Compiled: April 2023


Grace Amelia Murray was initiated in September 1891 at its Isis-Urania temple in London; and chose the motto In excelsis. She was a friend of GD members the Laing sisters - Cecilia MacRae and Florence Kennedy – and because she was moving house when she was getting ready to be initiated, gave Cecilia’s address for where to send correspondence. In April 1892 Grace Amelia borrowed the texts of some talks to GD members given by William Wynn Westcott; they were on lineal figures and polygrams; and on magical oracles. This was probably part of an attempt to do the study required to qualify for the initiation into the GD’s inner, 2nd Order. She never took that second initiation and had ceased to be a member by 1903 at the latest. However, the talks she borrowed may have informed a book on ancient rituals that she wrote later in life.


R A Gilbert’s The GD Companion.

Freemasons’ Library GD collection GBR GD2/2/8a: receipts for items borrowed from William Wynn Westcott during 1891-1892.


Grace Amelia was the second daughter of Sir George Samuel Abercromby, 6th Baronet, and his wife Agnes Georgiana Browne, a daughter of the 3rd Baron Kilmaine. The Abercromby family owned land in both Scotland and Ireland but their main residence was Forglen House, near Turiff in Aberdeenshire. Grace Amelia was born in London in 1864 and lived most of her life there. Her father died when she was eight and her brother Robert inherited as the 7th Baronet. Her mother died in 1898.

In December 1887 Grace Amelia married Keith William Murray (born 1860) son of William Powell Murray, a barrister who became Registrar of the High Court of Bankruptcy in London. Although he trained as an engineer, from 1887 Keith Murray worked as a genealogist, for Alfred Scott-Gatty, who became Garter King of Arms; and then for the College of Arms; which deals with royal and aristocratic issues of heraldry and genealogy. He died in 1922 and as far as I can tell was not a relation of GD member Oswald Murray.

Grace Amelia published a handful of works over a period of nearly 30 years: a work reflecting on the challenges to Christian faith in the modern era; a set of biographies of 18th century personalities; and some translations of novels from the French. She died in 1932.

Grace Amelia and Keith William Murray had one child, Gladys Grace, born 1889. During the first World War Gladys went as a Red Cross volunteer to be housekeeper at the Lady Hadfield Hospital at Wimereux. She married George Shirley Kilby in 1919 and died in 1943; I think they had no children.

Sources for the profile:

The Abercromby family and Forglen House:

Debrett Baronetage 1880 p1 Abercromby of Birkenbog.

Wikipedia pages on the baronetcy and on Grace’s brother Sir Robert Abercromby. And on Forglen House; the estate was sold by the Abercromby family in 1974 after the death of the 7th Baronet.

The Patrician volume 4 1847 pp410-12 an article on Forglen House which had only recently been finished.

At // some photographs of Forglen House though it’s a moot point how much time Grace Amelia actually spent there.

Via googlebooks: The Scottish Nation vol 1 by William Anderson 1862 p233 explaining that the Forglen estate came into the Abercromby family after the death of the 8th Baron Banff without heirs; his sister Jane Abercromby inherited it.

Sir George Samuel and Agnes Georgiana Abercromby and their children:

Wikipedia on the barons Kilmaine.

Grace’s death:

Times Mon 18 January 1932 p1b death notices.

Probate Registry 1932.

Grace’s husband:

At, William Powell Murray and his wife Georgina Charlotte Daysh Turnour (though Georgina’s surname is wrongly spelled as Turner).

At // an entry for William Powell Murray as a pupil at Westminter School from 1829; Trinity College Cambridge, BA 1839.

Joseph Foster’s Men at the Bar 1884 p333: Lincoln’s Inn 1836. Called to the bar 1841.

Searches on google came up with plenty of references to his work in issues of London Gazette.

At the James McNeill Whistler collection includes letters from Powell Murray in 1878-79, when Whistler went bankrupt.

For the functions of the College of Arms see its website at and its wikipedia page.

Who Was Who 1916-28 p764 entry for Keith William Murray, who died in January 1922.

The Genealogist 1922 pp254-55 In Memoriam Keith William Murray.

Probate Registry 1922.

Daughter Gladys Grace: freebmd; there’s no probate registry entry for her.

At // brief details of her war work though I couldn’t find exactly when Gladys was working at the hospital.

At information on Lady Hadfield’s hospital, officially Number 5 British Red Cross Hospital, which opened in December 1914 and closed in January 1919.

Freebmd, Ancestry and probate registry 1965 for George Shirley Kilby, who married again after Gladys’ death. In 1911 he was working for a bank and I presume he continued to do so after the first World War. During the war he was seconded to work for the RAF.

Debrett’s Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage 1931 p2 Abercromby of Birkenbog.

GRACE’S WRITINGS; where the author’s name, as given in the book, can be confusing

1904 Introspective Essays

London: Elliot Stock. Author’s name here: Grace A Murray.

Listed as forthcoming in Publishers’ Circular volume 81 1904 issue of 6 August 1904 p118.

It was also advertised in:

The Academy and Literature 1904 issue of 26 November 1904 p507; seen at

The Churchman Advertiser issue of December 1904 p7 where the essays in it were described as a “mingling of idealism and pessimism, of faith and unfaith”.

There was a review of the book by “DND” in Theosophical Review volume 36 March-August 1905; editors Annie Besant and G R S Mead. Issue of March 1905 pp89-90. Published London: Theosophical Publishing Society; and Chicago, Benares (Varanasi) and Madras (Chennai). I have not found any evidence of Grace Amelia as a Theosophical Society member and she was not someone known to the reviewer, who referred to her as “Miss Murray”. The review described the book’s essays as written by someone “groping laboriously” to build “a shelter from the devastations of doubt”. The reviewer saw the author as typical of the many people who saw “only fragments...of the huge systems of philosophy and religion she touches upon”, and those not necessarily the most important aspects; though DND did admit that it was given to very few to see more.

Then Grace Amelia Murray published nothing for over 20 years; until:

1927 Personalities of the 18th Century

London: Heath, Cranton. Author’s name here: Grace A Murray. Preface by Nigel Playfair.

Two much later editions: 1972 Folcroft Pa: Folcroft Library Editions. And 1977 Norwood Ga: Norwood Editions.

Nigel Playfair (1874-1934) was an actor, producer and actor-manager, running the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in the 1920s. In 1924 he commissioned the first known play specifically for radio.

There were reviews of the book at the time, in Art and Archaeology volumes 25-26 1928 p56; and in The Spectator volume 140 1928 p212.

1928 Nightfall

London: Henry Walker. British Library catalogue lists author’s name as Henri Ardel pseudonym. Grace Amelia’s name as translator doesn’t appear in the catalogue entry; though if you search with ‘Grace Murray’ Nightfall does come up in the BL’s list of responses.

At // some information on Berthe Abraham (1863-1938) who used the writing name Henri Ardel. The entry describes her as writing sentimental stories aimed at a female audience. There’s a list of publications. Nightfall is a translation of her La Nuit Tombe published in French in 1928.

1929 Ancient Rites and Ceremonies

London: Senate. Author’s name here: Grace A Murray/Mrs Keith Murray.

This is the only book by Grace Murray that is easily available now. It has often been used as a resource by later authors. Several later editions: 1930 London: Alston Rivers. 1980 Toronto: Tutor Press. 1996: Random House Ltd in its “Senate” Imprint. 2003: Kessinger Publishing.

1931 [Kar Chat] The Messenger of the Snow.

London: E Mathews and Marrot. Author’s name here: Grace Keith Murray, as the second of two translators, with Marja C Slomczanka; from the original novel in Polish by Ferdynand Goetel. Preface by G K Chesterton.

Kar Chat is the name of one of the book’s characters.

1931 [Contes Réels et Fantaisistes] - Saints and Sinners

London: Heath Cranton. Author’s name here: Grace Keith Murray as translator of the original French short stories by Pierre Fondaie, the writing name of René Fraudet.

At // there is a long article on Albert René Fraudet (1884-1948) – actor and dramatist, the protégé of Sarah Bernhardt; novelist; sometime Hollywood scriptwriter. The page has a list of his published works: Contes Réels et Fantaisistes, a set of short stories, was an early work, published in 1911.

An advertisement for Grace Amelia’s translation described the original tales as “excellent examples” of the wit that was expected of short stories. Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art volume 153 1932 p131. The book was also advertised in The Spectator volume 147 1931 p540.


April 2023

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especially if you know of any other works by Grace Amelia Murray.

Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: