John Anthony Jerningham Murray was born at Oaksey, Wiltshire on 21 Jan 1921. He was the eldest son of Capt Jock Challenger Murray and Cecilia Jerningham. He was educated at Eton and then Oxford but after a year war was declared and he joined the Grenadier Guards. He was in the 1st Battalion, then transferred to the 4th, of which he became adjutant. His service was all over Europe, from Normandy to the Baltic. He was a tank commander when he took it upon himself to cook all the food after dismissing the Guardsman who was performing that duty less than adequately. From this he developed a lifelong interest in cuisine that saw him scouring markets for the best fish or cheese.
After the war he retired from the army with the rank of major and worked in his family company in the Christmas Islands that mined phosphate. His grandfather, Sir John Murray, who founded the company was a marine naturalist and oceanographer who was part of the Challenger expedition in the 1870s that investigated the chemical, geological, physical and biological conditions of the major ocean basins. He edited the findings which stretched to 50 volumes, financing it mostly with his own money. Anthony was director of the business from 1947 to 1951 but the Australian government were given control of the island and compulsorily bought the business to nationalise it.
Murray then moved his interests to Barbados where the family had inherited the Kendal sugar plantation, the oldest and largest on the island. He developed the industry and became an important diplomatic intermediary between Barbados and Britain. He was chairman of the West India Committee, a trade body, from 1963 to 65, and then made honorary Trade Commissioner by the Barbadian Government. He spent much of his time in Brussels involved in complex EEC trade agreements based on sugar. His success in the West Indies was largely due to his determination to ignore class and racial divisions, an outlook that prove too modern for many of the diehard colonialists. He helped establish the Errol Barrow Memorial Trust which provides scholarships for West Indian students seeking education overseas. The government of Barbados recommended him for the award of the CBE which was granted in 1980. He was also knighted in 1987.
Christmas Atoll | Significant Individuals