John Murray was born in Ireland on 22 December 1722 and emigrated to America about 1735. It is thought that he first settled at Athol, Massachusetts, and was one of the early residents of the town. There is a rumour that has persisted through the years that he was the son of the Duke of Athol, whose family name was Murray, and some believe that the town may have derived its name from his family. In subsequent years he moved to Rutland, Massachusetts, where he became a businessman and acquired large land holdings. From 1751 until 1774 he was elected annually by the town of Rutland as its representative in the General Assembly. In 1752, he was chosen a Justice of the Peace for the County of Worcester, and in 1755 was appointed Colonel of the Militia. In 1774, the tension that had existed between the American colonies and Britain became open hostility, and when Colonel Murray was appointed one of the King's mandamus councilors for Massachusetts, the mob descended on his home and that of another mandamus councilor, Timothy Paine in Worcester. John Murray and his family fled to Boston. Later they were evacuated to Halifax and from there to England where they spent most of the war at Cowbridge, Glamorganshire, Wales. In 1780, he was proscribed as a traitor and banished, as were other Loyalists, by an Act of the Massachusetts Assembly. All his property was taken from him and sold under the Confiscation Act of 1779. John Murray was married three times. His first wife and the mother of ten children was Elizabeth McClanathan (d.1760). Lucretia Chandler, whom he married on 1 September 1761 was his second wife, and after her death on 21 March 1768, he married Deborah Brinley on 24 January 1770. Four sons of John Murray and Elizabeth McClanathan served in the Loyalist Regiment, Governor Wentworth's Volunteers. They were, Daniel (1751-1831), Samuel (1754-1781), John (b.1758) and Robert (1760-1786). This regiment was raised in 1775 under the patronage of John Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, and when it merged into other Provincial Corps in 1778 several of the Murray brothers joined the King's American Dragoons with Daniel Murray becoming the Major, John a Captain and Robert a Lieutenant. All four sons came to New Brunswick after the war as did John Murray and most of his family. He built a house on Prince William Street in Saint John, became a magistrate, engaged in business, and with a small pension from the British government made a comfortable living. He died on 30 August 1794 and was buried in the Loyalist Burial Ground. Later he was re-interred in the Botsford plot in Fernhill Cemetery, Saint John, NB. The Murray family and the Botsford family were connected through marriage. In addition to the four sons who served in Loyalist regiments, two daughters married Loyalists who were also proscribed and banished from Massachusetts. Elizabeth Murray (1749-1782) married Joshua Upham (1741-1808), a captain in the King's American Dragoons, military secretary and Aid-de-Camp to Sir Guy Carleton, and later a Judge of the Supreme Court and member of the Executive and Legislative Councils of New Brunswick. Isabella Murray (1745-1807) married Daniel Bliss (1742-1806), an active Loyalist and Assistant Commissary-General with General Burgoyne's army. Later he became a member of the Executive Council and a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of New Brunswick. Martha Murray (b.1756), was most probably the wife of another Loyalist, William Wanton, one of the original signers of the petition to the New Brunswick government requesting The Establishment in this Province of an Academy or School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The college that was established in Fredericton later became the University of New Brunswick. Daniel Murray, Samuel Murray, Daniel Bliss, Joshua Upham, and perhaps other family members, were all Harvard graduates.
The Papers of John Murray form part of the Hazen Collection in the Archives of the New Brunswick Museum. The Murray connection with the Hazen family is through the marriage of John Murray's youngest daughter, Deborah Murray (b.1771) to William Hazen. The Papers contain a great many legal documents, including deeds of sale from 1745-1773 which form the single largest group of papers. Also included are many survey descriptions; bonds from 1763-1772; financial accounts; court judgements; receipts; a long list of deeds entitled, Deeds of My Estate in Rutland; a most interesting list of kitchen furniture; The Memorial of John Murray to the Committee Appointed to Enquire Into the Losses and Services of American Loyalists,  November 1783; a copy of the Schedule of real and personal estates of John Murray late of Rutland in the County of Worcester in the Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England which he was lawfully possessed on 25 August 1774 at which time he was forced to abandon it. London, 7 November 1783; correspondence from Daniel Murray, Ebenezer Putnam, Stephen Millidge, Edward Brinley, Nathaniel Brinley, Deborah Murray, William Hazen, and others; John Murray's will, March 1794; and numerous other records.