Alexander Murray, 8th Earl of Dunmore

The Earl of Dunmore

Alexander Murray, 8th Earl of Dunmore in 1917
Born 22 April 1872
Portland Place, London
Died 29 January 1962 (aged 89)
Sussex Place, London
Buried at Golders Green Crematorium
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1892–1907
Rank Major
Unit 16th Lancers (The Queen's)
Commands held 31st Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry
Battles/wars Mahdist War
Tirah Campaign
Malakand Frontier War
Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Victoria Cross
Distinguished Service Order
Member of the Royal Victorian Order

Alexander Edward Murray, 8th Earl of Dunmore VC, DSO, MVO, DL (22 April 1872 – 29 January 1962), known by the courtesy title Viscount Fincastle until 1907, was a British soldier and politician.

Early life and colonial military career

Murray was born on 22 April 1872 to Charles Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore and Lady Gertrude Coke, immediately taking the courtesy title of Viscount Fincastle.[1] His grandparents included Alexander Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore, Lady Catherine Herbert, Thomas Coke, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and Lady Juliana Whitbread.[2] His paternal great-grandmother was the Russian noblewoman Countess Catherine Woronzoff (or Vorontsova), daughter of the Russian ambassador to St James's, Semyon Romanovich Vorontsov. He was educated privately and at Eton before joining the army.[3] On 30 May 1892, Murray was commissioned into the 16th Lancers and sent to India.[1] Murray was aide-de-camp to Victor Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin, Governor-General of India from 1895 to 1897.[4] In 1896, he accompanied the Dongola Expedition to the Sudan and saw action in the Mahdist War.[1][2]

Victoria Cross

In 1897, aged 26, while a lieutenant in the 16th Lancers, Murray returned to India also acting as a war correspondent for The Times.[3] On 17 August 1897 at Nawa Kili, Upper Swat, British India, Lieutenant Murray with two other officers (Robert Bellew Adams and Hector Lachlan Stewart MacLean) and five men of the Guides, went under a heavy and close fire, to the rescue of a lieutenant of the Lancashire Fusiliers who was lying disabled by a bullet wound and surrounded by enemy swordsmen. While the wounded officer was being brought under cover, he was killed by a bullet. One of the officers of the rescue party was mortally wounded and four horses were shot.[5] The message sent to their superiors read:

During the fighting at Nawa Bali, in Upper Swat, on the 17th August, 1897, Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Adams proceeded with Lieutenants H. L. S. MacLean and Viscount Fincastle, and five men of the Guides, under a very heavy and close fire, to the rescue of Lieutenant R. T. Greaves, Lancashire Fusiliers, who was lying disabled by a bullet wound and surrounded by the enemy's swordsmen. In bringing him under cover he (Lieutenant Greaves) was struck by a bullet and killed — Lieutenant MacLean was mortally wounded — whilst the horses of Lieutenant-Colonel Adams and Lieutenant Viscount Fincastle were shot, as well as two troop horses.[6]

Murray received the Victoria Cross for his actions, becoming the only journalist to be so honoured.[3]

Later political and military career

Murray's account of his colonial service was published in 1898.[1] In 1899, Murray was posted to South Africa as aide-de-camp to General Sir H. C. Chermside in South Africa. He fought in the Second Boer War and was present at the Relief of Kimberley.[1] In late 1901 he raised Fincastle's Horse (31st Battalion Imperial Yeomanry), and was appointed in command of the battalion with the temporary rank of Lieutenant-colonel 22 January 1902.[7] The battalion numbered 32 officers and 603 men, recruited mainly from the Highlands.[8] They left Edinburgh in April 1902 to embark the SS Galatea for South Africa,[9] where they arrived the following month. For his service in South Africa he earned a Mention in Despatches.[1] In 1906, Murray was awarded the Royal Victorian Order for services to the Prince of Wales, in connection with the marriage of King Alfonso of Spain. When in February 1907 Murray's father died, he succeeded to the family titles, becoming the eighth earl, and resigned his commission to look after the family's considerable estates.[1] He lived at 55 Lancaster Gate, London.

He returned to active duty in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, serving as a staff officer on the Western Front.[1] He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order during the Battle of the Somme, was Mentioned in Despatches four times and wounded twice.[1] Between the wars, Murray held political office, serving as a government whip in the House of Lords; first, as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms in 1924; and then as a Lord-in-Waiting from 1930 to 1936.[1] He also held the ceremonial role of Deputy Lieutenant of Inverness-shire.[2]

Personal life

On 5 January 1904, he married Lucinda Dorothea Kemble, daughter of Colonel Horace William Kemble. They had three children:

He died in London on 29 January 1962.[1]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 The Times, "Lord Dunmore, V.C." (Obituary), 30 January 1962; p. 15; Issue 55302; col C
  2. 1 2 3 The Peerage
  3. 1 2 3 Roth, Mitchel P., Historical dictionary of war journalism, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997, ISBN 0-313-29171-3 p. 103
  4. Sladen, Douglas Brooke Wheelton, Who's who, Volume 59, A. & C. Black, 1907 p. 595
  5. London Gazette, 9 November 1897
  6. The London Gazette: no. 26908. p. 6143. 9 November 1897. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 27399. p. 453. 21 January 1902.
  8. "The War - reinforcements". The Times (36746). London. 19 April 1902. p. 12.
  9. "The War - Fincastle´s Horse". The Times (36745). London. 18 April 1902. p. 9.

Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Clarendon
Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms
Succeeded by
The Earl of Clarendon
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Charles Murray
Earl of Dunmore
Succeeded by
John Murray
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