John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl

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The Duke of Atholl
11th Duke of Atholl Allan Warren.jpg
1997 photograph by Allan Warren
11th Duke of Atholl
Preceded byIain Murray, 10th Duke of Atholl
Succeeded byBruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl
Personal details
John Murray

(1929-01-19)19 January 1929
Johannesburg, South Africa
Died15 May 2012(2012-05-15) (aged 83)
South Africa
NationalitySouth African
Spouse(s)Margaret Yvonne Leach
ChildrenLady Jennifer Murray
Bruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl
Lord Craig John Murray

John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl (19 January 1929 – 15 May 2012) was a South African-born hereditary peer of the Peerage of Scotland, hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Murray, and Colonel-in-Chief of the Atholl Highlanders. As Duke of Atholl, he commanded the only legal private army in Europe. He acceded as the 11th duke on February 27, 1996, succeeding his second cousin, once removed, Iain Murray, the 10th duke.

Early life[edit]

The Duke was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, as the only child of Major George Murray (1884–1940) and Joan (d. 2000), the daughter of William Edward Eastwood, of South Africa. They were married on 17 January 1928. His father was killed on active service in the Second World War.

He was the grandson of Douglas Stuart Murray, Rector of Blithfield, Staffordshire, who was the grandson of the Right Reverend George Murray, who was the son of Lord George Murray, the second son of John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl.[1]

He was educated at Michaelhouse (1941 - 1946) in the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands. His time spent at the school allowed him to gain an appreciation for cricket and the outdoors.

He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, a leading South African University.[2]


After taking his degree, Murray worked as a land surveyor.[3]

Arms of the Dukes of Atholl.

On 15 December 1956 in Pretoria, he married Margaret "Peggy" Yvonne Leach (born Louis Trichardt, 8 July 1935), the only daughter of Ronald Leonard Leach of Louis Trichardt, Transvaal, South Africa (Pretoria, 31 August 1910 – Louis Trichardt, 18 December 1964) and wife (Lovedale Park, Louis Trichardt) Faith Kleinenberg (Louis Trichardt, 20 July 1913 – Louis Trichardt, 11 June 1968) and paternal granddaughter of Charles Ronald Leach (Whittlesea, 26 March 1887 – Eshowe, 7 December 1953) and first wife Louise Adelaide Zeederberg (? - Whittlesea, 5 June 1922).[4][5][6][7][8] They had three children:

  • Lady Jennifer Murray (born 8 February 1958), who has married and has children
  • Bruce Murray, now 12th Duke of Atholl (born 6 April 1960), who has married and has children
  • Lord Craig John Murray (born 1963), who has married and has children

In 1996, on the death of his kinsman, a second cousin, once removed, Iain Murray, 10th Duke of Atholl, Murray succeeded as 11th Duke at the age of 67. However, the day before the death of the 10th Duke, it was announced that he had given his ancestral seat of Blair Castle and most of his estates to a charitable trust, thus effectively disinheriting his heir. He had been unimpressed when his heir had indicated that he had no desire to leave South Africa for Scotland. The new duke thus inherited little but the titles and the right to raise a private army.[1]

Atholl continued to live in South Africa, while making annual visits to Scotland. He died on 15 May 2012 in a South African hospital at the age of 83. He was succeeded in his titles by his elder son, Bruce Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine.[1]

As Duke of Atholl, he commanded the only legal private army in Europe, the Atholl Highlanders. The army is based at Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the dukes of Atholl. The Duke did not inherit Blair Castle, which passed to a charitable trust.[9] However, every year the Duke visited from South Africa to stay at Blair for the traditional display put on by his army.[1][10][11]

The Duke was also the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Murray.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Duke of Atholl". The Daily Telegraph. May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ John Murray, 11th Duke of Atholl
  3. ^ New York Times dated 28 February 1996 Duke of Atholl, 64, Rich Scot With Castle and Private Army
  4. ^ Dukes of Atholl - website of Cracroft's Peerage
  5. ^ Burke's Peerage and Baronetage
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2012-07-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Amanda-M-Du-plessis - User Trees -". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  8. ^ "South African Settlers". Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  9. ^ Independent 28 February 1996 Duke of Atholl Died Aged 64
  10. ^ VisitScotland Perthshire: Three Generations of the Atholl family to be on parade at Blair Castle
  11. ^ Blair Atholl: Events Archived 2010-04-13 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Clan Murray Society NA: Clans and Septs Archived 2010-01-23 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Iain Murray
Duke of Atholl
Succeeded by
Bruce Murray