Walter [John] MURRAY 1824-1907

The life of a ploughman in the Scottish Borders

Walter Murray is a direct ascendant in the MURRAY family tree. This page outlines what we know of Walter Murray who was an ploughman and lived in the Scottish Borders during the late 19th C.

no known photo of this individual no known photo of this individual
Walter Murray - there are no known photographs of Walter Murray Walter Murray - there are no known photographs of Walter Murray


The records show that Walter was born in the parish of Minto in the Scottish Borders in 1824 and he appears to have been called ‘John’ [see notes below]. He uses this name only once in his later life: that is for the first census in which is he is classed as “head” in 1851. Irrespective of fore name he always refers to "Lilliesleaf" as his birthplace in each census.

Tracing him in the intervening period from birth until his marriage requires more work. It is not clear when or why he changed his name from John to Walter. [Walter had become a popular name at that time through Walter Scott].

His marriage and family are covered on the Walter and Catharine Murray page.

In most census he is recorded as a "ploughman" or "agricultural labourer". Even into his late 70’s he appears to be still working. He died of heart disease at the age of 83 years [80 on the register] in 1907. This appears to be a particularly good age given the nor hard working life he led. Compared with subsequent generations who moved into towns/industry thier lifespans were considerably shorter (50-60).

The Immediate Walter Murray Family Tree

A brief summary of the family tree: parents, the individual and partner(s):

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Walter MURRAY parents & partner

Father Mother Partner
William Murray Margaret Turnbull Catherine Dalgliesh
family tree segment

Family Tree segment for Walter Murray showing his parents, wife and children.

Notes on the family tree

  1. More about his parents can be found on the partnership page: William Murray & Margaret Turnbull
  2. More about his children can be found on the partnership page: Walter & Catharine Murray

Main Life Events of Walter Murray

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Event Date Who Location Note
Birth: 07 Oct 1824 Lilliesleaf Ph. Lilliesleaf
Occupation: 1840-1907 Scottish Borders Ploughman
Marriage: Dec. 1847 to Catharine Dalgleish Ph. Roberton* [*Banns]
Death: 16 Dec. 1907 Ruecastle Nr Jedburgh

Notes on life events

  1. His birth is recorded in the Minto parish records:

    "William Murray Hind at Deanfoot and Margaret Turnbull his wife had a son born on 7th day of October 1824 and baptized shortly after named John" [ref OPR Births 800/0020 0007 Minto]

  2. The birth records of his children and the intervening Census (see below) reveal the [assumed] change of name from John to Walter at some point.
  3. His first name is Walter in every census but the 1851 event where is it "John"
  4. The birth date suggests that he was three years older than the age on the death register in 1907 [80yrs] ie he was actually 83.
  5. The death register in 1907 confirms his parents "William Murray & "Margaret Murray" nee Turnbull

Where Walter Murray Lived

The places that Walter Murray lived were probably dictated by where he could get work..

Discover more about the places by following the links

Address Place Year occ. Year dep. Evidence
Deanfoot Roxburghshire/Minto 1824 183x Baptism
Unknown Roxburghshire/?/ 183x 184x 1841 Census
Mains Roxburghshire/Roberton 1848 184x Banns
Hassendeanbank Roxburghshire/Minto 1850 1851 Baptism [child]
Unknown Roxburghshire/Cavers/Denholme 1851 185x 1851 Census
Nether Tofts Roxburghshire/Kirktown 1853 185x Baptism [child]
Hallrule Cottages Roxburghshire/Hobkirk 1856 186x 1861 Census
Billerwell Farm Cottage/No? Roxburghshire/Hobkirk 1871 1871 1871 Census
Bonjedward Mill Roxburghshire/Jedburgh 1881 1881 1881 Census
Baittens/No 3 Roxburghshire/Crailing 1891 1891 1891 Census
Unknown Roxburghshire/Bedrule 1901 1901 1901 Census
Spittal on Rule Roxburghshire/Cavers 1904 1904 Death reg. (wife)
Ruecastle Roxburghshire/Bedrule 1907 1907 Death reg.

Notes on places lived

  1. Place format is "old county" and parish.
  2. From the frequent changes recorded above it is assumed that Walter (and his family) moved often - perhaps even annually at times. As a ploughman he probably had to seek work where it was available and where there was accommodation for his growing family.
  3. At the 1901 census his two daughters Jane (33) and Janet (36) as well as Thomas Murray (fomerly Minto) (31) and a grand daughter (8) are still living together).


  1. The information has been derived from family knowledge/documents and census/birth/death/marriage records.
  2. There are no known photographs of Walter Murray.


Start: 07 October 1824
End: 16 December 1907

References & Links:

Date Title
20140614 NLS Roxburgh Parish map

Updated KJM 08 July 2016