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Rev. Lord George Murray


1761 - 1803

Developed the shutter telegraph. Born in Dunkeld, the second son of John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl (1729-74), Murray was noted for his piety. He entered the church and rose to become Bishop of St. Davids (Wales) from 1801 until his death.

The optical telegraph was first invented by Frenchman Claude Chappe, but his system was complex and little used. However, in 1796, Murray developed the shutter telegraph, which used six pivoting boards to encode messages character-by-character and designed a system to transmit messages from London to the British warships lying in Portsmouth Harbour. The system involved a chain of ten relay stations, built on high-ground, up to 11 miles (18 km) apart. The Admiralty made good use of the system, which was much more effective than Chappe's original, allowing orders to reach their destination in a matter of minutes, and paid Murray £2000 for his efforts. Further lines were set up between London, Yarmouth and Plymouth but the network did not survive the end of the Napoleonic Wars, when it was dismantled.

Murray died in London, leaving a wife, who had become Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Charlotte, and five children.


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