MORLEY, Sir William (1639-1701), of Halnaker, Boxgrove

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



19 Dec. 1667
Mar. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 21 Mar. 1639, 2nd s. of Sir William Morley of Halnaker by Mary, da. of Sir Robert Heath, l.c.j.K.b. 1642-6, of Brasted, Kent. educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 1656; I. Temple 1658. m. (1) Mary (d.1660), da. of Thomas Lee of Hartwell, Bucks., s.p.; (2) 11 June 1662, Anne (d.1671), da. and coh. of (Sir) John Denham of Whitehall, 2s. d.v.p. 3da.; (3) Anne, da. and coh. of George Mynne of Woodcote, Abinger, Surr., wid. of John Lewknor I of Westdean, nr. Chichester, Suss., s.p. suc. bro. 1659; KB 23 Apr. 1661.1

Offices Held

Commr. for militia, Suss. Mar. 1660, j.p. Mar. 1660-Apr. 1688, May 1688-96, 1700-d.; commr. for assessment, Suss. Aug. 1660-80, Surr. 1677-80, Surr. and Suss. 1689-90; colt of militia ft. Suss. c. Aug. 1660-70; commr. for sewers W. Suss. Oct. 1660; freeman, Portsmouth 1667; dep. lt. Suss. 1670-Feb. 1688, June 1688-?96; common councilman, Chichester 1685-Oct. 1688; keeper of East Walk, Forest of Bere by 1690-?d.2


Morley was descended from an Exchequer official, apparently unrelated to the Glynde family, who bought Halnaker in the reign of Elizabeth. His grandfather sat for Shoreham in 1601 and his father for Chichester in the Long Parliament until disabled as a Royalist and fined £1,000. His estate was assessed for decimation at £1,500 p.a., and his name appears on the list of Sussex Royalists drawn up by Roger Whitley in 1658.3

Morley was returned for the county at a by-election in 1667. He was appointed to only 11 committees in the Cavalier Parliament, none of which was of political importance. Although he leaves no trace on the Journals after 1673, there are several reports on his political sympathies. He was noted in 1675 as a possible recruit to the court party, to be enlisted either by the King himself or by his uncle (Sir) John Heath. But Shaftesbury gave him the rating ‘worthy’ in 1677, and later doubled it. This was perhaps due to a confusion with William Morley I, though the latter was not yet a Member, and was never knighted; for Morley’s name appears on the working lists and on both lists of the court party in 1678. He was probably unacceptable as knight of the shire, but at the first election of 1679 he found a seat at Midhurst on the interest of his stepson, John Lewknor II. Shaftesbury, now better informed about Morley, marked him ‘vile’; but he was absent from the division on the exclusion bill, though not given leave till 26 May. Though blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’, he had been inactive both in committee and debate, and remained so in 1685, when he regained his seat. To the questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws he replied:

I shall ever keep my loyalty in voting, but am doubtful what laws I shall consent to repeal till I hear the debates in the House. ... I shall not assist to elect any person to serve in Parliament but such as have ever been of known loyalty and monarchical principles.

He was removed from local office, but restored on the lord lieutenant’s recommendation almost immediately and re-elected to the Convention. He voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, but was otherwise again inactive. He continued to vote with the Tories under William III, refusing to sign the Association in 1696. He died on 30 May 1701 and was buried at Boxgrove, the last of his family. His daughter married the Earl of Derby (Hon. James Stanley) in 1705, bringing with her the Halnaker estate and a fortune said to be £50,000 or more.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: B. M. Crook


  • 1. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 77-78; Add. 5699, ff. 154, 186v.
  • 2. Kent AO, U269/C36/4, C46/1; C181/7/58; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 359; A. Hay, Hist. Chichester, 589; Cal. Treas. Pprs. i. 148.
  • 3. Suss. Arch. Colls. v. 45-46; Keeler, Long Parl. 280-1; Thurloe, iv. 240.
  • 4. Harl, 6835, f. 44; Add. 5699, f. 156; Luttrell, v. 2, 518.