25.3.  Capture of Sir John Murray at Polmood 1746.

Veronica Murray the sister of Sir John Murray 6th Lord Stanhope was married to Robert Hunter of Polmood.   Robert Hunter had died in 1743 leaving Veronica as The Lady of Polmood.    Sir John Murray was the secretary to Prince Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie.   After the battle of Culloden in 1746 and the defeat of Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army Sir John Murray was wanted by the Redcoats and he went into hiding. He was eventually captured at Polmood House.   Polmood at this time would have been Polmood Farm House as the main house was probably uninhabitable and falling into a ruinous state - see page 25.2. Polmood .

The subsequent capture and trial of Sir John Murray appeared in the London Gazette and formally recorded and published (1).   The entry in the London Gazette of 5th July 1746 covering the capture follows.

"Edinburgh June 29th.

Upon information that John Murray, of Broughton, late secretary to the Pretender's son, had on Friday night dined at Kilbucco, and that night had gone to the house of Mr Hunter of Polmood, who married Mr. Murray's sister; John Smith, serjeant in St. George's Dragoons, with seven private men under his command at Broughton, was ordered thither with a guide; and yesterday, at three o'clock in the morning, seized Mr Murray at the house of Polmood, and the same day he was brought before the lord justice clerk,  and was  committed close prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh."

In order to save his own skin Murray turned "King's Evidence" or "ratted"(3) and gave information to the authorities that resulted in the execution of other Jocobites including Simon Fraser 11th Lord Lovat . Sir John Murray thus earned the nickname of "Evidence Murray" and the disdain of his fellow Jacobites. 

It is interesting that the London Gazette does not even mention Prince Charles Edward Stuart by name - he is just referred to as the Pretender's son.  Charles would not gain the sobriquet of the Young Pretender until the death of his father James Edward Francis Stuart in 1766.  At this time James became known as the Old Pretender.

A slightly different slant on the story of the capture of John Murray is in a biography published in 1898(2)(3) .  "The Dicksons of Hartree were from home, so Murray landed at Kilbucho House.   Here he thought himself safe , but on hearing that a party of dragoons occupied Littlehope House he made up his mind to go to Polmood, to his sister, where he arrived late in the evening.   It appears that a young servant lad at Kilbucho House had seen Murray, and could not understand who he was, but the lad made his way to Littlehope House and mentioned his suspicions to the captain of Dragoons, who immediately rode off to Polmood  and captured Murray about three o'clock in the morning.   Murray was taken to Edinburgh, closely guarded, and by and by was sent to the Tower of London."

Littlehope House mentioned above was the Murray residence in Broughton.  It was sited close to the present Broughton Place.  

The route from Kilbucho to Polmood and Tweedsmuir was part of a well travelled route - Ritchie(4) refers to it as a right-of-way.   It was first used by Pilgrims, see page 11. Pilgrim Ways and the coming of Christianity  and then by Covenanters see page 9 Covenanters in Upper Tweed.                                          


1)  Howell, Bayly, Thomas; A complete collection of State Trials and proceedings for High Treason and other crimes and misdeamours. London, 1816.  Vol XVIII p669 for London Gazette entry.

2) Bell, Fitzroy, Robert; The Life of John Murray, Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1898.

3) Fraser, Sarah; The Last Highlander, Harper Press, London, 2013. p347.

4) Ritchie; The Border Magazine, Issue of March, 1939. p38. (Copy of article in the Andrew Fox Papers archived with the John Buchan Museum, now in Peebles)


or Hunter of Polmood page.

or Tweedsmuir Parish History page.