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Ambrotype
A539

Size
Date
Country
Artist
Sitter
Case

1/4
ca 1858-1860
Possibly Scotland
Unknown
Elizabeth Marjory (Fairholme) Murray
Full case

Notes

"Lady James Murray, nee Elizabeth Marjory Fairholme, born November 19th 1826, married Lord James C. P. Murray on November 6th 1851."

Lady Elizabeth Marjory Fairholme (1826-1888)

Scottish born Elizabeth and her 4 brothers grew up living in various European countries such as Switzerland and Belgium. Her father, George Fairholme (1789-1846) Esq. of Greenknowe, Berwickshire, served in the 1st King's Dragoon Guards, while her mother, Caroline Elizabeth Forbes (?-1865) was the eldest daughter of General James Ochonear Forbes, 18th Lord Forbes, Premier Baron of Scotland.

They owned a lot of land and several houses in Scotland, as her father was a wealthy banker. He also enjoyed geology and studied it in Britain and Europe, taking the family along on his travels, hunting for fossils.

Elizabeth was 20 when her father passed away. He left her a small cabinet of his collection of fossils, shells and rocks, as well as 3000 pounds.

Her brothers all led interesting lives. Wiliam would become Justice of the Peace, Charles a Captain in the Royal Navy, while George Knight Erkshine, 5th of Lugate, herded sheep in Australia, where he was described by his contemporaries as "the most handsome man ever to come through Cunningham's Gap". He later married an Austrian baroness.

Her 4th brother, James Walter, was a naval officer. He was 24 years old when he joined the Franklin Expedition to find the North West Passage.

Before the trip in 1845 all twelve senior officers had their daguerreotypes taken by Richard Beard on board the ship. James had a private portrait taken which he send to Elizabeth. He wrote to their father:

"I hope Elizabeth got my photograph. Lady Franklin said she thought it made me look too old, but as I had Fitzjames’ coat on at the time, to save myself the trouble of getting my own, you will perceive that I am a Commander! and have anchors on the epaulettes so it will do capitally when that really is the case."

The two ships with 129 men aboard became icebound. They had enough food to last 3 years, but still had to resort to cannibalism. After a year the survivors, including James, set out for Canada but were never seen again.

Lord James Charles Plantagenet Murray (1819-1874)

In 1851 Elizabeth was 25 years old when she married James, a descendant of the Dutch Arkel family, and before that the van Amstel family of Utrecht. James had been appointed equerry to her Royal Highness Victoria Maria Louisa the Duchess of Kent in 1846. For the wedding The Duchess gifted Elizabeth a handmade train of old cream Swiss applique lace, which fell gracefully from the shoulder into three points.

James' mother was Lady Emily Frances Percy, daughter of General Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland. His father was James Murray, 1st Baron Glenlyon, a British Army Officer, Member of Parliament, peer, but he was also the owner of 610 slaves.

Elizabeth and James had 3 daughters:

Mary Louisa Victoria (1853-1870)
Emily Grace (1856-1875)
Caroline Frances (1858-1927)

They lived at Eastwood House in Dunkeld, near Perth. During the 1850s the couple were regularly invited by Queen Victoria and her mother the Duchess of Kent at both Balmoral and Abergeldie Castle for Royal dinners, dances and weddings.

James, Justice of the Peace for Perthshire and Northumberland, became Colonel of the Scots Fusilier Guards in 1856, serving with his regiment as Captain and Lieutenant Colonel in the Crimea, earning him the medal and clasps, and the order of the Mejidie (5th class). He retired in 1857, his health being "greatly impaired".

It wasn't just James who had been affected by the war. A year later Elizabeth was staying at Queen Elizabeth's Invercauld House, when she had to go to Edinburgh on doctor's orders. James' time in the Crimea had had "excessive strain on her nervous system caused by anxiety", causing her to fall ill. The couple spend some time at St Leonards-on-Sea, a popular seaside resort.

It was around this time Elizabeth had had her portrait taken.

In 1861 the Duchess of Kent passed away, and James was appointed Groom-in-Waiting to her daughter, Queen Victoria, a position he held until just before his death.

4 years later Elizabeth's mother passed away. She was described as kind and generous, virtues she passed on to her daughter, who often donated items to various institutions. Besides books, European curiosities, and oranges for the children at Christmas, she donated a pair of stuffed Australian Grass parrots to the library, a species that her brother could've encountered on his travels to Australia, and possibly took home as a gift for her.

The family moved to Otterburn, where a school was named after Elizabeth. They also took up a second house in Leamington Spa, a town famous for its healing waters and seen as a health resort. Elizabeth helped out a local woman, who had fled her abusive husband with her young daughter, by providing her with a job as a parlor maid.

She also helped to get a skin hospital to open in Leamington in April 1870. A month later her daughter, Mary Louisa Victoria, passed away, only 17 years old.

It was a heavy blow for the family. Elizabeth started to decline the invitations from the Queen to visit the court. The family spend most of their time in Leamington. James, Elizabeth and Caroline lived together at Clifton Villa, while Emily, at only 15 years old, was the head of her own household in the same town. She lived together with a governess and her daughter, and a general servant.

James, 55, was doing so poorly, he had to be kept under restraint, and for good reason. In May 1874 he managed to escape and jumped from Westminster Bridge into the Thames. He was immersed in the water for several minutes, before he was dragged out in a state of insensibility. At the hospital they discovered his idenity by marks on his linen and cards in his pockets. He was instantly removed from his position as Groom-in-Waiting.

He recovered, but passed away only a month later because of a "severe attack of fever and jaundice". Half a year later their daughter Emily Grace died, only 19 years old.

Elizabeth, a widow at 48, lived at Otterburn for a while, where she had 2 windows made for the local church, in memory of her husband and 2 daughters. In 1881 she moved a final time to 1 Clarence Crescent, Windsor.

Over the years she made many more donations to charity, and often lend her name to various good causes. But even back then there were con artists around. A young lady going door to door was raising money for a man who didn't exist. She managed to raise 11 pounds, and when caught by the police, she told them it was a charity supported by Elizabeth. Elizabeth was summoned and declared she had never met the woman before. The trickster was sentenced to 3 months of hard labour.

In 1884 Elizabeth, now an invalid, visited Queen Victoria one last time, together with her daughter Caroline, at Frogmore. Four years later she died peacefully in her bed, 62 years old.

Caroline Frances never married and died when she was 69. She too had been an invalid for many years, and, "although at times a great sufferer, had never been known to murmur or complain. She had a charming personality, was most unassuming, and of a quiet disposition. She gave liberally to charities and to further any good cause in the town, and was a friend to many. She will be very much missed, and the townspeople generally deeply regret her passing."

 

The Fairholme family weapon.

 

Elizabeth's brother James Walter Fairholme, before his trip on Erebus to find the North West Passage.

 

Erebus in the Ice 1845
by Fran├žois Etienne Musin

 

The Erebus today

 

 

Elizabeth's husband
Lord James Charles Plantagenet Murray

 

"Evening at Balmoral"
by Carl Haag, 1854

 

"Afternoon Tea at Dunkeld"
by James Valentine, 1868

(Right) The Duchess of Athole, Queen Victoria's Lady of the Bedchamber and the wife of James' brother George
(Center) Miss McGregor
(Left) Mrs Drummond of Megginch, also a relative of James

 

 

 

Eastwood House, Dunkeld