Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Morton, George

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MORTON, or MOURT, George, author, b. in York, England, in 1585; d. about 1628. He became a Puritan in 1600, and was one of the earliest Pilgrims that settled in Leyden, Holland, where he married in 1612, and until 1620 was the agent of those of his sect that lived in London. At the latter date he emigrated to New England, arriving in Plymouth on the “Ann,” and bringing re-enforcements to the Pilgrims. After a residence of several years he returned to England, according to some authorities, but others assert that he died in Plymouth. Morton is the author of the first book that was published in Great Britain that gave an account of the planting of Plymouth colony. This work, known as “Mourt's Relation of the Beginning and Proceeding of the English Plantation settled at Plymouth in New England,” is full of valuable information and is an authority even at the present day (London, 1622; abridged and reprinted in Massachusetts historical collection; 2d ed., with notes by Rev. George B. Cheever, entitled “Journal of the Pilgrims,” Boston, 1845; 3d ed., with notes by William T. Harris, New York, 1852; 4th ed., with notes by Rev. Henry M. Dexter, Boston, 1865). — His son, Nathaniel, author, b. in Leyden, Holland, in 1613; d. in Plymouth, Mass., 16 June, 1685, came with his father to this country, and after the death of his parents was brought up in the family of Gov. William Bradford, who had married Nathaniel's maternal aunt. He early became Bradford's assistant in the management of public affairs, and by annual popular vote was secretary of the colony from 7 Dec., 1647, until his death. Almost all the records of the Plymouth colony are in his handwriting. He read extensively, and took great pains to note down the incidents of the early days of the colony, which he published under the title of “New England's Memorial, or a Brief Relation of the most Memorable and Remarkable Passages of the Providence of God manifested to the Planters of New England” (Cambridge, Mass., 1669; reprinted in England the same year, with supplement by Josiah Cotton, Boston, 1721; 3d ed., Newport, R. I., 1772; 4th ed., containing, besides the original work and the supplement, large additions with marginal notes, and a lithographic copy of an ancient map by John Davis, Boston, 1826; 6th ed., by the Boston Congregational board of publication, 1855). This work, compiled at the request of the commissioners of the four united colonies, was chiefly attested as correct by the most eminent survivors of the earlier generations. Until the recovery of Bradford's own history in 1855, Morton's was the chief early authority for the history of Plymouth colony. He also wrote a “Synopsis of the Church History of Plymouth” (1680), which is preserved in Ebenezer Hazard's “Historical Collections” and published by Alexander Young in his “Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of Plymouth” (Boston, 1841); and he was the author of numerous verses in commemoration of the virtues of the Pilgrims, the best specimens of which are those on the death of his aunt, Mrs. Bradford, published at the end of Gov. Bradford's “History” (Boston, 1856). — His grandson, Perez, lawyer, b. in Plymouth, Mass., 13 Nov., 1751; d. in Dorchester, Mass., 14 Oct., 1837, was graduated at Harvard in 1771. He was a member of the committee of safety in 1775, and active in the administration of public affairs during the Revolution. In April, 1776, he delivered, in behalf of the Boston civil authorities, the funeral oration over the remains of Gen. Joseph Warren. This address, although eloquent, was an elaborately ornate production. He studied law after the peace, became eminent in his profession, and was speaker of the Massachusetts house of representatives in 1806-'11, and attorney-general in 1811-'32. In 1820 he was a delegate to the State constitutional convention. — His wife, Sarah Wentworth Apthorp, author, b. in Braintree, Mass., 29 Aug., 1759; d. in Quincy, Mass., 14 May, 1846, was a constant contributor of short poems to the “Massachusetts Magazine,” and gained a reputation under the pen-name of “Philenia,” chiefly due to the laudatory comments of Robert Treat Paine, Jr., by whom she was styled the “American Sappho.” She also published “Ouabi, or the Virtue of Nature,” an Indian tale in four cantos (Boston, 1790); “Beacon Hill,” a poem (1797); “The Virtues of Society” (1799); “My Mind and its Thoughts,” prose; and minor poems (1823).