Morice, Ralph (DNB00)

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MORICE, RALPH (fl. 1523–1570), secretary to Archbishop Cranmer, born about 1500, was presumably younger son of James Morice, clerk of the kitchen and master of the works to Margaret, countess of Richmond. His father, who was living in 1537, amassed a considerable estate and lived at Chipping Ongar, Essex. His principal duty consisted in supervising the buildings of the countess at Cambridge (Willis and Clark, Arch. Hist. of the Univ. of Cambridge, ii. 192, &c.) The eldest son, William Morice (fl. 1547), was gentleman-usher, first to Richard Pace [q. v.], and afterwards to Henry VIII, and towards the end of Henry's reign was in gaol and in peril of his life from a charge of heresy, through, the envy which his estate excited in some of the courtiers. John Southe saw him when kept in Southwell's house near the Charterhouse. He had added to the family estates by judicious investments in confiscated lands (cf. Trevelyan Papers, Camd. Soc., ii. 4). On his release from prison at Henry's death, and his election as member of parliament, he procured an act to be passed uniting the parishes of Ongar and Greenstead, he being the patron. This was repealed by an act of 1 Mary, Morice's labour being declared to be 'sinister,' and he to have been 'inordinately seeking his private lucre and profitt.' He died some time in Edward VI's reign. Ralph Morice was educated at Cambridge; he graduated B.A. in 1523, and commenced M.A. in 1526. He became secretary to Cranmer in 1528 before his elevation to the archbishopric, and continued in the office until after Edward VI's death. In 1532 he went with Latimer, his brother, and others to see James Bainham [q. v.] in Newgate before his execution. On 18 June 1537 he and his father received a grant of the office of bailiff for some crown lands, and in 1547 he was made registrar to the commissioners appointed to visit the dioceses of Rochester, Canterbury, Chichester, and Winchester. His duties while secretary to the archbishop were severe. In a memorial printed in the Appendix to Strype's 'Cranmer,' and addressed to Queen Elizabeth, he speaks of writing much in defence of the ecclesiastical changes, and as he mentions that he 'most painfullie was occupied in writing of no small volumes from tyme to tyme' much of his work must have been anonymous. He had the farm of the parsonage of Chartham in Kent that is to say he put in a curate, keeping the rest of the revenues. The curate, one Richard Turner, got into trouble for protestant preaching in 1544, but Morice managed to clear him. Under Mary, Morice was in some danger. His house was twice searched, and he lost many of his papers, and had to fly. He was imprisoned, but escaped. The close of his life he passed at Bekesborne in Kent (Hasted, Kent, iii. 715). There he fell into poverty, and stated in one of his petitions to Queen Elizabeth that he had four daughters whom he wanted means to marry. Three of these, however, Margaret, Mary, and Anne, were married in January and February 1570-1. Alyce Morice, who was buried 25 Feb. 1561-2, may have been his wife. The date of his own death is uncertain.

Morice, from his official position, was in possession of much information, and helped Foxe and others in their literary researches, chiefly by supplying them with his 'Anecdotes of Cranmer.' This compilation was used by Strype in his 'Memorials of Cranmer,' and was reprinted from the manuscript at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 'Narratives of the Reformation' (Camd. Soc.) Morice gave other assistance to Foxe, and wrote an account of Latimer's conversion, which is printed in Strype's 'Memorials' and in Latimer's 'Works.' The original is in Harl. MS. 422, art. 12. Art. 26 in the same manuscript, an account of the visit to Bainham, appears in Strype, Latimer's 'Works,' and in Foxe. Harl. MS. 6148 consists of copies of letters written by Morice on the archbishop's business. Transcripts by Strype of some of these form Lansdowne MS. 1045. They have been published by Jenkyns and Cox in their editions of Cranmer's 'Works.'

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 294; Narratives of the Reformation, ed. Nichols (Camd. Soc.), passim; Letters and Papers Henry VIII; Dixon's Hist. of Church of Engl. ii. 347; Cranmer's Remains, ed. Jenkyns, vol. i. p. cxviii; Todd's Life of Cranmer.]

W. A. J. A.