MORTON, William, of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb.
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Family and Education
s. of Thomas Morton, alderman and mayor of Berwick. m., at least 1da.
Alderman, Berwick, mayor 1574, 1581, 1588, 1592.
The Mortons appear as merchants at Berwick in the mid-fifteenth century. Morton himself, as mayor, led a campaign for the extension of the civil authorities’ power, at the expense of the military officials, under the governor of Berwick, Lord Hunsdon. During his last term as mayor, when he was also MP for Berwick, he presented a list of complaints to the Queen, charging Hunsdon and his subordinates with infringements of his authority and the town’s ancient privileges. Though he claimed to be in terror of the governor’s ‘indignation’, this did not cause him to moderate his criticisms either of Lord Hunsdon, whom he condemned as an absentee official, or his subordinates, whom he accused of corruption, inefficiency and nepotism.
Morton continued, as alderman, to support the next mayor in the struggle with the governor, but he is less in evidence after his final term of office in 1593. He last appears in the records four years later, when his aunt, Phyllis Clavering, appointed him executor of her will.
The Berwick guild book shows payments to Morton as MP in 1584, when he and his colleague had 7s. 6d. a day between them ‘from the time of their setting forth from the town to their returning again’, and in 1593 when he was paid, but his colleague, an official, was not. He is not mentioned by name in the journals of the House of Commons, but he may have attended two committees concerning salted fish and the town of Berwick, to which the Members for Berwick were appointed on 11 Mar. and 14 Mar. 1589.
Surtees Soc. xxxviii. 70, 71; J. Scott, Hist. Berwick, 286-7, 456-61, 479; Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis van den Handel met Engeland, Schotland en Ierland, ed. Smit, ii (R.G.P.91), p. 1317, n. 2; Raine, North Durham, 254; D’Ewes, 445, 446; Border Pprs. i. 433-9 et passim.