MORRISON (MORYSON), Sir Charles, 1st Bt. (1587-1628), of Cassiobury, Watford, Herts. and Whitefriars, London

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



9 May 1628 - 20 Aug. 1628

Family and Education

b. 18 Apr. 1587,1 o.s. of Sir Charles Morison† of Cassiobury and Dorothy, da. of Nicholas Clerke of North Weston, Oxon., wid. of Henry Long† of Shingay, Cambs.2 educ. privately (Mr. Sutton) Camb. 1599-1604;3 travelled abroad (Italy) 1605.4 m. 4 Dec. 1606,5 Mary (d. June 1643), da. and coh. of Sir Baptist Hicks, 1st bt.*, of Milk Street, London and Chipping Campden, Glos., 2s. d.v.p. 1da.6 suc. fa. 1599;7 cr. KB 25 July 1603,8 bt. 29 June 1611.9 d. 20 Aug. 1628.10

Offices Held

Kpr. King’s Langley park, Herts. 1599-1626;11 j.p. St. Albans liberty, Herts. 1609-d., Herts. by 1614-d.;12 commr. oyer and terminer, St. Albans liberty 1610-d., Hertford, Herts. 1620, Home circ. 1624-6,13 sewers, River Ver, Herts. 1617;14 dep. lt. Herts. 1618-24;15 collector of Palatinate Benevolence, Cashio hundred, Herts. 1620;16 commr. subsidy, Herts. 1621-2, 1624,17 highways, 1622,18 Forced Loan 1627.19


Morrison’s grandfather acquired the ex-monastic property of Cassiobury in 1545.20 Under his father’s will Morrison was to spend at least five years at Cambridge ‘to follow his books, and after that he hath fully attained the grounds of learning to have some assigned to instruct him in the French and Italian’; his wardship was to be bought by his grandmother, Bridget, dowager countess of Bedford, and other relations.21 After touring Italy, Morrison returned in 1606 to marry into the Hicks family.22 He obtained exemption from the shrievalty on the grounds that during his mother’s lifetime he was no more than a tenant in Hertfordshire, and on the report of loans in 1611 he begged ‘if I must be whipped with a privy seal, yet let the lashes be but light’.23 Nevertheless he could afford to acquire a baronetcy and, after his mother’s death, to enlarge the Cassiobury estate with judicious land purchases.24 In 1618 he was granted an extension to his lease of King’s Langley park.25

Morrison stood for the Hertfordshire at the general election in 1620, and having obtained the support of the 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*), was returned as the junior knight of the shire.26 Named to the privileges committee (5 Feb. 1621), he was also required help to manage a conference with the Lords on recusancy (16 February).27 In his first speech, during the debate of 2 Mar. on the bill ‘against all pretences of concealment whatsoever’, he confessed himself ‘loth to be the first man that should hang the bell at the cat’s ear’; but drew the attention of the House to a patent for the recovery of concealed tithes, and was consequently among those chosen to confer with the Lords concerning monopolies 11 days later.28 He spoke in the debate of 21 Apr. on purveyance of carriages, a matter of great importance to his constituency, and was appointed to the committee for the bill.29 During a meeting of the grievances committee on 30 Apr. he fell into dispute with Clement Coke*, who reportedly took offence at some jest about ‘asses’; Morrison thereupon alluded to ‘judges riding of asses’, which Coke interpreted as an insult to his father, Sir Edward*, chairman of the committee. On the Parliament stairs as they were leaving, Coke struck Morrison, who obtained a sword from his servant and drew on him in Westminster Hall.30 Both were suspended from sitting, while efforts were made to compose the difference; but it had to be brought before the House. On 8 May Morrison declared that ‘nothing was ever so great an honour to me as to be chosen by my country to serve here’, and pleaded that he had ‘never intended the least provocation to Mr. Coke’.31 He was restored to his place on 10 May, and two days later when the purveyance bill was reported, he again reminded the Commons that taking of carriages was ‘a great grievance to the county that he serves for’.32 On 15 May he waived his right to an apology from Coke.33 He left no trace on the records of the autumn sitting.

Morrison was re-elected for Hertfordshire in 1624, again with Salisbury’s backing,34 and was once more appointed to the privileges committee (23 Feb. 1624).35 On 13 Mar. he renewed his attack on purveyance in the name of his constituency, which had been harder hit since Middlesex compounded, declaring that an officer of the green cloth, Sir Simon Harvey, admitted taking 3,000 carts from Hertfordshire ‘in one year, and the burden and charge of this is so great as they cannot bear it, nor be able to give any subsidies’.36 He was among those ordered to peruse Harvey’s books, and spoke against him again in the committee for grievances on 23 April.37 In the supply debate of 19 Mar. Morrison declared bluntly that ‘[we] thought the last Parliament that we and our money were soon parted’, and warned that ‘it is easier to grant subsidies than levy them’; he therefore moved to ‘desire the king to declare himself’ over the proposed breach with Spain, concerning which the money was to be voted.38 He also served on committees for two bills of local interest, those to confirm the charter of the New River Company (22 Mar.) and to enable Sir Charles Caesar* to sell the manor of Great Munden (29 April).39 He was appointed to confer with the Lords on recusancy (3 Apr.), monopolies (8 Apr.), and two Exchequer bills (30 April).40 On 27 Apr. he certified that there were no recusants or suspected papists holding office in Hertfordshire.41

Morrison’s stance against purveyance may account for his removal from the lieutenancy at about this time, although he continued to hold other local offices. In the elections to the first Caroline Parliament he was returned on Salisbury’s nomination for St. Albans, seven miles from Cassiobury.42 He was named to two committees, for bills concerning petty larceny (25 June) and the corrupt procurement of judicial places (29 June), and after the adjournment to Oxford he was among those ordered on 10 Aug. to investigate how the subsidies raised in 1624 had been ‘disbursed by the country’.43 Re-elected in 1626, he was appointed to a handful of committees, of which the most important reflected his continuing interest in concealed lands (14 Feb. 1626) and purveyance (25 May).44 He played no known role in the impeachment proceedings against the duke of Buckingham, although it was reported that ‘to strengthen the duke’, Charles I at one point considered raising four Members, including Morrison, to the upper House, ‘but whereon that were legal, or what did hinder it, it did not proceed’.45 After the dissolution, in September, Morrison met with revenue commissioners to discuss with them the possibility of purchasing King’s Langley in fee-farm; he eventually paid £2,450 for the estate.46 In the following year his daughter and heir married Arthur Capel†, despite the latter’s prior engagement to Salisbury’s daughter.47

Morrison may have hoped to sit again for St. Albans; there is no evidence of a contest, but he was unsuccessful at the general election in 1628. He therefore put himself forward a few weeks later when the elevation of Sir Edward Howard II to the peerage created a vacancy at Hertford, and after a short delay Morrison was returned at the by-election, presumably with Salisbury’s support.48 He was named to committees for two private bills before receiving permission to depart into the country for two or three days on 20 May, probably in order to organize a petition against the exactions of the corporation of London on the Lea river barge traffic.49 He was back in the Commons by 4 June, when he was among those appointed to hear a petition from the planters of Somers Island [Bermuda] (4 June), and to examine the abuses of the gunpowder monopoly and the export of ordnance (4 June). His only speech was on 10 June, in support of a private bill to break the entail on the 2nd earl of Devonshire’s estate in the interests of Sir William Cavendish I*.50 The petition from Hertfordshire ‘against exactions in London for metage and portage’ was read on 25 June, and Morrison was the first named to its committee; however, the session came to an end the following day, before he had a chance to deliver any report.51

Morrison died on 20 Aug. during the recess, leaving strict instructions to his ‘dear and best deserving wife’ to forbid a funeral service. This was not for motives of economy, for in his will dated 21 Feb. 1628 he bequeathed £50 to the poor of Watford and £400 to his household servants. He left his nephew the 4th earl of Bedford (Sir Francis Russell*) £50 ‘to buy him a horse’, with a request to continue his friendship to the family, £40 to his father-in-law for the same purpose, and £20 to his cousin Edward Alford* for a mere nag, ‘ever acknowledging his faithful love to me and mine’. His widow buried him, in accordance with his instructions, in the north aisle of Watford church, and provided a monument to his memory at a cost of £400 in tribute to 21 years of married life ‘without quarrel or cloud’.52 The epitaph praises Morrison’s piety, virtue and intelligence, and his outstanding prudence and dexterity in managing the public business of the province in which he flourished, besides the gentleness and elegance of his manners, humanity and beneficence.53 Lady Morrison later married the handsome gambler Sir John Cooper*, after whose early death from consumption she took as a third husband Alford’s younger son Sir Edward†. Cassiobury became the chief seat of the Capel family.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C142/257/45.
  • 2. R. Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 238, 262.
  • 3. PROB 11/94, f. 137v.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 196; SO3/2, unfol. (16 Feb. 1605); HMC Hatfield, xxiv. 146.
  • 5. Clutterbuck, i. 234.
  • 6. PROB 11/94, f. 137.
  • 7. C142/257/45.
  • 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 155.
  • 9. CB, i. 71.
  • 10. C142/491/17.
  • 11. Lansd. 91, f. 203; AO1/2021/3, unfol. (7 Mar. 1613); VCH Herts. ii. 237-8.
  • 12. C66/1988; E163/18/12; C181/2, ff. 87, 305; 181/3, f. 223v.
  • 13. C181/2, f. 121v; 181/3, ff. 14v, 16, 111, 208, 224.
  • 14. C181/2, f. 297v.
  • 15. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 77, 188.
  • 16. Ibid. 125.
  • 17. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 18. C181/3, f. 69v.
  • 19. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144; SP16/71/52.
  • 20. VCH Herts. ii. 453.
  • 21. PROB 11/94, f. 137v; CP, ii. 76.
  • 22. Lansd. 91, f. 104.
  • 23. Ibid. f. 205; Lansd. 92, f. 124.
  • 24. VCH Herts. ii. 454; C66/1833, 66/2116, 66/2406, 66/2431.
  • 25. Harl. 781, f. 17.
  • 26. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 137.
  • 27. CJ, i. 508a, 522b.
  • 28. CD 1621, vi. 278; CJ, i. 511a.
  • 29. CD 1621, iii. 41; CJ, i. 586a.
  • 30. CJ, i. 606b, 615b; Nicholas Procs. 1621, ii. 43; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 369.
  • 31. CJ, i. 611b, 616a, b.; CD 1621, iii. 203-4; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 375.
  • 32. CD 1621, iii. 235.
  • 33. Nicholas, ii. 74.
  • 34. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 188.
  • 35. CJ, i. 671b.
  • 36. Ibid. 685a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 77v.
  • 37. CJ, i. 696a; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 158v.
  • 38. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 95v; Holles 1624, p. 46.
  • 39. CJ, i. 745a, 778b.
  • 40. Ibid. 695a, 754a, 757b.
  • 41. Ibid. 776a.
  • 42. HALS, OFF ACC 1162/161.
  • 43. Procs. 1625, pp. 245, 269, 442.
  • 44. Procs. 1626, ii. 32; iii. 331.
  • 45. Ibid. iv. 342.
  • 46. Univ. of London, Goldsmiths’ ms 195, i. f. 40-v; C66/2406; E401/1913, unfol. (21, 28 Dec. 1626).
  • 47. L. Stone, Fam. and Fortune, 121-2.
  • 48. CD 1628, iii. 185, 300.
  • 49. Ibid. iii. 429, 446, 491.
  • 50. Ibid. iv. 226.
  • 51. Ibid. 82-3, 467.
  • 52. PROB 11/154, f. 248.
  • 53. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 246; Clutterbuck, i. 262.