Benjamin Murdoch/Murdock, born (and lived most of his life) in Frederick County, was a young man, twenty-one years old in 1780. In previous posts we have noted how Benjamin Murdoch was described by Mountjoy Bayly as an officer in the Maryland Line, the same year that Bayly’s first wife, Elizabeth, would die from a form of cancer. Beyond that, we have written about how he commanded the First Company of the Extra Regiment, with Theodore Middleton within the same unit, was promoted in September 1780, and is one of the 19 people in the unit with a pension. There is much more than these titillating tidbits suggest.
The final years of the war
Throughout the war, Benjamin held many military positions and was recruited from Frederick County. He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Maryland Regiment, commanded by Col. John Gunby, in April 1777 and continued in this position until May 1779. He returned home after “some difference arose respecting my Rank” which was settled and he returned home. In 1780, after the state created the Extra Regiment, he was appointed as a captain, “one of the oldest…in said Regiment,” which implies that the other captains were younger than 21 years, hence they were born after 1759. Other than describing officers such as Alexander Lawson Smith and Edward Giles, he goes on to describe the movement of the regiment to Philadelphia to report to Washington, then once equipped, they marched south to join Nathanial Greene. He adds, still within his federal veterans pension application, that he “left the service in the Spring of 1781 in consequence of the Maryland Line consisting of Eight Regiments being consolidated into Four” and that the officers of the Extra Regiment “were all sent home as supernumaries.” He also notes that he was at the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown where he was “wounded,” and the battle of Monmouth. Within the same document, Mountjoy Bayly certifies that Murdoch was a captain as noted previously on this blog.
Existing records confirm his account of service. Apart from the question of whether it was him who marched out to Washington County “with all deliberate speed” there is no doubt that he served as a Lieutenant in the Maryland Line and later as a captain.  Dr. David B. Boles, the founder of Bolesbooks, who has been publishing family ancestries since the 1980s also mentions Benjamin, writing:
“…A Capt. Benjamin Murdock was also mentioned. Of these the only one who completely checks out was Benjamin Murdock, who was a Lt. of the first Maryland Regiment of Continental troops in Mar 1779, and a Capt. in July 1780. Isaac said that in early 1779, Continental officer Capt. Benjamin Murdock performed enlistment duty in Fredericktown”
After the end of his war service, on December 22, 1781, he married a woman named Mary Ann Magruder in Seneca, Montgomery County, MD.  He would eventually have three children with her, named Richard, Eliza, and Anitta. The Magruder family, which were Royalists from Scotland back in the 1650s, had settled in Prince George’s County, amassing thousands of acres of land, and became prominent across Southern Maryland.
Little else is known about Benjamin’s life in the 1780s. However, it is clear that in 1787, Benjamin sold over 200 acres which had been given to him by his father, Reverend George, when he was only thirteen, in 1772. The above link claims he patented a tract called The Garden two years before. Searching available resources, it shows this is correct. He did patent it, but no more information is known currently as the record has not been scanned in:
Looking through the same site, I found a number of tracts named Discovery. They range from 89 to over 173 acres.  It is not known which of these Benjamin owned later on in his life. Regardless, he later settled some of his deeds in Montgomery County in the Orphans Court with his relatives there reportedly. There is no doubt, however, that in 1778, a William Murdoch bought a part of a tract named Discovery from Moses Ouno.  This would be the land Benjamin would own in later years. It is known also how Henry Baggerty and Charles Philips paid Benjamin, described as a planter, for Beall and Edmondson’s Discovery.  This could be found that this tract was 894 acres but no other information has been found:
Into the 1790s
Like the 1780s, little information is known about Benjamin and his family during this time period. While he is not mentioned in the 1790 federal census, a man named George Murdock Esquire was living in Frederick, Maryland with 19 enslaved Blacks, two men with the last name Murdock living in Montgomery, Maryland, and another man, named William Murdock living in Frederick, Maryland.  It is not known if any of these men are related to Benjamin. The following year a man named named John Murdock had a plat to a land tract called Friendship. This is the same man, who in 1783, owned over 2,000 acres of land in Montgomery County alone.
This was the time period, as briefly mentioned in his federal veterans pension application, he had a “few years residence in Montgomery County.” In June 1794, he was undoubtedly living in the county. The Maryland Gazette proves this by showing that he was made a major in the Montgomery County grouping of the Maryland militia, along with five other individuals:
This was a far cry from his ancestors who were the first settlers of Western Maryland in 1730 and his father (possibly) who was committed and loyal to the British Crown.  Instead, Benjamin was loyal to the United States and the county he lived in, which at that time was Montgomery.
Moving onto the 19th century
For many years, the life of Benjamin is hazy. In 1800, a man named “George Mindock” (supposed to be Murdock) is listed as living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland with nine enslaved people and another named William Murdock living in Emmitsburg, Frederick, Maryland with one enslaved person. It is not known whether these men are related to Benjamin.
However, there is concrete evidence he was living in the county. When George Fraser Magruder died on January 27, 1801, Benjamin, his son-in-law, became the executor of his estate.  Five years later, his sister, Eleanor died in the District of Columbia sometime before June 25, 1805. Within her will, she called Benjamin a “kind brother and friend”:
There are other records that attest to his residency. In July 1800, Benjamin, Thomas Taylor of Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Huff Canby of Virginia, the latter two executors of the will of another individual, made an agreement.  Not only does this note that Benjamin was living in Frederick County, but that he paid Taylor and Canby six hundred pounds for a 200 acre land tract known as “Joseph’s Advance.” Two years later, in August 1803, Benjamin bought another tract of land. He paid a man named Abraham Plummer two thousand dollars for a tract of land known as Hickory Plains which was 454 acres. 
Sadly on Plats no image of the certificate or other information is available, but it is evident that the Hickory Plains tract was patented in 1752 by a man by the name of Samuel Plummer. The same is the case for the Joseph’s Advance tract. That piece of land was patented the same year by a man named Joseph Waters. Nothing else is known.
Coming into the 1810s
In 1810, a man named C[harles?] Murdock was living in Frederick, Maryland with seven enslaved people. A W[illiam?] Murdock in living the same location with two enslaved people. It is not known if either of these men is related to Benjamin. There are also two tracts called Murdoch’s Mount Resurvey but it is not known if this is his tract or not. There, is, however, strong evidence, once again, that he was living in Frederick county.
In June 1811, Benjamin was paid $3,120 by Allen and Sarah Farguhar (if I have that spelling right) for the resurveyed Hickory Plains tract which is still 454 acres. As readers may recall, he paid Abraham Plummer $2,000 for this tract back in 1803, eight years earlier.  While the relative value of the $2,000 he had paid had decreased to $1,490 due to inflation and other factors by 1811, he still had gained a $1,120 above from the original amount, and $1,630 above the amount adjusted to values that year. Hence, he garnered an almost 200% profit from this transactions, using the adjusted figure, so he was more than willing to sell the land to the Farguhars.
Three years later, in 1814, he was appointed as commissioner, along with Edward Owings, Jesse Wright, Samuel Hobbs, and Ed Brashears, to “assess the damages” to Nicholas Hall’s land, which sat in Frederick County. The act specified the following aspects of this situation:
…[the] appointed commissioners…are hereby authorised and empowered to view and assess the damages if any, which in their judgment the said Nicholas Hull shall have sustained by the locating and making of a road through his lands…a road from near the old glass Works called New Bremen in Frederick county, to intersect the Baltimore and Frederick-Town turnpike road, at the town of New-Market in the said county, and…the said commissioners or a majority of them shall make out…a fair valuation of the damages
Nicholas was a man who was allowed by the Maryland General Assembly to raise money for a lottery for $2,000 dollars and noted that he owned land in New Market, Frederick County. Hence, it is possible that Benjamin knew this individual. It is also clear that this was not payment for “devaluation” of his land due to the British campaign in the military operations from 1812 to 1814 in the Chesapeake Bay but was rather a consequence of the changing nature of US society from an agrarian one to a more urban one, with “internal improvements.” Benjamin’s role as a commissioner could also imply that he was a Federalist since such individuals pushed forward this idea, and was later picked up by Henry Clay of the Whig Party.
A couple of years later, the Murdoch family gained additional land. More land was patented under the name of “Murdoch’s Fancy” which was not unusual as land had been patented under the names of “Murdoch’s Mountain Resurvey” and “Murdock’s Inheritance” years later. There is no record that Benjamin was involved in any of these land agreements, although it is possible he was somehow tied in.
In 1817, Benjamin petitioned the Maryland General Assembly to be paid for his war service, and the legislature agreed with him. Hence, he was to be paid the half-pay of a lieutenant until his death:
“That the treasurer of the western shore be and he is hereby authorised and directed, to pay, annually, in quarterly payments, to Benjamin Murdock, a lieutenant in the Maryland line during the revolutionary war, the half pay of a lieutenant during life.”
Almost a year later, Benjamin petitioned the Maryland House of Delegates over the same issue. His petition was reported favorably by Mr. Hawkins in the Maryland House of Delegates as the Maryland Gazette noted later that month.
And his petition related to his military payments as the journal of the House of Delegates makes abundantly clear:
It should be no surprise that it turns out that Mr. Hawkins, or Thomas Hawkins, was one of the four delegates representing Frederick County that year in the House of Delegates. The other delegates were Joshua Cockey, Thomas C. Worthington, and John H.M. Smith.
The blur of the 1820s
In 1820 there is a person Elemer Murdock living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland, with eight enslaved people. It is not known if he is related to Benjamin. Some say he was in the 1820 Census for Frederick County. A search of the Census for District 2 within the county does not pull up any results other than the person mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. It is possible he is within a different district of the county or that this person is mistaken in their records. The reality is not clear. Even looking it up on Family Search only brings up one result, the 1830 census.
Other records of Benjamin this decade are scattered. In the 1820s, he is described as part of Zion Parish in Frederick County, reportedly.  And in 1824, he is mentioned in the will of William Murdoch. This may was Benjamin’s brother, as he laid out very clearly:
I desire to be buried in such Protestant burying ground as may be most convenient to the place of my decease and that my funeral may be conducted with the smallest intention”. I give and bequeath to: my brother, Benjamin MURDOCH of Frederick County, State of Maryland. my niece Eleanor POTTS, widow of Richard Potts late of Frederick Town in the State of Maryland and daughter of my late brother George MURDOCH, deceased. my niece Ann POTTS (wife of Richard Potts [Junior] of Frederick Town and sister of the said Eleanor Potts)”
Nothing else is known about this will or Benjamin, although this could be found by looking at the records of the Maryland State Archives.
In November 1825, Benjamin paid $5,475 dollars to Levi Phillips for land called Hope or Resurvey of Hope.  Eleanor, Levi’s wife, agrees with the transaction. The land tract has an interesting story. It originally was within Prince George’s County but with changing borderlines, it became part of Frederick County, with a 1797 agreement between varying individuals confirming the ownership by the Darnell family.  Within the said agreement, which spelled out the specific contours of the land, was a map of the land, which had been divided between numerous men of the Darnell family:
That same month, Benjamin paid Charles Fenton Mercer, of London County, Virginia, $4,410 dollars for his estate and tract within “The Hope.”  This could indicate that he started building a plantation there. Such purchases in the same month may indicate a certain level of wealth for Benjamin, since he made another purchase of land within the tract later that month from Robert Darnell, of the Darnell family mentioned earlier. 
The last four years
In 1830, Benjamin finally appeared in the Federal Census. He was living in Frederick County’s District 1 and was running a plantation with 27 enslaved Blacks and six “free white” individuals.  For the latter, one White male was aged 20-29 [Richard?], one White male was aged 40-49 [his son?], one was between ages 70 and 79 (himself). The other three were his daughter Anitta (under age 5), his wife Mary (between ages 20 and 29), and his daughter Eliza between ages 20 and 29. As for the enslaved blacks, the following chart suffices:
This means that the number of enslaved men and women were almost equally divided, with a simple majority for the women. The fact that only two were above age 36 shows that these enslaved individuals could have been from recent transactions, or show that he had a “changing” work force.
Two years later, he would apply for a pension from the federal government.  Within it he would say he was a resident of the county, born in the county in 1759, and was about 73 years old. On August 14, his pension money would begin flowing, with $1,200 received, with $400 each given annually, as noted in the Maryland Pension Roll of 1835. He would be described as a former “Lieutenant – Captain” who had served in the Maryland militia and said to be age 75.
From 1832 to 1833 he would engage in varied land agreements with individuals across Frederick County. On May 15, 1832, Benjamin made an agreement with Charles Johnson (executor), John H (or is it F?). Simmons, John Montgomery, Sebastian Sraff, Congo Doddoner, Elisha Beall, Plummer Simmes, and another Charles Johnson, a vestryman of a Protestant Episcopal Church.  In this agreement, lots 10 and 14 were granted by Charles Johnson (executor), in carrying out the will of William Johnson (presumably his father), to Benjamin, and all the others. Seemingly this was done to help with the Zion Parish, of which Benjamin and all others except the executor, were part of at the time. This means that Benjamin was an Episcopalian in faith. It also confirms the early listing of him in the 1820s as part of this parish. He likely was a worshipper at this church which has since been reconstructed since the original was burned down:
Later that year, Benjamin was part of an agreement with the same individuals of the Zion Parish, agreeing to buy more lots for use of the church.  This would help with his standing in the county. The following year, on April 20, he would again help expand the church’s land.  These transactions show how dedicated he was to the church and his faith.
The following year, he died reportedly (also see here) in Urbana, Maryland, a census designated place, probably a small to medium-sized town at the time. It is not known if he was alive in May 1834 when someone cited him as a character reference to support their claim for a federal pension
In his will, Benjamin granted his daughter Harretta 300 acres of “the Resurvey on the Hope” which he had finished buying in nine years earlier, who had married a man named John F. Simmons, possibly the same man who mad made the agreement about the Zion Parish years before. This area would become the John F. Simmons farmstead or “High Hope” with a house in Greek Revival style built around 1835, with the house still standing:
The years after his death
In 1840, a man named Richard Murdoch, called “Richd Mardock” in the census, had eight enslaved individuals, and was living with nine White people in Buckeye, Frederick, Maryland.  This was Benjamin’s son.
Ten years later, in 1850, Richard, a farmer was living in Buckeystown, Frederick, Maryland.  He was age 58 (meaning he was born in 1792), with 11 other Whites, including his sister, Eliza, with Anitta not in the same household:
Anitta was likely living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland with a man named John A Simmons, listed in the 1840 Federal Census. That same year, multiracial and Black individuals named “Harriet Murdock,” “Matilda Murdock,” and “Rachael Murdock” were living in Frederick County. It is possible these individuals were former enslaved people owned by Benjamin.
Two years later, Richard B. Murdoch assigned power of attorney named William Peugh to obtain an increase in the pension or of bounty land for the service of his father. He claimed that he was the only son and that he had two surviving sisters: Eliza Murdoch and Anitta Simmons. Looking at the actual pension implies that Benjamin and Mary Ann, his wife, had more than three children:
Fast forward to 1887. That year, Eliza Murdoch, who was noted as born Jan. 1, 1800, and the youngest child of Benjamin and Mary Ann, implying that others were born before 1800, died. She died “near Sykesville” in northern Baltimore County, at the residence of her niece:
Despite the fact it says that Benjamin served on the staff of Horatio Gates, no evidence suggests this to the knowledge of this researcher, even though he could have been a major. It is interesting to note that she was native to Frederick County and related to William Murdoch, a London merchant, suggesting some familial connection between Benjamin and this individual. I think they may confusing this person with the other Benjamin Murdock in Vermont, a private in a Massachusetts Regiment, this individual seemingly who died in Oct. 1833:
In 1908, a descendant of the same name as Benjamin died, showing that the family lineage still lived on:
While there are many gaps in the story of Benjamin, many can be filled by looking at land records. There many questions about how a person named Mary Magruder Tarr Willard, Marie Benjamin Murdock Brown, and Richard Bruce Murdock are related to Benjamin. Regardless, there are still questions to be answered about his life, but this is a good start to the topic and hopefully opens doors for many in terms of different areas of Maryland history. 
 Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 43, 234; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 48, 144, 385, 387, 388, 494; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, April 1, 1778 through October 26, 1779, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 21, 321; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 16, 308.
 Genealogies of Virginia Families: From Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 1 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007 reprint), 596, 599; Roberta Julia (Magruder) Bukey, “The Magruder Family In Its Religious Affiliations” within Yearbook of the American Clan Society (ed. Egbert Watson Magruder, Richmond, VA: Appeals Press, Inc., 1916), 50-51; George Brick Smith, “Some Descendants of George Fraser Magruder” within Year Book of the American Clan Society (ed. John Bowie Ferneyhough, Richmond, VA, 1937), 60, 65. Mary may have been another daughter.
 One 89-acre tract patented by Thomas Beall in 1796 (Patent Record IC G, p. 707; Patent Record IC O, p. 85), a 119 acre tract patented by John Bradford in 1724 (Patent Record PL 5, p. 632; Patent Record IL A, p. 324), a 100 acre tract patented by James Halmeard, Jr. in 1748 (Patent Record PT 2, p. 293; Patent Record LG E, p. 564), a 100 acre tract patented by John Eason in 1752 (Patent Record Y and S 6, p. 244; Patent Record GS 1, p. 99), a 173 1/4 acre tract patented by Elizabeth Lashley in 1836 and similar by Arnold Lashley (Patent Record GGB 1, p. 616; Patent Record GGB 2, p. 630). There’s also a tract called “A Discovery” (36 1/4 acres which was patented by David Mitchell in 1784 (Patent Record IC A, p. 364; Patent Record IC B, p. 303) and this of which I’m not sure of the relevance to the land. There’s also a tract called Addition to Discovery but clearly Murdoch is not related to it.
 Deed between William Murdoch and Moses Ouno, Montgomery County Court, Land Records,July 13, 1778, Liber A, p. 195, 196 [MSA CE 148-1]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. Not sure how pages of Liber D, 166 and 167 [MSA CE 148-4] relate to this topic as one source suggests.
 This has been double checked, but NO person with the name of Benjamin Murdoch/Murdock, of any kind, is listed on the page with William Murdock and the same is the case for George Murdock, Esq. A look through the 61 pages of the census still turned up no results, even with the listing of two Magruders on one page (Samuel and William). The same was done for the 1800
 Folger McKinsey, History of Frederick County, Maryland: From the Earliest Settlements to the Beginning of the War Between the States, Vol. 2 (L.R. Titsworth & Co., 1910), 1278; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1758-1761, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 56, 74; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1757-1758, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 55, 219; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1764-1765, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 59, 180.
 Thomas Settles, John Bankhead Magruder: A Military Reappraisal (Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2009), 450; George Brick Smith, “Some Descendants of George Fraser Magruder,” 65.
 Agreement between Benjamin Murdoch, Thomas Taylor of Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Huff Canby, July 4, 1800, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 20, p. 52, 53, 54 [MSA CE 108-40]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.
 Journal of A Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Held in St. Paul’s Baltimore (Baltimore: J. Robinson, 1821), 103, 112, 114.
 Agreement between William Pott, William Ballinger, Joseph Sweauinger, James Murphy, and Jesse Hughes concerning “The Hope” land tract and more, Nov. 27, 1797, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 16, p. 40, 41, 42, 43, 43a, 43b, [MSA CE 108-36]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. Considering it was originally in Prince George’s County, this (and this) is NOT the same land. There is a land in Prince George’s County named Hope, but no details can be provided.
 Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Charles Fenton Mercer, Nov. 11, 1825, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 23, p. 447, 448, 449, 450, 451 [MSA CE 108-91]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.
 Fifth Census of the United States, District 1, Frederick, Maryland, 1830, National Archives, NARA M19, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 57, Page 15. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest. He is called “Benjamin Murdock” in this census.
 Pension of Benjamin Murdoch, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, S.9046. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.
 Agreement between Benjamin Murdock, Charles Johnson (executor), John H. Simmons, John Montgomery, Sebastian Sraff, Congo Doddoner, Elisha Beall, Plummer Simmes, and Charles Johnson, May 15, 1832, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 40, p. 114, 115 [MSA CE 108-108]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.
 Sixth Census of the United States, Buckeye, Frederick, Maryland, 1840, National Archives, NARA M704, . Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 166, Page 159. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.
 Sixth Census of the United States, Buckeystown, Frederick, Maryland, USA, 1850, National Archives, NARA M432, . Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll M432_293, Page 461-462. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.