Friday, August 12, 2016

Obituary George Murray

This appeared in the Goulburn Evening Post in 1907:

The following appeared : "IN MEMORIAM. (1907, January 22). Argyle Liberal and District Recorder (NSW : 1903 - 1930), , p. 2. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from "

In penning this belated tribute (through the valuable columns of the "Argyle Liberal ") to the mem-ory of my revered, life-long-friend, George Murray, of Golspie, who just on the eve of the New Year passed over to that " undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returneth." I am conscious not only of the loss of a staunch and true personal friend, but of the snapping asunder, as it were, of another of the trusty human links which connected the (to us) callous present with the days of our long lost youth of the thirties and forties—the days when the hardy pioneers first bore the white man's burden across the Great Divide. Some one has written that "Reverence, Love, Obedience, and troops of' friends," are the chief gems in the crown of an honoured old age. If that be so, and no one doubt thatit is; then whose memory better de-serves our wreath of regard than that of brave George Murray—the Grand Old Man of Golspie--who even in his long life-span of 88 years acted on his innate motto--"An honest man's the noblest work of God."

My first acquaintance with Mr. Murray was in 1839--the Dog Days of the thirties--at the Gap, near Goulburn, when Mr. Murray was in the full bloom of lusty youth—verging on the portals of man's estate,and the writer a bit of a nipper some ten years his junior. In later years we had several carrying trips together on the old Sydney road, when " the ship of the desert and the bush—the old bullock dray'—was the chief medium of traffic and transit, between Sydney and the Tablelands, Like the writer and many another country youth of those days, George Murray had his full share of the toils and hardships allied to the ancient Australian industry of bullock punching; but through all the ills and joys; gifts and misfortunes of the years, the sturdy, jovial friend of my boyhood was ever the same true copy of "Nature's Nobleman" - honest, fair-minded, and, genial to a fault. At all times disposed to look on the bright side of things: at home the very soul of hospitality; else- where the best of comrades ; the most reliable of men.

I well remember the occasion of Mr. Murray's marriage at Reedy Flat, Strathaird, some fifty odd years ago. Country weddings in those days had nothing of the social straight-jacket about them, and the guests at Mr. Murray's wedding assembled at the residence of the bride's father, Mr Jas. Cameron, and made pleasure take the helm in celebration of the event for three whole nights and days. At the writer's marriage some years later Mr. Murray was among the many merry friends who "made the rafters ring " at the old Strathaird home-stead for the better part of a week. The last time I saw Mr. Murray (some eight months ago) we talked over those vanished, red letter days of the old time marriage festivals ; and he lamented what we considered to be the lack of sentiment, and the absence of conviviality at many weddings nowadays. None of us were any the worse, for a bit of wholehearted fun on those occasions, as I am sure my good friends, John Broderick, Charles Cowper (ex-Sher-riff), Charles McLean, Sandy Cam- eron, and Patrick Mooney (Taralga), will agree with this remark. The "life story" of such men as George Murray is very largely a reflex of the history of affairs as affecting the humbler class of settlers before the date of responsible government. None could have told more feelingly or clearly than Mr. Murray (for he ever felt and spoke vividly) how those, who under happier circumstances, should have been the prosperous yeomanry and small graziers of the early days - found their applications blocked, their needs denied at every turn by the ruling semi-military caste—the landed officials and grantees of old times.

The whole trend of Law and Government up to the time of Governors Bourke and Gipps was in the direction of Rob Boy's maxim "Let him take who has the power, and let him keep who can." As Mr. Murray well knew, it was a crime against privilege, and land monopoly in those times for a poor family to settle on Crown Lands anywhere within sight of the boundaries of the nearest big landholder. It often happened that some poor free settler acting on the alleged consent of an agent, or overseer of the great man in the vicinity sought to make a home, and put in a bit of a crop on a piece of waste land, to which be it said, in all justice, the squatter had no more right than he had to the throne of China. When the crop was ready for harvesting, it frequently happened that the police, acting on arbitrary instructions, would come out and arrest the luckless settler for his "unauthorised dwelling on Crown Lands," allegedly rented by So and So ; and as likely as not, they (the police) would burn the crop to the ground. Mr. Murray and the writer knew of several such instances. But happily the old order of squatters were not all tarred by the same brush. Men like Robertson, Cowper, Francis McArthur, George Thorne, &c., were ever ready to assist the struggling settler, and through their efforts folk of the stamp of George Murray saw that the plough share of Australian industry turned another furrow.

This little eulogy of our late revered friend and neighbour could be extended through many columns, but having regard for your space, Mr. Editor, we must reluctantly terminate with a few more words. But the now few surviving contemporaries of Mr. Murray when, we remember his strenuous life, his kindly spirit; his integrity and not the least, his tolerance of all creeds and classes—would be surely wanting in our conception of his worth if we failed to pay our regard, either in private or public form to his memory. But we who were the youths and maidens of the thirties are now a fast disappearing generation, and the few remaining may individually quote Tom Moore's feeling Lines without egotism — viz. " When I remember all the friends so linked together, I have seen around me fall in fair or wintry weather ; I feel as one who treads alone some banquet hall deserted, Whose guests have fled; whose lights are dead,  And all but he departed." 

And now it remains but to join our condolences to those already ex-pressed to the bereaved relatives of the brave, deceased Patriarch who is now no more; the friend of our boy-hood, who it would seem, appropri-ately with the closing of the gates of the Old Year, like an aged oak in the forest, paid Nature's debt, and has been entombed, so to speak amid the draped foliage, and kindly mourning of the dawning year. In concluding this feeble, but fervent tribute to the memory of George Murray, may I say -Vale ! old mate of the days gone over -

'Tho' never more thy mortal sight Shall greet the bloom of corn or clover
The break of day, or veil of night
Yet, tho, e'er from Earth's embraces
Thy gallant soul afar has fled -
Tho' Death — abhorred of Life's sweet graces,
Has called thee hence ; thou are not dead :
Thou are not dead, we know, in spirit,
But liveth in the regions blest.
Where God Divine keeps faith with merit,
And all we trust is light and rest.

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