Charles and Amelia Murray

Charles was the fifth child (the fourth son) of Andrew and Maria Murray. As a little child of four, he was miraculously saved from drowning when he fell into a dam and was already unconscious when discovered. He received his education primarily at Graaff Reinet and later at Burghersdorp, where his brother John became minister. Later he was sent to the SA College in Cape Town. In 1854 he commenced his theological course at the University of Utrecht in Holland and in 1858, at the youthful age of 23, he accepted his first call as minister of the Dutch Reformed Church at Clanwilliam.

In 1861 he married Amelia Baillie, the daughter of a Wesleyan missionary in Namaqualand, who soon proved herself as a devoted wife and helpmate in his work.

This work was very demanding, for, in addition to his own large congregation, he was responsible, as “consulent”, for the wide expanses of Namaqualand as well. (It was during the execution of these duties as consulent that he had met Amelia in her home and fallen in love with her.)

In 1864 he was appointed by the Mission Committee of the DRC as Inspector of Missions and in this capacity he travelled extensively throughout the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, visiting mission stations as far as the Zoutpansberg.

On his return, he found that his beloved father had resigned, owing to failing health, as minister of Graaff Reinet, and that he had been called as his successor. He accepted the call, but before he could be inducted his father passed away. This was a great sorrow and disappointment to him. He had hoped so much to have the benefit of his father’s experience and counsel.

Charles remained as minister of Graaff Reinet until his death in 1904, so that for 82 years the pulpit had been manned by these two generations of Murrays! His widowed mother lived with him till her death in 1889, surrounded by the love of her children and grandchildren, and proving a constant blessing to them all.

Charles and Amelia had fourteen children, of whom only one died young. Four of the sons became ministers, one a doctor, one an inspector of schools and three of the daughters were teachers.

Now I quote from Unto Children’s Children:

“Charles’ ministry was much blessed. As a preacher, he had a winning voice and manner and a fresh and striking way of presenting the truth. Great conscientiousness characterised his work. Intense earnestness and denunciation of sin marked his preaching. One of his chief characteristics was his love for the young. He was extremely fond of children and had a peculiar gift of holding their attention. This interest in the young led him to compile the Kinderharp, a hymn book for children, which for many years held first place in the Sunday schools of the land until its place was taken the still more complete Halleluja. Perhaps his greatest joy was the large Sunday school of more than six hundred scholars, with an earnest band of teachers. Through his efforts, the Sunday school supported its own missionary in Central Africa.”

The new church at Graaff Reinet was built by him, on the site of the old one. The plan was largely his own. The foundation stone was laid by his beloved mother.

For more than a year before his death, Charles’ health began to fail. His last message to his congregation, on the Sunday morning before his death, was to tell them that he was looking forward soon “to see the King in His beauty and in His glory and to be forever with the Lord.”

He passed away on September 23, 1904. The funeral was very largely attended. He lies buried in the old cemetery, close to his beloved father and mother and his sister Kitty.

(From: Murray Newsletter April 1985)