Edward Morris (1688-1769)
Edward Morris was born on 09 Nov 1688 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts as the third child, and only son, of Edward Morris and Elizabeth Bowen. He had six siblings, namely: Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Grace, Abigail, Susanna, and Prudence. As a child, he moved with his family to, what is now, Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. Back then, it was called Woodstock, Massachusetts. The town was originally within Massachusetts. In 1713, a new survey put the town into Connecticut, but an agreement was made to keep the town under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.
For this post, I’ve titled him, “Edward Morris III” because his father and grandfather were also named Edward Morris.
When Edward Morris III was 26, he married Bethiah Peake, daughter of Jonathan Peake and Hannah Leavens, on 12 Jan 1714/15 in Woodstock.
Edward Morris and Bethiah Peake had the following children:
- Elizabeth Morris was born on 12 Oct 1716 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She died on 09 Aug 1745 (Age: 28).
- Hannah Morris was born on 09 Mar 1718 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She died on 02 Sep 1736 at Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut (Age: 17).
- Edward Morris was born on 28 Jul 1719 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. He died on 14 Aug 1745 at Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut (Age: 26).
- Grace Morris was born on 04 Jul 1721 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She married John Johnson on 31 Oct 1743 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She died on 24 May 1797 in Whitestown, Oneida, New York.
- Bethiah Morris was born on 06 Jul 1723 at Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She married Hezekiah Goff on 31 Oct 1743 at Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut.
- Isaac Morris was born on 26 Mar 1725 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. In 1750, he married Sarah Chaffee at Wilbraham, Hampden, Massachusetts. He died on 10 Jan 1778 at Wilbraham, Hampden, Massachusetts (Age: 52).
- Asa Morris was born on 05 Feb 1727 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. He married Anna Child on 04 Jan 1746/47. He died on 30 Jul 1775.
- Eunice Morris was born on 12 Jan 1729 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She married Hezekiah Smith. She died 9 Nov 1807 in Colrain, Franklin, Massachusetts.
- Martha Morris was born on 04 Apr 1731 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She married Comfort Rice on 1 Jan 1755. She died on 14 Jun 1812 (Age: 81).
- Mary Morris was born on 01 Jun 1733 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She died on 29 Jul 1759 (Age: 26).
- Jonathan Morris was born on 13 May 1735 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. He died on 08 Mar 1813 in Sturbridge, Mass (Age: 77).
- Priscilla Morris was born on 28 Apr 1737 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She married Zebediah Marcy on 21 Aug 1754. She died 30 Jul 1785 in Connecticut.
- Dorothy Morris was born on 29 Jun 1739 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She died on 02 Apr 1740 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut (Age: 0).
- Hannah Morris was born on 28 Mar 1741 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut. She died on 14 Aug 1745 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut (Age: 4).
Edward Morris was an active member of his community. He was chosen as a surveyor in 1718, constable in 1721, and assessor in 1738, and again in 1739. He then served as a selectman from 1739 until 1748. He and his family lived with Edward’s parents, until the elder Edward Morris II died in 1727, and then remained in the family home. About a year before his death, Edward II had deeded his estate to Edward III, making provisions that Elizabeth, wife of Edward II and mother of Edward III, be taken care of for the rest of her life.
About five years after his father’s death, in 1732, Edward Morris III sold that homestead and bought a mansion-house and 49-acres of adjoining land. The new home was about a half-mile from main street, on Woodstock Hill, on the road to West Woodstock.
Sixteen years later, in 1748, he sold the mansion house and other property totally about 100-acres. He moved to West Woodstock, which had been made a distinct parish under the name of New Roxbury, in 1743. The new home was between Bungee Brook and Still River. He owned about 200-acres of land, half of which had originally been owned by his father.
By 1747, the town of Woodstock thought that taxes, which had increased due to the costs of the French and Spanish wars, might be less if they tried to leave Massachusetts and become part of Connecticut. In 1749, Connecticut agreed and declared the prior agreement with Massachusetts, back in 1713, invalid. Woodstock was happy to become part of Connecticut. Massachusetts was not happy. As late as 1768, they were still warning Woodstock inhabitants to not pay taxes to Connecticut. In any case, the Morris family became Connecticut residents, without moving. Their new address was Woodstock, Windham County, Connecticut.
Sometime between 1754 and 1763, Edward Morris served in the French and Indian Wars as a soldier from Woodstock. He was known by the title of Lieutenant.
Edward Morris died on 12 Aug 1769 in Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut, at the age of 80. He was buried in Bungay Cemetery, Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut.
Edward left a will. He began with declarations that confirmed his Christian faith before distributing his property. He did not list his five living daughters by name in his will, but did make it clear that his heirs included three living sons and five living daughters.
Following is a rough translation, with spelling and grammar changed to make it more useful to the modern reader.
In the name of God, amen. This 26th day of May A.D. 1779, I Edward Morris of Woodstock in the County of Windham &c. being greatly advanced in age and under bodily infirmity, but of a sound disposing mind & memory, thanks be given to Almighty God. Therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body & knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, I do make and ordain this my last Will & Testament and principally & first of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God, that gave it, and to Jesus Christ his son, whom I trust has redeemed it by His most precious blood & to the Holy Ghost, the santicfier and comforter of all those who put their trust in the one undivided & sacred Trinity. And for my body, I recommend it to the earth to be buried in a Christian-like & decent burial at the discretion of my executor, hereafter named, whenever God, in his providence, shall see fit to put an end to my life in this world in confidence that as it will sown a natural so it will rise a spiritual body at the resurrection day, when soul & body shall be reunited and made capable of enjoying the blissful presence of God and joy of the heavenly world above through the never ending ages of eternity.
And as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased Almighty God to bless me with in this world, I give, devise & dispose thereof in the following manner & form.
Imprimis: My will is that in the first place, all my just debts & funeral charges be first paid & satisfied out of my personal Estate.
Item. I give and bequeath unto Bethiah, my dearly beloved wife, the whole use & improvement of all my household & furniture, during her natural life, and also one cow & the mare I now own, and six good sheep to her own use & dispose according to the best of her discretion.
Item. I give & bequeath unto my daughters all my household good and furniture, after the decease of my said wife, to be to them their heirs & assigns forever share & share alike, making five shares.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my three sons, viz: Isaac, Asa & Jonathan, all my husbandry tools & utensils to be divided equally among them, share & share alike, making three shares.
Item. I give & bequeath unto my children all the rest & residue of my personal estate that has not before been given & bequeathed to be to them their heirs & assigns forever. Share & share alike, making eight shares.
Item. I give unto Jemima Nichols, my grandchild, five shilling lawful money, to be paid by my executor out of my personal estate, as her full portion of the estate.
Item. I give & bequeath unto my children now surviving & to their heirs and assigns forever, all my land in Woodstock, which I have not heretofore given by deed, together with all my rights as a proprietor in said town, to be equally divided among them, share & share alike, making eight shares.
And lastly, I do ordain, make, & constitute my son, Jonathan Morris, sole executor of this my last will and testament, cheerfully confiding in his care & faithfulness to fulfill & execute the same in every part thereof, and I do hereby utterly revoke, disallow, & disannul all & every other of former wills, testaments & legacies before this time willed & bequeathed ratifying this & no other to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand & seal, the day and year above said. Signed, sealed, published, pronounced, & declared by the said Edward Morris to be & contain his last will & testament.
Where is he in the tree?
Ancestry.com. Woodstock, an historical sketch [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Bowen, Clarence Winthrop,. Woodstock, an historical sketch. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Son’s : The Knickerbocker Press, 1886.
Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999, Probate Records, 1754-1919; Author: Connecticut. Probate Court (Pomfret District); Probate Place: Windham, Connecticut, ancestry.com.
General Register of the Society of Colonial Wars [New York: published by direction of the General Council, 1911) p. 375, GoogleBooks (https://books.google.com/books?id=37IpAQAAMAAJ : accessed 5 Nov 2017).
Jonathan Flynt Morris, A genealogical and historical register of the descendants of Edward Morris of Roxbury, Mass., and Woodstock, Conn. [ancestry] (Hartford: Morris, 1887), ancestry.com, pp. 40-4.
Tyler Seymour Morris, Ephraim and Pamela [Converse] Morris: Their Ancestors and Descendants, (Chicago, 1894) pp. 18-19, 162-3, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=bRs5AAAAMAAJ : accessed 7 Nov 2017).