MORRICE, Thomas (d.1675), of Westminster.
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Family and Education
m. by 1661, da. of Roger Nightingale, minor canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, wid. of one Lloyd.2
Jt. farmer of excise, Kent and Surr. 1657-60; commr. for militia, Westminster Mar. 1660, assessment Aug. 1660-d., sewers Aug. 1660, loyal and indigent officers 1662; sub-farmer of hearth-tax, Essex and Herts. 1666-9.3
Jt. farmer of customs and excise [I] 1658-June 1660.4
Morrice’s origins have not been discovered. A hostile account after the Restoration described him as ‘formerly a stocking-seller, then a solicitor at the committees and an exciseman for the late usurped powers’. Nevertheless he seems to have supported the Restoration, serving on the jury that found Francis Hacker guilty of regicide.5
In the general election of 1661 Morrice stood for Haslemere, and was passed off to the electors as a Privy Councillor by his agent, Richard West. If he was akin to William Morice I, the precise connexion cannot now be established. There was a double return, but Morrice was eventually awarded the seat on the merits of the election. He was an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being certainly named to 189 committees, and of the 162 references to ‘Mr Morice’ after the appearance of Nicholas Morice in the House in 1667, many, if not most, were probably to him. In the first session he was appointed to the committees ordered to report on the shortfall in revenue and on bills depending, and to consider the bill reducing interest on loyalists’ debts. In November he petitioned the House to assist him in confirming his tenure of a manor in Essex leased from his father-in-law, to which the House agreed. In the following April, the House, having been informed that the commissioners for examining the sale of church lands had ruled in Morrice’s favour, and that he had agreed to pay double the ancient rent, asked the King to take the matter into consideration. In February 1663, being threatened with ejection from the property, he successfully claimed privilege. On 19 Mar. he was added to the committee for the bill for the better observance of the Lord’s day, a matter which clearly interested him for he was named to the committee on each of the four occasions when the bill was reintroduced. On 18 July he invited the Dean of Westminster to preach before the House on a fast day, and afterwards thanked him.6
In October 1663, during the recess, Morrice and his former partner, William Dodson, offered £53,000 for the farm of the Irish customs and excise for six years but a rival outbid them by £2,000. He was very active in the short spring session of 1664. He was named to 13 committees including those for the conventicles bill and to consider the petition from the loyal and indigent officers, with whose condition he was concerned, being named to five subsequent committees on the matter. On 19 Dec. 1664 he was given leave to bring in a bill for the better observance of the Lord’s day and was the first named to the committee to prepare it. In May 1666 commissioners were appointed to investigate possible fraudulent activities stemming from his farm of the Irish excise. The investigation dragged on until 1669, but no action was taken against Morrice or his partners and he was allowed to lease the hearth-tax of Essex and Hertfordshire. In September 1666 he was named to the committees for the bill preventing the importation of foreign cattle and to consider the petition against the Canary patent. A year later he and his partner again attempted to obtain the farm of the Irish customs and excise, offering £70,000 per annum and a quarter’s rent as security, but after protracted negotiations their offer was rejected. It was probably he, rather than Nicholas Morice, who was named to the committee to inquire into the miscarriages of the war (17 Oct. 1667), but he seems to have taken no part in the attack on Clarendon. In September 1669 Sir Thomas Osborne listed him as one of those Members having ‘dependence on the Duke of York’; though the nature of the ‘dependence’ is not clear, and his name was on two opposition lists drawn up later. In April 1670 the King ordered that £340 arrears on the Hertfordshire hearth-tax due from him should be discharged. Furthermore he was to be recommended to the lord lieutenant for some employment in Ireland, and given a gratuity of £500 as a reward for bidding up the farm of the Irish revenue. It is questionable whether he ever received the £500, but in May 1673 he was forgiven the hearth-tax arrears for both his counties, ‘having upon several occasions performed very acceptable services to the King’. About this time an opposition satirist described him as ‘a broken stocking-seller; is promised some estate in Ireland; under pay of bribe-master Clifford, who advanced him £50’. On 30 Nov. 1673 he
tendered a bill for preventing stealing of children ... but because it was thought there was an office in the belly, ... the House, which is always averse to any project of that nature, would not receive it, ... and ordered a committee to bring in another for that purpose.
Morrice was not named to that committee. He was named on the Paston list of court supporters in 1673-4. His last definite committee appointment was for the bill repealing the statute de heretico comburendo on 17 May 1675. He died before 27 May, when a new writ was issued, and was buried on 1 June in Westminster Abbey.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: J. S. Crossette / Basil Duke Henning
- 1. New writ.
- 2. St. Paul’s Cathedral mss, A57/6.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1657-8, pp. 113, 287; C181/7/88; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 870.
- 4. CSP Ire. 1660-2, p. 156.
- 5. Harl. 7020, f. 40; State Trials, v. 1177.
- 6. PC2/55/161; CJ, viii. 320, 404, 438.
- 7. CSP Ire. 1663-5. pp. 263, 283; 1666-9, pp. 114, 349, 647; 1669-70, pp. 254-5; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iii. 278-9; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 58, 235, 412-13, 428, 637-8; iv. 146; Harl. 7020, f. 40; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 186.