John Murray, a Scottish physician, born in Edinburgh in 1778, died there, June 22, 1820. He began his career as an apothecary in his native city, and subsequently became eminent as a lecturer on natural philosophy, chemistry, materia medica, and pharmacy. In geology he was a zealous Neptunian, and in reply to Play-fair's "Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth" (1802), published his "Comparative View of the Huttonian and Neptunian Theories." The most important of his other works are "System of Chemistry," "Elements of Chemistry," and "System of Materia Medica and Pharmacy".
John Murray, an English publisher, born in London, Nov. 27, 1778, died June 27, 1843. He was of Scottish descent, and his father, whose name was MacMurray, established himself in 1768 as a bookseller in Fleet street, London. After a good education acquired at a number of schools, at one of which he lost the sight of an eye by an accident, he was left in his 15th year by his father's death to conduct the business, in which he was assisted by Mr. Highley the shopman, whom he subsequently took into partnership. In 1803 he terminated this connection, and, entering a wider sphere of business, was thenceforth known as one of the most enterprising and liberal publishers of London. By coming forward to the assistance of a number of young men who had become involved in some pecuniary loss in conducting a periodical called the "Miniature," he secured several influential friends, among others Mr. Canning. With the latter he matured in 1807 a project for the establishment of the "Quarterly Review" as a means of counteracting the influence of the whig "Edinburgh Review;" and securing the cooperation of George Ellis, the Hebers, Barrow, Gifford, and others, he commenced in 1809 the publication of the new periodical, which under the editorial supervision of Gifford soon attained a circulation of 12,000 copies.
In 1810 Mr. Murray made the acquaintance of Lord Byron, to whom he paid £600 for the first two cantos of " Childe Harold," and whose entire works he subsequently published. Of his generosity and consideration toward the poet many instances are given; and Byron's correspondence with him, published in Moore's " Life of Byron," affords an evidence of the friendly relations existing between them. In 1812 he removed to Albemarle street, where the business is still carried on by his son and successor, John Murray, and where a long line of literary celebrities, including Scott, Byron, Campbell, W. Spencer, Bishop Heber, the elder Disraeli, Hallam, Mme. de StaŽl, Crabbe, South-ey, Washington Irving, and Lockhart, were wont to assemble. Of the numerous important works issued from the press of this house, it may suffice to mention the voyages and travels of Mungo Park, Belzoni, Parry, Franklin, Denham, Clapperton, and Layard; the series of the "Family Library;" the histories of Hallam, Lord Mahon, Grote, Ranke, Sir Gardner Wilkinson, and Mrs. Markham; the "Sketch Book," "Tales of a Traveller," "Life of Columbus," and other works of Washington Irving; the "Domestic Cookery," of which 300,000 copies were published; the despatches of the duke of Wellington; the dictionaries of William Smith; an elaborate series of handbooks of travel; and the works of Crabbe, Heber, Lockhart, Milman, Head, Gleig, Kugler, Lord Campbell, Leake, Borrow, Davy, Raw-linson, Mrs. Somerville, Lyell, Murchison, etc.
In 1826 he was persuaded into establishing a daily journal called the "Representative," which proved a failure; but in general his good judgment and tact as a business man rendered his enterprises successful, and the publications emanating from his house were for the most part books of merit, his imprint being one of their best recommendations. His liberality to authors was a distinguishing trait in his character, and he sometimes made heavy pecuniary sacrifices to gratify others, as in the case of the autobiography of Lord Byron, which he surrendered to Moore on the representation that the publication of it might injure the reputation of the living as well as the dead.