation and Nautical Astronomy. In 1850 he gained a certificate of competency as master from the Privy Council for Trade. In 1854, at age 32, he was certified as a Mason in Malta. Murray was consistently at sea. He was either first mate or ship master from 1845, after his graduation from the London Naval Academy, to his death.

He married Sarah Fennell on June 5, 1860 in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. His son Robert Franklin Murray was born in 1861 and his daughter Fannie M. Murray was born in 1864. It is unknown when Murray came to Massachusetts, but he did live in Salem for a time. His wife and his daughter settled in Dorchester, and his son Robert moved out west to Montana, where he settled down with a wife and children. Robert Murray died at sea circa 1865.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Freeman, Soloman, Jr.
Murray, Sarah
Bird of the Wave (Brig)
F. R. Hassler (U. S. Coast Survey Schooner)
Franklin (Ship)
Gardner (Barque)
Georgiana (Ship)
James Cruikshank (Bark)
Ostrich (Bark)
Oxenbridge (Ship)
Richard S. Ely (Ship)
S. F. Austin (Ship)
Steadfast (Ship)
T. W. Lucas (Brig)
William Abrams (Ship)
Crew lists
Ship captains
Salem (Mass.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Robert Murray (1821-circa 1865) Papers, MH 164, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated by the estate of Fannie M. Murray on November 22, 1946 (accession #11,693).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jessica Cosgrove, November 2015.

Related Material Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Murray, Robert. Logbook. Georgiana (Ship). 1852. Log 1566

Ward, Andrew A. Logbook. Said Bin Sultan (Bark). 1857-1858. Log 741

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