Date of Enlistment :
, 6 August 1789 New South Wales Corps
Where Enlisted : England
Date of Discharge :23
Where Discharged : Sydney
Died :4 April 1813
Where Died /
Buried : 6
Pitt Street, Sydney / Buried Old Sydney Burial Ground C/D
Parents Names :Thomas Morris
& Jane nee Exell
Spouse's Name :Elizabeth Watts
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
Date Married :Never Married Civil Marriage
Where Married :
Spouse 's Parents
Information Supplied by Elizabeth Hook
Area Settled :
Pitt Street, Sydney
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
7 . Hannah (1804-1874)
8 . John (1806-1882)
9 . George (1808-1872)
10 . Elizabeth (1809-1811) Buried 31 January 1811 Old Sydney Burial
11 . Charles (1810-1865)
& 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
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
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
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
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
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.