Morins, Richard de (DNB00)
|←Morier, William||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39
Morins, Richard de
MORINS, RICHARD de (d. 1242), historian, was a canon of Merton, who in 1202 was elected prior of Dunstable. At the time of his election he was only a deacon, but on 21 Sept. he was ordained priest. Nothing is known of his parentage, but he seems to have been a personage of importance, and a lay namesake who held lands in Berkshire is several times mentioned in the Close and Patent Rolls as in John's service. In February 1203 Morins was sent by the king to Rome, in order to obtain the pope's aid in arranging peace with France (cf. Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 26), and returned in July with John, cardinal of S. Maria in Via Lata, as papal legate. In 1206 the cardinal constituted Morins visitor of the religious houses in the diocese of Lincoln. In 1212 Morins was employed on the inquiry into the losses of the church through the interdict. In the same year he also acted for the preachers of the crusade in the counties of Huntingdon, Bedford, and Hertford. In 1214-15 Morins was one of the three ecclesiastics appointed to investigate the election of Hugh de Northwold [q. v.] as abbot of St. Edmund's (ib. i. 124, 140, 1406 ; Memorials of St. Edmund's Abbey, ii. 69-121). Later, in 1215, Morins was present at the Lateran council, and on his way home remained at Paris for a year to study in the theological schools. In 1222 he was employed in the settlement of the dispute between the Bishop of London and the Abbey of Westminster (Matt. Paris, iii. 37), and in the next year was visitor for his order in the province of York. In 1228 he was again visitor for his order in the dioceses of Lichfield and Lincoln. In 1239 Morins drew up the case for submission to the pope as to the Archbishop of Canterbury's right of visiting the monasteries in the sees of his suffragans. In 1241 he was one of those to whom letters of absolution for the Canterbury monks were addressed (ib. iv. 103). Morins died on 9 April 1242. The most notable event in Morins's government of the abbey was the dispute with the townspeople of Dunstable. Morins also records a number of minor events connected with himself. The lady-chapel in the canons' cemetery was built by him.
Morins was the compiler or author of the early portion of the 'Dunstable Annals,' from their beginning to the time of his death. Down to 1201 the 'Annals' consist of an abridgment from the works of Ralph de Diceto, but from this point onwards they are original. From a reference in the opening words Morins would appear to have commenced the compilation of his 'Annals' in 1210, and afterwards to have continued it from year to year. The 'Annals' are mainly occupied with details as to the affairs of the priory. Still, 'very few contemporary chroniclers throw so much light on the general history of the country, and, what would scarcely be expected, on foreign affairs as well as those of England. Many historical facts are known solely from this chronicle' (Luard, Preface, p. xv). The manuscript of the 'Annals' is
contained in Cotton. MS. Tiberius A. x., which was much damaged in the fire of 1731. There is also a transcript made by Humphrey Wanley [q. v] in Harleian MS. 4886'. From the latter Hearne printed his edition in 1733, which is now very rare. The 'Annals' were re-edited from the original manuscript by Dr. H. R. Luard for the Rolls Series in 1866, forming the greater part of vol. iii. of the 'Annales Monastici.' The portion of which Morins was author comprises pp. 3-158 of the latter edition. The authorship of the remainder of the 'Annals' is unknown.
[Almost all our knowledge of Morins is due to the Dunstable Annals, but there are a few references in the Patent Rolls and in Matthew Paris. See also Luard's Preface to Annales Monastici, vol. iii. pp. xi-xix ; Hardy's Descriptive Cat. of Brit. Hist. iii. 252.]