Mr William McMurray was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England over the summer months of 1868 and was baptised on 9 August in Holy Trinity Church.
He was the son of an Irish father, Henry McMurray (1839-1903) and a Scottish mother, Isabella Oswald (b. 1835). His Belfast-born father came to England, possibly in the 1850s and was married to Kirkcaldy, Fife-native Isabella Oswald in Liverpool on 14 June 1858.
William had six known siblings: Henry (1861-1947), Robert (b. 1863), David (1866-1938), Isabella (b. 1870), Eliza (b. 1873) and Robert (1877-1940).
He first appears on the 1871 census whilst living with his family at 33 Lord Street, Birkenhead and would still be present at this address by the time of the 1881 census. When the 1891 census was conducted William was absent from home and apparently already at sea; his family were then living at 17 Elgin Street, Birkenhead and would still be listed here on the 1901 census, with William again absent.
William had went to sea at a very young age and first appears on crew manifests in November 1883, aged just 15 when he was a deck boy earning £1 a month aboard Britannia; the following year he was still working aboard the same ship. In November 1890 he again appears on crew manifests for Britannia, now as a steward; whether he worked on other ships during the interim is not known but he appears on numerous crew lists aboard Britannia from 1891 through June 1894.
By November 1899 McMurray had been working aboard Majestic for a period; he was shown to have later served aboard Orotova as 1st Saloon Steward for several voyages between February and April 1900 after which he returned to White Star and began service aboard Cedric, first appearing on her records in February 1903 and still showing up as late as April 1904 and perhaps beyond. On all voyages made between 1899 and 1904 McMurray stated his local address as 17 Elgin Street.
William was married in West Derby on 17 April 1902 to Clara Jones (b. 1877 in Oswestry, Shropshire). The couple settled in Liverpool and went on to have three children: Mary "May" Louisa (b. 1902, later Mrs Ernest Gardner), Ivy Isabella (b. 1905, later Mrs Thomas Housley) and William Ernest (b. 1909). William would again miss the next snapshot of Britain when the 1911 census was taken; his family were then listed at 60 Empress Road, Kensington, Liverpool.
Reportedly an esteemed employee of the White Star Line, William was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again in Southampton on 4 April 1912 he gave his address as 60 Empress Terrace, Liverpool. His previous ship had been the Celtic and as a bedroom steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
His daughter May penned him a letter dated 13/4/1912 and posted it to Southampton. It was returned to the family and undelivered.
60 Empress Road
It seems ages since I last seen you. I wish we where in Southampton with you it is very lonely without you Dear Father I have not been so very well I have had a a [sic] bad throat hoping I will soon get better for Mama worries so much little Ernie as not been so well but he has got better now hoping you are keeping well dada so ta love from Ivy and and [sic] Ernie thank dada for the presents love from all dada hoping to see you soon with love from Ivy and May and Ernie xxxxxxxxxx kisses for dada x
Dada this is my first letter
William McMurray died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
His family continued to live in Liverpool and on the second anniversary of the sinking his wife placed the following memorial in the Liverpool Echo (15 April 1914):
McMURRAY--In sad but loving memory of my dear husband, Will, who lost his life in the Titanic disaster, April 15, 1912. However long my life shall last, whatever lands I view. Whatever joy or grief be mine, till death I'll think of you. (Sadly missed by his sorrowing wife and children)
The following year she placed a similar memorial in the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo (15 April 1915):
McMURRAY--In loving memory of my dear husband William McMurray, who lost his life April 15, 1912 in the Titanic disaster. (Sadly missed by his loving wife and children)
His wife Clara never remarried and died from leukaemia in the spring of 1915 aged 37. Both his daughters married and remained in Liverpool; May died on 10 August 1985 and Ivy in April 1987. His son was aboard the Laconia when she was torpedoed in 1942 and survived; he later died near Liverpool in 1976.