Morris Morgan was born November 2nd 1902, the son of David Morgan and his wife Margaret, (née Evans). He had an elder sister Ann1 four years his senior and a brother Morgan six years his junior. The family was Welsh speaking and lived at 63 Gadlys Road2, where his father kept a barber’s and tobacconist’s shop. David Morgan was also a devout Presbyterian, and was a deacon at Carmel Welsh Calvinistic Chapel nearby. The shop was well known as an arena for debating among the customers since the Morgan family had been close to both the Liberal and later Labour causes. Here, Morris, listening in on the debates with his brother and sister, learned to hone and present a case.
Morris attended Park School and transferred to the Boys’ County School in September 1914. By 1917 he had acquired his Junior Certificate with distinctions in three subjects, and by 1918 he gained his School Certificate. By this time incipient tuberculosis had been diagnosed and, in 1920, at 17 years of age, his parents arranged for him to go to South Africa as a means of alleviating the tuberculosis. There he attended the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, graduating with double First Class Honours in English and French. While in South Africa he also learned to speak Afrikaans.
In 1925 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Pretoria but returned to the UK in 1926 after winning a post graduate scholarship, worth £450, to attend New College, Oxford, from which he graduated with first class honours in Law, winning the college Law Prize in 1928. He returned to South Africa for some 18 months working for a firm of solicitors there. He then returned to England in 1930 and was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn.
In the late 1920s he also visited the USA, and maybe as a result, he married Frances Hall Dewart3 of Massachusetts on March 3 1932 at the Welsh Presbyterian Chapel on Charing Cross Road, in London. There were two children David born 1935 in Hampstead, and a daughter Wendy. However, the marriage was not a success, and Mrs Morgan returned to the USA with her children in the late 1930s.
Using his abilities in French, Morris spent a number of years in practice at the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague, before returning once again to the UK in 1933 to practice first of all in London before taking a place in Angel Chambers, York Road, Swansea. His relocation to Wales, and to Swansea, was later to be a source of great joy to his nephew, Philip4, who as a result took as many opportunities as possible to visit in order to watch Glamorgan at St Helen’s Cricket Ground.
In 1935 he was joint editor of the subject “Mistake” (in Contract law) in the multi-volume Halsbury’s Laws of England. In 1936 he was awarded the Lord Justice Holden Scholarship by the Benchers of Gray’s Inn.
In May 1936 he addressed a Peace Rally in Aberdare speaking on the theme of “Whither the League.” The meeting also condemned Italy’s action in Abyssinia.
Morris died at the General Hospital, Swansea on June 25th 1952, aged 49. His early death was due to ill-health as a result of the tuberculosis which had dogged him all his life. On his death, a former Mountain Ash Grammar School pupil, then the Recorder of Swansea and later Lord Justice Edmund-Davies, wrote, “He had grace and charm and high ability — and no-one more faithfully observed the exalted standards of our profession”.
Morris had a wide variety of interests outside the law including sport, particularly rugby and cricket. He also enjoyed amateur dramatics, spending time on the amateur stage both in South Africa and in Wales.
His daughter, Wendy and his son, David live in the United States.
Thanks to David Walters for his invaluable help in compiling this account of the life of his great uncle Morris.
David is the son of the late Phillip Morris Walters.
30 April 2018