William Murray (sometime around 1600 – December 1655), was first Earl of Dysart who was made Lord of the Manor of Ham and Petersham in 1637 by Charles I, but he did not get to hold it for long since it was seized under the Commonwealth and his possessions either sold handed to the family’s servants. Murray was close to the king even from a young age serving literally as the childhood whipping boy of the future king. Masters unable to beat the heir to the throne when he was being naughty during lessons would take out the punishment on a fellow pupil assigned to the task. In 1626, Charles, now king, appointed him a Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, and retained him in his service for the rest of his life. Charles granted Murray the lease of Ham House, close to the palace at Richmond, London and conveniently situated for access to the palaces in London, Hampton Court, and Windsor and it was here that Murray established his family. It was in his role that he became an indispensable ally to Charles, acting for a time as a go-between the monarch and the Parliamentarians. It was he who was arranging Charles’s escape to the Continent when the king decided to surrender himself instead. For his part Murray went to serve Charles’s son, the king in exile, following his father’s execution. In the hope they could avoid their property from being seized by the Parliamentarians William and his wife Katherine passed it to third parties. Seeing this ruse for what it was the Parliamentarians wasted little time in sequestering their estates at Ham, Petersham, and Kingston. It was ordered that “the goods be seized, appraised, and sold by the candle, [and] the rents levied.” Later, a permit was issued to “Mrs Murray’s servants to enjoy her estates at Ham, and sow the ground til further orders.” Murray was thought by some to have died in exile in France. However, it has since been discovered that he died in Edinburgh in December 1655 and his cousin, Thomas Murray, a Scottish lawyer, drew up reports for his daughters.
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