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Moray [Murrey, Murray], Sir Robert

1. Dates
Born: Scotland, 1608? By his own (ambiguous) account, between 10 March 1608 and 10 March 1609.
Died: London, 4 July 1673
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 65
2. Father
Occupation: Gentry
Sir Mungo Moray of Craigie, Perthshire, was descended from an ancient family of distinction.
No definite information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Scottish
Career: Scottish, English
Death: English
4. Education
Schooling: No University
It was generally assumed that Moray had had a university education, and St. Andrews was frequently mentioned. He did not attend St. Andrews, however, and there is absolutely no information about his education.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist
The issue is ambiguous. Moray, a genuinely religious man, generally sided with the Presbyterians in Scotland. However, he was a very moderate and liberal one, and his spiritual brethren appear to have been more the Latitudinarians.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Scientific Organization
Subordinate: Chemistry
Moray was primarily a public figure, a statesman and diplomat, and only secondarily a scientist. He was a central figure in the establishment of the Royal Society, interceding for it with the court, and he was described in his day as the soul of the Society.
He was a virtuoso in the style of the day, interested in everything but accomplished (in science) in nothing. However, he did experiment fairly extensively in chemistry and was known at the time as a chemist.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Military, Government, Patronage
Served in a Scottish regiment in France, 1633-about 1651.
He became a client of Richelieu and was apparently his agent in England in 1639.
Lieutenant-Colonel and later Colonel of the Scottish Foot Guards in the French service, 1645-c.51. Robertson (pp. 68- 71) has details about how a colonel extracted personal gain from the business of recruiting. The only name for it is soldier of fortune.
Mazarin's agent in London, 1645-7.
Justice-Clerk, Privy Councillor, and Lord of Session in Scotland, 1651-2. With Cromwell's victory and the Commonwealth union with England these positions ceased.
Privy Councillor, Lord Ordinary of the Scottish Court of Session, Justice-Clerk, and Lord of Exchequer, 1661-1667. Robertson says that all but one (which one?) of these appointments was honorary; I take him to mean no remuneration.
With Lauderdale, Moray was a major figure in Scottish pollitics and government from 1663 to 1670. In 1667 he was one of the Commissioners of the Treasury, and he was a member of the commission to govern Scotland, 1667-8.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Government Official
Knighted by Charles I in 1643.
He was the client of Cardinal Richelieu and his agent in London in 1639, and later the agent of Cardinal Mazarin.
His intimate friendship with Charles II, which began about 1648, aided in obtaining a charter for the Royal Society and occasioned his election as first president of the society. In London he resided in the palace.
Engaged by John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, in 1648 to negotiate with the Prince of Wales. I think that one has to consider Lauderdale as Moray's patron in the political life of the early Restoration. A rift between them began to develop in 1668, and by 1670 Moray had ceased entirely to be active in the public life of Scotland. About that time Lauderdale became openly hostile to Moray.
Alexander Bruce, Earl of Kincardine, was his intimate friend, but I see nothing I would call patronage in their relation.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None
This is a bit ironic since Moray's interests tended strongly toward the utilitarian, as the records of the Royal Society indicate. He was knowledgable about chonometry. However, I have not found his active participation in any technological projects.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Royal Society
Informal Connections Correspondence with Bruce on scientific questions--and later (1660-70) with Huygens.
Moray was either the first or one of the first to be inducted into the freemasons in England (1641).
Royal Society, 1660; President, 1660-2. Moray was one of the initial gathering in November 1660 that decided to organize the Society.
  1. Dictionary of National Biography (repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1949-50), 13, 1298-9. Alexander Robertson, The Life of Sir Robert Moray: Soldier, Statesman and Man of Science (1608-1673), (London, 1922).
  2. This is easily the best source on Moray.
  3. D.C. Martin, "Sir Robert Moray, F.R.S.," Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 15 (1960), 239-50.
  4. Thomas Birch, History of the Royal Society of London, (London, 1756-7), 3, 113-14. Clifford Dobell, "The Kincardine Papers," Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 4 (1946). 174-8.
  5. John Aubrey, Aubrey's Brief Lives, ed. O.L. Dick, (London, 1949), pp. 211-12.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
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