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The Napoleon Series > Biographies > Biographies

Prince Achilles Murat’s Grave in Tallahassee, Florida

By Alexander Mikaberidze

The Murat Grave Site

Of all the places in the United States, Tallahassee Florida is probably the last you would expect to find a member of the Bonaparte family buried. Yet, if you happen to pass this leafy and humid town, a brief visit to the old St. Johns Episcopal Church cemetery off the West Tennessee Street (right across from the Public Library) will lead you a simply grave with two obelisks that catch a passer-by’s attention from the street. The obelisks mark the graves of Charles Louis Napoleon Achilles Murat and his wife Catherine Willis Gray. Born in the Hôtel de Brienne in Paris in January 1801, Charles Louis Napoleon Achilles Murat was the son of Marshal Joachim Murat, Grand Duke of Cleves and Berg, Grand Admiral of the Empire and King of Naples, Caroline Bonaparte, sister of Emperor Napoleon, Grand Duchess of Berg and Cleves, and Queen of Naples. Achile was fourteen when the fortunes of his family faded as his uncle Napoleon was defeated by the combined efforts of the European powers and his father first betrayed his brother-in-law but then rallied to his cause only to be shot in Italy in 1815. Young Achilles Murat initially found shelter in Frohsdorf in Lower Austria but, in later years, he left the Old Word and traveled to the United States , where he applied for citizenship upon arrival. In the 1820s, he settled in St. Augustine in Florida and later purchased a large estate near Tallahassee, which he named Lipona (an anagram of Napoli ( Naples)). Except for a few brief travels, Murat lived in Tallahassee for the rest of his life, serving in local militia and reaching the rank of a colonel. In 1824, he was elected alderman of Tallahassee, and then the city mayor in 1825. The following year he married Catherine Willis Gray, the great-grandniece of George Washington, thus making an incongruous connection between Washington and Napoleon.

After serving his tenure as mayor, Murat moved to New Orleans to practice law for several years and later traveled to France which just went through the July Revolution 1830. Frustrated in his attempts to restore some of his family’s property, he returned to Tallahasse in the mid-1830, where served as a postmaster until 1838. Murat died in 1847 and was buried in Tallahassee. Emperor Napoleon III provided his widow, Catherine Murat, with a large pension until her death in 1867. Catherine was buried next to her husband in Tallahasse and her siblings erected monument in her memory.

A short walk down the West Tennessee Street, you will come across the Murat Hotel, a grand name indeed for a motel.

Inscription on Prince Murat's Grave

Departed this life
April 18, 1847
Charles Louis Napoleon
Achilles Murat
Son of
The King of Naples
Caroline Murat
Aged 46
This Monument is Dedicated
By his Wife Catherine In
Perpetual Memory of
Her Love

Inscription on Caroline Murat's Grave

To the Memory of Princess C.A. Murat
Widow of
Col. Charles Louis Napoleon
Achilles Murat
And Daughter of the late
Col. Bird C. Willis,
Of Virginia
Who departed this life
On the 6th of August 1867
In the 64th year of her age
A king and affectionate wife,
And sister,
A sincere and devoted friend.
None knew her by to love her

None named her but to praise.


Click on the images for a larger view


Murat Coat-of-Arms
Prince Murat Motel

Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2007