Catherine (Kitty) Murray

(1840 – 1860)

Catherine (Kitty) lived for only nineteen years, yet her death had a profound impact on many of the family members, such as her sister Isabella and even on her new sister in law, Andrew’s wife Emma Murray (Rutherfoord), with whom she had spend some time shortly before her death. She is described as “the really musical one of the family”. Unfortunately, she died unexpectedly a few days before her nineteenth birthday in Graaff Reinet.[1]

Kitty was loving and much loved and was always in perfect health. Then, after a very short illness, she died unexpectedly. She complained of a headache of Wednesday, and on Thursday seemed no better. That night she said; “I can stay no longer: I have heard of it by the hearing of the ear; for now I know what illness is”.  Maria (Mama) slept with Kitty that night, and when on Friday morning she was no better, the doctor was called. At first, he did not think her so ill, but on Saturday morning, as Kitty became very oppressed, he came again and looked very grave, announcing that if there was no improvement soon, he would bring in another doctor. The doctors did bloodletting and diagnosed the inflammation of the larynx – like a spider web spun around the windpipe, similar to croup in a little child.

Kitty spoke little after that, and on Saturday night, when Mama asked her “My child, are you going to leave us?” Kitty answered, “Yes, and think of it! To be with Jesus, and to grieve the Saviour no more!”. When she heard that Papa was away and that she would see him no more, she said “Never mind, I’ll thank in him in heaven for what he has done for me. Kitty asked the servants to be called and said good-bye to them. When Bella (Isabelle) said to her that it would be her birthday the next Thursday, she answered, “Yes, now I will spend my birthday in heaven!” She also sent messages to various friends and her very last words were that of a hymn[2]:

“In time the grave will gather my dust

Joyous as if in dying pain.

The last word that I will murmur,

Free grace, Grace ‘t was.”[3]


[1] The young Mrs Murray goes to Bloemfontein

[2] Unto Children’s Children, p 73-75

[3] Author’s free translation