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Sir James Nicoll Morris

RolesNaval Sailor 
Date of Birth1763E-WIKI
First Known Service14.9.1780E-WIKI
John MorrisBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1740-1775
WifeMargaretta Sarah Somers-Cocks - Married 10.1802E-WIKI
Last Known Service27.5.1825E-WIKI
Date of Death15.4.1830E-WIKI

Event History

Date fromDate toEventSource
14.9.1780 Lieutenant ADM 6/22/170CSORN
21.9.1790 Commander ADM 6/24/69CSORN
Fairy (14) 1778-1811
British 14 Gun
Unrated Sloop
, Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/24/69
ADM 6/24
Flirt (14) 1782-1795
British 14 Gun
Unrated Sloop
, Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/24/96
Flirt (14) 1782-1795
British 14 Gun
Unrated Sloop
, Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/24/139
ADM 6/24
Pluto (8) 1782-1817
British 8 Gun
Unrated Fireship
, Commander and Commanding Officer
7.10.1793 Captain ADM 6/25/5CSORN
Boston (28) 1762-1811
British 28 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
, Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/25/5
Lively (32) 1794-1798
British 32 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
, Captain and Commanding Officer
Phaeton (38) 1782-1828
British 38 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
, Captain and Commanding Officer
Leopard (50) 1790-1814
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
, Captain and Commanding Officer
Colossus (74) 1803-1826
British 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
, Captain and Commanding Officer
21.10.1805 Battle of Trafalgar 
Formidable (98) 1777-1813
British 98 Gun
2nd Rate Ship of the Line
, Captain and Commanding Officer
1.8.1811 Rear-Admiral of the BlueCSORN
Vigo (74) 1810-1865
British 74 Gun
3rd Rate Ship of the Line
, as Flag Officer, Rear-Admiral of the White
12.8.1812 Rear-Admiral of the WhiteCSORN
4.6.1814 Rear-Admiral of the RedCSORN
2.1.1815 Appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the BathTKE1
12.8.1819 Vice-Admiral of the Blue 
19.7.1821 Vice-Admiral of the White 
27.5.1825 Vice-Admiral of the Red 

Notes on Officer


The subject of this memoir is the son of a gallant officer, who commanded the Bristol, of 50 guns, and was mortally wounded at the attack upon Sullivan’s Island, in North America, June 28, 1778. Notwithstanding the number and severity of his wounds, he refused to quit the deck until an unlucky shot took off his arm, when he was obliged to be carried below, in a condition which left but little hopes of his recovery. It is said of this heroic man, that when from a prodigious effusion of blood, his dissolution appeared inevitable, one of his officers asked him if he had any directions to give with respect to his family? to which he nobly answered, “None; as he left them to the providence of God, and the generosity of his country.” His late Majesty was graciously pleased to order a pension of 100l. per annum to be settled upon his widow.

Mr. James Nicoll Morris entered the naval service under the auspices of his father; was a Lieutenant of the Namur, a second rate, in the memorable battle of April 12, 1782; and at the commencement of the French revolutionary war commanded the Pluto, of 14 guns, on the Newfoundland station, where he captured, after a smart action of fifteen minutes, the Lutine French privateer, of 16 guns and 70 men, 3 of whom were killed and 4 wounded. He obtained post rank in the Boston frigate, Oct. 7, 1793; and subsequent to his return to England, in 1795, was actively employed in the Channel and on the coasts of Spain and Portugal, where he captured the following privateers; l’Enfant de la Patria, of 16 guns and 130 men; El Principe de Paz, of 20 guns and 100 men; St. Bernardo, of 12 guns and 75 men; and the Hazard, of 8 guns and 50 men. He was afterwards removed into the Lively frigate, in which he had the misfortune to be wrecked near Cadiz, about the early part of 1798.

We next find Captain Morris in the Phäeton, of 38 guns. His appointment to that vessel took place in the summer of 1799, a period at which the British cabinet entertained hopes of being able, with the assistance of the Turks, to recover Egypt from the possession of the French, and restore it to the Sublime Porte, to whom it was determined to send a splendid embassy, for the purpose of obtaining permission and co-operation. The Earl of Elgin was accordingly selected for this important mission, and the Phaeton ordered to convey him to his destination. His Lordship embarked at Portsmouth on the 4th Sept., and arrived at the Dardanelles Nov. 2d following. The next day Captain Morris proceeded to Constantinople, where the Ambassador, his lady, and a numerous suite, were landed.

During the spring of 1800, our officer was employed on the coast of Genoa, in conjunction with the Austrian army under General d’Ott; and in the month of May, when the French burnt their magazines at Alassio, and retired to Port Maurice, he seized twenty corn vessels, together with a depôt of arms, and galled the enemy’s rear through several miles of their retreat.

On the morning of Oct. 28, in the same year, the Phäeton’s barge and two cutters, under the directions of Lieutenant Francis Beaufort, boarded, and after an obstinate resistance, carried the Spanish polacre-rigged ship San Josef, mounting 14 brass guns, and having on board 34 seamen and 22 soldiers, moored under the protection of a 5-gun battery, near Malaga, and flanked by a French privateer. In this dashing affair the assailants had 1 man killed and 4, including their brave leader, wounded. Of the San Josef’s crew, 6 were found badly, and 13 slightly wounded.

On the night of May 16, 1801, the boats of the Phaeton and Naiad, manned with volunteers, under the direction of Lieutenant Marshall of the latter frigate, captured l’Alcudia, and destroyed El Raposo Spanish armed packets, in the port of Marin, near the town of Pontevedra, under the protection of a battery mounting five 24-pounders, prepared to receive them. In the execution of this service, four men only belonging to the two ships were wounded.

Early in the following year, Captain Morris arrived at Portsmouth with despatches from Lord Keith, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean fleet. On the renewal of hostilities, in 1803, he was nominated to the command of the Sea Fencibles between Blackwater and the Stour; and towards the latter end of the same year we find him in the Leopard of 50 guns, from whence he went to the Colossus, 74, the command of which ship he retained until the autumn of 1808.

The Colossus formed part of Lord Nelson’s fleet in the sanguinary combat off Cape Trafalgar; and on that memorable occasion sustained a far greater loss than any other British ship, having had 40 killed and 160 wounded; among the latter were her gallant Commander, two Lieutenants, a Marine officer, and nine Midshipmen. For his distinguished conduct on that memorable day, Captain Morris, in common with his brother officers, received a gold medal, and the thanks of both Houses of Parliament.

Captain Morris subsequently commanded the Formidable of 98 guns. He received the honorable appointment of a Colonelcy of Royal Marines, July 31, 1810; became a Rear-Admiral, Aug. 1, 1811; and a K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815. His commission as Vice-Admiral bears date Aug. 12, 1819. During the latter part of the war he held a command in the Baltic fleet.

Sir James Nicoll Morris married, Oct. 25, 1802, Margaretta Sarah, second daughter of the late Thomas Somers Cocks, Esq., Banker, of Charing Cross, niece of the first Lord Somers, and sister of the lady of Vice-Admiral Sir William Hargood, K.C.B.

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