Murray, William Owen (1890–1974)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 9, 2019

William Owen Murray, lawyer and judge, son of William O. and Ella (Peacock) Murray, was born on April 11, 1890, in Floresville, Texas. He began his legal and political career in Wilson County, where he was elected county judge in 1914, just before graduating from the University of Texas law school. He had previously attended West Texas Military Academy in San Antonio.

Murray was in public office for more than fifty years, with only a two-year (1917–19) interruption for World War I service as a field artillery captain in the Thirty-sixth Division. He was elected district attorney of the Eighty-first Judicial District in 1920 and district judge in 1926. In 1932 he was elected to the Fourth Court of Civil Appeals at San Antonio, where he served continuously for thirty-three years, part of the time as chief justice. During his long career as an appellate judge, he wrote 1,564 opinions, plus fifty-six dissenting and concurring opinions. One of his best-known decisions (1959) favored the right of cities in dry counties to decide by election whether to remain dry-the right of "local option" (see PROHIBITION MOVEMENT).

Murray was married to Louise Green; they had five children. He was a Mason and a Presbyterian. He died on February 18, 1974, in San Antonio and was buried in Sunset Memorial Park in that city.

San Antonio Express, February 19, 1974. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Murray, William Owen,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 9, 2019