Morris, John (1826-1893) (DNB00)

MORRIS, JOHN (1826–1893), Jesuit, son of John Carnac Morris [q. v.], was born at Ootacamund, on the Neilgherry Hills, Southern India, on 4 July 1826. At eight years of age he was sent to a private school at East Sheen, Surrey. Thence, in 1838, he was transferred to Harrow, but he remained there only one year. He then went to India, and lived with his parents for two years on the Neilgherry Hills. Returning to England, he was prepared for Cambridge by Henry Alford [q. v.]; in October term 1845 he was admitted a pensioner of Trinity College. Before the end of his freshman's year he embraced the catholic religion, being received into the Roman communion on 20 May 1846. His secession caused some sensation, and led to the submission next year of F. A. Paley [q. v.], his private tutor (Browne, Annals of the Tractarian Movement, pp. 130, 131).

After three years' study at the English College in Rome he was ordained priest in September 1849 in the cathedral church of St. John Lateran, and sent back to the English mission. He was stationed first at Northampton, next at Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and in 1852 he was appointed a canon of the newly founded diocese of Northampton. From 1852 to 1855 he was vice-rector of the English College at Rome. Having obtained from the pope release from his missionary oath, Morris returned to England with the intention of entering the religious state in the Society of Jesus. On his arrival, however, he was intercepted by Cardinal Wiseman, who was anxious to secure his services for the diocese of Westminster. Soon afterwards he became private secretary to the cardinal, and he continued to hold the office during the first two years of the episcopate of his successor, Cardinal Manning. In 1861 he had been made canon-penitentiary of the metropolitan chapter. At last, in February 1867, he fulfilled his long-cherished design of entering the Society of Jesus. His noviceship was passed partly at Manresa House, Roehampton, partly at Tronchiennes in Belgium, and on 1 March 1869 he took his first vows at Louvain.

Returning to England, he became successively minister at Roehampton, socius to the provincial, Father Whitty, first superior of the Oxford mission, which, in 1871, had again been entrusted to the Jesuit order, and professor of ecclesiastical history and canon law in the college of St. Beuno, North Wales. In 1877 he was professed of the four vows, and appointed first rector of St. Ignatius's College, Malta; but, the climate not agreeing with his health, he was recalled to this country, and resumed his professorship at St. Beuno's in 1878. In 1879 he was appointed vice-rector and master of novices at Roehampton, and in 1880 rector an office which he held till 1886. He was an enthusiastic worker in the cause of the beatification of the English martyrs, and the result of his efforts was the beatification by Leo XIII, on 29 Dec. 1886, of More, Fisher, and other Englishmen. On 10 Jan. 1889 Morris was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1891 he became head, in succession to Father Henry Coleridge, of the staff of Jesuit writers at Farm Street, Berkeley Square, to which he had previously been attached.

In 1893 he retired to Wimbledon, and there engaged in writing the biography of Cardinal Wiseman, He had collected the materials, but only a few chapters were actually composed when he died, with startling suddenness, while preaching in the church at Wimbledon on Sunday morning, 22 Oct. 1893.

His most important work was 'The Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, related by themselves,' 3 vols. London, 1872-7. Otherworks were: 1. 'The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury,' London, 1859, 8vo; 2nd and enlarged edit. London, 1885, 8vo. 2. 'Formularium Sacerdotale, seu diversarum Benedictiones Religionum; quas in unum collegit Joannes Morris,' London [1859], 8vo. 3. 'The Last Illness of His Eminence Cardinal Wiseman,' 3rd edit. London, 1865, 8vo; translated into German, Münster, 1865, 8vo. 4. 'The English Martyrs : a lecture given at Stonyhurst College, illustrated from contemporary prints,' London, 1887, 8vo. 5. 'The Venerable Sir Adrian Fortescue, Martyr,' London, 1887, 8vo. 6. 'The Relics of St. Thomas of Canterbury,' Canterbury, 1888, 8vo. 7. 'Canterbury: our old Metropolis,' Canterbury, 1889, 8vo. He also edited, with other historical and devotional works, Father Gerard's 'Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot,' with a life and notes under the title 'The Condition of Catholics under James I,' London, 1871, 2nd edit. 1872, 3rd edit, rewritten and enlarged 1881; 'Sir Amias Poulet's Letterbooks,' 1874, in which he pointed out many inaccuracies in Mr. Froude's account of Mary Queen of Scots. He was a frequent contributor to the ' Month,' the 'Dublin Review,' and the 'Tablet.'

[Private information; Catholic News, 28 Oct. 1893; Men of the Time, 1884; Speaker, 28 Oct. 1893; Tablet, 28 Oct. 1893, p. 685, and 4 Nov. (funeral sermon by the Rev. Edward Purbrick, S. J.); Times, 23 Oct. 1893, p. 6; Weekly Register, 28 Oct. 1893, pp. 549, 563.]

T. C.