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Murray, John (1818–1892)

On 1st March the death was announced of Mr. John Murray, senior partner of the firm of Messrs. Sanderson, Murray, and Co., London, and Messrs. John Sanderson and Co., Melbourne. Mr. Murray, who was about seventy-four years of age at the time of his death, entered into partnership in the year 1836 with his brother-in-law, the late Mr. William Sanderson, as wool merchants, under the name of Sanderson and Murray, at Galashiels, Scotland. In those days the Scotch tweed trade was in its infancy, and the business of the firm was to purchase wool in the leading markets of Great Britain and Europe for cash, and resell to the local manufacturers on terms. This business grew gradually but surely, until Scotch tweeds became of worldwide fame, and although for the last few years the trade has been in a somewhat unsatisfactory condition, still the rapid growth of towns like Galashiels, Hawick, and Selkirk shows what the manufacture of cloth has done for the south of Scotland. Australian wool in the thirties was not a very important factor in the manufacture of cloth, the British, German, and Cape of Good Hope growths supplying the bulk of the manufacturers' requirements, choice merino wools in limited quantities being obtained from Saxony. Some years afterwards, however, Australian merinos began to make a name for themselves, and about 1855 Mr. John Sanderson, then quite a young man, was sent out to establish a wool business in Victoria, which is now the oldest private firm kept intact in the wool trade, and the largest private firm of wool importers. Besides establishing a wool business, Mr. Sanderson purchased several properties in the Western district under the style of John Sanderson and Co., at present the designation of the Melbourne off-shoot of the parent firm of Sanderson and Murray. In 1867 Mr. John Murray's eldest son, William Murray, came out to assist Mr. John Sanderson in the Australian business, and in 1870 Mr. Murray took up the Melbourne management, whilst Mr. John Sanderson went to London to take the management of that branch of the Australian connection. Some years afterwards the head office was removed from Galashiels to London—the Scotch business (now a private limited company) being carried on quite separately, with its headquarters at Galashiels. A branch business was also started at Greenock in 1876 under the designation of Fisher and Co. In 1868 Mr. John Roberts went to New Zealand and established the firm of Murray, Roberts, and Co. in Dunedin, and some years later, under the same designation, branches were opened in Wellington and Napier—all three still doing a large business in these respective towns. Branches have been established in Geelong and Sydney for many years, the latter most recently. Mr. Murray, besides being considered one of the best judges of wool in the early days of the wool trade, was a man of great energy, and, although he did not personally carry out the various enterprises undertaken by the firm, still his active mind was responsible for the conception of many of them. He only once visited Australia—for about nine months in 1877—but took great interest in all things Australian.

Original publication

Citation details

'Murray, John (1818–1892)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/murray-john-1089/text1085, accessed 13 December 2017.

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