MORISON, Charles (1549-99), of Cassiobury, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1549, o.s. of (Sir) Richard Morison of Cassiobury by Bridget, da. of John, Lord Hussey. She afterwards married Henry Manners, 2nd Earl of Rutland and Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford. educ.Trinity Coll. Camb. 1564, G. Inn 1566. m. aft. Apr. 1573, Dorothy, da. of Nicholas Clerke of North Weston, Oxon., wid. of Henry Long, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1557.

Offices Held

J.p. Herts. from c.1577, sheriff 1579-80; keeper of Rockingham forest to 1583.2


Morison’s Morison’s father, while secretary to Thomas Cromwell, acquired monastic lands formerly belonging to the abbey of St. Albans. The manor of Cassiobury, which became the family seat, was a residence of the abbots. Sir Richard Morison passed from the service of Cromwell to that of Henry VIII and Edward VI, who sent him as ambassador to the emperor. In Mary’s reign he retired to Strasbourg, where he died, leaving the family influence in Hertfordshire to be developed by his son. Charles Morison was probably with his parents in Strasbourg as a child, but he had presumably returned to England with his mother by July 1557, when his wardship was granted to John Throckmorton I, despite his father’s expressed wish that his wardship should be granted to Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk, whose religious views coincided with his own. Morison was soon incorporated in the circle of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who became his mother’s third husband, his sister Jane marrying Bedford’s son by a previous marriage. It was Bedford who gained for Morison a seat in Parliament in 1576, when he was returned for Tavistock in place of Robert Farrar, who had died. His one recorded occurrence in the proceedings of this Parliament comes in the session of 1581 when he was appointed to the subsidy committee on 25 Jan.3

In Hertfordshire Morison was a patron of one of ‘the spiritual brethren’, Thomas Wilcox (who dedicated some of his works to him), and encouraged preachers in neighbouring churches. As a leading Hertfordshire magistrate, Morison was careful of the material as well as the spiritual welfare of the county, and in 1596 he received a Privy Council letter commending ‘the care you have taken for the relief of the poor, by remedying as much as you could the causes of the great dearth of grain in your markets.’4

Morison was appealed to by both sides in the 1584 contested county election. In 1588 Burghley asked him to support the candidature of his son Robert Cecil, and in the 1590s Morison wrote on several occasions to thank Sir Robert Cecil for the continuance of his favours. Morison wrote again in December 1598 apologizing for his inability to do Cecil service because of ill-health, and thanked him for his ‘honourable remembrance of a dead man to this world’. Morison’s son married a niece of Michael Hickes, Burghley’s secretary and Robert Cecil’s friend. Morison was also on friendly terms with Walsingham, who sent him a remedy for gout in March 1590.5

Morison died 31 Mar. 1599, leaving an heir Charles, aged 12. His will named Bridget, dowager Countess of Bedford; Henry, 6th Earl of Kent; and Thomas, Lord Grey of Wilton, as possible guardians. It recommended that the boy be left in the care of his mother while she remained unmarried and that 200 marks should be paid to her annually for his diet until he was 14 years old. He was to go to Cambridge, to stay with Mr. Sutton his schoolmaster until he was 17, there to learn Greek and Latin. Trustees were appointed for the extensive property in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and London. The overseers of the will were the Earl of Kent, (Sir) Dru Drury and Sir William Clerke. The elaborate arrangements made for the trusteeship of the land, and Morison’s belief that they would be honoured, suggest that he had used his connexion with the Cecils to make a private arrangement with the master of the wards about the heir. Morison’s inquisition post mortem was taken 25 July 1599.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 116; C142/110/170; R. Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 238; Al. Cant. iii. 216; PCC 28 Wrastley; SP12/121/15; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 114.
  • 3. Clutterbuck, i. 236-8; C. H. Garrett, Marian Exiles, 229-30; CPR, 1557-8, p. 192; D’Ewes, 288.
  • 4. Collinson, 58, 947; APC, xxvi. 258.
  • 5. Neale, Commons, 28-9, 330; HMC Var. vii. 340, 341 HMC Hatfield, vii. 468; viii. 476; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 86, 90; HMC Rutland, i. 281.
  • 6. PCC 64 Kidd; C142/257/45.