MORICE, John (c.1630-1705), of St. Peter le Poer, London
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Family and Education
b. c.1630, 2nd s. of Sir William Morice†, sec. of state, of Werrington, Devon by Elizabeth, da. of Humphrey Prideaux of Soldon, Cornw.; bro. of Sir William, 1st Bt.†, and Nicholas Morice†. m. lic. 16 Feb. 1661, Mary, da. of Robert Lowther, alderman of London, of Marske, Yorks., sis. of Anthony Lowther†, 2s. (1 d.v.p.), 1 da. (d.v.p.).1
Freeman, Mercers’ Co. 1662; member, Levant Co. 1663, asst. 1672, 1674, 1676–84, 1691–d.; member, R. African Co. 1671, asst. 1674–6, 1679–81, 1689–93, sub-gov. 1695–6; common councilman, London 1675–83, 1688–92, dep. 1693–4.2
An eminent Turkey merchant and a member of the corporation of London, Morice was on the governing body of the Royal African Company in which he had purchased £400 of original stock in 1671. Defeated at Newport in February 1679, he was listed as a common councilman ‘inclined to the faction’, i.e. as a Whig, in 1681. Returned for Newport on his family’s interest at a by-election in 1690, he was classed as a Country supporter in April 1691 by Robert Harley*. His Commons activity was quite limited in this Parliament, being confined to four inquiry committees all concerning trading matters, including one investigating the Royal African Company charter. He was certainly well qualified to participate, and as late as 1709 his brother William recalled his view that
the company could not thrive but must break for two reasons 1) the frauds and cheats of their factors . . . 2) that the planters in the several islands of America were men without justice and common honesty, and never willingly paid a just debt, so that the company came to great losses by their means.
In his analysis compiled originally in 1693, Grascombe classed Morice as a Court supporter. Morice’s limited role in the Commons was probably due to his active involvement in City and mercantile affairs. Indeed, this was shown to be the case when the Lords asked leave on 10 Apr. 1695 to take evidence from both Morice and Sir Robert Clayton* on charges that the corporation of London had offered bribes. It was alleged that Morice, as a member of the powerful City lands committee of the common council, had offered the Marquess of Normanby four acres of the best land in the City on a 100 years’ lease at a rent of 40s. p.a. if he could secure the passage of the orphans bills through the Lords.3
Morice was perhaps even less active in the first session of the 1695 Parliament. He was classed in January 1696 as doubtful on the forecast on the proposed council of trade, and soon afterwards signed the Association. Although absent from the division on Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder bill on 25 Nov. 1696, he was named twice to the drafting committee for the bill preventing the export of wool, on 9 and 17 Mar. 1697. In the following session, he was teller on 11 Feb. 1698 against the supply resolution on the debt due to the king of Denmark, and was named to draft a bill to encourage wool-dying.
Returned for both Saltash and Newport in 1698, Morice chose to sit for the former borough, no doubt because Newport was the safer seat for a Morice nominee. He was classed as a Country supporter in an analysis of the old and new Parliaments, and in a separate list as likely to oppose a standing army. Defeated for Newport in January 1701, he seems to have made no further effort to re-enter the House. This prevented him from exerting any influence over the fate of the two East India companies, in which he was interested as a substantial stockholder in the Old Company. One of his sons, William, for whom he had obtained the place of havenor of Cornwall worth £200 p.a., ran away and died in India in 1696, leaving his other son, John†, to inherit his estate. Morice’s death was reported by Narcissus Luttrell* on 7 Aug. 1705. His will, which included a bequest of £10 to the poor of St. Peter le Poer, was proved in September.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley
- 1. N. and Q. cxcii. 179; Mar. Lic. Fac. Off. (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxxiii), 13.
- 2. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 118; info. from Prof. R. Walcott, Miss S. P. Anderson.
- 3. Woodhead, 118; Bank of Eng. Morice mss, Nicholas to Humphry* Morice, 25 Mar. 1709; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 954–5; Add. 17677 PP, ff. 228, 232; Works of Duke of Buckingham (1732), ii. 122–4.
- 4. EHR, lxxi. 227; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 118; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 580; PCC 183 Gee.