John Miuray, an American clergyman, born in Alton, Hampshire, England, Dec. 10, 1741, died in Boston, Mass., Sept. 3, 1815. Under the influence of Wesley and Whitefield he became a convert to Methodism, and an occasional preacher in Wesley's connection in Cork, Ireland, whither his parents had removed. About 1760 he returned to England, and a few years later adopted the doctrines of Universal-ism promulgated by James Kelly, for which he was excommunicated at Whitefield's tabernacle in London. In 1770 he emigrated to the United States. New York and New Jersey were the first scenes of his labors, and subsequently he preached in Newport, R. I., Boston, Portsmouth, N. H., and other places in New England, in some of which his peculiar doctrines subjected him to opposition, and occasionally to open violence. In 1774 he resided in Gloucester, Mass., and upon suspicion that he was an emissary of the British government in disguise, he was ordered to depart; but through the exertions of his friends he was enabled to remain and preach.
In the spring of 1775 he was chaplain of the three regiments of the Rhode Island line encamped before Boston, with several of whose officers, including Greene and Varnum, he was on terms of intimacy., The rest of the chaplains united in petitioning Washington to remove Murray from his office, but without effect. His connection with the army was soon after terminated by illness, and he returned to Gloucester, where he was established over a society of Universal-ists. In 1783 he became plaintiff in a successful action brought to recover property belonging to persons of his denomination, which had been appropriated to the expenses of the original parish of Gloucester, on the ground that the Universalists were not a society legally authorized. He participated in the proceedings of the first Universalist convention at Oxford, Mass., in 1785, and for a number of years he was a delegate to the general convention of the Universalists. In 1788 he made a brief visit to England, and in 1793 was installed over a society in Boston, where he passed the remainder of his life. In 1809 he was paralyzed.
He is considered the father of Universalism in America, although his doctrines differed essentially from those now recognized by Universalists. He published three volumes of letters and sketches of sermons, and wrote an autobiography (8th ed., Boston, 1860).