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All Murrays trace their ancestry to Freskin (died before 1171).

In 1130, Mormaer Óengus (Angus) of Moray rebelled and challenged  King David I of Scotland (David MacMalcolm) (B1084-D1153) in battle. Óengus was defeated and killed at Stracathro in present-day Angus. David I further responded to this rebellion  by the ‘planting’ of Flemish and other Anglo-Norman loyalists, bringing feudalism into the area of Moray. One such man was Freskin, son of Ollec, of Flemish and Norman (and possibly Pictish) origins, to whom all the Murrays trace their ancestry.

With Freskin in place, the rebels were forced from their lands and the area of Moray was taken under royal control. William fitz Duncan followed Óengus and was the last mormaer of Moray, from 1130 to 1147.


Meanwhile, David I  granted Freskin lands in the Laich of Moray where he built a motte-and-bailey castle  at Duffus on the northern shore of Loch Spynie, in Lossiemouth, Morayshire. 

Caste Murray Atholl Cruickshank

Duffus Castle. The stone-built bailey is a 14th-century addition to the site of Freskin's castle.

During the middle ages the Mormaerdom of Moray was much larger than the modern council area, covering much of what is now Highland and Aberdeenshire in addition to the modern Council Area of Moray. For locations on maps, click the orange button.

The Murrays became a wealthy and politically influential baronial family whose power base was located in the province of Moray in northeastern Scotland.

In a series of astute political moves, Freskin and his sons intermarried into the old family of the Moray mormaers to consolidate their power. Freskin’s son, William, inherited his father's lands and took the name deMoravia (Latin) or deMoray (meaning from Moray) which later became Anglicized to Murray.

The name Moray (variously spelled in Gaelic as: Moireibh, Moireabh, Muireb, or Moreb) comes from the Celtic words Mori meaning Sea and Treb meaning Settlement.The b here was pronounced as v, hence the Latinization to Moravia. These names denote the district on the south shore of the Moray Firth, in Scotland.

So, the name Murray comes from the son of Freskin, but the people of Moray pre-date Freskin by centuries.

For the story of Moray before Freskin, click

or scroll down to it


In Sutherland:

The Murray family grew and spread out. Freskin likely had one son, William. Freskin's eldest grandson (William's eldest son), Hugh, acquired a large tract of land in Sutherland after the rebellion of 1197, and became the original Earl of Sutherland (chief of Clan Sutherland) in 1230. Hugh's son, William, took the surname Sutherland.

In Moray:


The chiefs of Clan Murray descend from Freskin's younger grandson (William's younger son), William deMoravia who took the title Lord of Petty  (or Pettie) before 1203. By 1252, the Baronry of Bothwell had passed to this William through his marriage to the baron's heir, the daughter of David de Olifard. William began the construction of Bothwell Castle. William was a regent of Scotland by 1255.

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Many of the Murrays, including our ancestors, remained in Moray.

Much of the original land area of Moray was later incorporated into Aberdeenshire, and this boundary change explains why our Murray family is now from Aberdeenshire.

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Bothwell Castle

Sir Andrew Murray (Moray), the head of the Petty branch of the family, held extensive lands in the province of Moray, including the lordship of Petty which was controlled from Hallhill manor on the southern bank of the Moray Firth, the lordship of Avoch in the Black Isle which was controlled from Avoch Castle situated to the east of Inverness and overlooking the Moray Firth, and the lordship of Boharm which was controlled from Gauldwell Castle. Amongst Sir Andrew's estates at Petty were lands at Alturile, Brachlie and Croy, and at Boharm were lands at Arndilly and Botriphnie. He was captured by the English, following the battle of Dunbar in 1296 during the first Scottish Wars of Independence (1296 to 1328). He died April 8, 1298, in the Tower of London.

Sir Andrew Murray's oldest son, also Andrew Murray (Moray) of Bothwell (B1265 - D1297), was also prominent in the first Scottish Wars of Independence. He led the rising in north Scotland in the summer of 1297 against the occupation by King Edward I of England, successfully regaining control of the area for King John Balliol. He subsequently merged his forces with those led by William Wallace (B1270 - D1305) and jointly led the combined army to victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge (September 11, 1297). Moray was mortally wounded in the fighting, dying at an unknown date and place later that year (possibly November 1297).

A few months after his death, his widow, whose identity is lost, bore him a son, named Andrew. The child was born during Pentecost, 1298 and acceded to the lordships of Petty and Bothwell. In 1326, he married Christina deBrus, the sister of King Robert I (the Bruce), thus connecting the Murrays to Scottish Royalty, even before the Stewart line of kings. Andrew and Christina had 2 sons: John Murray and Thomas Murray. This Andrew played a decisive role in defeating the attempts of Edward III, of England, grandson of the so-called 'Hammer of the Scots', to conquer Scotland in the 1330s. Knighted, Sir Andrew would twice be regent for King David II, the son of King Robert I, and would display a remarkably similar aptitude to that shown by his father for leading Scotland's armies. And, like his father, he, too, would die prematurely in defence of the realm, during Lent 1338.

A branch of this family received lands of Abercairny, Ogilvy, and Glenservy as a dowry.

The lordship of Bothwell passed to the Douglases in 1360 when the fifth Murray Lord of Bothwell died of plague and his wife, Joan (herself daughter to Maurice de Moravia, Earl of Strathearn), took Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway and later Earl of Douglas, as her second husband.

In Tullibardine:

Sir William Murray acquired the lands of Tullibardine in Strathearn by marriage to Ada, a daughter of Malaise, Earl of Strathearn in 1262. Tullibardine is within ancient Atholl (now Perth and Kinross). It was this branch of Murrays who constructed Tullibardine Castle before 1446. Tullibardine Chapel was built by  David Murray of this branch in 1446 (who in 1430 married to Margaret Colquhoun, of Luss). It was a family chapel and burial site; and members of the Murray family were buried there until 1900. The chapel has remained unaltered since the 1500's.

CLICK on underlined words for more information.

There were many branches of the Clan Murray who disputed the right to the chiefship. It was not until 1542 that the Murrays of Tullibardine are recorded as using the undifferenced arms of Murray, in a work that pre-dates the establishment of the Lord Lyon's register of 1672 and is considered of equal authority. The claim to the chiefship by the Murrays of Tullibardine rested upon their descent from Sir Malcom Moray, sheriff of Perth around 1270 and younger brother of the first Lord of Bothwell. The Murrays of Tullibardine consolidated their position as chiefs with two 'bonds of association' in 1586 and 1598 in which Sir John Murray, later the first Earl of Tullibardine was recognized as chief by numerous Murray lairds including the Morays of Abercairny in Perthshire who were amongst the signatories.

The ranking of titles (lowest to highest) is mormaer, earl, marquess, then duke. Mormaers tended to be the hereditary line of Pictish kings after Scotland was united. Under Sir John Murray, Tullibardine was promoted to an earldom in the peerage of Scotland in 1606, and to a marquessate in 1696. The title "Marquess of Tullibardine" remains the title of the Atholl heir.

The Earls of Atholl were Stewarts until Dorothea Stewart, heiress to the Earls of Atholl, married William Murray (D1628) the second Earl of Tullibardine in 1604, and had son (Sir) John Murray in about 1608 (D1642). In this way the Stewart earldom of Atholl then became the Murray earldom of Atholl  in 1629.

Sir John Murray's son (also John Murray, born 1631) married Lady Amelia Sophia Stanley from whom the Murrays inherited the lordship of the Isle of Mann. This John Murray became the first Marquess of Atholl and died in 1703. In turn, his son (also called John Murray (B1659 -D1724) became the first Duke of Atholl when Queen Anne of Great Britain created that title in 1703. The Duke of Atholl has continued to be a Murray to this very day.


The Duke of Atholl is presently the only person in the United Kingdom allowed to raise a private army. This army, known as the Atholl Highlanders, conducts largely social and ceremonial activities, and primarily consists of workers on the extensive Atholl Estates.

The most famous Lords of Tullibardine were William Murray, a leading figure of the 1715 and 1719 Jacobite rebellions, and his brother George Murray, a leader in 1745.

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You can see how the family trees of the Stewarts of Atholl, and the Murrays of Tullibardine, merge together. Just

Cruickshank Tartan Murray

Murray of Atholl Tartan

Murray of Tullibardine Tartan

before Freskin



a) The PICTS:

Before Scotland was a consolidated country, the land of Moray was a Pictish kingdom, with its own line of kings. The Picts were a tribal confederation of peoples, formed from a number of tribes—how and why is not known for certain. Some scholars have speculated that it was partly in response to the growth of the Roman Empire. The Picts lived in what is today eastern and northern Scotland north of the rivers Forth and Clyde. The timing is variously reported as a period starting between the Mid to Late Iron Age (400BC to 250AD) and ending in the Early Medieval period (approximately 900AD).


The Venerable Bede, a historian writing in 731AD, said that the Picts had come from mainland Europe, presumably Scandinavia, to northern Ireland to ask for land, but the Irish sent them on to Scotland. Hence a myth that the Picts were given Irish wives, on condition that they became matrilineal.


Picts are thought to have been ethnolinguistically Celtic. They spoke the now-extinct Pictish language, which was probably closely related to the Brittonic language spoken by the Britons who lived to the south of them. For more on languages, click the orange button

CLICK on underlined words for more information.

Written documents of Pictish Kings can be traced back to 312 AD (List of Kings of the Picts).


As legend has it, an early king of Pictland named Cruithne (who was a son of Cinq) divided his land amongst his 7 sons. One of those sons was named Fortriu who received land south of the Moray Firth. The 7 divisions of land are below, left.

While this is difficult to date, another son, Fib, is said to have ruled between 715 and 691BC.

Viking raids in Scotland occurred from late (AD) 700’s to mid 1000’s. In a major battle in 839 AD, the Vikings killed the king of Fortriu, Eógan mac Óengusa, and also the king of Dal Riata, Áed mac Boanta, and many others.


Likely in response to the Viking raids, Kenneth MacAlpin (reign 843 to 858 AD), a Pictish king, united the Scottish kingdom in 843.

Kenneth was son of Alpin, who may have been an earlier King of Dal Riata (comprising most of western Scotland and a part of north east Ireland). Kenneth’s son, King Donald I, ruled a united Scotland from 858 to 862.

In this period, Scotland’s main sub-divisions were large regional lordships, known as 'mormaerdoms'  or ‘earldoms’ administered by hereditary rulers (mormaers or earls) who functioned as agents of royal authority, under the King of Scotland. Moray was one such mormaerdom.

Map of Mormaerdoms

The literal translation of mormaer is "big steward." However, these mormaers occasionally considered themselves as "King" of their mormaerdom, and resisted subservience to the King of Scotland, defeating several royal armies in this struggle. Amongst the Scottish kings thwarted by the men of Moray was King Dub (B928-D967), who was killed when his army was defeated at Forres in 967.


This button gives you the list of mormaers of Moray.

Moray may have continued as a separate kingdom for a time, independent of the dynasty of Kenneth Mac Alpin. However it seems likely that rulers of Moray were subject loosely to the Kings of Alba, as the Scottish kingdom was coming to be known. Moray acted as a buffer against further Scandinavian penetration from the north, and its rulers were remembered with respect in Scandinavian sources such as Orkneyinga Saga.

The MacAlpin clan continued ruling Scotland until 1034. Malcolm II (reigned 1005 to 1034) was the last king of the House of Alpin. In his reign, he successfully crushed all opposition to him and, having no sons, passed the Scottish crown to his daughter's son (his grandson), Duncan I (reign 1034 to 1040), who inaugurated the House of Dunkeld. Duncan I therefore succeeded to the throne as the maternal grandson of Malcolm II.


Duncan I was also the heir-general of King Malcolm I Alpin (B895-D954), as he was paternal grandson of Duncan MacDonachaidh of Atholl (Mormaer of Atholl from 990 to 1010) who in turn was the third son of Malcolm I.

However, crowning Duncan I violated the system of succession established by Kenneth MacAlpin whereby the kingship alternated between two branches of the royal family. That means it was not his turn! The rightful claimant was MacBeth, who was Mormaer of Moray. Duncan's first cousin, MacBeth, was equally a maternal grandson of Malcolm II, and the rightful heir.

William Shakespeare's play, MacBeth, is not an accurate account of Duncan and MacBeth. For the differences between fiction and history, click the green button

For a the biographies of Duncan and MacBeth click the blue button

The Real MacBeth

The Real MacBeth

The Real MacBeth
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The Real Macbeth (Shakespeare Documentary)   Timeline - YouTube

The Real Macbeth (Shakespeare Documentary) Timeline - YouTube

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King Duncan I was killed in battle by MacBeth (reign 1040 to 1057).

MacBeth himself was in turn killed and defeated in 1057; after which, his stepson Lulach Macgilliecomgan, son of Gille Coemgáin, and presumably also of Gruoch, claimed the Scottish throne briefly before being himself killed in 1058. Lulach's son, Mael Snechtai, died in 1085 as Mormaer of Moray, called by some "King of Moray".

Moray resistance to royal rule lingered into the 12th century (1100’s). The last ruling member of the dynasty, styled 'king' or 'earl' of Moray, was Óengus (Angus) son of the daughter of Lulach (MacBeth's step-son). This Mormaer Angus of Moray rebelled and challenged King David I of Scotland in battle, but was defeated and killed at Stracathro in present-day Angus, in 1130 and thus the "Kingdom" of Moray was destroyed by David I of Scotland.

To see what happened next, press the orange button and go to the TOP of this page.

Coats of Arms

Clan Murray       Coat of Arms 

Coat of Arms

Clan Murray       Duke of Atholl    Coat of Arms 

Each figure on a coat of arms has special significance. Click on either coat of arms, above, to see what the figures represent.


  1. Dates: B means birth, D means death

  2. Medieval Period:  Approximately 500 AD to 1500 AD

  3. “de” in front of a name is quite common in French. It means “of” or “from”. As Normans settled into England and Scotland they often dropped the “de”. Example: the last name “de Brus” became “Bruce”

  4. Jacobite: supporter of King James (Jacob) VII (II of England) who ruled Britain 1685 to 1689

  5. Name spellings vary. Even more in Gaelic because noun endings change with parts of speech in a sentence.

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