James Murphy

Coal, Lime Merchant, Plasterer

Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman City of Sydney 1857 1860
Alderman City of Sydney 1860 1873
Mayor City of Sydney 1860 1860
  • Portrait of alderman James Murphy when he was mayor in 1860 (Private collection, Bradly family)

Family background

James Murphy was born on 29 September 1801 in Pembrokeshire, Wales, son of John and Sarah Murphy.

James Murphy married Mary John (1803-1885) in Steynton, Pembrokeshire, Wales on 3 May 1828. They had six children: John (1829-70); Emma Bradly (1833-99); Amelia (1836-); James (c1838-); Elizabeth (1840-79) and Mary Anne (1843-1915). James Murphy and his family immigrated to Australia, arriving to Sydney on the Sir Edward Paget on 14 February 1842. The family lived at Cambrian Lodge, Strawberry Hills.

When he died in 1883, James Murphy left behind a widow and three children.

Occupation & interests

James Murphy arrived in Sydney with his family on the Sir Edward Paget on 14 February 1842. The passenger list gave his occupation as a bricklayer and plasterer.

Murphy was associated with Dr Ludwig Leichhardt as they travelled together to Australia on the same ship. Murphy’s son John (1829-70) joined the overland expedition from Brisbane to Port Essington, Northern Territory, led by Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844-45 when he was 15 years old. James Murphy became a lime and coal merchant with a wharf at the foot of Liverpool. His private residence was Cambrian Lodge on Elizabeth Street (Strawberry Hills); the site was later used as marble yard by Anthony Hordern. James Murphy was also associated with the Carcoar area of NSW, possibly due to his mining interests.

In February 1844 James Murphy, plasterer of Elizabeth Street South, dissolved his partnership with James O’Brien; he later went into partnership with James Bradly. In June 1844, a James Murphy signed a petition to the mayor asking him to convene a meeting of Roman Catholics. By 1862 in a council contract for Haymarket sewerage works, James Murphy was described as a gentleman of Elizabeth Street.

Parliamentary service

James Murphy was elected member of the Legislative Council on 13 May 1861 but did not take his seat.

Local government service

James Murphy was elected Alderman for Cook Ward, 11 April 1857 to 30 November 1860, as an unflinching supporter of reform. Murphy was elected mayor in 1860. He was alderman for Denison Ward for 13 years, from 1860 to 1873.


Additional information on James Bradley, and portrait, courtesy the Bradly family.

City of Sydney Archives: Aldermen’s Files

Letter – James Murphy, Cambrian Lodge, Strawberry Hills to Town Clerk, Thank you for Vote of Thanks from council, 1861 City of Sydney Archives, A-00293027, https://archives.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/nodes/view/1542479

Letter – James Murphy, Cambrian Lodge, protesting that work carried out in Wilton Lane, 1863, City of Sydney Archives, A-00293534, https://archives.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/nodes/view/1542982

Letter – J Murphy, Cambrian Lodge to Mayor – application for 7 days medical leave, 1871, City of Sydney Archives, A-00300338, https://archives.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/nodes/view/1102258

Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW: Manuscripts Murphy Papers ML MSS 1466; ML MSS 2193

‘Murphy, James (1801–1883)’, Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/murphy-james-17130/text28952, accessed 10 November 2016.

‘Original Correspondence’, Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer 18 June 1859, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59870738

‘Law Supreme Court – Wednesday’, The Sydney Morning Herald 7 August 1862, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13232390

Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle 4 March 1865, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65463138

‘City Municipal Council’, Freeman’s Journal 3 October 1868, p. 2 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115432653

Australian Town and Country Journal 16 June 1883, p. 14 http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/71000538

‘Latest News’, The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser 16 June 1883, p. 1138 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162079364

‘The Mayor’, The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 30 November 1889, p. 1208, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162069473

Parliament of New South Wales, Former Members, Mr James Murphy


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