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James Dixon Murray

For other people named James Murray, see James Murray (disambiguation).

James "Jim" "Jimmy" "JD" Dixon Murray (17 September 1887 – 24 January 1965) was a British coal miner and Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom.

Early life and education

James Dixon Murray was born in East Howle, County Durham, on 17 September 1887 to William Murray and Amelia Murray née Dixon. He was a member of a family of 12 brought up in a miner's three-roomed cottage at 27, Front Street, Browney Colliery. He began work in a Durham pit at 13, and at 16 was hewing coal. He had an elementary education, educated at East Howle Elementary school, but was anxious to improve himself, went to evening classes and twice won WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) university scholarships.

Early political career (1925–1942)

He was a miners' union official, was elected to Durham County Council in 1925, and in 1937 became an Alderman of Durham City.

Parliamentary career

He was elected unopposed as Member of Parliament (MP) for Spennymoor at a by-election in July 1942, following the resignation through ill-health of the Labour MP Joseph Batey. He held the seat at the 1945 election, and when the Spennymoor constituency was abolished for the 1950 general election, he was returned as MP for the new North West Durham seat.

He retired from Parliament at the 1955 election.

Maiden speech

An urban myth surrounds his maiden speech. It is popularly believed that it took him years to make his maiden speech, finally rising to his feet during World War II to complain about "the shortage of dum-tits at Meadowfield Co-op".[1][2][3][4][5] In fact he made his maiden speech, entitled "Coal Situation"[6] on 1 October 1942, a little over two months after his election to parliament. His speech about the "Soothers"[7] was actually made during the closing months of World War II, almost 3 years after his entry to Parliament.

Parliamentary incidents

Murray was publicly reprimanded in the House of Commons on 17 March 1947 by Tory MP Robert Boothby for eating an orange, as Boothby was allergic to oranges.[8]

Personal life

Prior to his election to Parliament, he ran a shop and lived in a house opposite it at 11 Frederick Street, North Meadowfield until he died. He was an Independent Methodist Minister and President of the Browney Independent Methodist Church in Brandon Lane. When the chapel closed, he founded and opened the new Murray Independent Methodist Church on 11 October 1958 on the new Saw Mills Estate, at Grove Road, Brandon which is locally known as "Jimmy Murray's chapel". He died at Dryburn Hospital, Durham and left an estate valued at £14,769[9][10] and was survived by his wife and their three daughters.


  1. ^ Golden Browney Northern Echo, 1 July 2004 Retrieved on 2012-09-29
  2. ^ Spinning yarns of yo-yos Northern Echo, 7 July 2004 Retrieved on 2012-09-29
  3. ^ Fighting a peculiar prejudice Northern Echo, 14 July 2004 Retrieved on 2012-09-29]
  4. ^ From the chapel to the clarts Northern Echo, 21 July 2004 Retrieved on 2012-09-29]
  5. ^ Gadfly Northern Echo, 28 July 2004 Retrieved on 2012-09-29
  6. ^ Hansard, 1 October 1942 vol 383
  7. ^ Hansard, 5 June 1945 vol 411
  8. ^ Time Magazine, 17 March 1947
  9. ^ England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1858-1966
  10. ^ Northern echo, Pit boy who became M.P. left £14,000, date unknown

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joseph Batey
Member of Parliament for Spennymoor
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for North West Durham
Succeeded by
William Ainsley