Morris, John Webster (DNB00)

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MORRIS, JOHN WEBSTER (1763–1836), baptist minister and author, born in 1763, became a member of the baptist church at Worsted, Norfolk, before 1785. At that date he was resident at Market Dereham, and seems to have followed the trade of a journeyman printer. On 12 June 1785 he accepted the pastorate of the baptist church at Clipstone, Northamptonshire, and filled the post for eighteen years. While at Clipstone he became acquainted with Andrew Fuller [q. v.], Robert Hall (1764-1831) [q. v.], and William Carey, D.D. [q. v.], founder of the baptist missions in India. With Carey, too, Morris was on terms of close intimacy (cf. Dr. George Smiths's Life of Carey}. Morris joined the committee of the Baptist Missionary Society at Leicester on 20 March 1793, and for some years acted as Andrew Fuller's 'amanuensis.' Under Fuller's superintendence he edited and printed the first three volumes of 'The Periodical Accounts' of the society. In March 1803 Morris left Clipstone to become minister of the baptist church at Dunstable, Bedfordshire. There also he continued his business as a printer, setting up in type the works of Sutcliffe, Fuller, Hall, and others. About the same time he was editor and proprietor of the 'Biblical Magazine.' In 1806 he, with a fellow-minister named Blundell, proceeded as a deputation on behalf of the Baptist Missionary Society to Ireland, and before returning presented the lord-lieutenant (John Russell, ninth duke of Bedford) with a copy of the Bengalee New Testament. In 1809 Morris left Dunstable, and devoted the remainder of his life to authorship, editorial work, and occasional preaching. In 1816 he published his notable 'Memoirs of the Life and Writing of Andrew Fuller.' A second edition appeared in 1826, revised and enlarged. In that year also he issued a companion volume, 'Miscellaneous Pieces on Various Subjects, being the last Remains of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, with occasional notes;' and 'A Brief Descriptive History of Holland, in Letters from a Grandfather to Marianne during an Excursion in the Summer of 1819.' Morris also published a 'Biographical History of the Christian Church from the Apostolic Age to the Times of Wicliffe the Reformer,' in 2 vols. 8vo, in 1827; and he edited an abridgment of Gurnall's 'Spiritual Warfare' and 'The Complete Works of Robert Hall 'in 1828. In 1833 he published his 'Biographical Recollections of the Rev. Robert Hall, A.M.,' a second edition of which appeared in 1846. Morris also wrote a 'Sacred Biography, forming a Connected History of the Old and New Testament,' 2 vols. London, n.d. Most of these works, with the exception of the first mentioned, which was printed at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, were printed at Bungay, Suffolk, by his son, Joseph M. Morris.

He spent much time before his death in editing a new edition of Joseph Sutcliffe's 'Commentary on the Holy Scriptures,' which was published in 1838-9. He also edited 'The Preacher,' 8 vols. 12mo, n.d., and 'The Domestic Preacher; or Short Discourses from the Original Manuscripts of some eminent Ministers,' 2 vols. 12mo, 1826. Morris died suddenly at Ditchingham, near Bungay, where the last years of his life had been spent, on 19 Jan. 1836.

[Clipstone Baptist Church Book; Periodical Accounts of Baptist Missionary Society, vols. i. ii. iii. 1800-6; Eclectic Review, 1816; Life of Dr. Carey, by Dr. George Smith; Baptist Magazine, 1836; New Baptist Magazine, 1825-6; New Baptist Miscellany, 1827-8; works mentioned.]

W. P.-s.