Murray lived at Ling House, on the outskirts of Claudy.
Originally of Scottish descent, the Murray’s had a proud military heritage with one of their forefathers fighting alongside Wallace in the late 13th Century.
There is no direct evidence to suggest that Murray had served in the military, though a number of contemporary historians stated he had. His father had been a cavalry officer and Adam Murray certainly proved to be a very good officer and an inspiring leader.
Adam Murray raised a troop of horse to fight against King James. He first came to prominence at the battle of Clady-ford on 15th April 1689. He commanded his cavalry troop with considerable distinction at the battle, retiring only when his unit ran out of ammunition.
After the battle Murray was ordered to Culmore. On the way there he received news that negotiations for surrender terms were underway. Murray at once made for the city, fighting a skirmish with Jacobite Dragoons on the way.
Murray led defiance without, and within the Walls
Upon entering the city he headed for the council meeting and accused Col.Lundy, the Governor, of treachery. He left the meeting and directly addressed the townspeople and soldiers urging them to hold out.
Murray called for all citizens who were for no surrender to put on white armlets. The men of his command continued to wear these for the duration of the Siege.
For this reason, traditionally the Murray Club is the only Club to wear white armbands on Parade, marking the distinction of the part Murray played in the saving of the city from surrender.
Although offered the governorship, he turned the position down and preferred to remain with his soldiers.
When Baker and Walker were appointed Governors, Murray was appointed General in the field upon all sallies and also commanded the garrison’s cavalry regiment.
Adam Murray’s record during the Siege was much better than that of many men who had been soldiers and he remains one of the outstanding figures of the conflict.
His ability was quickly recognised by the Jacobites who as early as the 20th April 1689 offered Murray the rank of Colonel and £1000 (around £250,000 today) if he would join them. He refused and issued a challenge to the Jacobites to meet him and his men.
The Battle of Pennyburn
The next day, 21st April, Murray gave ample evidence of his military skill and bravery. At noon Murray led a force of 300 cavalry and a detachment of infantry out of the city to attack the Jacobite camp at Pennyburn.
Murray divided his cavalry into two squadrons. They were engaged by the Jacobite cavalry which was led by Maumont, Commander of the Jacobite forces at Derry. In the ensuing fight Maumont was killed, according to a number of sources, by Murray, in hand to hand combat.
Further Jacobite cavalry reinforcements arrived, and Murray ordered a withdrawal. The defenders were pursued by the Jacobites who were ambushed by Murray’s reserve of infantry who, lining the ditches, caused heavy casualties amongst the attacking Jacobites.
The battle of Pennyburn was a well planned and executed operation with Murray displaying his ability to command both horse and foot. The Jacobites not only lost their commander but they also lost some of their colours to the defenders.
That Murray was becoming more popular in the city is borne out by Walker’s inclusion in his account of this event during the Siege; with a story of how he himself had gone to assist Murray when the latter was hard-pressed, a version that must be treated with skepticism given Walker’s tendency to talk up both Anglican and his own role in the Siege. Victory was Murray’s and Murray’s alone.
The Second Battle of Pennyburn
A few days later on Thursday 25th April, Murray led another foray on the Jacobite trenches about a mile north of Pennyburn at Elagh. The initial attack pushed the Jacobites out of their trenches. The Williamites soon had to retreat as enemy cavalry came to the aid of their infantry. Murray rallied his men and the ensuing battle lasted into the evening.
At the end of the battle, known as the second battle of Pennyburn, the Jacobites had suffered the loss of their new commander, General Pusignan. The Engineer Commander, Marquis de Pointis, was also wounded during the engagement.
The loss of two commanders in less than a week was a blow to the Jacobites and a boost to the morale of the defenders.
Murray had been clearly identified by the Jacobites as the defender’s outstanding military leader. They had failed to bribe him so another tactic was attempted.
As father, as son
Hamilton, the new Jacobite commander was aware that Murray’s father, who was over eighty, lived nearby. He had him brought to his Headquarters and told him to persuade his son to bring the rebellion to an end; told that if he failed to do so he would be hanged.
Gabriel Murray agreed to speak to his son but warned Hamilton that it would be fruitless as he knew his son would never give in, even to this threat.
The two Murrays met at the walls for Hamilton’s message was relayed. However, the redoubtable Gabriel produced a bible on which he urged Adam never to yield to Popish power. His task over, Gabriel returned to Hamilton to await his fate. To Hamilton’s credit he did not carry out his threat and allowed the old man to return to his home and granted him protection for the rest of the conflict.
This episode underscores just how much the besiegers feared Murray and how much weight they attached to his influence with the garrison in maintaining a spirit of resistance.
Soon after this the defenders received a blow with the loss of Culmore Fort. This fort dominated the narrows of the Foyle, through which any relief ships would have to pass.
Battle of Windmill Hill
Closer to the City on the night 5-6th May, the Jacobites under the command of Brigadier-General Ramsey seized a strategic location, a windmill. There was a strong possibility that the attackers might be able to bring their artillery closer and present greater danger to the walls.
The defenders decided to attack immediately. Baker called up 10 men from every company within the garrison. Murray, Mitchelburne and Walker commanded the detachments. The Williamite force formed upon the site where the 19th century gaol was built outside what is now Bishop’s Gate, and attacked the Jacobite trenches.
In the ensuing heavy fighting the Jacobites were forced out of their positions suffering more than 200 dead, including their commander, Brigadier-General Ramsey.
Many prisoners were captured along with 5 pairs of Colours and a standard of French Colours were also seized. The Colours were presented to the Cathedral after the siege by Colonel Mitchelburne and can still be seen hanging in the vestry.
Following success at Windmill Hill, the defenders strengthened their defences around the windmill. But on the 10th May the new defences were nearly overwhelmed by a surprise attack.
Adam Murray watching from the city walls saw what was about to happen and immediately mounted his horse, galloped through Butcher’s Gate, down Bog Street and on to the defender’s position where he warned them of the danger.
Murray returned unhurt although he had to pass Jacobite infantry who had taken up position in the hedges.
Murray took the fight to the enemy on the water as well as on land. The defenders knew that Enniskillen was still holding out. It was decided to send messengers to the town, under the cover of a raid on fish houses along the Foyle.
On the night of 18th June, Murray left the City by boat in charge of the raiding party and headed past what is now Newbuildings and headed for Dunalong, approximately eight miles from the city. The boat was spotted and was fired upon as the men rowed down the river.
When they reached Dunalong, the two young messengers were so terrified that they would not leave the boat. Thwarted, they headed back only to meet two Jacobite boats waiting to intercept them. Murray attacked one of the boats killing several. The rest of the men in the boat, numbering 13, quickly surrendered. Seeing their fate, the other boat made off rather than engaging Murray and his men.
With their prisoners and prize, the party headed back to the city, coming once again under fire from the shore. Murray received some shots in his head-piece which indisposed him for a short time, but they were no more serious than concussion.
By July the garrison’s fighting strength was just over 5000 men, but Murray was still determined to take the fight to the enemy.
On 16th July Murray undertook a flank attack on the Jacobite trenches before Butcher’s Gate. This led to a fierce fire-fight, with the Williamites firing until their ammunition was exhausted.
During this action, a cousin of Adam Murray, James Murray was killed. During his unit’s withdraw Murray was seriously injured himself, receiving shot wounds to both thighs.
Murray’s wounds were serious enough to keep him out of further action for the remainder of the Siege. He did not recover fully from his wounds until November.
Throughout the Siege, up to his wounding, Murray commanded all the horses, and was in all the sallies that were frequent and successful.
After Murray had recovered from his wounds he continued as an officer with the Williamite army, commanding the militia of the province of Ulster, and held the honour of commanding the first Regiment of Horse that served William in Ireland.
The exact date of Adam Murray’s death is not known. The historian Young gives it as 1706 and Hempton about 1710, neither quoting any authority for his statement.
Honouring a Siege Hero, Remembering Adam Murray
His grave can be found in the old parish graveyard of Glendermott, with the Grave of Mitchelburne close by. Each year the Murray Club and Mitchelburne Club honour these Siege Heroes by laying wreaths on their Graves and holding a short Commemorative Service.