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MORRIS , ROBERT (d. 1768 ), industrialist ;

son of Robert Morris of Bishop's Castle and Cleobury Mortimer . He entered business in North Wales and m. Margaret Jenkins of Machynlleth ; but moved to Tredegar . In 1727 he joined Richard Lockwood and Edward Gibbon (the historian 's grandfather) in buying a copper-works at ‘ Landore ’ ( Glandŵr ), Swansea ; they had works afterwards at Llangyfelach and Forest , together with brass-wire mills and collieries . Morris lived at Clasemont , between Llangyfelach and the Tawe river .

Soon after his death, his second son ( Sir ) JOHN MORRIS ( 1745 - 1819 ), b. 15 July 1745 , took a step which put the family name literally ‘on the map.’ It is not perfectly clear whether it was he or his father who built the ‘ castellated mansion of collegiate appearance ’ ( Walter Davies , General View of the Agriculture. … of South Wales , 134) near ‘the Clase ,’ to house forty families of their workpeople, with a shoemaker and a tailor for their service; but it is to John Morris that the tourist-books (e.g. John Evans , Malkin , Wood ) unanimously ascribe the building of the village of Morriston — said to have been planned by the minister and bridge-builder William Edwards ( 1719 - 1789 ) (q.v.) of Eglwysilan . John Morris was made a baronet in 1806 ; he went to live at Sketty Park and d. 25 June 1819 . The baronetcy still survives, but the contact with industrialism has long ceased. Robert Morris 's papers have been given to the University College library at Swansea .


The career of Robert Morris 's elder son ROBERT MORRIS ( 1743 or 1744 - 1797? ) was very different. He went up ( 1760 ) to Oriel College , Oxford , graduated in 1764 , was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1767 , and pleaded in the Great Sessions in South Wales . But his main interest lay in politics; he supported John Wilkes , and was the first secretary of the ‘ Society for Supporting the Bill of Rights ’ founded by Home Tooke in support of Wilkes — but resigned in 1770 . In May 1772 he fell into considerable disrepute (involving the loss of friends and collaborators like Watkin Lewes , q.v.) by eloping to the Continent with a ward of his, aged 14, an heiress; a clergyman at Lille refused to marry them, and the town authorities imprisoned Morris for a while; but he managed to get the ceremony performed in Holland and again in Denmark — it was annulled by the British courts in 1784 . Meantime, he had twice (at least) fallen into fresh trouble. In 1782 he was challenged to fight a duel for libelling the former American general Benedict Arnold , but the matter was settled. And in the same year he acted as second in another duel, in which one of the duellists was killed — Morris and his principal were tried for this at the Old Bailey , but Morris was acquitted. His name appears in the list of (uninitiated) members of the Cymmrodorion Society in 1778 . He d. ‘in the East Indies ’; Foster says 29 Nov. 1793 , but Burke's Peerage gives 1797 as the year.

Of the three daughters of the elder Robert Morris , Margaret m. Noel Francis Desenfans (q.v. in D.N.B. ), art-collector , and Bridget m. into the family of her father's partner, Lockwood .

Sources:

  • ( a ) Burke's … Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage ;
  • Thomas Nicholas , The History and Antiquities of Glamorgan , 179;
  • George Grant Francis , The Smelting of Copper in the Swansea District, from the time of Elizabeth to the present day , Swansea, 1867 (indexed).
  • ( b ) Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • E. Alfred Jones in Y Cymmrodor xxix, and references therein;
  • Western Mail , 18 Nov. 1952 .

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959