JOHN COX MORRIS AND FAMILY

Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos


The Morrises were from Shropshire and Staffordshire and Mr Morris was a farmer, so it seems odd that he came to Epsom, but perhaps he knew someone in the area. Mrs Morris did have a mother surnamed Bradney so it may be that there was some distant connection with the vicar of Epsom, Benjamin Bradney Bockett, but we shall not go there.

In reminiscences published in Eddowe's Journal of 14 June 1871, a publication which covered Shropshire and Wales, it was said
'…Mr John Cox Morris, one of the most advanced agriculturalists of the day, who took the first silver cup given by the Agricultural Society of Shropshire for the best cultivated farm; and who had no less distinguished himself in the estimation of sportsmen by a remarkable feat of horsemanship for a sum of large amount.'
He also judged livestock shows.

Mr Morris was christened on 19 December 1782 at Broseley, Shropshire; he married Catherine Bridget Gilpin, born c.1788, at Wolverhampton on 9 April 1810. There were just two children as far as I can tell, who were Jane Caroline (1812 Willey, Shropshire) and Edmund Skinner (1822 Drayton Bassett, Staffordshire): both of them came to Epsom with their parents. The family was still in Broseley in the 1851 census but by 1861 they were living at The Parade in Epsom, with Mr Morris described as a proprietor of houses.

Mrs Catherine Bridget Morris
Mrs Catherine Bridget Morris
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Mr Morris died at home on 20 September 1864 and was buried at St Martin's.

The Morris Family Headstone in St Martin's Churchyard
The Morris Family Headstone in St Martin's Churchyard
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Everyone bar Mr Morris was still at The Parade in 1871 and Edmund, a metal merchant, was now married with a six year old daughter allegedly called Rose and born in London; there was also a nursemaid in residence, which seems excessive for one child, but there had been two. You will see from the gravestone above the name of Edmund Roden Morris, who had died at the age of four on 7 December 1870. I will return to Edmund Senior shortly.

Mrs Morris seems to have been incredibly durable and survived until 26 October 1884, at which point she was about 96 years old. However, she died in Brussels and seems to have been living there, which is even more remarkable. The Brussels episode has to do with Edmund, so we will come back to that in a moment.

Edmund and Jane

I have no idea if the whole family was off on this Brussels jaunt, or when they went, but we need to deal with Edmund's marriage and children first.

Edmund was married on 23 February 1869 at St George, Hanover Square and the bride was Sarah Emily Margaret Waller (spinster). You will see that Rose and Edmund Junior pre-dated the marriage by several years, so what was going on? Unfortunately, I don't know. Edmund was described as a bachelor on the 1869 marriage certificate, so I can't tell if the children belonged to both of them or just one of them and I can find no birth information either.

So, I wonder if they all moved to Brussels because of Edmund's business - the address given for him and his mother on the probate record was 10 Place De l'Industrie, which sounds as if it would have been a commercial area back then.

I also have to report that I have lost Mrs Sarah Emily Margaret Morris, who seemed to call herself Emily. By the 1891 census the Morrises were in Tunbridge Wells, minus Mrs M, although Edmund was described as married. Did Mrs M remain in Brussels or didn't she go in the first place?

Edmund died suddenly on 26 January 1893, with Jane as his executrix. However, she died herself on 21 December of that year of pneumonia resulting from influenza. Probate was granted to Emily Rose Morris (this was Rose, Edmund's daughter).

Jane Caroline Morris
Jane Caroline Morris
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

As for Emily Rose, I'm afraid I've lost her too. Unfortunately, this piece is more of a quiz than a tale and has more holes than a colander, so if anyone out there can help with information please contact the webmaster.

Linda Jackson 2018