Morton, Nicholas (DNB00)
|←Morton, John Maddison||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39
MORTON, NICHOLAS, D.D. (fl. 1586), papal agent, was son of Charles Morton, esq., of Bawtry, Yorkshire,by Maud, daughter of William Dallyson, esq., of Lincolnshire, his race, as Strype observes, being 'universally papists, descended as well by the man as woman (Annals of the Reformation, ii. 389, fol.) He was born at Bawtry, and received his academical education in the university of Cambridge, where he graduated B. A. in 1542-1543 and commenced M. A. in 1545 (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 10). He was constituted one of the original fellows of Trinity College by the charter of foundation dated 19 Dec. 1546 (Rymer, Fœdera, xv. 107), and he was B.D. in 1554. In 1556 he was appointed by Cardinal Pole one of the six preachers in the cathedral church of Canterbury (Stype, Memorials, iii. 290). He is stated to have been a prebendary of York, but this appears somewhat doubtful (Dodd, Church Hist. ii. 114).
Adhering to the Roman catholic religion, he, soon after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, withdrew to Rome, and was there created D.D. and constituted apostolical penitentiary. He was examined as a witness at the papal court in the proceedings there taken to excommunicate Queen Elizabeth, and was despatched to England to impart to the catholic priests, as from the pope, those faculties and that jurisdiction which they could no longer receive in the regular manner from their bishops, and to apprise them and the catholic gentry that a bull of deposition of Queen Elizabeth was in preparation. He landed in Lincolnshire, and the result of his intrigues was the northern rebellion of 1569 under the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 11). Morton was 'the most earnest mover of the rebellion,' and his first persuasion was to tell the Earl of Northumberland and many others of the excommunication which threatened them, and of the dangers touching their souls and the loss of their country (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Eliz., Addenda, 1566-1579, p. 390). When and how Morton effected his escape from England does not appear.
About 1571 he went from Rome to the English College at Louvain, carrying letters and money to its inmates from the pope. On 24 May 1580 he and Thomas Goldwell, formerly bishop of St. Asaph, arrived at the English College at Rheims from Rome, to which city they returned on 8 Aug. the same year, after having in the interim paid a visit to Paris (Douay Diaries, pp. 165, 167, 169). The indictment framed in 1589 against Philip, earl of Arundel, for high treason states that William Allen, D.D., Dr. Morton, Robert Parsons, Edmund Campion, John Hart, and other false traitors, on 31 March 1580, at Rheims, and on other days at Rome and Rheims, compassed and imagined to depose and kill the queen, to raise war against her, and to subvert the established church and government (Baga de Secretis, pouch 49). In a list of certain English catholics abroad, sent by a secret agent to the English government about
1580, mention is made of ' Nycolas Morton, prieste and doctor, who was penytensiary for the Englyshe nation ; but nowe dealythe no more in that office, and yet hathe out of the same xii crones by monthe, and everye daye ii loaves of brede and ii chambells ; besydes a benyfice in Piacenza, worth V c crownes by yeare, w ch y e cardynall off Alexandria gave hym' (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Eliz. vol. cxlvi. n. 18). On 5 May 1582 a correspondent of Walsingham announced the arrest of Dr. Wendon, Dr. Morton, and other English pensioners at Rome. Morton was still a resident in that city on 9 Dec. 1586 when he was in company with Robert Morton, his nephew. The latter was son of his brother, Robert Morton, by his second wife, Ann, daughter of John Norton, esq., and widow of Robert Plumpton, esq., of Plumpton or Plompton, Yorkshire. This unfortunate nephew was executed in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, on account of his sacerdotal character, on 26 Aug. 1588.
[Harleian Miscellany (Malham), ii. 173, 203, 208 ; Hunter's South Yorkshire, i. 76 ; Nichols's Collect. Topog. et Geneal. v. 80, 86 ; Records of the English Catholics, i. 433, ii. 403 ; Sanderus, De Visibili Monarchia, p. 730 ; Sharp's Memorials of the Northern Rebellion, pp. 264, 280, 281 ; Soames's Elizabethan Religious History, pp. 1-07, 108; Cal. State Papers, Com. Eliz. 1547-80 pp. 651, 694, 1581-90 p. 53; Wood's Athenæ Oxon.. (Bliss), i. 471 ; Lingard's Hist, of England, vi. 205.]