MORICE, Nicholas (c.1640-1712), of Werrington, Devon and Spring Garden, Westminster.
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Family and Education
Sec. of embassy, Breda 1667; committee, E.I. Co. 1668-9; clerk of the signet 1678-1706.2
Commr. for recusants, Cornw. 1675, assessment, Devon 1677-80; stannator of Foymore 1710.3
Morice was granted a clerkship of the signet in reversion in 1661, but when he was appointed secretary to the plenipotentiaries to negotiate peace with Holland in February 1667 Samuel Pepys described him as ‘a boy never used to any business’. In the next month he was returned to the Cavalier Parliament at a by-election for the family borough of Newport. His attitude to the attack on Clarendon in the autumn is not known, but he was certainly present in the House, for he was appointed by full name to the committee on the bill against pluralities. His father laid down office some months later, and he never held another diplomatic post. His name appears on neither list of the court party in 1669-71. But it was doubtless he rather than Thomas Morrice who was twice named to committees to consider the bill for duchy of Cornwall leases, and acted as teller on 6 Mar. 1671 against the removal of the county assizes to Bodmin, though he was none the less among those to whom the bill was entrusted. In the spring session of 1675 he was appointed to committees for the bills to abolish the burning of heretics and to prevent the growth of Popery. In the autumn his committees included those to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament, to prevent illegal imprisonment, and to recall British subjects from the French service. He was teller for the bill for rebuilding Northampton, against the bill of ease for the coal trade, and for establishing a ‘court of conscience’ for small claims in Westminster. He was listed among the dependants, presumably because he would need court favour if he were to make good his reversion against Oudart, the Latin secretary, who claimed under an earlier grant. But in 1676 Sir Richard Wiseman included him among the Cornish Presbyterians, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’ for the next session, in which he was teller for the Opposition against the bill for the Protestant education of the royal children, though he was appointed to the committee. He also opposed the address promising assistance for a war with France. By the next session the father of Sir William Trumbull, the junior clerk of the signet, was critically ill, and Morice was included among the Members ‘to be fixed’. He did not act as teller again, though he was named to the committees for settling the stannary laws, for preventing the conviction of Quakers for recusancy, and for the Fal navigation bill. On Trumbull’s death, Oudart’s claim was disallowed on a technicality, and Morice was sworn in. He served on no more committees, and probably ceased to attend. He had been a moderately active Member, with at least 78 committees, and a further 162 possibilities, most of which however can be ascribed to Thomas Morrice.4
Morice never stood again, though after the Revolution his interest at Newport and Saltash was at the disposal of Whig candidates. At this time he held £2,000 of East India Stock. In 1706 he resigned as clerk of the signet in favour of his nephew Joseph Moyle†. He died at Werrington on 12 Dec. 1712.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Gillian Hampson
- 1. N. and Q. cxcii. 180.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 193; Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, viii. 55; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 382.
- 3. Add. 6713, f. 196.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 498; 1678, pp. 61, 71, 110; Pepys Diary, 14 Feb. 1667; CJ, ix. 214, 370, 373, 378, 407, 408.
- 5. Add. 22185, f. 14; BL Loan 29/152/1, Northey to Harley, 13 Apr. 1706; N. and Q. cxcii. 180.