Ralph Hamilton Law, was born in Auchtergaven near Stanley in Perthshire, where his father was the schoolmaster. He attended Perth Academy and then read Classics at Edinburgh University, graduating with first Class Honours in 1937. He joined the Civil service and worked in the Home Department of the Scottish Office.
Nancy Easton Murphie was born in Waterside in Ayrshire where her father was a coalminer and later a colliery contractor. She gained a scholarship to Edinburgh University from the National Union of Mineworkers and graduated in English. She and Ralph met at university and married in 1943. While at university they also began a life-long friendship with John Manuel Cook and Enid Robertson, who married in 1939.
During the War Ralph became an expert on German munitions while John Cook was parachuted into Greece where he fought with the non-communist partisans. While the husbands were away at war, Nancy and Enid ‘roomed’ together in Morningside. Nancy taught English. After the War Ralph rose to become Assistant Secretary in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries but died suddenly of heart disease in 1967 aged 52.
Professor John Manuel Cook (1910-1994) had a long and distinguished academic career, including appointments as Director of the British School of Archaeology at Athens (1946-1954), and Professor of Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at Bristol (1958-1976). When Enid knew she was dying, she asked Nancy to see that John was looked after. Nancy and John married in 1977, a year after Enid’s death.
Nancy taught English at St Denis School for Girls from 1954 and was headmistress from 1971 until she retired in 1976. In retirement, Nancy remained very active: on the board of the Edinburgh Merchant Company, teaching at St Mary’s Music School, and travelling.
To Nancy’s delight, her and Ralph’s children followed in their parents’ footsteps with academic distinction, both being experts in their fields: John Law on medieval and renaissance Italy and Frances (now Hamilton) on art history and medieval manuscripts.
(Source – Ian McHaffie, Greek Secrets Revealed – Hidden Scottish History Uncovered – Book 1 – Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 2019, ISBN 978-0-9525026-3-0))
φιλοκαλοῦμεν τε γὰρ μετ᾽εὐτελείας
kaὶ φιλοσοφοῦμεν ἄνευ μαλακίας.
philokaloumen te gar met’ euteleias
kai philosophoumen aneu malakias.
“For we are lovers of the beautiful, yet simple in our tastes,
and we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness.”
(Translation by Professor Benjamin Jowett, as suggested by Nancy Law)
Source: Thucydides, Peloponnesian War, Book 2, 40, the speech by Pericles in praise of Athenian Democracy, delivered in Athens at the end of the first year of the War between Athens and Sparta (431-404 BC). Pericles, one of Athens’ greatest politicians, was the inspiration behind the Parthenon, the temple to Athene which still dominates the skyline in Athens, and which has been copied by the replica on Calton Hill, Edinburgh.
Sources include obituaries in The Scotsman, 16 November 1967 (Ralph Law), The Independent, 7 January 1974 (John M. Cook) and The Scotsman,7 February 2002 (Nancy Cook).