MORTON, Sir John, 2nd Bt. (c.1627-99), of Milborne St. Andrew, Dorset
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Family and Education
b. c.1627, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir George Morton, 1st Bt.†, of Milborne St. Andrew by Anne, da. of Sir Richard Wortley of Wortley, Yorks., wid. of Sir Rotherham Willoughby of Aston Rowant, Oxon. educ. privately; travelled abroad 1647. m. (1) 12 Aug. 1661 (with £2,000), Eleanor (d. 1671), da. of John Fountaine, sergeant-at-law, of Wood Dalling, Norf., s.p.; (2) lic. 24 Feb. 1676, Elizabeth, da. of Benjamin Culme, DD, dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, 1da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 28 Feb. 1662.1
Freeman, Poole 1660.2
Gent. privy chamber 1663–85, 1689–d.; commr. drowned lands 1690.3
Morton, a former henchman of the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley Cooper†), had represented Weymouth since 1679. An active Member in his early career, he took a much less prominent role in his last Parliament, but gave occasional flashes of the debating style which had earned him a reputation for vindictiveness. After his re-election in 1690, Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed him as a Whig. In April 1691 Robert Harley* listed him as a ‘doubtful’ supporter of the Country party. On 16 Nov. he was sent for into custody for defaulting in his attendance on the House, and was discharged on the 25th. He was one of the co-sponsors of a motion on 9 Dec. for an address to the King to provide financial support to enable the informer William Fuller to bring over his witnesses. Morton also spoke on 18 Dec. in favour of the East India Company. On 4 Jan. 1692 he told in a committee of supply against granting £6,000 (the lesser of two sums mentioned) for army hospitals for the following year. He criticized a proposal on 18 Jan. by Sir Robert Cotton, the joint postmaster-general, that country gentlemen should contribute more tax to the war effort. ‘As to that gentleman’s motion’, stated Morton, ‘the country gentlemen are not wanting. And if our estates and rents came in as well as their pensions and places we would double it.’ On 2 Feb. he was teller against an amendment to a bill to prevent storage of gunpowder near the Tower. He spoke on 22 Feb. in favour of a bill allowing Quakers to affirm, and twice intervened in the debates on Fuller: on 23 Feb. in favour of a motion that his information about alleged Jacobite plots should be read in the House, and the next day in support of declaring Fuller an impostor.4
At the beginning of the next session, on 24 Nov. 1692, Morton presented the petition of the Horners’ Company against the bill for encouraging the woollen manufacture. Together with Sir Ralph Dutton, 1st Bt., he complained on 8 Dec. that Sir Francis Winnington had left the chair of the committee of the whole on ‘advice’ to the King in a ‘very irregular’ manner, namely without any order for a report or request for leave to sit again. They successfully moved, therefore, for a further sitting of the committee. On 13 Dec. he spoke against a pound rate for the land tax, and the following day in favour of committing the bill for preserving their Majesties’ persons. On 20 Dec. Morton seconded a motion for an address to the King for the dismissal of the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†), and he carried up to the Lords a second resolution commending the conduct of Admiral Edward Russell*. On 20 Jan. 1693 he supported sending for the licenser and printer of King William and Queen Mary Conquerors, and supported the triennial bill in debate on 28 Jan. In the following month he spoke four times: on 2 Feb. in support of the bill for suppression of hawkers and pedlars; on 14 Feb. to desire that more power should be given to the commissioners of public accounts; on 24 Feb. against the unfairness of a motion to expel William Culliford before he had been given an opportunity to defend himself; and on 25 Feb. in favour of dissolving the East India Company. He was listed by Samuel Grascome in 1693 as a Court supporter with a place or pension.5
In the next session Morton spoke disparagingly of Sir John Knight* on 1 Feb. 1694, saying ‘you have given that worthy Member leave to go into the country, and I desire no further disturbance may be given to the House by him.’ On 22 Jan. 1695 James Vernon I* reported that Morton had made an attack on Hon. Heneage Finch I*. Morton had spoken ‘in a manner that would have been more taken notice of if it had come from any other’, and had attempted to undermine Finch’s credibility as defender of the freedom of debate by reminding the House of his role in the prosecution of the Whig martyrs, Algernon Sidney† and Lord Russell (Hon. William†). Despite his advancing age, Morton contested Shaftesbury at the 1695 election. Unsuccessful on this occasion, however, he did not stand for Parliament again and died, aged 71, on 8 Jan. 1699.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / David Wilkinson
- 1. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 599; VCH Oxon. viii. 22; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 1270; Soc. of Geneal. Milborne St. Andrew par. reg.; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 947.
- 2. Hutchins, i. 32.
- 3. N. Carlisle, Gent. Privy Chamber, 165, 204; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 794.
- 4. Luttrell Diary, 69, 88, 108, 137, 168, 198, 201, 204.
- 5. Ibid. 258, 303, 312, 316, 330, 377, 391, 396, 398, 421, 447, 449; Grey, x. 292, 307.
- 6. Grey, 385; Add. 46527, f. 47.