Murray Venables Hilton was born at Badlesmere, Kent in 1856, son of the Reverend Clarence Jones Hilton and Katherine Elizabeth Hilton (nee Shirreff). Murray spent his early childhood with his parents at the Rectory of Badlesmere and Leaveland in Kent.
Murray was educated at boarding school in Rugby, Warwickshire and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in to the 29th Foot (Worcestershire) from the Royal Military College on the 30th January 1878.
Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 31st August 1878.
On the 24th April 1879 he was made Adjutant of the 29th Foot with the rank of Lieutenant.
Served with a wing of the Regiment with the Zhob Valley Expedition (Afghanistan) of 1884 under the command of Lieut.-Colonel J. C. Douglas, and was Adjutant.
Promoted to the rank of Captain on the 20th November 1885 and the following year in June 1886 he transferred from the 1st Battalion to the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
Promoted to the rank of Major on the 6th July 1892.
Married Dora Elizabeth Watson in the winter of 1892 at Cuckfield, Sussex.
Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on the 15th February 1900.