Thomas Murray was born in c. 1885, the only son of John Murray, a quarryman, and Isabella E. Murray, of Church Street, Rothbury in Northumberland. His early life is unknown, but he matriculated as an evidently rather mature Arts student at St Chad’s Hall in Michaelmas term 1910, having attended St Chad’s Hostel at Hooton Pagnell for a year in order to prepare for the Durham Scholarship examination. He passed his first year exams in Easter term 1911, and won the William Jones Bursary to study for the Theological Special B.A. He also received financial help with his fees at this time from H.D. Horsfall.
At the Hostel Murray was captain of the Sports Committee: he captained its football team in the Epiphany term 1910, and won the tennis tournament. He went on to play tennis, rugby and football for St Chad’s Hall, being awarded his colours for each, and vice-captained the Durham Colleges rugby team. He was also treasurer then editor of the college’s magazine The Stag, and treasurer of the Durham Colleges Union Society. He participated in the Debating Society, seconding the motion ‘That the basis of Education should be classical rather than scientific’ on 9 February 1911, making “a plea for the real awakening of the faculties by a proper acquisition and classification of useful knowledge for future use and extension of knowledge”; on 15 November 1911 he proposed and carried the motion ‘The output of the press should be restricted’.
Murray went out of residence after the Michaelmas 1911 term and took no further exams, so ending his ambitions for the clerical career in the Church of England that he had reported to the census enumerator in 1911. Instead he appears to have opted for a teaching career, for he is next traced in 1912 as a Second Form master at Wallasey Grammar School in Merseyside.
He rapidly answered the call on the outbreak of war. He enlisted in September 1914 in the 11th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment which had just been formed in Chester as part of the third wave of Kitchener’s Army. He was almost immediately gazetted as a second lieutenant on 29 September, lieutenant on 15 October, and captain on 30 November 1914. The battalion was part of 75 Brigade, 25th Division. The battalion moved to Codford St Mary and was in billets in Bournmouth in November 1914. It later moved to Aldershot and went to France with 25th Division in September 1915. Murray ultimately became adjutant of the battalion. The battalion served on Vimy Ridge during May 1916 and arrived on the Somme shortly after 1 July. They were involved in 75th Brigade’s attack near Thiepval on 3 July and Murray was reported missing on 4 July 1916, and later confirmed as having been killed in action the previous day. His body was never recovered. A fellow teacher from Wallasey Grammar school, Captain John Lloyd William Howard Abell, who had joined up with Murray in 1914, died the same day serving alongside him in the same battalion.
Thomas Murray had married Dora Clark, a Post Office clerk in Rothbury, in 1911. His name is listed among the bell-ringers at both Rothbury and Liscard. The family home was at 1 Woodfield Road, Tonbridge in Kent at the time of his death. He is commemorated on the memorials at Thiepval on the Somme in France, at St Chad's College, and at Rothbury in the 1914-1918 Book of Remembrance, organ panels in All Saints’ Church, a plaque now located at Thropton War Memorial Hall, and the war memorial in the High Street. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the war memorial at Wallasey Hospital, and also probably in the Liscard Roll of Honour.