Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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MORRIS , DAVID ( 1630 - 1703 ), Roman Catholic priest and informer ;

was the son of Walter Morris of Llantilio, Mon. , and Elizabeth Woodward of Worcestershire . He had a brother who died at S. Omer College , and one of his sisters was a nun at Ghent . He lived for three years in the hostel for Welsh students at Ghent , and entered the English College , Rome , on 16 Oct. 1648 , on the same day as Fr. William Morgan , S.J. (q.v.) . He was ordained priest in S. John Lateran , 4 April 1654 , and went to England on 1 May 1655 . Little is known of his career for the next twenty years. He was a member of the Chapter of secular priests in 1677 , and in spite of his activities still belonged to it in 1684 , when he was said to be archdeacon of Northamptonshire , Huntingdonshire , and Cambridgeshire . In 1680 , at the time of the Popish Plot , Morris was brought over from Flanders through the agency of Israel Tonge , Oates 's fellow-informer, to substantiate the charges brought against the Jesuits by another Roman Catholic priest , Dr. John Sergeant . He became known as Sergeant 's fidus Achates . They swore false evidence against the Jesuits before the Privy Council , 18 Feb. 1680 , and their informations were ordered to be printed by the House of Commons on 26 March 1681 . For his services Morris received a pension from the secret service funds of £900 between 1680 and 1685 . Hay says ‘ it would be interesting to discover what Morris was doing in England from 1680 to 1685 , or what he had done, perhaps at an earlier date, to earn this pension of over two hundred pounds a year ’, and concludes that Sergeant and Morris were ‘ involved from the very beginning in the schemes of Titus Oates ’ and Shaftesbury . In fact, Sergeant and Morris received more money than Oates and Tonge , who were credited with being the inventors of the Popish Plot .

Sources:

  • Foley , Records of the English province of the Society of Jesus (1570-1800 ) , v, 465 n.;
  • M. V. Hay , The Jesuits and the Popish Plot , London, 1934 , 164-5, 173;
  • Catholic Record Society , xl, 42, xlvii, 125 and n.

Author:

John Martin Cleary, Cardiff

Published date: 1959