26th of June

Saints John and Paul, martyrs in Rome, about 362. St Vigilius, Bishop of Trent, 400 or 405. St Maxentius, Abbot in Poitou, about 515. St Babolen, Abbot in France, 7th century. The Venerable Raingarda of Auvergne, widow, 1135. St Anthelm, Bishop of Bellay, confessor, 1178.

Died. – Julian, emperor, slain near Samara, upon the Tigris, 363; Innocent V., pope, 1276; Francisco Pizarro, assassinated at Lima, 1541; Alexander Czarowitz of Russia, died under sentence, 1718, Petersburg; Cardinal Julius Alberoni, Spanish minister, 1752, Placentia; John Murray, eminent publisher, 1843, London.


Within the past century no name has been more frequent on the title-pages of first-rate books than that of John Murray; and few perhaps are aware that one reason of its long continuance arises from the fact that there has been a dynasty of three John Murrays. 

The founder of the house was John MacMurray, who was born in Edinburgh about 1745, and commenced life in the Marines. In 1768 Lieut. MacMurray growing tired of his profession, bought for £400 the stock and goodwill of Paul Sandby, bookseller, 32 Fleet Street, opposite St Dunstan’s Church, and close to Falcon Court, the site of the office of Wynkyn de Worde, whose sign was the Falcon. He was anxious to secure his friend Falconer, the author of The Shipwreck, as a partner; but Falconer declined, and the following year lost his life in the wreck of the ‘Aurora,’ off the African coast. Dropping the prefix of Mac, as Scotsmen were not then popular in London, Murray contrived, with much diligence, to improve and extend the business he had purchased. At the end of twenty-five years, in 1793, he died, leaving his trade, under executors, to his son John, at that time a minor of fifteen, having been born in the house over the Fleet Street shop on the 27th November 1778. John II. was educated at the best schools his father could find; among others at the High School of Edinburgh, and at Dr Burney’s at Gosport, where he lost an eye by the writing-master’s penknife accidentally running into it. For a time young Murray had for a partner Samuel Highley, a long-tried assistant of his father’s; but feeling hampered by his associate’s slow and cautious ways, he obtained a dissolution of the connexion in 1803 – Highley moving off a few doors to carry on bookselling, and leaving Murray to his more hazardous adventures as a publisher. One of his earliest and greatest projects was the Quarterly Review. To George Canning, in 1807, he wrote – ‘There is a work entitled the Edinburgh Review, written with such unquestionable talent, that it had already attained an extent of circulation not equalled by any similar publication. The principles of this work are, however, so radically bad, that I have been led to consider the effect which such sentiments, so generally diffused, are likely to produce, and to think that some means equally popular ought to be adopted to counteract their dangerous tendency… Should you, sir, think the idea worthy of encouragement, I should with equal pride and willingness engage my arduous exertions to promote its success; but as my object is nothing short of producing a work of the greatest talent and importance, I shall entertain it no longer if it be not so fortunate as to obtain the high patronage which I have thus, sir, taken the liberty to solicit. Permit me, sir, to add, that the person who thus addresses you is no adventurer, but a man of some property, inheriting a business that has been established for nearly a century.’ Canning was willing, and other helpers were found. On the 1st February 1809 the first number of the Quarterly Review appeared, and its success was instant and decisive, the circulation quickly rising to 12,000 copies. The review was the origin of Mr Murray’s eminent fortune. It brought around him such a galaxy of genius as no publisher before or since has had at his service. In 1812 he removed from under the shadow of Temple Bar to a western position in Albemarle Street, where his drawing-room became the resort in London of Scott, Byron, Campbell, Heber, D’Israeli, Canning, Hallam, Croker, Barrow, Madame de Staël, Crabbe, Southey, Belzoni, Washington Irving, Lockhart, and many more, remembered and forgotten. Murray’s life-long distinction was his masterly enterprise, his fine combination of liberality with prudence, and his consummate literary and commercial tact. His transactions were the admiration and despair of lesser men. 

An intimate alliance of business and friendship subsisted for a time between Murray and the Ballantynes and Constable of Edinburgh. Constable gave Scott £1000 for the copyright of Marmion before it was written, of which Murray took a fourth; and when Scott was in his difficulties he gracefully made him a present of his share. Murray published The Tales of my Landlord, and the secret of the Great Unknown was manifest to him from the beginning. He early foresaw the result of the reckless trading of John Ballantyne, and, after repeated warnings, finally broke off connexion with him. Happy would it have been for Scott had he taken the same course. 

In 1826, seduced by others more sanguine than himself, he started The Representative, a daily newspaper, price sevenpence, intended to rival The Times. This venture proved a complete failure, and was stopped at the end of six months, with a loss to Mr Murray of £20,000. It was the solitary serious miscalculation of his life, and such a venture has not been repeated by the house of Murray. 

On the 27th of June 1843, Mr Murray closed his arduous and honourable career at the age of sixty-five, and was succeeded by his son John Murray III., who to this day maintains undimmed the glory of his father’s house, as publisher of the best books by the best authors.


On the 2nd of September 1724, a poor woman named Margaret Dickson, married, but separated from her husband, was hanged at Edinburgh for the crime of concealing pregnancy in the case of a dead child. After suspension, the body was inclosed in a coffin at the gallows’ foot, and carried off in a cart by her relatives, to be interred in her parish churchyard at Musselburgh, six miles off. Some surgeon apprentices rudely stopped the cart before it left town, and broke down part of the cooms, or sloping roof of the coffin, – thus undesignedly letting in air. The subsequent jolting of the vehicle restored animation before it had got above two miles from the city, and Maggy was carried home a living woman, though faint and hardly conscious. Her neighbours flocked around her in wonder; a minister came to pray over her; and her husband, relenting under a renewed affection, took her home again. She lived for many years after, had several more children creditably born, and used to be pointed out in the streets of Edinburgh, where she cried salt, as Half-hanget Maggy Dickson.1

At Cork a man was hanged in January 1767 for a street robbery, and immediately after carried to a place appointed, where a surgeon made an incision in his windpipe, and in about six hours recovered him. The almost incredible fact is added, that the fellow had the hardihood to attend the theatre the same evening.2 William Brodie, executed in Edinburgh, October 1788, for robbing the excise-office, had similar arrangements made for his recovery. It was found, however, that he had had a greater fall than he bargained for with the hangman, and thus the design was frustrated. 

It may be remarked, as helping to account for the great number of recoveries from hanging, that in former days a criminal was allowed to slide of slip gently from a ladder, so as to have very little fall; and consequently, as a rule, he suffered only asphyxia, and not a breaking of the vertebral column. In the mode followed now-a-days, hanging is a process very effectual for its end, so as to make resuscitation almost impossible.

1  The date of this case is usually given wrong. The particulars here stated are authentic. [This event is described in the ‘Domestic Annals’ chapter Reign of George the First which gives the same date as this article, “Sep. 2. 1724”.] 
2  Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vol. ix., p. 281. 
*  “Suspensus per collum” = hanged by the neck.

On this Day in Other Sources.

James IV., was crowned at Scone on the 26th of June, 1488, after which he proceeded to the palace of Stirling, where he took up his residence. 

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XI.

This year, 1493, the King calls a parliament, to be [held] at Edinburgh, the 26th day of June, wherein, amongst other [wholesome] laws, the eldest sons of barons and gentlemen are, under a great penalty, ordained to study the laws of the land. 

– Historical Works, pp.214-238.

On the 26th of June [1567], ten days after the Queen’s imprisonment, the insurgent lords, calling themselves “the lords of the Secret Council,” ordered letters to be directed, in the Queen’s name, to the keeper of Dunbar castle, to surrender the same, in six hours, as he had been received within it. On the same day, they issued a proclamation for arresting Bothwell; that he might be punished for the King’s murder. Now, the fact is, that Bothwell was himself the keeper of the castle of Dunbar; and the charge to surrender it, can only be construed, as an intimation, that he would do well to depart. 


Dalgleish, however, was apprehended, as one of the murderers of Darnley, on some day, immediately preceding the 26th of June: For, on that day, he appeared before the Privy Council; and was examined, about Darnley’s murder, by Morton, the intercepter of the box, by Athol, and other privy counsellors; yet, neither did they ask, nor he answer a single question, about the box, and letters. 

– Life of Mary, pp.155-184.

[Bothwell’s servant, Dalgleish] was examined on the 26th of June [1567], six days after his interception, about the King’s murder; yet, not a word was asked him, about the boxful of letters. Was Sir James Balfour, who was sitting in the Privy Council, on the 4th of December, examined, on this interesting subject? No. Was Morton, himself, examined? No. Were the box, and letters, laid before the Privy Council, on that occasion? No. The record of that Privy Council is silent, on this head; and it, only says, that such letters existed somewhere: They were not, therefore, produced, before the eyes of the privy counsellors: Now; what does not appear, must be supposed, in all fair discussion, not to exist. When the noble insurgents entered Holyrood-house, they took possession of the Queen’s plate, jewels, and other moveables, as well as her private papers, which were deposited there: But, did they find any letter, or paper, or writing, which would, in any manner, verify, or support, those supposititious privy letters, mentioned, in the act of Privy Council, but not produced? The answer must be, that no such discovery was ever pretended. Now; the only affirmative proof, which was brought of the existence of such supposititious letters, was the averment of Morton, the falsifier, the murderer, the traitor: But, those circumstantial negative proofs, which have been adduced above, would weigh down, in the fair estimate of reason, and judgment, a thousand such averments of such a man. 

– Life of Mary, pp.184-206.

On the 26th of June [1598], this year, the King’s majesty convened the estates of the realm at Edinburgh, in which convention I find only these 8 acts to be concluded:- 

  1. That all deadly feuds be reconciled and agreed.
  2. [About] these that were denounced his majesty’s rebels for slaughter.
  3. Act in favours of the 9 barons that had taken the Isles in feu from his majesty.
  4. That Monday be a day of recreation free from work.
  5. That no man speak for [James] the Laird of Johnstone, nor have any dealing or communication with him.
  6. [William Douglas] the Earl of Angus made Lieutenant of the Borders.
  7. That the debt owed by his majesty to Thomas [Foulis], be paid in 6 years, viz. 30,000 merks yearly.
  8. [James Beaton] the Bishop of Glasgow restored to his living of the Archbishopric of Glasgow, and to the temporality thereof.

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

John Kincaid of Warriston, near Edinburgh, was married to a handsome young woman, named Jean Livingstone, daughter to a man of fortune and influence, the Laird of Dunipace. Owing to alleged maltreatment, the young wife conceived a deadly hatred of her husband. A base-minded nurse was near to whisper means and ways of revenge, and the lady was induced to tamper with a young man named Robert Weir, a servant of her father, to become the instrument. At an early hour in the morning above noted, Weir came to Warriston, and being admitted by the lady into the gentleman’s chamber, there fell upon him with his fists, and soon accomplished his death. While Weir fled, the lady remained at home, along with the nurse. Both were immediately seized, subjected to a summary kind of trial before the magistrates, and condemned to death.

Weir, being taken four years after, was broken on the wheel (June 26, 1604); a severe death, scarcely ever before inflicted in Scotland. – Pit. Bir. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

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