MORYSON, Sir Richard (c.1571-1625), of Tooley Park, Leics. and the Tower, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1571, 5th s. of Thomas Morrison† (d.1592) of Cadeby, Lincs., clerk of the pipe 1589-92, and Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Thomas Moigne of North Willingham, Lincs.1 educ. Peterhouse, Camb. 1585; G. Inn, entered 1594.2 m. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Henry Harington† of Bagworth, Leics. and Baltinglass, co. Wicklow, 5s. 1da.3 kntd. 5 Aug. 1599.4 d. by 3 Oct. 1625.5 sig. Rich[ard] Moryson.

Offices Held

Lt. of ft. by 1592, capt. 1592-d., maj. 1597; lt.-col. of ft. 1598, col. ?1599-1603; gov. Dundalk [I] 1600-1, Lecale [I] 1601-3, Waterford [I] 1603-6, Wexford [I] 1603-6, 1615-d.;6 lt.-gov. of Portsmouth, Hants 1623-d.7

Chief commr. Munster [I], 1607-8;8 v.-pres. 1608-15;9 commr. plantation, Wexford [I] 1612;10 j.p. Leics by 1614-15, Leics. and Mdx. 1619-at least 1621;11 collector of compositions, Munster 1616-d.;12 freeman, Leicester, Leics. 1621,13 Portsmouth 1623;14 commr. musters, Mdx. 1617-22;15 commr. subsidy, Leics. and Mdx. 1621-2, 1624;16 nuisances, Mdx. 1623-d.;17 dep. lt. Leics. 1618-d.18

PC [I] by 1607;19 commr. visitation [I] 1615;20 lt. of the ordnance 1616-d.;21 commr. inquiry into ordnance abuses 1619;22 recovery of Palatinate 1621,23 survey of castles 1623,24 provision of ordnance 1624-d.25

MP [I] 1613-15.26


Moryson’s father came from an obscure Lincolnshire family and was described as ‘earnest in religion and fit to be trusted’ in 1564. A subordinate official in the Exchequer for many years, he represented Grimsby in four Elizabethan Parliaments.27 Left only an annuity of £20 and a featherbed by his father,28 Moryson made his career as a soldier, serving with the English forces in the Low Countries and in France.29 He supplemented his pay by purchasing for £450 an annuity of £70 from Charles Moryson†, the father of Sir Charles Morrison*, who may have been a distant relation.30

Moryson served in the Azores expedition of 1597 under the 8th Lord Mountjoy (Charles Blount†), who in 1599 recommended him to the newly appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex. The latter promoted him to colonel and knighted him.31 He was still in Ireland at the time of Essex’s rising in 1601. Following Essex’s execution Sir George Carew I* commended him to Sir Robert Cecil† as ‘a gallant gentleman’, who ‘cannot free himself of jealousies that you are hardly conceited of him because he was so well esteemed by him that is dead’.32

Essex was succeeded as commander in Ireland by Mountjoy, who continued Moryson in positions of trust.33 Nevertheless his finances remained precarious, and the loss of the governorship of Waterford in 1606 came as a blow both to his pride and his pocket. He successfully appealed to Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, and received compensation in the form of a lease of Crown land, appointment to the Irish Privy Council, a pension of 10s. a day, and the vice-presidency of Munster in succession to Sir Robert Remington*, who stepped down in 1608.34 After representing Bandon in the Irish Parliament of 1613, Moryson expected to succeed Henry, 1st Lord Danvers as president of Munster in 1615, but he was outbid by the 4th earl of Thomond, although he obtained the next reversion in 1618.35 The king was not insensible of his plight, and in 1615 ordered Moryson’s restoration to the governorship of Wexford and doubled his pension, which was extended for the life of his son Henry in the following year.36

On his return to England Moryson was granted the office of lieutenant of the ordnance in reversion to Sir Roger Dallison*. He may have owed his advancement to the Lord Chamberlain, William Herbert, 3rd earl of Pembroke, to whom he seems to have been distantly related. Certainly his brother, Fynes Moryson, dedicated his Itinerary to Pembroke when it was published in 1617.37 In 1619 Morrison supported Sir John Kay* when the latter testified in the Star Chamber trial of the disgraced former lord treasurer, Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Suffolk, about irregularities relating to the finances of the ordnance office.38

On his marriage to the sister of Sir William Harington*, Moryson received property belonging to the Harington family in Leicestershire. This was almost certainly in lieu of the £500 portion she had been bequeathed by her father. To this estate he added Tooley Park in the same county, five miles north-east of Hinckley. His wife was related to Leicestershire’s lord lieutenant, Henry Hastings, 5th earl of Huntingdon, who was a friend of the earl of Pembroke. However it seems to have been Moryson’s military expertise rather than his wife’s connections, which led to his appointment as one of Huntingdon’s deputies in 1618, as the earl declared that there was ‘no man within the country more able and sufficient in those businesses than yourself’. Moryson’s official duties kept him in London, but Huntingdon frequently wrote to him seeking his advice and employed him to purchase arms for the county.39

Moryson was returned for Leicester in 1620 at the request of the earl of Huntingdon, but the borough insisted that he take the freeman’s oath in person before his election.40 In Parliament he made no recorded speeches and received only three committee appointments. His official position explains why he was named to consider bills for standardizing military equipment in the militia (7 Mar.) and preventing the export of ordnance (14 May), and his years of service in Ireland made him an obvious choice for the committee appointed to inquire into the grievances of that kingdom (26 April).41 There is no evidence that Moryson ever sought re-election.

Moryson enjoyed considerable royal favour, for when a stop was put on all pensions payable on the Irish establishment in 1622 an exception was made for him in view of his ‘long and faithful service and his worthy carriage in the many places of quality and trust wherein he hath been employed’.42 With Sir John Kay he undertook an arduous survey of coastal defences in 1623, and in the same year he purchased the post of lieutenant-governor of Portsmouth from Sir John Oglander* for £900.43 In October 1624 Chamberlain wrote that he was unlikely to be allowed to take up his reversion of the presidency of Munster after the recent death of the earl of Thomond because ‘he is grown so weak both in mind and body’, and at the end of the year it was reported that he had compounded for the place with Sir Edward Villiers*, who held the next reversion. A codicil to Moryson’s will, in which he refers to ‘what is agreed ... I shall have in respect of my surrender of the presidency’, shows that the money he received in fact came from Villiers’ half-brother, the duke of Buckingham, although the amount that changed hands is not specified.44

Moryson made his will sometime during 1624. In it he wrote that so large were his debts, occasioned by arrears in his payments from the Crown, that he felt unable to make any disposition of his estate. He named as his executors six ‘selected friends chosen out of long experience and knowledge’, including Pembroke, Sir John Jephson*, Sir Benjamin Rudyard*, and his brother Fynes, and gave them full discretion to divide whatever assets could be recovered among his wife and children. A codicil was added on 29 Aug. 1625. Moryson died shortly thereafter, perhaps at the beginning of October, when his brother-in-law Sir William Harington took over the lieutenancy of the ordnance office. In accordance with his last wishes, Moryson was succeeded in Ireland by his eldest son who, on Pembroke’s orders, was recommended to Buckingham for employment in the relief of La Rochelle, despite his youth. None of Moryson’s descendants sat in Parliament.45

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 693-4; Vis. Lincs. ed. Metcalfe, 52.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 3. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 693-4; Nichols, County of Leicester, iv. 987.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 97.
  • 5. E351/2652, unfol.
  • 6. APC, 1591-2, p. 413; CSP For. 1592-3, p. 227; CSP Carew, 1603-24, p. 429; F. Moryson, Itinerary Containing his Ten Yeeres Travell, ii. 221; CSP Ire. 1600-1, pp. 45, 404; 1601-3, p. 521; 1603-6, pp. 185, 257, 436; 1611-14, p. 532; PROB 11/147, f. 141.
  • 7. C. Aspinall-Oglander, Numwell Symphony, 62.
  • 8. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 111.
  • 9. CSP Carew, 1603-24, p. 429; CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 35.
  • 10. CSP Ire. 1611-14, p. 253.
  • 11. C66/1988; C231/4, ff. 6, 89; C193/13/1.
  • 12. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 302; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 26.
  • 13. Leics. RO, BR18/14/7.
  • 14. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 349.
  • 15. C66/2137, 2234.
  • 16. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 17. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 96; C181/3, f. 157.
  • 18. HEHL, HAM Box 53(6), ff. 37v, 75.
  • 19. CSP Ire. 1606-8, p. 125.
  • 20. CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 75
  • 21. C66/2076/16; E403/1736.
  • 22. CD 1621, vii. 166.
  • 23. APC, 1619-21, p. 333.
  • 24. APC, 1623-5, p. 136.
  • 25. C181/3, ff. 121v, 168.
  • 26. CJ[I], i. 6.
  • 27. HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 103-4.
  • 28. PROB 11/79, ff. 209v-210.
  • 29. HMC Hatfield, v. 501; APC, 1591-2, p. 413.
  • 30. PROB 11/94, f. 137; Add. 40629, f. 99; 40630, ff. 43, 45-46.
  • 31. CSP Carew, 1603-24, p. 429.
  • 32. CSP Ire. 1601-3, p. 117.
  • 33. Moryson, iii. 108.
  • 34. CSP Ire. 1603-6, p. 400; 1606-8, pp. 60, 537; HMC Hatfield, xviii. 124; CSP Carew, 1603-24, p. 187; HMC Hastings, iv. 34.
  • 35. CSP Ire. 1611-14, pp. 531-2; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 408, 591; CPR Ire. Jas. I, 584.
  • 36. CSP Ire. 1615-25, pp. 35, 295.
  • 37. Aspinall-Oglander, 62; Moryson, xvii.
  • 38. Add. 12497, f. 8.
  • 39. PROB 11/122, f. 94; VCH Leics. iv. 353; Nichols, i. 567; iv. 875; T. Cogswell, Home Divisions, 24, 43-4.
  • 40. HMC Hastings, iv. 203; J.K. Gruenfelder, ‘Electoral Influence of the Earls of Huntingdon, 1603-1640’, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. l. 22-3.
  • 41. CJ, i. 543a, 593a, 621b.
  • 42. APC, 1621-23, p. 333.
  • 43. Royalist’s Notebk. ed. F. Bamford, p. 6.
  • 44. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 585; Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe ed. S. Richardson (1740), pp. 300, 329; PROB 11/147, f. 310v.
  • 45. PROB 11/147, ff. 309v-10; SP16/73/10.