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Murdoch Family Reunion

March 1998

Hobart Tasmania
176 years of family history in Australia

Rob Murdoch 1999


From March 13 to 16, 1998, over 200 descendants of DR. JAMES and MRS GRACE MURDOCH gathered in Hobart, Tasmania to celebrate 176 years of family history in Australia. The descendants came from as far away as the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as from most states of Australia. This booklet introduces the family and gives a summary of the organization and activities associated with the 1998 Murdoch Family Reunion.


DR. JAMES MURDOCH was born in 1785 on the property known as "Craigow", near Milnathort, about 50 kms north of Edinburgh, in Scotland. He received a diploma as a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh in 1808 and the degree of Medical Doctor in 1814. He married Miss Grace Beveridge (b.1795) in 1813, and they lived in Edinburgh until 1820, where he practiced medicine, concentrating in obstetrics. DR. JAMES and GRACE'S first child JOHN was born in Edinburgh in 1814. He was followed by a daughter, ANTONIA, born in 1816, MARY in 1818, and a second son JAMES in 1820. DR. JAMES inherited Craigow on the death of his father in 1815 and it is likely that about 1820 he moved his young family from Edinburgh and tried his hand at farming Craigow together with another property he owned in the Milnathort District.

In the 1820's there was a rush of Scottish settlers to Van Diemen's Land and it seems that this far away land attracted DR. JAMES. In 1821 he was recommended by Lord Bathurst for a land grant as an inducement to go to Van Diemen's Land. He, along with his wife Grace and sons JOHN and JAMES sailed to Hobart Town from Leith near Edinburgh on the 'CASTLE FORBES' arriving on March 1, 1822. The two girls ANTONIA and MARY were left with relatives in Scotland. ANTONIA later traveled to Hobart to be reunited with her family. However, MARY stayed in Scotland. She married William Bethune and ultimately inherited the original Craigow. However, she would never have really known the rest of her family, living so far away.

When DR. JAMES and his family arrived in Hobart Town in 1822 it was very much a penal colony. At that time there were only 2800 free settlers and 4800 convicts in the whole of Van Diemen's Land. Within eight days of his arrival, DR. JAMES set up practice in medicine, in particular midwifery and pediatrics from a residence he selected in Liverpool Street. Within five weeks of arriving in Hobart Grace bore their third son ROBERT, followed by their third daughter, ANNABELLA, born in 1824.

DR. JAMES was given a land grant of 800 acres in the Cambridge district, east of Hobart, which he named Craigow, after his Scottish home. The family is thought to have moved from Hobart to the new Craigow and lived in a hut there from around 1825. DR. JAMES farmed on an extensive scale and raised sheep and cattle, grew wheat and experimented with sugar beet, lavender, aniseed and opium poppies for medicinal purposes. He seems to have developed a medical practice servicing the area north and east of Cambridge. He may also have owned land in the Risdon district for some period. While at Craigow three more sons, PETER (1827), WILLIAM (1830) and THOMAS (1834) were born and finally a fourth daughter GRACE, was born in 1837. Unfortunately GRACE died at the age of only three months. She was to be the last of 10 children.

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