Sir John Morice’s biography from Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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Morice [Morys], Sir John (d. 1362), justiciar of Ireland, is probably to be identified with the Bedfordshire knight of that name who represented the county in parliament and was frequently a commissioner of array, of oyer and terminer, and of the peace. He enjoyed a long public career which, because of his association with John Darcy of Knaith (d. 1347), lay mostly in Ireland, where Darcy was often justiciar between 1324 and 1344. Between 1309–10 and 1324 Morice and Darcy served in the retinue of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke and lord of Wexford, of whose heirs Morice and his wife, Agnes, held lands at Everton Mosbury, Bedfordshire. Morice may have had a second wife, Margaret, though the identification of the John Morice in this marriage is uncertain. In 1341 his son, John (who may have predeceased him), was seneschal of Wexford, an office that his father had earlier held. In 1324 Morice was said to be going to Ireland in Darcy's company. He undoubtedly did so in 1329, when he was appointed escheator, a position he held until 1336. He visited England on several occasions during that period; in 1331 he was returning to Ireland in the company of William de Burgh, earl of Ulster, of whom he held lands at Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire, and one of whose executors he became. The escheatorship was an important office, which involved taking distant lordships into the king's hand, as Morice did in 1333 after the murder of Earl William. In 1330 he had lost horses, harness, armour, clothing, bedding, silver bullion, and a psalter in an attack by the Irish as he journeyed from Connacht to Tipperary in the course of his duties.

In 1341 Morice acted as one of the judges inquiring into ministerial oppressions in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire. He was removed in order to go to Ireland as deputy to Darcy. His rule proved controversial. Edward III's wrath at the failure of his ministers to raise resources for the French war extended to Ireland, where he denounced locally born officials and authorized the revocation of grants made since 1307. Morice was unable to carry this ill-judged policy through. In 1342 protests from the settler community reached the king; they included a complaint (possibly directed at Morice) about rule by men who lacked experience of war. Edward withdrew the measures. Unlike other members of the government Morice continued in office; his eventual removal in July 1344 was to make room for the new administration of Ralph Ufford. Early in 1346 he was sent to Ireland again, probably to raise troops for France. Since the king knew that Ufford was mortally ill, he was also given authority to assume the justiciarship if necessary. Following Ufford's death he served as justiciar between 16 May and 28 June, after which he held the chancellorship until December. He helped to handle the aftermath of Ufford's forfeiture of the earls of Kildare and Desmond, arranging the first steps in Kildare's rehabilitation. This took him to England and Calais during the winter of 1346–7. He does not appear to have returned to Ireland after 1347, though he continued to appoint attorneys to look after his interests there until May 1362. He had died by the following August.

Robin Frame


Chancery records · PRO · VCH Bedfordshire · R. Frame, English lordship in Ireland, 1318–1361 (1982) · A. J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of medieval Ireland (1968) · G. O. Sayles, ed., Documents on the affairs of Ireland before the king's council, IMC (1979) · H. G. Richardson and G. O. Sayles, The administration of Ireland, 1172–1377 (1963) · Inquisitions and assessments relating to feudal aids, 6 vols., PRO (1899–1921) · J. R. S. Phillips, Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, 1307–1324: baronial politics in the reign of Edward II (1972)


G. V. Du Noyer, portrait (after Charter roll, 1860–69), Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Dublin, Du Noyer's sketch-books · portrait, Waterford municipal archives, Charter roll of the city of Waterford; repro. in A. Cosgrove, ed., Medieval Ireland, 1169–1534 (1987), pl. 26b

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Robin Frame, ‘Morice , Sir John (d. 1362)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 19 Nov 2005]

Sir John Morice (d. 1362): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19384


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