George Murray

(7 Aug 1845 –18 May 1921)

George was the youngest son in the family of Andrew and Maria Murray, described by his on sister as robust, lively, and full of fun. His mother (Maria) writes of him: “He is really the life of the house; though Papa has sometimes to check him, when his temper becomes too lively. I trust he will be preserved form temptation. I believe he is the Lord’s.” [1]

While a student at the Theological Seminary in Stellenbosch, he stayed with his eldest sister, Maria and her husband, Rev JH Neethling. His first congregation was Willowmore (1869) where he remained for ten years. During his time there, he married Kitty Louw and they raised sixteen healthy children – all of whom reached adulthood. In 1879 they went to Swellendam, where George spent thirteen of his most productive years in ministry.

In 1892 George and Kitty were called to Oudtshoorn where they lived for almost 18 years. Here, more than any other congregation, George fulfilled his life-task. Their family was frequently described as not only the largest, but certainly the healthiest and happiest group of brothers and sisters in any parsonage. They were also known for their helpfulness and taking care of one another and the household duties, while having fun and being joyous.

In 1900, during the Anglo Boer War (ABW), George was permitted as chaplain to the prisoners of War in Ceylon, where he spent between four and five months with some four thousand Boers. Many of them wrote afterwards how his ministry during the time, changed their lives – some going into mission work in Africa.

His last congregation was De Hoop, where he, at the age of sixty-five, stared a new congregation and built it up for the next six years until 1916, when he at the age of 71, went on pension.  

George felt that his sermons should be such that children could understand and benefit from it. Therefore, adults rarely left his sermons, not taking something very tangible home with them. He also used his sense of humour in his writings and books on the fictional “Oom Willem Smit” – an elder of the church whom addresses daily situations and answers questions from congregation members. Always modest about his own writing ability, only at a ripe age George ventured to publish a number of other popular books, such as Gebeden voor Christelike Huisgezinnen (Prayers for Christian Households).

Many of George and Kitty’s sixteen children went into mission or the ministry: Andrew George (the eldest) became the first missionary in Portuguese East Africa, George Jnr became missionary in Gutu; Henry in Morgenster, Louis in Malembo (Nyasaland); Helen married a missionary (Rev JA Retief) and lived in Nyasaland; Elise married Rev Reynecke, Morgenster (Mashonaland) and two daughters, Hettie and Cecile, studied nursing to enter the mission.

George died at the age of 76, still actively serving the Lord, and with his well-known sense of humour intact. He was widely loved, being described as “minsaam” (lovable), tender, kind hearted, helpful, humble, unassuming and earnest. Although having a keen sense of humour, he was always willing to bring powerful, spirit-filled messages when required, and to attend ceaselessly to those who needed him. Two apt descriptions of him, are the following:

“He always left something good behind in a home he had visited.”[2]

“He was a life-long student of the highest school, and therefore had an indescribable and deep knowledge of Jesus Christ. This knowledge was reflected in his daily life”[3]


[1] Unto Children’s Children, p 112-114

[2] De Kerkbode, 2 June 1921, p 615 [author’s free translation]

[3] De Kerkbode, 2 June 1921, p 617 [author’s free translation]