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Alexander Murray, 4th Lord Elibank

Alexander Murray, 4th Lord Elibank, was born on his family estate at Ballencrief, East Lothian in 1677. He was one of two sons of Patrick Murray, the 3rd Lord Elibank. Alexander was educated at Edinburgh College where presumably he met his future wife, Elizabeth Stirling, who was the daughter of a renowned Edinburgh surgeon. When Elizabeth was sitting her public exams the examining minister referred to her as Betty Stirling. She immediately corrected him that she should be addressed as Mistress Betty or Miss Betty, not just plain bare Betty. The name bare Betty stuck with her for the rest of her life.

Alexander and Betty had fifteen children. Educating such a large family must have been a financial hardship for a family who were already impoverished by family support for the royal Stuarts. The children were well educated, as shown on a bill that exists from 1711 for the board of eldest son Patrick when he was at school in Edinburgh. Patrick became the fifth Lord Elibank.

In 1720 Alexander Murray lost heavily in an investment in what became known as the South Sea Bubble. He wrote a letter to his wife telling her about the lose and that she was not worry. He returned home to face his financial situation and in time became an advocate for improving agricultural methods in Scotland. It is no surprise that he was friends with the Fletchers of Saltoun who also showed a strong commitment to the same cause. In 1723 Murray was one of the founding members of The Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland.

Alexander and Betty were parents to some of Scotland’s important historical sons, and also some colourful ones. Patrick was a member of the Scottish Enlightenment, Gideon became Chaplain General of the British Army,James was Govenor of Quebec and Minorca and Alexander was involved in a foiled plot to kill King George II and bring back the Stuart Dynasty.

Further Reading

Murray, Arthur Cecil, The Five Sons Of Bare Betty, London Murray,1936

McCulloch, Stuart J, A Scion of Heroes, Troubador, 2015

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