Morton, Albertus (DNB00)

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MORTON, Sir ALBERTUS (1584?–1625), secretary of state, born about 1584, was youngest of the three sons of George Morton of Eshere in Chilham, Kent, by Mary, daughter of Robert Honywood of Charing in the same county. He was descended from the family of Morton of Mildred St. Andrew, Dorset, of which John Morton [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, was a member. His grandmother, when left a widow, remarried Sir Thomas Wotton, and became the mother of Sir Henry Wotton [q. v.], who always called himself Albertus Morton's uncle. He was educated at Eton, and was elected to King's College, Cambridge, in 1603, apparently by royal influence (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1603-10, p. 185), but he did not graduate there. In July 1604 Wotton was appointed ambassador to Venice, and his nephew accompanied him as secretary (cf. Life of Bishop Bedell, Camden Soc., p. 102). In 1609 Morton returned to England, and among other papers he brought a letter from Wotton to the Prince of Wales, which is printed in Birch's 'Life of Henry, Prince of Wales.' In August 1613 he was talked of as minister to Savoy, but he met with a serious carriage accident in the same year (Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, p. 413), and he did not start until 12 May 1614. Before 22 Dec. of the same year he was appointed clerk to the council, and had certainly set off on his return from Savoy to take up the duties of his office before 6 April 1615. In April 1616 he went to Heidelberg as secretary to the Princess Elizabeth, wife of the elector palatine, and while on this service was granted a pension of 200l. a year, with an allowance of 50l. for expenses. He was knighted on 23 Sept. 1617, and cannot have seen much of the electress, as his brother, writing in October 1618, says that he had returned at that time and was ill, and under the care of an Italian doctor (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–1618, p. 585). He may have given up his clerkship while with the electress (ib. 1619-1623, p. 16), but on 6 April 1619 he had a formal grant of the office for life. He collected subscriptions for the elector in 1620 (ib. p. 183), and in December of the same year he took over 30,000l. to the protestant princes of Germany (ib. p. 198; cf. p. 201). He returned before 12 March in the following year. He resigned his place in 1623 in a fit of pique, on not being allowed to be present when the Spanish marriage was discussed (ib. p. 480). It was rumoured in April 1624 that he was to succeed Sir Edward Herbert, afterwards Lord Herbert of Cherbury [q. v.], as ambassador to France, and later that he had refused the appointment, which, Carleton wrote, was as strange as that it was offered to him. It is clear that he was by this time under the patronage of Buckingham, and before 26 July he was formally appointed to Paris, though the patent was not made out till August. He was injured in November of the same year by a fall from his horse. Early in 1625 Sir George Calvert gave up the secretaryship of state for a substantial consideration, and Morton was sworn in at Newmarket in his place. He was elected member for the county of Kent and for the university of Cambridge (he had been seriously proposed for the provostship of King's College) in the parliament of 1625. Buckingham had written to the mayor of Rochester in his favour (Gent. Mag. 1798, i. 117), and he chose to sit for Kent, but he died in November 1625, and was buried at Southampton, where apparently he had a house. Wotton, who always speaks of him in terms of affection, wrote an elegy upon him. Morton married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Apsley, but left no issue. His widow died very soon after him, and Wotton wrote an epigram upon her death. Morton was succeeded as secretary by Sir John Coke [q. v.]

[Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 219; Hasted's Kent, iii. 136; Wood's Athenæ Oxon.; Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, ed. 1685, pp. 322, 388, 417, 421, 425, 443, 552; Hannah's Wotton, pp. 40 et seq.; Cartwright's Rape of Bramber (in Cartwright and Dallaway's West Sussex), p. 243; Harwood's Alumni Eton. p. 206; Nichols's Progresses of King James I, iii. 438; Gent. Mag. 1797 p. 840, 1798 pp. 20, 115; Calendars of State Papers, Dom. 1603-25; Autobiography of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, ed. Lee, 1886, pp. 161 and 250n.]

W. A. J. A.