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Matthew Murry

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Memorial ID 181599032 · View Source
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Biography I wrote when I was working for the Finding the Maryland 400 project ( Used here in hopes of connecting with existing ancestors.

Matthew Murry, sometimes spelled Murray, enlisted as a private in Captain Thomas Ewing's Fourth Company, part of the First Maryland Regiment, on January 26, 1776. [1] During this time, the Fourth Company was stationed in Baltimore, training until they departed for New York. [2]

It is possible he was a Matthew Murry, a convict servant, an indentured servant who was an imprisoned convict, and a "tinner by trade."[3] Tinners were colonial craftspeople who made sheet iron in small pieces by heating and beating an iron bar with hammers repeatedly. [4] Considering the fact that Frederick is 46-48 miles from Baltimore and his name is the same as the one who would later enlist in the Maryland Line, Murry could have easily ran away to Baltimore to escape being a servant. [5]

The First Maryland Regiment were the first troops Maryland raised at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Maryland was more than willing to do its part to recruit the men needed to fill the Continental Army's depleted ranks. [6] A few days after independence was declared, the First Maryland Regiment was ordered to New York so it could join the forces of General George Washington. The regiment arrived there in early August, with the Battle of Brooklyn set between the Continental Army and the British Army, joined by their Hessian allies.

Four days before the Maryland troops departed for New York, Daniel Bowie was promoted to captain of the Fourth Company after Captain Thomas Ewing became a colonel in the Maryland Flying Camp. [7] Murry served with Bowie's company at the Battle of Brooklyn in late August 1776. The company was placed at the front of the lines, but was attacked by advancing British soldiers and was unable to "escape in the best manner we possibly could" by crossing the swampy Gowanus Creek. A sergeant of the company, William McMillan, vividly described what happened:

"...On the evening of the 26 August we left New York and landed on Longe Ilsland and the next day we [was] August 27 battle...My captain was killed, first lieutenant was killed, second lieutenant shot through the hand, two sergeants was killed; one in front of me [and] sometime my bayonet was shot off my gunn two corporals killed all belonged to our Company[.] [Our] Captain['s] name was Daniel Bowie from Annapolis...That afternoon my brother and I [and] 50 or 60 of us was taken...[when] we were surrounded by Healanders [Highlanders] on one side, Hessians on the other and the Hessians broke the butts of our guns over their cannon and robbed us of everything we had...and gave us nothing to eat for five days, and then [only] moldy biscuits…blue, mindey [moldy], full [of] bug[s] and rotten." [8]

Eighty one percent of the men in Bowie's company were either killed or captured, even more than the companies of Edward Veazey, Benjamin Ford, Peter Adams, and Barton Lucas, which also suffered heavy losses. This confirmed the assessment of the British Parliament's Annual Register which described how "almost a whole regiment from Maryland…of young men from the best families in the country was cut to pieces" even as the battle brought the men of the Maryland 400 together. [9]

The Battle of Brooklyn, the first large-scale battle of the war, fits into the larger context of the Revolutionary War. If the Maryland Line had not stood and fought the British, enabling the rest of the Continental Army to escape, then the Continental Army would been decimated, resulting in the end of the Revolutionary War. This heroic stand gave the regiment the nickname of the Old Line and those who made the stand in the battle are remembered as the Maryland 400.

By September, only one sergeant, one drummer, and twelve privates remained, half of whom were sick. [10] At this point, 52 privates and 4 sergeants were needed to complete the regiment, while Bowie and Joseph Butler died in captivity not long after the battle. [11] As McMillian recounted, Bowie was joined by his other Marylanders, such as Edward Prall, William Courts, and Samuel McMillan, as prisoners. These Marylanders were likely put onto British prison ships initally and possibly imprisoned in the city with other Marylanders such as Thomas McKeel. [12] At the same time, they may have been sent to Halifax with McMillian and his brother, William, among other soldiers, staying until spring 1777. [13] Regardless of where they were sent as prisoners, they did not fair well because the British were not ready for the large number of prisoners they captured after the battle. Since Britain was not at war with a foreign country, the captured Continentals were treated as rebels, rather than prisoners of war, and were treated cruely, abused, and tortured. [14]

Numerous soldiers were killed or captured during the battle, meaning that the Fourth Company was nearly wiped out in the battle and never regained its full strength, even by late fall 1776. [15] However, Murry survived the Battle of Brooklyn, and re-enlisted in the First Maryland Regiment. [16] There are records a "Mathew Murray" in the Fifth Maryland Regiment who served from February 1777 to June 1778, and one who served on the Connecticut ship named Defence, both of whom deserted before their terms of enlistment were up. [17] However, neither of these are Matthew Murry because soldiers of the First Maryland Regiment enlisted for a term that lasted until December 1776, when Murry re-enlisted along with Samuel Goslin, William Chaplin, and John Herron, along with numerous other soldiers. [18]

During his time in the First Maryland Regiment, in the following years, Murry participated in numerous military engagements. Alongside his fellow soldiers, he wintered at Morristown, and fought in the Battles of Germantown, Staten Island, Princeton, and Brandywine in 1777. [19]

On April 15, 1778, Murry deserted from the First Maryland Regiment when it was camped in Wilmington, New Jersey. [20] It is not known if Murry was one of the four deserters from the regiment apprehended in mid-April 1778 or if he deserted to avoid punishment for stealing supplies. [21] It is clear, however, that he was only one of the three soldiers to desert from the company in the past two months. [22]

Murry's life after his desertion is not clear. A man named "Matthew Murray" was living in Baltimore from the 1810s and 1830s, and was a sheriff and tax collector in Baltimore County. [23] There was another man naned "Matthew Murry" who was an esquire and Justice of Peace in Baltimore County in 1830s. [24] It is not known which one, if any of these men, were Matthew Murry.


[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online vol. 18, 12.

[2] Pension of William McMillan, National Archives and Records Administration, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, S 2806, from

[3] "The Shillings Reward," Dunlap's Maryland Gazette (or Baltimore General Advertiser), February 13, 1776, Vol. I, issue XLII, p. 3. The ad describes Murry as a forty year old bald man of brown complexion, wearing a purple coat, old leather breeches and a hemp linen shirt running away from his master, Nicholas Hyster, in Frederick Town.

[4] Edwin Tunis, Colonial Craftsmen: And the Beginnings of American Industry (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965), 65.

[5] As a result of the Revolution, convict trade was brought to a halt and the enlistment of servants to the Continental Army created a labor shortage addressed by an increase of slave importation by master craftspeople. Many of these servants ran to Baltimore. For more information see "A “dull place” on the Patapsco: Baltimore and the Marr Brothers" on the Finding the Maryland 400 research blog.

[6] Arthur Alexander, "How Maryland Tried to Raise Her Continential Quotas." Maryland Historical Magazine 42, no. 3 (1947), 187-188, 196.

[7] Proceedings of the Conventions of the Province of Maryland, 1774-1776, Archives of Maryland Online vol. 78, 198; Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the U.S. Army Vol 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903), 220; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online vol. 18, 30, 54; Mark Andrew Tacyn “'To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 21, 247. The Fourth Company mainly consisted of men from Harford County.

[8] Pension of William McMillan.

[9] Tacyn, 4.

[10] Return of the six Independent Companies and First Regiment of Maryland Regulars, in the service of the United Colonies, commanded by Colonel Smallwood, Sept. 13, 1776, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 93, Roll 0034, courtesy of

[11] Heitman, 112; Tacyn, 17, 83; Roster of Smallwood's Battalion, January 1777, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, MdHR 4573, Red Book 12, p. 66 [MSA S989-17, 1/6/4/5].

[12] Pension of Thomas McKeel. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land-Warrant Application Files. NARA M804 S34977. From

[13] Pension of William McMillan.

[14] George C. Doughan, Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the American War of Independence (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016), 72.

[15] Return of the First Regiment of Maryland Regulars in the sevice of the United Colonies Commanded by William Smallwood, Oct. 11, 1776, p. 92-93, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 93, Roll 0034, folder 35, courtesy of; Tacyn, 161.

[16] Tacyn, 309; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online vol. 18, 137.

[17] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online vol. 18, 226, 606, 658; "Six Pounds Reward," Maryland Journal, August 21, 1776, Baltimore, Vol. III, issue 40, p. 4.

[18] Other soldiers who enlisted again in the First Maryland Regiment included Thomas Wiseman, Samuel Wiltshire, Richard Watts, Valentine Smith, Charles Riely, William McGinnis, William Nixon, Edward Price, William Parr, and Edward Cosgrove.

[19] Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center for Military History, 1983), 277; Tacyn, 131-4, 136-140, 143-144.

[20] Tacyn, 5, 186, 309; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online vol. 18, 137.

[21] Tacyn, 182, 191.

[22] Tacyn, 284, 287. The names of these soldiers were William Nixon (deserted March 16, 1778) and William Chaplin (deserted March 6, 1778). For more information see "Desertion: Scourge of the Army" on the Finding the Maryland 400 research blog.

[23] "List of Letters remaining in the Post Office, Baltimore, November 1st, 1828," Baltimore Patriot, November 4, 1828, Baltimore, Vol. XXII, issue 109, p. 1; "List of Letters remaining in the Post Office, Baltimore, September 1st, 1819," Baltimore Patriot, September 4, 1829, Baltimore, Vol. XIV, issue 54, p. 4; "Former Sheriff's Sale," Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser, November 10, 1830, Vol. 74, issue 12354, p. 4; Deed by Matthew Murray to Benedict Hurst, October 15, 1828, Howard County Court, Land Records, Liber HD 11, p. 476 [MSA CE 113-36, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Session Laws, 1819 Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 638, 40, 41; William Kilty et. al., (eds).The Laws of Maryland from the End of the Year 1799 Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 192, 2234, 2235, 2394; Reports of Cases in the High Court of Chancery of Maryland 1846-1854 Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 200, 448, 454.

[24] "Sheriff's Sale," Baltimore Patriot, September 17, 1834, Baltimore, Vol. XLIII, issue 66, p. 3.


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  • Created by: historyhermann
  • Added: 20 Jul 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 181599032
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Matthew Murry (1736–unknown), Find A Grave Memorial no. 181599032, ; Maintained by historyhermann (contributor 49112035) Unknown.