Morison, Richard (DNB00)

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MORISON, Sir RICHARD (d. 1556), ambassador, was son of Thomas Morison of Hertfordshire, by a daughter of Thomas Merry of Hatfield. He is said to have been at Eton, but his name does not occur in Harwood's ‘Alumni.’ He graduated B.A. at Oxford on 19 Jan. 1527–8, and at once entered the service of Wolsey. He probably noted the way things were going, as he soon quitted the cardinal, visited Latimer at Cambridge, and went to Italy to study Greek. He became a proficient scholar, and was always interested in literature, although he adopted Calvinistic religious views. He lived at Venice and Padua, and endured all manner of hardships, according to the accounts given to his friends at home, from whom, although he had a pension, he was continually begging. In August 1535 he wrote to Starkey: ‘You cannot imagine in what misery I have been, but that is past, and how great it would have been in winter if the kindness of Signor Polo had not rescued me from hunger, cold, and poverty. My books, good as they were, are a prey to the cruel Jews, for very little truly … my clothes are all gone. I am wearing Mr. Michael Throgmorton's breeches and doublet.’ But at this time, as throughout his life, he exhibited a gaiety of disposition which caused him to be called ‘the merry Morison’ (cf. Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, XII. i. 430). Writing in February 1535–6 to Cromwell, he said that he wished to do something else than be wretched in Italy. Cromwell, who respected Morison's abilities, summoned him home in May 1535, and gave him an official appointment. On 17 July 1537 he became prebendary of Yatminster in the cathedral of Salisbury. Henry in 1541 is said to have given him the library of the Carmelites in London. He received the mastership of the hospitals of St. James's, Northallerton, Yorkshire, and St. Wulstan, Worcester, with other monastic grants (cf. App. ii. 10th Rep. Dep.-Keeper Public Records, p. 241).

In 1546 Morison went as ambassador to the Hanse towns. On Henry's death he was furnished with credentials to the king of Denmark, and ordered by the council to announce Edward's accession. He had a pension of 20l. a year throughout the reign. On 8 May 1549 he was made a commissioner to visit the university of Oxford, and before June 1550 was knighted; in July he went as ambassador to Charles V, Roger Ascham going with him, and the two reading Greek every day together. His despatches to the council were usually very long, but Morison found time to travel about Germany with his secretary, Ascham, who published in 1553 an account of their experiences in ‘A Report of the Affaires of Germany.’ The emperor, who was frequently remonstrating through Morison about the treatment of the Princess Mary, did not altogether like him; he was in the habit, as he said, of ‘reading Ochino's Sermons or Machiavelli’ to his household ‘for the sake of the language,’ and his friendship with the leading reformers must have made negotiations difficult. On 5 Aug. 1553 he and Sir Philip Hoby [q. v.] were recalled (they had alluded to Guilford Dudley as king in a letter to the council), but the next year Morison withdrew to Strasburg with Sir John Cheke [q. v.] and Cook, and spent his time in study under Peter Martyr, whose patron he had been at Oxford (Churton, Life of Nowell, p. 23). He was at Brussels early in 1555, and is said also to have passed into Italy, but he died at Strasburg on 17 March 1555–6. He had married Bridget, daughter of John, lord Hussey, who remarried in 1561 Henry Manners, earl of Rutland [q. v.]. By her he had a son Charles, afterwards Sir Charles, kt., and three daughters: Jane married to Edward, lord Russell, Elizabeth to William Norreys, and Mary to Bartholomew Hales. Morison died very rich, and had begun to build the mansion of Cashiobury in Hertfordshire, which his son completed, and which passed into the Capel family by the marriage of Sir Charles's daughter Elizabeth with Arthur, lord Capel of Hadham [q. v.], and is now the property of the Earl of Essex. According to Wood, Morison left illegitimate children.

Morison wrote:

  1. ‘Apomaxis Calumniarum,’ London, 1537, 8vo, an attack on Cochlæus, who had written against Henry VIII, and who retorted in ‘Scopa in Araneas Ricardi Morison Angli,’ Leipzig, 1538.
  2. A translation of the ‘Epistle’ of Sturmius, London, 1538, 8vo.
  3. ‘An Invective ayenste the great detestable vice, Treason,’ London, 1539, 8vo.
  4. ‘The Strategemes, Sleyghtes, and Policies of Warre, gathered together by S. Julius Frontinus,’ London, 1539, 8vo.
  5. A translation of the ‘Introduction to Wisdom’ by Vives, London, 1540 and 1544, dedicated to Gregory Cromwell.

He is also said to have written ‘Comfortable Consolation for the Birth of Prince Edward, rather than Sorrow for the Death of Queen Jane,’ after the death of Jane Seymour on 24 Oct. 1537. ‘A Defence of Priests' Marriages’ is sometimes assigned to him. It is dated by some 1562, but more probably appeared between 1549 and 1553. In manuscript are ‘Maxims and Sayings,’ Sloane MS. 1523; ‘A Treatise of Faith and Justification,’ Harl. MS. 423 (4); ‘Account of Mary's Persecution under Edward VI,’ Harl. MS. 353.

[Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Gairdner, vols. vi. and seq. passim; Cal. of State Papers, For. Ser. 1547–53; Rymer's Fœdera, xiv. 671, xv. 183; Acts of the Privy Council, 1547–56, passim; Katterfeld's Roger Ascham, sein Leben und seine Werke, note to pp. 91 and 92; Ascham's Epistles, Oxford, 1703, passim; Ascham's English Works, 1815, xvii. 383; Lloyd's State Worthies; Fuller's Worthies, p. 227; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 532; Clutterbuck's Herts, i. 237; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 239; Fasti Oxon. i. 29; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England, vol. iii. passim; Narratives of the Reformation (Camd. Soc.), p. 146; Trevelyan Papers (Camd. Soc.), ii. 25; Chron. of Queen Jane and of two years of Queen Mary (Camd. Soc.), pp. 108–9; Troubles connected with the Prayer-book of 1549 (Camd. Soc.), p. 104; Strype's Memorials, I. i. 64, &c., ii. i. 576, &c., II. ii. 18, &c., III. i. vi., &c.; Grindal, p. 12; Parker, ii. 446; Cranmer, pp. 1009, 1015; Cheke, pp. 19, 48; Annals, II. ii. 498; Lodge's Illustrations of Brit. Hist. i. 196, &c.; Lansd. MS. 980, 137; Thomas's Historical Notes, i. 218, 219.]

W. A. J. A.