Roger Morris (British Army officer)

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Roger Morris By Benjamin West

Roger Morris (28 January 1727 – 13 September 1794) was a colonel in the British Army who fought in the French and Indian War.

Life and career

Morris was born in England on 28 January 1727, the third son of Roger Morris of Netherby, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, by his first wife, the fourth daughter of Sir Peter Jackson[1]

He become a captain in the 48th Regiment of Foot. The regiment served at Falkirk and Culloden, and in Flanders. Morris came to America with General Edward Braddock and served as his aide-de-camp. He was wounded during Braddock's Defeat near Fort Duquesne in western Pennsylvania.

Transferred to the 35th Regiment of Foot in 1758, Morris served in Fort Frederick in Nova Scotia; he led the Cape Sable Campaign against the Acadians. Morris joined the Louisbourg Grenadiers (a special corps made up of the Grenadiers of the 22nd, 40th and 45th Regiments[2]) during General James Wolfe's invasion of French controlled Quebec where he participated in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on 13 September 1759. During the battle the Louisbourg, Grenadiers suffered a loss of fifty-five killed and wounded.[3] In May 1760, Morris was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the 47th Regiment of Foot shortly after the Battle of Sainte-Foy, and participated in General Jeffrey Amherst's assault and capture of Montreal on 8 September 1760 ending French rule in North America.

Morris retired from the army in 1764 and settled in New York City with his American wife, Mary Philipse, who he had married in 1758. Eldest daughter of Frederick Philipse, second Lord of Philipsburg Manor, she had been a possible love interest of George Washington,[4] and owned a one-third share of the Philipse Patent, an immense landed estate on the Hudson River.

File:Appletons' Jumel Eliza Bowen mansion crop.jpg
The Palladian style mansion built by Morris in northern Manhattan in 1765, the family home until the onset of the American Revolution in 1775. Seen here in 1892, after it had been altered with a Federal style entrance. Today it is the Morris-Jumel Mansion
Map of the Philipse Patent showing the holdings of Philip, Susanna, and Mary Philipse

The following year Morris had a large mansion named "Mount Morris" (today the Morris-Jumel Mansion) built in northern Manhattan in what is now the Washington Heights neighborhood.[5] Situated on Coogan's Bluff, its vista included lower Manhattan, the Hudson River and its Palisades, the Bronx, Westchester, the Long Island Sound and the Harlem River.[6][7]

The Revolution

Morris and his family lived in Mount Morris for ten years, from 1765 until 1775, when the American Revolution began. As British Loyalists, Morris went to England at the start of the war, while his wife and family went to stay at the Philipse Manor Hall in Yonkers.[8] Between 14 September – 20 October 1776, General George Washington used the Morris mansion as his temporary headquarters. It later served as the headquarters of British Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, and the Hessian commander Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen.

Morris returned to New York in 1777, after the city had been captured by the British, and became the Inspector of the Claims of Refugees until 1783, when he and his family left for England after the success of the Revolution.[8][9] As Loyalists, their home and Mary's share of the Philipse Patent were confiscated by the Commissioners of Forfeiture at the end of the Revolution.[10][8][11][6] These were sold by auction along with Morris's plate and furniture some weeks later[1] without compensation[12] in spite of assurances of restitution in the 1783 Treaty of Paris that Revolutionary representatives signed with the British.[13]

After the war

It was subsequently shown in court that by pre-nuptial agreement the Morris share of the Philipse Patent was vested in their children and had not been reached by the bill of attainder afterall.[14] In 1809, John Jacob Astor bought the interest of the heirs of Morris for this property for f20,000 and brought suit against the State. After Mary Philipse Morris died in 1825 Astor attempted to collect rents on the lands, but the new owners, who had purchased from the lands from the NY Commission of Forfeiture, refused to pay and Astor tried to evict them. A compromise was reached in 1828 when NY State compensated Astor for the reversionary rights in the amount of $500,000.[14][15]

Morris died in York, England on 13 September 1794, at age 77. His wife died there in 1825 at the age of 96.[16] A monument is erected over their graves in St Saviour's Church in York.


Morris had two sons and two daughters by the marriage. The eldest son, Amherst Morris, entered the royal navy, and was first lieutenant of the frigate Nymphe, where served under Captain Sir Edward Pellew (later Viscount Exmouth), in her famous action with the French frigate La Cleopatre. He died in 1802. [1]

The other son, Henry Gage Morris, also saw much service in the navy, and rose to the rank of rear-admiral. He afterwards resided at York and at Beverley, England. He died at Beverley in 1852, and was buried in Beverley Minster. He was father of Francis Orpen Morris the naturalist.[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Chichester 1894.
  2. 40th Regiment of Foot, Grenadier Company - French and Indian War
  3. The 40th Regiment of Foot in North America - The Seven Year War Website - French and Indian War
  4. Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site website:
    • On 14 March 1757, Joseph Chew began writing a series of letters to George Washington, starting the legend of a Washington/Mary Philipse doomed love. The Washington half of the correspondence has not been found:
      • 14 March 1757: "I am now at Mr. Robinson’s, he, Mrs. Robinson and his Dear Little Family are all well and they desire their Compliments to you. Pretty Miss Polly is in the same Condition & situation* as you saw her." * "Condition & situation" refer to Mary’s affections for Washington.
      • 13 July 1757: "As to the Latter part of your Letter what shall I say? I often had the Pleasure of Breakfasting with the Charming Polly. Roger Morris* was there (don’t be startled) but not always; you know he is a Lady’s man…" *Roger Morris ultimately marries Mary Philipse in January 1758.
      • 13 July 1757: "I intend to set out to-morrow for New York where I will not be wanting to let Miss Polly know the sincere Regard a Friend* of mine has for her and I am sure if she had my Eyes to see thro she would Prefer him to all others" * The "Friend" being George Washington.
  5. Morris-Jumel Mansion website
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Morris-Jumel Mansion" on the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation website
  7. "History/Architecture". on the Morris-Jumel Mansion website. Retrieved 5 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Morris-Jumel Mansion Interior Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (27 May 1975)
  9. "Morris–Jumel Mansion". Harlem and the Heights. New York Architecture. Retrieved 5 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.210
  11. White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot with Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195383867.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>, p.561
  12. Description of the Abstract of Sales, Commissioners of Forfeiture [1] "'Article V of the peace treaty signed by Britain and the United States in Paris on September 3, 1783, insists on 'the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects” and to noncombatant loyalists. Tories who fought the United States were to be given one year to reclaim their property and leave the country. Payments were to be made to loyalists whose estates had already been sold. Article VI prohibited any future confiscations."
  13. Description of the Abstract of Sales, Commissioners of Forfeiture [2] "Many citizens of New York, however, still harbored strong resentment against the loyalists, leading the Provincial Congress to effectively nullify the Treaty of Paris of 1783 by an act of May 12, 1784."
  14. 14.0 14.1 Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site website:
  15. French's Gazetteer of the State of New York (1860): In 1809, John Jacob Astor bought the interest of the heirs of Morris for this property for f20,000" and brought suit against the State. "The State to protect those who held title from the Commissioners of Forfeiture, passed a law, April 16, 1827, directing 5 suits to be prosecuted to judgment in the Circuit Court of New York for review and final decision. If against the defendants, the State agreed to pay $450,000 in 5 per cent stock, redeemable at pleasure; and if the decision included improvements that had been made by occupants, $250,000 more. Three suits were tried, each resulting in favor of Astor; upon which the comptroller was, by act of April 5, 1832, directed to issue stock for the full amount, with costs. The amount issued was $561,500. Few suits have been tried in the State involving larger interests to greater numbers, or which were argued with more ability, than this."
  16. "Women of the American Revolution: Mary Philipse"


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChichester, Henry Manners (1894). [ "Morris, Roger" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 39. London: Smith, Elder & Co.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links