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William Prosser Morris was born in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire in Wales in July 1863. His father Prosser Morris was originally a blacksmith and by 1871 was a hammerman at the local Iron Works in Llanelly. We and his wife Mary had three other children, Mary Jane (born 1865), David Thomas (born 1868) and Magdalene Alice (born 1871). By 1881 William and his younger sister Mary Jane were still living at home but were pupil teachers. By 1891 William had moved to Durham where he took his Licentiate of Theology Degree. He was ordained by the Bishop of Carlisle in 1892 and became a priest in 1893. The rest of his family were still in Wales where by 1891 his father was working as a furnaceman at a steel works and his sister Mary Jane was working a teacher in an elementary school. William’s mother Mary died in 1900 and his father in October 1906.
William’s first appointment was as assistant curate to Canon Askew at Greystoke. In 1899 he was appointed by the Earl of Lonsdale, the patron, to become the Rector of Patterdale Parish. On the 17th November 1900, William married Alice Maud Relph in Windermere. William and Alice immersed themselves in life in the Dale and as well as his work with the Church William took a keen interest in local history. In 1903 he published a fascinating book, The Records of Patterdale, which provides both a wonderful history of the Dale and also an insight into life here at the time which has been invaluable in compiling this website.
In 1907 tragedy struck when Alice died. She was buried in Patterdale on the 26th December 1907. William stayed in Patterdale and by the time of the 1911 census was living at the Rectory with Mary Edgar, his housekeeper. Soon after this however William married again, to Eliza Barrow.
Colonel The Reverend William Prosser Morris
Army Chaplains Department attached to 4th Battalion the Border Regiment
Born July 1863, Llanelly, Carmarthenshire. Died 7th December 1928, Plumpton Aged 65.
Son Prosser and Mary Morris, Llanelly, Carmarthenshire
Husband of Alice Maud Relph (died 1911) and Eliza Barrow
Rector of Patterdale 1899 -
Patterdale Church from around 1883 -
An image of William’s book The Records of Patterdale
Cap Badge of the Cumberland and Westmorland Yeomanry
William’s involvement with the army had begun whilst he was at Patterdale. On the 1st April 1908 he was made a Fourth Class Chaplain to the Territorial Force, ranking as Captain, to the 1st (Cumberland) Volunteer Battalion the Border Regiment. In the run up to the outbreak of war many of the local men had joined the Territorials and William wrote references for many of them, including Miles Cooper, and Herbert Pattinson (see image to the right)
When war was declared the Territorials were mobilised and formed into the 4th Battalion of the Border Regiment. The battalion moved to Sittingbourne in Kent for training and William went with them as their Chaplain. We do not believe he ever went to France with the battalion but continued to serve as an Army Chaplain and by the end of the war he had been promoted to a First Class Divisional Chaplain with a rank of Colonel, and was Senior Chaplain to the 43rd Division (East Lancashire).
In addition to his ministry and work with the Army William was also a prominent freemason, an in 1915-
William stayed in Patterdale after the war and on 20th October 1921 he conducted the unveiling ceremony of the Patterdale War Memorial. In 1923, after nearly 25 years at Patterdale, he exchanged livings with the Reverend W Railton, Vicar of Plumpton. He and his wife took an active part in village life in Plumpton, and William was instrumental in getting a new organ into the Church in Plumpton in 1926.
In 1928 he became ill and was confined to bed for the last 10 weeks of his life, being nursed by his wife. He died in December 1928 in his bed in the Vicarage at Plumpton. As the Herald reported “The news of Mr Morris’ death was received with regret not only in his own parish but all over the neighbourhood, for he was a genial personality…he always sought to preserve amity in his parish, and his efforts were aided by his happy manner”.
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Reference from the Rev WP Morris for Herbert Pattinson from January 1917