You are in [People] [Hungerford Characters] [2nd Baron Morris]
The following article is adapted from text kindly provided by Dr James "Jimmy" Whittaker, Nov 2017:
A Baron dies in Hungerford
While researching St.Saviour’s graveyard in 2017, I literally stumbled across a part of a gravestone that had fallen from its pillar. Its inscription, incomplete, reads:
Michael William, 2nd Baron Morris beloved husband of….
Another Hungerford celebrity, obscured by time perhaps? The obvious question is who was this royal personage and what do we know about him?
The cemetery record, from which I have created an updated database, shows that he was interred in 1975. The GRO index (General Register Office) record reveals that he died in the Newbury Registration District in 1975 and that his date of birth was 12th April 1903. However, there is no record of his birth so we might therefore assume that he was born abroad and this proved to be the case.
When we look at the “royalty” aspect we find that although he was a baron, he was not descended from royal blood lines but was in fact a hereditary peer.
A special peerage (Baron Morris) was created in 1918 for his father Sir Edward Morris who had been a lawyer and politician who became Prime Minister of Newfoundland in Canada. He was the only person born in Newfoundland to be so highly honoured. Around the time of his retirement from political life, he moved to London and took up his seat in the House of Lords. When he died in London in 1935, the baronetcy passed to his son, Michael William.
Michael Morris was educated at Downside School, Bath and Trinity College, Cambridge where, in his father’s footsteps, he studied law. Even though he was called to the bar he decided to practice as a solicitor rather than a barrister.
He served in the Second World War as a legal staff officer serving in the Middle East where he achieved the rank of Squadron Leader. Between 1939 and 1943, he was Military Prosecutor, Palestine and between 1940 and 1942, a member of the Sub-Committee for Reforms to the Administration of Justice.
Upon retirement from military service, he continued to practice law and became a senior partner of the law firm Blount Petre & Company based in London.
Probably on his retirement from city life he moved to Hungerford where he lived in The Old Farm House, Lower Denford until his death on 11th March 1975.
So there we almost have it, except for details of his wife as mentioned in the monumental inscription.
In 1960, Michael Morris married Mary Agate, the former wife of Dr. Anthony Robert Agate. Mary died in Winchester in 1991.
Finally the details of all of the Barons Morris are given below:
- Edward Patrick Morris, 1st Baron Morris (1858–1935)
- Michael William Morris, 2nd Baron Morris (1903–1975)
- Michael David Morris, 3rd Baron Morris (1937–2011)
- Thomas Anthony Salmon Morris, 4th Baron Morris (b. 1982)