MORICE, Humphry (c.1671-1731), of The Grove, Chiswick, Mdx., and Mincing Lane, London
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Family and Education
b. c.1671, o. s. of Humphry Morice, London merchant and auditor of the Exchequer (bro. of John*, Sir William, 1st Bt.†, and Nicholas Morice†) by Alice, da. of Sir Thomas Trollope, 1st Bt., of Casewick, Lincs. m. (1) 26 June 1704, Judith (d. 1720), da. of Thomas Sandes, London merchant, 2s. (d.v.p.) 3da.; (2) 5 June 1722, Catherine (d. 1743), da. of Peter Paggen of the Manor House, Wandsworth, Surr., wid. of William Hale*, 2s. suc. fa. 1689.1
Commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711; dir. Bank of Eng. 1716–31 (with statutory intervals), dep. gov. 1725–7, gov. 1727–9.2
Morice’s father described himself as a ‘citizen and mercer of London’. He left his estate, including extensive business interests, to Humphry, his only child. Humphry’s uncles, John and Nicholas, were deputed by his father’s will to be his guardians. Morice served his financial apprenticeship in the City under the guidance of his uncle Nicholas, a shrewd speculator, who used him not only to buy and sell stock, but to collect the interest on loans made to Members of Parliament on the security of their estates. Vigilance was needed to catch them as soon as Parliament was prorogued or dissolved, before they went into the country, in order to collect money they owed. On 11 Feb. 1707 Morice was one of four merchants, owed £18,000 upon the bankruptcy of a London merchant who had fled abroad. In November 1707 he was one of the merchants who gave evidence before the Lords on the loss of shipping in the West Indies due to lack of convoys. In the spring of 1710 he testified before the Commons on behalf of the separate traders asking to be allowed to trade to Africa from any part of Britain or the Plantations, and proposing that the forts and settlements of the Royal African Company be vested in the crown with a duty on the Africa trade to pay for their upkeep. On the trade to Africa bill in June 1713, he appeared before the Lords as a representative of the free traders against the monopoly of the Royal African Company. According to a Bank of England list of 25 Mar. 1710 he held over £4,000 of stock, making him eligible to be chosen its governor or one of its directors.3
Morice had asked his Tory cousin Sir Nicholas Morice, 2nd Bt.*, with whom he had been brought up, to find him a seat at the 1710 general election, but the reply was that Newport and Launceston were already settled. He was returned for Newport, however, in 1713 on his cousin’s recommendation. He was classed as a Whig in the Worsley list, and voted with his friend Robert Walpole II* against the expulsion of Richard Steele on 18 Mar. 1714. He acted four times as teller, on one occasion against going into a committee of the whole to consider the African trade (21 May), and on another, for a motion to allow members of the South Sea Company’s directorate to give evidence before the Lords concerning the asiento (8 July). Morice prospered under the Hanoverians, but his support for the septennial bill led to his losing his cousin’s support at Newport. Thereafter he sat for Grampound. He became governor of the Bank of England in 1727, only to die by his own hand on 16 Nov. 1731 after the discovery that he had defrauded the Bank of large sums and had embezzled the money left in trust for his own daughters’ fortunes. In his will made in September 1728, he left his household goods from Mincing Lane to his wife, and ordered his remaining real and personal estate to be divided equally among his five children.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley
- 1. N. and Q. cxcii. 179; Bank of Eng. Morice mss, Nicholas to Humphry Morice, 5 June 1704 (note to Hist. of Parl. trans.); IGI, London.
- 2. Pittis, Pres. Parl. 351; N. and Q. clxxix. 81.
- 3. PCC 26 Dyke; Morice mss, Nicholas to Humphry Morice passim; CJ, xvi. 276; HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 104; x. 178; Egerton 3359.
- 4. Morice mss, Sir Nicholas to Humphry Morice, 3 Oct. 1710, Richard Blighe to same, 17 Aug. 1713; PCC 282 Isham.