Lifespan: Eiroku 8 (1565) to 10/29 of Genna 7 (1621)
Other Names: Inokuchi Yoichinosuke → Inokuchi Yoshitsugu → Murata Yoshitsugu
Title: Governor of Dewa
Clan: Inokuchi → Murata
Lord: Kuroda Yoshitaka → Kuroda Nagamasa
Father: Inokuchi Yojiemon
Mother: Daughter of the chief priest of the Hiromine Shrine
Siblings: Brother, brother, brother, Yoshitsugu
Wife: Daughter of Kuroda Taketoshi
Children: Yoshitsune, Masaharu, Sandayū, Shichinosuke
Murata Yoshitsugu served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods. As a retainer of the Kuroda clan, he was included among a group of retainers called the Twenty-Four Elite of the Kuroda. He was a retainer of the Fukuoka domain in Chikuzen Province.
In 1565, Yoshitsugu was born as the fourth son of Inokuchi Yojiemon.
All three of his older brothers served as retainers of Kuroda Yoshitaka and died in battle at early ages. From 1577, Yoshitsugu also entered into service for Yoshitaka. That same year, when Yoshitaka’s son, Shōjumaru (later known as Kuroda Nagamasa) was tendered as a hostage of Hashiba Hideyoshi, Yoshitsugu accompanied him as an assistant to Nagahama Castle.
In 1580, he attended his coming-of-age ceremony and adopted the name of Heisuke. His first experience in battle occurred in an assault on Aga Castle in the Shikama District of Harima Province. In 1584, during the Battle of Kishiwada, he secretly approached an enemy, killed his, took his armaments, swords, spears, and horse, and returned. In 1588, Yoshitsugu was awarded a fief of 250 koku. During the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign on the Korean Peninsula, he commanded a battalion of light infantry soldiers.
In 1600, Yoshitsugu accompanied Yoshitaka during a visit to the encampment of Nabeshima Naoshige. On this occasion, Naoshige introduced a retainer named Murata Oki and said: “This bushi has never been injured.” Yoshitaka then noted that Yoshitsugu’s three older brothers had all been killed in action and requested that Yoshitsugu receive the Murata surname to share the good fortune of Murata Oki. Oki consented so, thereafter, Yoshitsugu carried the Murata surname.
In 1601, after the Kuroda clan entered Chikuzen, Yoshitsugu received a fief of 2,000 koku in the Yasu District. He was placed in a unit under Kiriyama Nobuyuki. In 1604, after the death of Yoshitaka, he received the title of Dewa-no-kami, or Governor of Dewa, and became the head of the unit. In 1620, during the reconstruction of Ōsaka Castle, Yoshitsugu manage the building of the stone walls. During the transport of stone materials, he encountered the unit of Yoshida Shigenari on the road and a quarrel ensued.
Yoshitsugu died on 10/29 of Genna 7 (1621). He was fifty-seven years old.
Yoshitsugu became a master from the Hōzōin school in the jūmonji, a cross-shape spear that resembles a trident. A rough character, he slayed over 80 people in his territory on the grounds that they displeased him. When retainers pleaded for a break, he locked them in a gaol. If others fled out of fear of Yoshitsugu, he slayed their families and cut-apart criminals while they were alive.