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Obituary: Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, businessman and private herald

  • by GORDON CASELY
 

Born: 24 November, 1929, in Littlehampton, Sussex. Died: 13 April, 2014, in Edinburgh, aged 84

Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick was a distinguished Edinburgh businessman who picked his ancestors with incredible forethought, and whose eclectic breadth of interests ranged from writing and historical research to baking, brewing and bookplates. His encyclopaedic knowledge of heraldry and genealogy proved him a worthy successor in these subjects to Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk.

His own colourful family tree brought in descents from the Counts of Vistaflorida in Peru, kings of Navarre, dukes of St Albans and the 20th and last Earl of Oxford, and kinship from Spanish grandees to the Drummond Earls of Perth.

“St Albans and Oxford”, he used to say, “bring in Stuarts and Normans.” The Drummonds he self-deprecatingly dismissed with the remark: “Once you have one Perthshire ancestor, you have them all.”

Peter never tired of the maxim “Remember – we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns.” He had equal pride in being out of crofter John Murray, born 1694, and who tenanted Miln of Ord near Skene, in Aberdeenshire.

He would also mischievously point out that his wife Barbara, descended from the ducal Sutherland who cleared the county, gave him the ambition to prove that her ancestor had evicted his own forefather.

William Edward Peter Louis Drummond-Murray of Mastrick was born the elder son of Edward Drummond-Murray of Mastrick and his wife Eulalia née Heaven (so named because she was the god-daughter of The Infanta Dona Eulalia of Spain). He was educated at the Jesuit college of Beaumont in Berkshire, and his successful business career was based on fund management; he held directorships with Tyndall Fund Managers as well as Tyndall-Legal and General Investment Company.

He had, however, originally started in stockbroking, and he told the story against himself that when interviewed for his first post, his interviewer somewhat quailed when faced with Drummond-Murray’s forceful personality. “What do you know about stockbroking?” came the question.

“Absolutely nothing,” came the retort, at which the interviewing stockbroker hired the young Drummond-Murray on strength of character alone.

Heraldry and chivalry were Peter’s fascination, and he wrote learnedly on the former. In the latter, his strong Christian faith saw him involved over many years with the Roman Catholic Order of Malta.

A knight of the Order, he was appointed Bailiff Grand Cross two years ago in recognition of his outstanding service, making him one of the few people in the UK to receive this highest accolade. He took chivalric responsibilities to heart, directing the order in charitable work and fund-raising, and promoting the means to help youngsters in need. He also acted as genealogist for the order. He had been involved in St John Scotland, ultimately being promoted knight in 1977.

He grew up with heraldry, with his mother Eulalia being a heraldic painter of some note. An early member of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, he served as a longstanding officer, editing society publications, writing articles and papers, and ultimately becoming chairman. For his work, he was elected a Fellow of the society.

An ardent though realistic Jacobite, he gave measured rein to his views when president of Clan Murray Society, and later from 1982 when appointed Slains Pursuivant – the personal herald to Sir Merlin Hay, 24th Earl of Erroll.

A lover of ceremony, Peter, with his height and girth, proved a majestic figure when wearing the tabard bearing the arms of his chief.

His first tabard was made from cloth of silver worn by Diana, 23rd of Erroll and High Constable of Scotland, at the coronation of 1953.

There are only four private heralds in Scotland, all tied to ancient families. One of his last public occasions in full dress in his quarter-century reign as Slains Pursuivant was in the great parade at the opening of the 27th International Heraldic Congress in St Andrews in 2006.

A superbly grand gentleman, Peter’s stern visage could disguise someone whose love for life yielded to no one. His thirst for research never left him, and in his final years he had been in correspondence with the Marquis de la Floresta, the Spanish king of arms (equivalent of Scotland’s Lord Lyon) about an 18th-century ancestress.

He took as much delight in his ancestors as he did in his immediate and close family, and he is survived by his wife Barbara (Hon Barbara Hope, daughter of the 2nd Lord Rankeillour), four sons and a daughter and grandchildren.

 

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