Topic: George Bentham Morris (1839-1903)

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Captain George Bentham Morris (1839-1903) served as the Tauranga Representative on the Auckland Provincial Council. Story researched and written by Debbie McCauley.

George Bentham Morris was born in Oatlands Tasmania, on 28 February 1839 to Reverend George Sculthorpe (1812-1889) and Susan Emma Morris (nee Wandby) (1815-1877). He moved to Gloucester in England and entered the Royal Marines as 2nd Lieutenant on 24 June 1857. He became Lieutenant on 22 September 1859 and Adjutant in September 1869.

In 1869 he married Elizabeth Sherratt at St George's, Hanover Square, London. Elizabeth was born in c1843. In 9 February 1870 George retired from the Navy

On 4 October 1870 George and Elizabeth arrived in New Zealand from London on board the Countess of Kintore. They firstly went to Richard Sherratt in Gisborne, Poverty Bay. The family later settlled in the Waikato before moving to the Bay of Plenty.

In March and April 1876 charges of bribing electors during the last election were brought against George. The charges broke down due to insufficient evidence and in July of 1876 the Grand Jury dismissed them.

The political career of George Bentham Morris was as follows:

  • 1872: Member of the Auckland Provincial Council.
  • 1876: Elected to the House of Representatives for the East Coast.
  • 1879: Defeated in the General Election.
  • 1882: Elected to the House of Representatives for the East Coast.
  • 1884: Elected to the House of Representatives for the East Coast.
  • 19 August 1884: Commissioner of Trade and Customs.
  • 20 August 1884: Minister of the Marine Department.  
  • 28 August 1884: Stout-Vogel Government Ministry resigns after holding office for 12 days.

'Captain Morris gave a considerable amount of time to public life, being for years a member of the Bay of Plenty Provincial Council. At the abolition of the provinces Captain Morris was returned to Parliament for the Bay of Plenty representing that district for many years, and for a few weeks occupied the position of Minister of Justice under one of Sir Julius Vogel's short-lived Administrations. About 18 years ago Captain Morris was called to the Legislative Council (Bay of Plenty Times, 17 April 1903, p. 3).

In 1880 George had a child with his housekeeper, Te Ra Nepia, a daughter named Titihuia.

In March 1881 the Bay of Plenty Times reported that David Asher's cutter Tokerau had arrived from Mercury Bay with 20,000ft of building timber and 500 posts for Captain George Betham Morris.

Elizabeth died on 12 October 1893 after having five children with George.

The Bay of Plenty Times reported a sale of furniture and effects belonging to George on 19 October 1893.

In c1895 the Morris family moved to Onehunga in Auckland.

George remarried to Mary Jane Harkness in Auckland on 18 November 1896 (reg. 1896/3568).

George suffered from partial paralysis as the result of an injury to his knee from a cricket ball. He died at his home in Onehunga, aged 63, on 16 April 1903. It is believed that his knee injury was a factory in his fall, leading him to strike his head which rendered him unconscious. He also suffered from overwhelming blood loss. George was buried at  Waikaraka Cemetery on 18 April 1903 (Area 2 Block N Lot No 7).

His obituary noted: 'Captain Morris, during his long public career, earned the character of being an upright, honourable gentleman. In his private life he made many firm friends, who will deeply regret his death under such sad circumstances' (Bay of Plenty Times, 17 April 1903, p. 3).

Jinty Rorke writes: 'Thirteenth Avenue was Morris Street after Captain George Bentham Morris, who lived at Poike. English  born,  Morris'  political  career  began  when  he  was  elected  to  represent  Tauranga  on  the Auckland  Provincial  Council  between  1873  and  1876.  He  was  the  member  of  the  House  of Representatives  for  the  East  Coast  from  1876  to  1879  and  for  Tauranga  from  1881  to  1885, during which time he was Minister of Trade and Customs, and Marine Affairs in the Stout-Vogel ministry  of  1884.  When  his  wife  died  in  1885  he  moved  to  Auckland,  where  he  served  on  the Legislative Council from 1885 to 1903. Although none of Morris' descendants by his wife Helen still live in this district, a well known local Māori family is proud to acknowledge its connection with him' (Western Bay of Plenty Street Names 1994/1995).

The children of George Bentham Morris:

  1. George Charles Waudby Morris (1869-1940). He was born on 16 December 1869. He married Evyleen Richmal Gledstanes (1872-1952) on 12 March 1896. George died, age 70, on 8 March 1940 (reg. 1940/21369). He was buried at Waikaraka Cemetery with his wife and father (Area 2 Block N Lot No 7).
  2. John Bentham Morris (1871-1950). Born in New Zealand on 21 July 1871 (reg. 1871/15782). He married married Annie Gallagher from Westport. John died, age 79, in Gisborne on 3 December 1950 (reg. 1950/27630).
  3. Philip Bernard Morris (1873-1936). Born in 1873 (reg. 1873/29848) [another registered birth reg. 1893/15261?]. Philip married Myra Baldwin in 1895 (reg. 1895/512). He died, aged 64, in 1936 (reg. 1936/19343).
  4. Charles Sculthorpe Morris (1875-1949). Born in Tauranga on 25 March 1875. He died on 19 December 1949 in Mathari Hospital in Kenya.
  5. Gerald Hamilton Morris (1877-1952). Born in Tauranga on 20 August 1877. He married Ethel Elizabeth Trahai in Cornwall in 1914. Gerald died on 13 September 1952 in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England.
  6. Daughter - died in infancy.
  7. Titihuia Morris (1880-1840). Born in Tauranga in 1880. Tituhuia married Mokohiti Reweti. She died in Tauranga on 13 September 1940.
  8. George Bentham Morris (1902-1983). Born in Otahuhu, Auckland, on 1 January 1902 (reg. 1902/776). Dr. Morris died on 31 January 1983 in Dunbogan, New South Wales, Australia.

 

Sources:

Countess of Kintore Passenger List 1870.

Death of Captain Morris 1903.

Death of Elizabeth Morris 1893.

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection.

Waikaraka Cemetery Records.

Western Bay of Plenty Street Names.

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George Bentham Morris (1839-1903)


Year:1903
First Names:George Bentham
Last Name:Morris
Date of Birth:28 February 1839
Place of Birth:Oatlands, Tasmania
Country of birth:Australia
Date of death:16 April 1903
Place of death:Onehunga, Auckland
Place of burial:Waikaraka Cemetery
Occupation:Member of Parliament
Date of Arrival:4 October 1870
Name of the ship:Countess of Kintore
Date of sailing:25 June 1870
Port of arrival:Auckland
Sailed from:London
Spouses name:Elizabeth Sherratt and Mary Jane Harkness)
Spouses date of birth:13 May 1849
Spouses place of birth:Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Spouses date of death:12 October 1893
Spouses place of death:Tauranga
Spouses place of burial:Tauranga Anglican Cemetery
Date of marriage:2 March 1869
Place of marriage:Taynton, Gloucestershire, England
Fathers name:Rev. George Sculthorpe Morris
Fathers date of birth:18 December 1812
Fathers place of birth:Manea, Cambridgeshire, England
Fathers date of death:8 June 1889
Fathers place of death:Bretforton, Worcestershire, England
Mothers name:Susan Emma Wandby
Mothers date of birth:1815
Mothers place of birth:Coldham Hall, Stanningfield, Suffolk, England
Mothers date of death:December 1877
Mothers place of death:Bretforton Vicarage, Worcestershire, England