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Private James Morris (.c.1759......1813.)


Back To . . .The New South Wales Corps. ( Rum Corps. ) "Renamed 102nd Regiment
  • Born :c1759
  • Where Born :  near Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, England
  • Occupation : Soldier / Farmer / Publican / Shopkeeper
  • Date Arrived : 26 June 1790
  • Ship Arrived on : " Surprize   "
  • Rank on Discharge :  Private
  • Date of Enlistment : 6 August 1789 New South Wales Corps
  • Where Enlisted :   England
  • Date of Discharge :  23 August 1804
  • Where Discharged : Sydney
  • Died : 4 April 1813
  • Where Died / Buried : 6 April 1813   Pitt Street, Sydney / Buried Old Sydney Burial Ground    C/D
  • Parents Names : Thomas Morris & Jane nee Exell
  • Spouse's Name : Elizabeth Watts
  • Born : c1774
  • Where Born :  Dorset, England
  • Occupation : Home duties
  • Date Arrived : 16 January 1793  
  • Ship Arrived on : " Bellona   "
  • Died : 10 July 1824
  • Where Died / Buried : Pitt Street, Sydney / Buried Devonshire Street Cemetery, Sydney
  • Date Married : Never Married Civil Marriage
  • Where Married :
  • Spouse 's Parents :
  • Descendants

    Information Supplied by Elizabeth Hook

    Area Settled :
  • Castlereagh
  • Pitt Street, Sydney
    Children :
    1 .  Jane (1794-1871)
    2 . James (1795-1873)
    3 . William (1797-1872)
    4 . Thomas (1798-1879)
    5 . Anne (1800-1802)    Buried 30 April 1802 Buried Old Sydney Burial Ground   C/D
    6 . Elizabeth (1802-1803) Buried 28 December 1803 Old Sydney Burial Ground   C/D
    7 . Hannah (1804-1874)
    8 . John (1806-1882)
    9 . George (1808-1872)
    10 . Elizabeth (1809-1811) Buried 31 January 1811 Old Sydney Burial Ground   C/D
    11 . Charles (1810-1865)

    History & Achievements :

    James Morris (c1759-1813) was probably the son of Thomas Morris and the widow Jane Glover nee Exell, born near Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, England.
    As well as transporting convicts, the Second Fleet brought 104 officers and men of the newly formed New South Wales Corps, among them Private James Morris, on the ship Surprize. The regiment was later to be labelled the “Rum Corps”.
    James Morris was one of 20 soldiers sent from Sydney to Norfolk Island on the ship Supply in March with Captain William Hill to relieve part of the detachment stationed on the island. His stay appears to have been a short one and he returned to Port Jackson (Sydney) possibly only months later.
    Elizabeth Watts arrived at Sydney Town on the ship Bellona, and she was the first free unattached female to the colony. She had left her native Dorset, England as a dairymaid, travelling with the Rose family from Blandford, the country’s first free farming family.
    A few months later, Elizabeth began a 20 year liaison with James Morris. The couple never married although they lived as man and wife and raised a large family of 11 children – 3 died young. There is speculation that James had been married to another in England before his departure from England.
    James received a land grant of 19 acres in the Petersham district. He later sold the land to fellow soldier William Faithful.
    From the Army pay list of 1798, James Morris was listed as being a part of Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson’s Company.
    James received another grant of 160 acres of land at Castlereagh on 11 August from Governor Philip Gidley King. He was to pay quit rent of 5 shillings per annum after 5 years. He continued to live in Sydney where he kept a general store in Pitt’s Row (called Pitt Street from 1810) and possibly ran his Castlereagh farm with the help of a resident manager and labourers.
    On 23 August James Morris was discharged from the Army after months of illness.
    James went to Court to bring an action for damages against a former friend, William Faithful, claiming his reputation was ruined by a rumor started by Faithful. The Court decided otherwise and each party was made to pay their own costs.
    In September James leased his Castlereagh property for a short time to William Anderson but the terms and details are unknown.
    A two-legged foal was born at Morris’ farm and displayed to the public at his stables in Pitt’s Row. The charge was one shilling. Governor Philip Gidley King was one of the first vistors to see the colt.
    Morris’ farm at Castlereagh was one of many on the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers to be devastated by floods in the last week of March. James lost all his crops and his farmhouse was several feet under water.
    James leased 10 acres of his Castlereagh property to ex-convict William Topping for 3 years.
    James Morris was one of 135 inhabitants who signed an address of welcome to the new Governor William Bligh in September.
    James was given a further land grant of 120 acres near Strathfield. His annual quit rent to pay after 5 years was 2 shillings. The property was situated between Cooks River and Georges River Road. He also was granted two 21-year town land leases in Pitt’s Row, Sydney. Morris was now the licensee of the Hope Tavern.
    Morris assigned his hotel in Pitt Street (the Hope) to William Anderson for £60 and it is likely this was a permanent arrangement.
    James Morris was given permission to hold a spirit licence in 1811 and 1812. The premises (name unknown) were located in Pitt Street Sydney, possibly on the site of his other town lease.
    On 25 January it was reported in the Sydney Gazette that there had been a hailstorm on the 24th which “set in at Mr Morris farm” and the hail stones were declared to have been “eight inches in circumference after being handled five or six minutes”!
    James sold his entire 160 acre Castlereagh property in March to Samuel Foster for £120.
    James Morris’ age was stated as 54 when he died on 4 April. The Sydney Gazette newspaper recorded that “he had suffered a long and painful illness, to which he submitted with fortitude and resignation”. The funeral was held at St Philips Church in Sydney and he was buried in the Sydney Burial Ground, George Street. The cemetery later made way for the building of the Sydney Town Hall and there is no surviving headstone for James Morris.


    Reference R.S.T & R.M
    History And Archives/Old Sydney Burial  Ground.
     -Inventory of Burials 1792-1820  City of Sydney Historical Program
    Researched Cathy Dunn C/D
    Military records  ,Pay rolls, Pay Musters, Cemetery Records, Church Records & General Muster Records, Mitchell Library ,Sydney Australia
    The information is intended for short Historical value only,
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