MORLEY, Sir William (1606-1658), of Halnaker, Boxgrove, Suss.

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



c. Feb. 1626
1640 (Nov.) - 23 Nov. 1642

Family and Education

bap. 4 Mar. 1606,1 1st s. of Sir John Morley* and Cecily, da. of Sir Edward Caryll of Harting, Suss.2 educ. Trin., Oxf. 1621;3 ?I. Temple 1622.4 m. (settlement 15 Nov. 1625, with £3,000),5 Mary (d. 17 Dec. 1666), da. of Robert Heath* of Brasted, Kent, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1622;6 kntd. 4 Sept. 1625.7 bur. 23 June 1658.8

Offices Held

Commr. oyer and terminer, Suss. 1627,9 martial law 1627;10 sewers 1630, 1637, 1645, Hants and Suss. 1638;11 j.p. Suss. 1632-44;12 sheriff, Surr. and Suss. Jan.-Nov. 1636;13 commr. piracy, Suss. 1637,14 subsidy 1641-2, Chichester, Suss. 1641,15 defence, Suss. 1643, assessment 1644.16


Morley has to be distinguished from a namesake, an uncle who was living in Chichester by 1605.17 His father, Sir John Morley, originally came from Suffolk but purchased property in Sussex, where he was elected twice for New Shoreham and twice for Chichester. At the age of three Morley, together with Humphrey May* and May’s brother-in-law, (Sir) William Uvedale*, were granted the reversion of the clerkship of Star Chamber.18 Sir John died in 1622, while Morley was still under-age, and consequently Morley became a ward of the Crown. As Sir John had requested in his will, the wardship was purchased by May, Thomas Bowyer* and two others for £1,500, a very large sum which presumably reflected the size of the estate.19 In 1625 Morley was knighted and married the daughter of the attorney-general, (Sir) Robert Heath*, who had been a business associate of his father’s.20

Morley was returned for Guildford in February 1626 following Sir Richard Shilton’s decision to sit for Bridgnorth. Shilton was the solicitor general, and probably owed his election to Heath, who had close connections with Guildford’s corporation.21 It was presumably also Heath who nominated his son-in-law as Shilton’s replacement. Morley played no recorded part in the second Caroline Parliament, and there is no evidence that he sought re-election in 1628. However, his continued interest in parliamentary affairs is shown by a letter he wrote to Sir John Oglander* in February 1629 thanking the latter for providing ‘copious’ news of the House’s proceedings. Morley’s own views are indicated by his comment that ‘your foundation being so well grounded, principally for religion, ... that I hope there will be a settled peace and union for the future good of church and commonwealth’.22

Morley was appointed sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in 1636, when he did his best to collect Ship Money arrears. Two years later he surrendered his interest in the clerkship of Star Chamber. He sat for Chichester in the Long Parliament until disabled as a royalist in November 1642. He paid a fine of £1,000 to recover his sequestrated estates, and thereafter preserved a cautious neutrality.23 He made his will on 14 June 1658 and was buried at Boxgrove nine days later. The following October a royalist correspondent reported that he had cut his throat, and that his estate was worth £3,000 a year. His son was returned for Sussex at a by-election in 1667.24

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Add. 5699, f. 154v.
  • 2. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 140.
  • 3. Al. Ox.
  • 4. I. Temple database of admiss. (where his father is named as Sir Robert Morley).
  • 5. Goodwood Estate Archives ed. F.W. Steer and J.E.A. Venables, ii. 90.
  • 6. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 141; (lxxxix), 77; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), iv. 163; Add. 5699, f. 154v; PROB 11/286, f. 359.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 189.
  • 8. Add. 5699, f. 154v.
  • 9. C181/3, f. 216.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 461.
  • 11. C181/4, f. 46v; 181/5, ff. 69v, 115v, 257.
  • 12. C231/5, p. 77; A. Fletcher, County Community in Peace and War, 349.
  • 13. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii) 367; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 138.
  • 14. C181/5, f. 68v
  • 15. SR, v. 66, 89, 156.
  • 16. A. and O. i. 335, 540.
  • 17. Cal. of Suss. Mar. Lics. ed. E.H.W. Dunkin and E.W.D. Penfold (Suss. Rec. Soc. xii), 182.
  • 18. C66/1809, m.14.
  • 19. WARD 9/162, f. 420; PROB 11/140, f. 424.
  • 20. P.E. Kopperman, Sir Robert Heath 1575-1649, p. 65.
  • 21. Surr. Hist. Cent. BR/OC/1/2, ff. 81v, 103v.
  • 22. I.o.W. RO, OG/CC/12.
  • 23. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 280-1; SO1/3, f. 104.
  • 24. PROB 11/286, f. 359; Add. 5699, f. 154v; Goodwood Estate Archives, i. 46; CCSP, iv. 92.