Henry Murray Downton was born on the 16th April 1850 at Chatham, Kent. He was the son of Henry Downton, chaplain of the English Church of Geneva, later rector of Hopton, and Elizabeth McKee and was the eldest of 8 children. His mother Elizabeth died age 70 and was buried in Hoxne on th 28th January 1888. His father died on the 8th June 1885, aged 67.
Henry Murray Downton attended school in Geneva and was admitted to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge on the 6th October 1870. He matriculated in 1873, achieved a B.A. in 1874 and an M.A. in 1877.
He was ordained a deacon in Norwich in 1873 and a priest in 1874. He was curate of Thorpe Episcopi, Norfolk from 1873 to 1875 and made curate in charge of Brooke, Norfolk, from 1875 until he was made vicar there in 1879. On the 9th November 1883 he was made vicar of Hoxne.
He married Laura Caroline Bircham in Surrey in 1875. They had 8 children, Francis Murray, born 27th August 1876, Basil Murray, born 10th May 1878, Geoffrey Murray, born 11th June 1880, Margaret Grace, born 12th December 1881, died July 1882, Myles Murray Downton, born 24th August 1883, all at Brooke, and Edmund Murray, born 3rd December 1884, Ethel Mary Murray, born 26th March 1886, and Arthur Murray, born 8th July 1887, at Hoxne. Basil went on to become Rector of Diss and Francis curate of Temple Balsall, Birmingham.
Henry last officiated in the parish church on Sunday 7th June 1887 and not being in the best of health was advised by his medical attendant, Dr Barnes of Eye, to seek rest and change. A tour in Switzerland was originally arranged but later altered to Scotland. It was on the way there, at York, that he was taken very ill. Dr Barnes was telegraphed and joined him at York for a few days, when Henry had revived and there was hope that he would recover and resume his journey. Unfortunately this was not to be and Henry died on the 29th August 1887 at Ash Villa, Church Lane, Fulford, York, aged 37. He was buried on the 2nd September 1887 in Hoxne. He was to be succeeded, at Hoxne, by his brother Rev. Cecil Downton.
His wife was unable to visit Henry during his brief illness as the youngest of her seven children was only one month old. She moved with her young family to Scole House, just outside of Diss, Norfolk and then to Diss into 'Hall Hills' where she raised her 7 children with the help of family. She died in 1931.