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In 1751, James Murray, the second Duke of Atholl (1690–1764), wrote to his nephew, John Murray, who was then enjoying a tour of the continent at his uncle’s expense, and asked him to look out for portraits of William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, and his third wife, Charlotte de Bourbon. These images were to form part of an elaborate dynastic representational scheme that he would display in his renovated family seat in Perthshire, Atholl House. These renovations would become a key topic within an emotive correspondence bonding James Murray and the nephew who would in time become his heir. This chapter explores how the eighteenth-century Atholl family, and James Murray and his nephew John Murray in particular, developed spaces for feeling in physical, material, and conceptual locations – through the renovation of Atholl House, within letters, and as familial, dynastic, and political communities. They did so in the context of sociable and emotional divisions within the family over individual choices that were made by its members to support either Jacobite or Hanoverian policies during the tumultuous years of the first half of the eighteenth century in Scotland. These were deep rifts that laid the Atholl dynasty open to external scrutiny and caused internal questioning of its identity and future. The construction of such spaces was a vital part of the process of dynastic renewal in this context, and was practised by the formation or confirmation of particular sociabilities among its members; that is, communities of individuals that sustained shared goals among their exclusive membership and which were enacted through distinctive emotional acts, expressions, and performances. Emotions thus defined power structures among individuals and shaped experiences of inclusion and exclusion from specific collective formations.


Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

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Book Chapter

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