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William Morrell (d. 1679)

Mayor of Oxford 1677/8


William Morrell (or Morrall) was an Oxford ironmonger and vintner. He had five sisters still alive when he wrote his will in 1677, including Elizabeth, Alice, Frances, and Susannah.

On 9 September 1659 it was agreed that Morrell should be admitted free for £10 provided that he entered into a bond of the City for £100 that he would pay £50 within one month of practising any other trade than that of vinter. Just a week later on 16 September, however, the council agreed that he should instead pay £20 and not give the aforementioned bond. He was duly admitted free on 19 September 1659, paying officers’ fees, 5s. for a bucket, and £20 according to the Council Act.

On 29 September 1659 the city council granted a widow, Mrs Anne Turton, a licence by the city to sell wines for ten years at a rent of £10 per year. This licence was for the Bear Inn, and it had been fornerly held by Henry Southam, who had died on 16 March 1658/9.)

In 1660 William Morrell married Mrs Anne Turton (also taking in her daughter Mary Turton).

On 14 September 1660 Morrell requested that his new wife’s city wine licence be made over to him. Soon afterwards he took over the Bear Inn, and when Charles II was proclaimed King Morrell provided the council with sack and claret to the value of £11 6s. 6d.

Morrell came straight into a Bailiff’s place on the council on 1 October 1660, paying £40 and the usual fine of 3s. 4d. for not serving as Constable.

On 25 October 1660 it was agreed that Morrell’s wine licence should be formally sealed, provided that he first sealed a bond for £200 for the payment of £10 a year in quarterly instalments for ten years from Michaelmas 1659 (provided that his wife, who is wrongly named as Amy rather than Ann, should live so long). This payment was to be made only so long as Morrell was allowed to draw wine in the City by virtue of the licence.

On 31 October 1661 the Mayor reported Morrell’s complaint that although he drew wine by virtue of a licence granted by the City, His Majesty’s Commissioners denied the City’s right to grant licences and demanded that he should take a licence from them. It was agreed that the Recorder would plead with the Commissioners and obtain the recognition of the City’s right with regard to this and the other two wine licences.

In 1665 William Morrell was listed as paying tax on nine hearths in St Martin’s parish. In that year he and his wife took over the New College lease of the Crown Tavern at 3 Cornmarket Street from Mrs Jane Hallam, the daughter of the previous holder and former Mayor of Oxford John Davenant. In March 1667 Morrell was assessed as follows for poll tax at 3 Cornmarket Street:

  • For himself: £2 1s. 0d. (£1 for his title, poll tax of one shilling, and £1 tax on his money)
  • For his wife Mrs Anne Morrell: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his stepdaughter Mary Turton: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his apprentices William Stirke, John Lyne, John Goody, and Robert Ward: poll tax of one shilling each
  • For Joseph Hyne: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his servants Dorothy Smart and Anne Drinkwater: three shillings each (i.e. one shilling in the pound on their yearly wages of £2, plus poll tax of a shilling)

This indicates that his personal wealth was £100, as the tax on personal estate was £1 per £100.

On 4 September 1668 Morrell became Senior Bailiff on the council.

In 1669 Morrell was still working as an ironmonger as well as a vintner, as a bill appears in the city accounts that year for “Ironmongers wares for the use of this Citie”.

On 30 September 1670 Morrell was appointed a Keykeeper. On 15 September 1673 he was fined 1s. 6d. for not attending the Mayor in his gown in church, and warned that he must so attend in future.

Three of his apprentice vintners were admitted free in quick succession: William Stirke on 7 June 1669, and Robert Ward and John Goody on 2 March 1673.

On 15 August 1673 Morrell’s wine licence was renewed for a further 21 years for a fine of £50 and the rent of £10 a year.

On 4 September 1677 Morrell was chosen as one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants, and less than a fortnight later was elected Mayor of Oxford for the coming year (1677/8). He chose Michael Cripps as his Child and Richrd Lumbley as his Chamberlain. The big social event of the year was the entertainment of the Duke of Buckingham on 2 November 1677, but, as Anthony Wood records in his diary, Morrell was “sick of the gout”, and the deputy Mayor stood in for him. He was, however, well enough to ride the franchises on Thursday 15 August.

On 11 October 1678 Morrell was granted a new lease of his wine licence for 31 years without a fine, and was asked to accept this small kindness from the house as an acknowledgement of their gratitude for the great losses he had suffered during his mayoralty on their account. He died nine months later.

William Morrell died on 24 August 1679. He was was buried at St Martin’s Church two days later: he was described in the burial register as being “of ye Crown Taverne sumtime Maior of this City”.

In his will, after bequests to his five sisters, his cousin Joseph Hinde, three of his wife's grandchildren by her former marriage, he left everything to his wife Anne Morrell, including lands in Birmingham that he had purchased from her son Richard Turton and the licence of the Crown Tavern. (Initially he also gave her the Advowson of Hampton Poyle, but he then sold it and had to write a codicil to his will.) The Judge at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury who dealt with his probate was then Sir Leoline Jenkins, former Principal of Jesus College, Oxford.

Anne Morrell continued to run the Crown Tavern: in the year 1681/2 the council paid her £2 17s. 4d. for wine and bottles on Guy Fawkes’ Day and at the Lent Assizes, and £2 15s. for wine on 29 May and at the Summer Assizes. She died on 6 March 1695/6 and was buried with her husband at St Martin's Church on 13 March.

In 1896 St Martin's Church was demolished (apart from its tower), and all bones uncovered were transferred to an unknown communal grave in Holywell Cemetery. A flat stone to William Morrell and his wife was dug up during excavations, and it gave the exact dates of their deaths.

Anne Morrell left her Birmingham property to her son Thomas Turton. Her elder son William Turton was already dead, leaving a widow, Joan, and one son and five daughters. She left the lease of the Crown Tavern to Mrs Joan Turton, with the proviso that at the time of renewing it should be taken in the name of her grandson and Joan's son, William Turton junior.


See also:

  • H. Salter, Surveys and Tokens, pp. 423–5, and token numbered 71 with “WILLIAM MORRELL AT YE
    around an image of a crown on the obverse, and “CROWNE IN OXFORD” around the initials W.A.M.
    on the reverse. An example can be seen here.
  • PCC Will PROB 11/360/611 (Will of William Morrell, Vintner of Oxford, proved 18 September 1679)
  • PCC Will PROB 11/431/14 (Will of Anne Morrell or Morrall, Widow of Oxford, proved 2 April 1696)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 September, 2018

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