The History of The Round House - Chitterne

Charles Morris

Charles' Dubious Naval Career

Charles Morris took over the lease of the Round House in 1815, when his brother, Joseph Brown Morris, the previous leaseholder, died. Charles lived there until his own death in 1879. His obituary in the Warminster Herald of 20th December 1879 tells us that he joined the Royal Navy in 1801, and served on board the Donegal, in the fleet under Nelson. He was present as a midshipman at the Battle of Trafalgar. However, this is unsubstantiated, as no record has yet been found of a Charles Morris at the Battle of Trafalgar, in fact on the contrary, there is evidence that he was dismissed from the service. Later, when he lived at the Round House he was a Colonial Agent and even later, a fundholder, a man of means.

Elizabeth Morris and her sons Charles and Joseph

Charles and Joseph, sons of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Morris, were baptised in Mere, Wiltshire on 22nd May 1786. Elizabeth's gravestone is set in the floor of St Mary's Chancel, Chitterne. It is written in latin and translates as:

"Here lies Elizabeth Morris, wife of Jeremiah Morris, gentleman of Mere in this county, of 24 years. Daughter of C. Shurland, Senator of the Barbados Islands. Died December 21 AD 1812."

The Curious Death of Charles Morris (Negro Boy)

In the Chitterne St Mary burial register of 1790-1813, Elizabeth's burial is dated December 28th 1812 and curiously the next day, on 29th December, is listed the burial of "Charles Morris (negro boy)". It is unusual but not surprising that Mrs Morris had a negro servant given her connection with Barbados, but why did he have the same name as her son and why did he die at the same time as she did? In recent past memory this burial was thought to be somewhere outside the gate in the north-east corner of St Mary's graveyard, marked by a small round boulder, but a more recent search has failed to discover its whereabouts.

Joseph Morris and the Mutilated Burial Register

Joseph was Curate of Imber Parish at the time but at the end of the Chitterne St Mary Burial Register 1790-1813 he noted:

"I think proper to observe that this book was mutilated in this manner before it came into my possession and that it has not received any additional injury from me." Signed J.B. Morris
Below that note was yet another:
"I beg to observe that this register was delivered to me by Mr Charles Morris, brother of the above J.B.Morris, on the second day of January, one thousand, eight hundred and thirty." Signed M.M.Williams, Clerk to the Curate of Chitterne. Witnessed by James Polden, Clerk.
An inspection of the actual register revealed that the mutilation mentioned above consisted of the cutting out of the bottom third of the last page of the book. Above this missing section the page held the list of Burials for 1812 and 1813, including those of Elizabeth Morris and Charles Morris (negro boy), and on the other side, the list of Baptisms for 1813. There was no clue as to the reason for the page having been cut.
It would be interesting to know why Charles Morris hung onto the register for 15 years before handing it to the new Curate, and if it was connected with the entries concerning his family. WSRO 1109/5a

Charles Marries Charlotte Foliott

After Joseph died in March 1815, Charles married Charlotte, widow of Gilbert Folliat (also spelt Foliott) on 20th May 1815, at Chitterne St Mary Church. The James mentioned in the lease, was her son by her previous marriage to Gilbert Foliott, who is thought to have died in 1806. Charlotte died on the 8th February 1862, aged 82.

The Morris Charity

Charles Morris lived to the great age of 94. He died on the 10th December 1879 and left a bequest for the benefit of Chitterne National School. Known as the Morris Charity, it was founded by will dated 26th January 1872 and proved 6th January 1880. The will states:

"I give to the Vicar and Churchwardens for the time being of Chitterne St Mary aforesaid the sum of 300 and I direct that the same shall be invested upon some of the Government Securities of the UK and that the annual income thereof shall from time to time be applied for the maintenance and support of the Chitterne Parish Schools so long as such schools shall be conducted according to the principles and be in union with the Church of England".
This bequest has since been amalgamated with the Michell Charity (Second Poors Charity).


The Morrises at The Round House

It seems possible that the Morrises lived in The Round House for most of the 19th century as extended families. Charles Morris certainly had a 99 year lease on his own life and two others by 1826, and his mother is buried in Chitterne. Although the Census Enumerators were not consistent in their methods of recording the un-numbered properties, the family appears at a similar position in the census each time.

Charles outlived them all, as is shown by his gravestone:

"Charles Morris, died 10th December 1879 aged 94 and his wife Charlotte Morris died 8th Febuary 1862 aged 82. Henry William Hayward Richardson (their son-in-law) died 26th October 1851 aged 35, Hannah Ann Shurland Richardson, daughter of Charles and Charlotte Morris, died 10th October 1868, Rev Charles Henry William Richardson, son of above, died 7th November 1871, aged 28."


Data from the Census Microfiche at WSRO and Warminster Library helps to explain how the family was constituted (as ever some of the ages are inconsistent):

1841, Laura Cottage (next entry to Vicarage House):

Charles Morris 50 Colonial Agent
Charlotte Morris 45  
Ann Morris 20  
Ann Whittaker 20 Family servant
Mary Poolman 25 Family servant
Ann Blandford 10  

1851, first house in Chitterne St. Mary:

Charles Morris Head Married 60 Fundholder born Mere
Charlotte Morris Wife Married 62   born Tisbury
Ann Richardson Daughter Married 35 Wife of Surgeon born Chitterne St. Mary
Charles Richardson Grandson   7   born Chitterne St. Mary
Ann Whittaker Servant Unmarried 32   born Nunney, Somerset

1861, house following the Vicarage, (The Round House is the opposite side of the road):

Charles Morris Head Married 74 Fundholder born Mere
Charlotte Morris Wife Married 81   born Tisbury
Ann Richardson Daughter Married 42 Wife of Surgeon born Chitterne St. Mary
Charles Richardson Grandson   17   born Chitterne St. Mary

1871, house near the end of the parish at the same place:

Charles Morris Head Widower 85 Annuitant born Mere
Ann Whittaker Servant Unmarried 52   born Somerset