The Life and Mystery of First Officer William Murdoch
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Murdoch Family

Writing on the loss of William Murdoch, Dalbeattie resident Richard Edkins says:

“The Murdochs had already lost four of their menfolk to the sea within five years, so they knew that death was all too possible... Jeannie Murdoch, William’s mother, died on the 20th January 1914, aged 75 years. Although she suffered from considerable illness in her later years, it is possible that the tragic loss of William was a factor in her decline. Samuel Murdoch died on the 6th March 1917 aged 75…" (1.)

Murdoch Family Tree

The family tree below has been created thanks to the research of Tiphaine Hirou and Petra Feyahn, as well as information provided by, Old Kirkcudbright website, the Irkyards website and the Susanne Störmer biography "Good-bye, Good Luck". Photographs courtesy of Wendy Murdoch Roberts and Tiphaine Hirou.

Please feel free to provide corrections or additions etc.

Murdoch family tree (Click image to enlarge)

Some extra biographical information:

Will Murdoch's oldest sibling Mary McMaster died before he was born, aged 4 (1865-1869). This was not the first time this happened in the family. His grandfather James' oldest brother John Muir Murdoch also suffered an infant death in 1809.

As for employment, his older brother James was a chemist (1867-1906) and his younger sister Margaret Elizabeth was a teacher/headmistress (1882-1973).

His younger brother Samuel Jr. Murdoch (1880-1950) was a mechant seaman, which is in keeping with the fact that a large number of seafaring members of Will Mudoch's family. For example:

His father Samuel Murdoch (1843-1917) was a Master Mariner.
His uncle William Murdoch (1856-1906) was a captain lost at sea in April 1906.
His other uncle John Murdoch (1857-1907) was also a first officer and lost at sea in 1907.
His grandfather James Murdoch (1814-1900) was a captain.
His grandfather's older brother Ebenezer Murdoch (1810-1864) was a captain.
His grandfather's older brother Andrew McCulloch Murdoch (1812-1860) was also a captain.
His grandfather's younger brother Alexander Murdoch (1827-1868) was a captain, who drowned in Hull.
His grandfather's youngest brother Charles Donalson Murdoch (1829-1860) was a captain in the Merchant Navy and was lost at sea in 1860.

It is interesting to note that in this family tree seven of his family members were Captains (one a first officer lost at sea in 1907) so you can understand the pressure Will must have experienced, even subconsciously, to command his own ship.

Other than a seafaring family, there were also a number of shoemakers, including his grandfather's two brothers John Coupland (1818-1879) and Samuel Murdoch (1827-1868). Also his great-grandfather Samuel Lowden Murdoch (1784-1830) and great-great grandfather Ebenezer (1761-1806) were both shoemakers.

Please click on the family images below to enlarge.

William's grandfather Captain James

Agnes Cumming, William's

William's father Captain Samuel

Jeanie Murdoch, mother of

William's uncle, John Murdoch
and his wife.

William's uncle, William Murdoch
and his wife.