Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More on William Tullibardine Murray

Image: Mt Taranaki, formerly Mt. Egmont, from Wikipedia.

In January 1839, a ship named the Orleana arrived in South Australia. On board was Henry Dundas Murray, grandson of Sir Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre, Perthshire, Scotland. In the town of Gawler, near the Barossa Valley, the central square is named Orleana after the ship Henry Murray arrived on, as he and John Reid were the ones who conducted the Gawler Special Survey of 4000 acres. By the 1860s, Henry Dundas Murray was a stipendiary magistrate in Gawler.

Henry Dundas Murray's ancestry stretched back at least to the 1200s and the reign of King Alexander II of Scotland, during which time Sir John de Moravia served as sheriff of Perth. He came from a long background of Scottish landed gentry.

Henry Dundas' second son, born 11 January 1863, was named William Tullibardine Murray (his middle name literally meaning “look out hill”, from the Gaelic tulach = hill and bardainn = warning, and stemmed from back in the history of Clan Murray). Exactly when he arrived in New Zealand is unknown, but on 21 January 1886 at Ponsonby he married May Elizabeth Margaret Bell, daughter of James Bell, of Port Albert on the Kaipara who died in 1870 aged 34 of an “inflammation of the bowels” (possibly appendicitis). His daughter was one of eight children. By 1887, the Murrays lived at Avondale, and William T. Murray appears to be the likeliest to have been the “W. T. Murray” behind the short-lived Avondale Fruit and Vegetable Supply Depot venture (1891). The Murrays had two children while at Avondale, Yoland (b. 1887) and Henry Lamont (b. 1891).

From 1886 and into the early years of the 20th century, William T. Murray maintained a license as a teacher, E3 rank, in both Auckland and later Otago. In 1895, however, both he and his wife declared bankruptcy. From 1915, he became involved in the Presbyterian Home Mission, ordained a Home Missionary in 1917, and when he died in 1923 had the title of Reverend.

In January 1923, he was living in Normanby (since c.1919). Nearly three weeks after his 60th birthday, he and three companions (Rev. Mr. Orange from Eltham, R. Thomas from Wanganui, and G. Cook from Kaponga) started out on 30 January to make the ascent up Mt. Egmont/Taranaki from Dawson Falls House to the summit, then to descend on the other side to North Egmont House. At some point, there was a disagreement over which route to take, and it was reported that “Mr. Murray did not agree as to the route chosen and refused, in spite of argument, to listen to the appeals of the others. He insisted on traversing a dangerous gorge down which the others had perforce to follow, though to return the same way appeared impossible.”

Cook returned to Dawson House for assistance, while Orange and Thomas followed Murray, trying to keep in touch with him by shouting. After a short time, Murray no longer returned the shouts, and his followers lost his trail and couldn’t follow his tracks. Search parties went out to look for him. At one point Orange collapsed, but resumed searching with the others the next day. On 1 February, searchers followed his tracks down the mountainside, then up again to within a thousand feet of the summit. The remains of a small fire were found, and piece of cord tied to the scrub. In all, six separate search parties, over 100 people, scoured the mountainside looking for him. Three old skeletons were even located in a cave during the search.

The searchers were able to piece together part of Murray’s last journey.
“The search has resulted in the reconstruction of Mr. Murray’s earlier wanderings on the mountain. When Mr. Murray persisted in descending a precipitous gorge on the western side of the summit against the advice of his friends, they had great difficulty in getting clear from this point. The missing man travelled in a west by northerly direction for a little over a mile, until he struck the Kahui track to Bell’s Falls, just about where it crossed the “moss line”. Footprints show that he followed this track down to the 2940ft level, where the track divided, the northern one to Stony River.

“At this point he made his first night’s camp. Searchers who tracked him down this far found the remains of a huge fire and also a bed of tussocks bearing the i9mpression of a man having rested there.

“Next day, January 31, Mr. Murray apparently retraced his steps almost three-quarters of a mile along the track, and then struck off again toward the summit, holding more or less closely to a direct line until he came under the Turtle, over 6000ft. above sea-level. He then bore in an easterly direction for a little way, and then north-west again on a course almost parallel with that he had travelled. This last turn was a fatal one. Had he proceeded 30 yards in an easterly direction he would have passed round a bluff. From this point he would have seen the North Egmont hostel.

“Proceeding in a north-easterly direction, Mr. Murray apparently found himself between two small streams, and, at a point where these joined, he made his second camp. It was here that the heel of a boot was discovered, on which were scratched his initials – W.M. – and the date, 31/1/23.

“From this point, the tracks were subsequently followed down the river to where it reaches Bell’s Falls. The tracks here entered the river and they have not been discovered coming out. Stony River, above and below the falls, has been thoroughly searched in case the unfortunate man may have been washed down the river, and the tracks retraced along the route of the third day’s journey in the vain hope that he might have come back and deviated from his previous paths. Below the falls is a deep pool, and this has been sounded [with gelignite] for traces of the body.”
The search was abandoned on 16 February, and I’ve seen no sign that the remains of Rev. William Tullibardine Murray have ever been found.

Genealogies published online by Sara Leonard Murray.
Southern Cross, NZ Herald, Auckland Star, NZ Gazettes
NZ Presbyterian Archives website
Manning Index of South Australia History
State Heritage Areas of South Australia

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