Guide to the Album of Sir John Murray (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Murray, John, Sir
Album of Sir John Murray (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
Collection Number
1 item
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Newspaper cuttings concerning the death of Sir John Murray on 13 March 1914. They are taken from English as well as French, German, Canadian, American and Australian newspapers and describe his death in a car accident, the execution of his will and the establishment of a bequest to commemorate his work.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the private residence of Mr J.A.J. Murray, London, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1972 (AJCP Reel: M833). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Filmed at Private Residence of Mr. J.A.J. Murray, London, England.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Antarctica; Marine Biologists; Challenger, HMS (ship); Christmas Island; Marine biologists; Murray, Sir John; Paintings, drawings and prints: New South Wales; Oceanography


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 334, p. 125.

Biographical / Historical

Of Scottish descent, Sir John Murray (1841-1914) was born in Cobourg, Ontario. In 1858 he migrated to Scotland to complete his education and attended Stirling High School and the University of Edinburgh. He chose subjects that interested him, particularly in the natural and physical sciences, but did not bother to sit for exams and never graduated. He also studied in France, Germany and Belgium. He helped a relative, John Macfarlane, assemble a large natural history collection at his home at the Bridge of Allen. In 1868 he was the naturalist on a whaler that sailed to Spitzbergen and the Arctic. In 1872-1876 he was one of the naturalists on HMS Challenger on its voyage of scientific exploration round the world. On his return to England he joined the staff who compiled the reports on the voyage and in 1882, following the death of Sir Wyville Thomson, he became editor of the Challenger reports. Fifty volumes were published, covering zoology, botany, deep-sea deposits, physics and chemistry, as well as the official account of the voyage. The project was completed in 1895.

Murray published a large number of papers on oceanographical, geographical, geological and botanical subjects. He set up an oceanographical laboratory in Edinburgh and between 1882 and 1894 he often sailed on his yacht Medusa to investigate physical and biological conditions in the seas and lochs of Scotland. He was secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1891 to 1900. In 1910 he took part in a Norwegian expedition to the northern Atlantic and in 1912, with Johan Hjort, he published The depths of the ocean. Murray was one of the pioneers of oceanography as a scientific discipline. He was knighted in 1898 and received many scientific honours.

Murray had a strong interest in coral reefs and he sought the assistance of the British Admiralty in obtaining specimens. In 1887 HMS Flying Fish visited Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and collected pieces of rock and coral. Murray detected calcium phosphate in the rocks and urged the Government to annex the uninhabited island. It did so in 1888 and in 1890 Murray and George Clunies Ross acquired a joint lease of the island. In 1897 Murray and Ross formed the Christmas Island Phosphate Company, with Murray as chairman. Murray visited Christmas Island in 1900 and 1908 and was largely responsible for exploring the island and setting up the mining operations. After his death his family continued to manage the enterprise until 1948. Christmas Island became an Australian territory in 1958.

Item Descriptions

Album of newspaper reports of the death of Sir John Murray, 1914 (File)

Cutting book containing newspaper reports of the death of Sir John Murray, accounts of his life and scientific achievements, and details of his will and estate, 17 March – 4 April 1914.

Murray died on 16 March 1914 when his chauffeur-driven car crashed near the village of Kirkliston, west of Edinburgh. The articles were published in a large number of newspapers and journals in Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany, France, the United States of America, and Canada. There is also a cutting from an Australian newspaper, the Western Argus(Kalgoorlie).

Some of the more substantial obituaries and articles appeared in the Glasgow Herald, Edinburgh Evening Despatch, Illustrated London News, The Times (London), Yorkshire Herald, Birmingham Post, Nottingham Guardian and Nature.