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Richard Morris (1827-c1884)

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Richard Morris
Sex: Male
Birth: 1827 Chatham, Kent, England
Death: c1884
Spouse/Partner: Mary Ann Rundle
Marriage: 27/3/1853 Walkerville, South Australia

The parentage of Richard Morris is uncertain at this time, Previous information that indicated that he was the son of John Foster Morris has now proven to be incorrect. John Foster Morris had a son called Richard Stephen who was born in Chatham, around the same period. Certificate and census records have determined that the son of John Foster Morris was alive and well when our Richard Morris was living in Australia.

South AustraliaEdit

The first official record of our Richard is in South Australia. The date that he travelled to South Australia and the ship that he arrived on has not yet been located.

The first official record of Richard Morris in South Australia is his marriage to Mary Ann Rundle, the daughter of Thomas and Mary Rundle (nee Mutton) who had arrived in South Australia from Cornwall in 1847. The couple married in Walkerville, and 15-year-old Mary Ann was 4 months pregnant at the time.

West AdelaideEdit

Even though all their children were born in the city of Adelaide, the couple settled in West Adelaide, near Southwark in the Hindmarsh district, where Richard was employed as a shoemaker. Richard and Mary Ann would have 8 children altogether, between the years of 1853 and 1876. Their eldest daughter Eliza was married 4 years before their last child was born.

Their are two gaps between the ages of the children - one between 1856 - 1861 and another between 1864 - 1876.

The reason for the first gap is uncertain, but it appears that Richard travelled to Melbourne for some time. The South Australian Advertiser reported on 29/3/1860 that a Richard Morris boarded the steamer 'Omeo' for Melbourne the previous day with a James and Mary O'Brien and two of their children. The O'Brien family lived near the Morris family in the Hindmarsh district and would eventually marry into the family.

Richard was back in Adelaide later that year as his daughter Harriet was born in March 1861. The South Australian Advertiser all reported on 02/05/1862 that Richard, who had been a private in the Volunteer Force with the West Adelaide Rifles, was to be promoted to Corporal.

DesertionEdit

In June on 1864, Richard's wife Mary Ann gave birth to twin boys. By October of the same year, Richard had deserted the family. He is recorded in the deserted and missing person's database on the Family History SA website as follows:- "Richard Morris, deserted wife and 5 children. Warrant issued Adelaide, Source PG No 185, 28/10/1864, p. 2, apprehended by PG 04/11/1864".

The South Australian Advertiser reported the incident on 2/11/1864. Mary Ann reported at the Police Courts that her husband could earn 2 pounds and 5 shillings a week at his trade (shoemaker), but he had given her only 10 shillings during the last 5 weeks. She had received some rations from the Government, but she had sought most of her support from her mother and father.

Richard in turn charged Mary Ann with infidelity, but that he had offered her 1 pound per week out of his earnings if she would leave her parents (it appears Mary Ann may have moved into their house with her children when Richard deserted her). Several witnesses gave evidence that Richard had taken lodgings with a single woman whom he introduced under false pretences. When it was discovered that Richard was a married man with a family, this lead to the expulsion of both lodgers.

An order was made for the payment of 1 pound weekly, and for costs amounting to 3 pounds, 5 shillings. It also appears that Richard was expelled from the Volunteer Rifle Band, of which he was a part, as the Secretary of the association reported this in the newspaper on the same day.

Richard may have later spent some time in the stokade at Adelaide. In the same database on the Family History SA website, it records the following:- "Richard Morris, 36 years, English. Deserted wife. Lately discharged from Stockade. Source. PG No 288, 19/10/1866, p.1."

A search of records relating to divorce and petitions for dissolution of marriage has shown that Richard and Mary Ann never divorced in South Australia. The couple appeared to have reunited briefly 14 years later in 1876, when their last child Albert Edward was born, but would separately permanently by September of 1880, when Mary Ann married for a second time to a James Wishart. As Richard was still alive at this time, this was a bigamist marriage, unless he had deserted her for such a considerable period that she may have been legally classed as a widow.

Prize FightingEdit

Details of Richard's later life are scarce, but it appears he may have become involved in street fighting for extra money. On Friday 15/1/1882, he appeared at an inquest being held at the Destitute Asylum into the death of a man named John Thompson. Thompson was a well-known street fighter, and Richard had fought him in the two months prior to his death. Richard reported on his meetings and discussions with the deceased leading up to his death.

Richard was arrested for involvement in prize fighting one month later at Hardy's Vineyard at Underdale. He was arrested with four other men who were all ordered to appear before the Police Court. They were all fined for their actions.

DeathEdit

How, where and when Richard died is yet to be determined. The approximate date given of 1884 is based on a newspaper entry in the Chronicle in October 1884 about son William's marriage. It stated that Richard was 'late of Southport'. A search of the majority of death indexes across Australia has not found a matching death entry at this stage.

ChildrenEdit

Name Birth Death
Children of Richard and Mary Ann Morris


Eliza 4/8/1853
Adelaide, South Australia
23/11/1939
Southwark, South Australia


Richard 7/9/1854
Adelaide, South Australia
13/4/1913
Southwark, South Australia


Emily (Amy) 7/1/1856
Adelaide, South Australia
24/8/1904
Adelaide, South Australia


Harriet 1/3/1861
Adelaide, South Australia
18/8/1861
Adelaide, South Australia


Mary Ann 4/7/1862
Adelaide, South Australia
23/7/1899
Solomontown, South Australia


George 23/6/1864
Adelaide, South Australia
4/12/1909
Southwark, South Australia


William 23/6/1864
Adelaide, South Australia
13/10/1920
Whyalla, South Australia


Albert Edward 9/11/1876
Adelaide, South Australia
16/10/1956

ReferencesEdit

  • Information from Ken Mills
  • Medway City Ark
  • British Census for 1841 and 1851
  • South Australian BMD records
  • Family History SA website - deserters and missing persons database
  • The South Australian Advertiser, 29/3/1860, 2/5/1862, 2/11/1864, 14/1/1882, 4/3/1882, 16/8/1882
  • The Chronicle, August 1882 and October 1884

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