38.10 – George Samuel Morris

George here was another transplant from Staffordshire who came here for work with his family. He met a wet end whose circumstances were sadly very predictable.

George Samuel Morris, or Samuel as he would choose to be known and to call himself, was born in 1820 in Monk Upton in Shropshire. His movements prior to his marriage to Mary Richards (whose surname we only know thanks to a family tree) are vague, and even his marriage isn’t firmly dated anywyere. But in 1858 he and Mary had moved to Tunstall in Staffordshire and they were welcoming their first child, their son George Richards Morris. 1859 saw the birth of Elizabeth Margaret and 1860 the birth of Simon. Shortly after Simon’s birth the Morrises came to Todmorden, and shortly after that Simon died. It was October 1861, he was a year old, and he was buried somewhere here at Christ Church.

There was then a six year gap before their third son and final child, Frank, was born in 1867. George and family had already settled near Gauxholme and in 1871 were resident at Lewis Street, Shade. George was working as a factory engine tenter, keeping the furnaces going. George seems to have liked a drink, getting picked up by the police now and again, but never for brawling or threatening behaviour…just a bit of staggering around.

On the night of July 22nd 1876, George left his house in the evening with a kiss to Mary and a promise of getting home soon so they could get to bed early. The Morrises by this point were living at Travis Holme, Clough, in Walsden. George headed down to the pub and never came home again. Mary and George Jr., Elizabeth and Frank waited for him, and waited, and waited. In the meantime Samuel Highley of Hollins Terrace was disturbed by a knock on his door at 11pm and answered it to find a very drunk George, who murmured that he was “a bad ‘un”, came in and sat, had a drink of water, sang a song, said again a few times that he was a bad ‘un, and then left. Samuel told him not to walk home along the canal, which was George’s preference, but George didn’t listen. Around 1am his children had had enough and went out looking, and Mary joined the search two hours later. It was Mary who found his hat and crutch on the canal bank. She got hold of George Jr., who went and got the police, and eventually on the morning of the 23rd the police arrived with grappling irons and pulled his body from the canal.

Todmorden Advertiser, July 28th 1876

The verdict was of drowning, with the reason unknown, as there was no real evidence to show he might have drowned himself intentionally apart from his statements to Samuel Highley. It was also his habit of walking home along the canal when drunk, known to everyone, and the jury clearly felt it was an accident. He was buried here, maybe with his son, maybe alone. The only initials we have here are his.

Mary died in 1882 and is also buried here at Christ Church somewhere. In the meantime, George Jr. married Samuel Highley’s sister Alice Ann. Something good came out of all that in the end…

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  1. Pingback:V7.9 – George and Alice Ann Morris – F.O.C.C.T.

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