This is the entry by natural historian Bernard Barham Woodward (1853-1930) for "Morris, Francis Orpen (1810-1893)" in the Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XIII: Masquerier-Myles (London: Smith, Elder, 1908): 991-92. It usefully gives his background and lists his publications, without however referring to his kindness and prodigious energy (though these may easily be inferred) and his part on the establishment of what would become the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The entry is from a copy of the book in an Internet Archive, contributed by Robarts Library, University of Toronto, and has been formatted and illustrated for the Victorian Web by Jacqueline Banerjee, who has also added links and captions. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the contributing library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on all the images to enlarge them.]

Francis Orpen Morris. Source: M. F. C. Morris, frontispiece.

Francis Orpen Morris (1810-1893), naturalist, born at Cove, near Cork, on 25 March 1810, was the eldest son of Rear-admiral Henry Gage Morris of York and Beverley, who served in the American and French wars. His mother, Rebecca Newenham Millerd, was a daughter of the Rev. Francis Orpen. His grandfather was Colonel Roger Morris [...]. Francis was educated at Bromsgrove School and Worcester College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A., with honours in classics, in 1833. He astonished his examiners by choosing Pliny's Natural History for his voluntary thesis. He was admitted ad eundem at Durham in 1844.

In 1834 Morris was ordained to the perpetual curacy of Hanging Heaton, near Dewsbury. He was ordained priest at York in 1835 and served successively as curate at Taxal, Cheshire (1836), Christ Church, Doncaster (1836), Ordsall, Nottinghamshire (1838), and Crambe, Yorkshire (1842). In 1844 he was presented to the vicarage of Nafferton, near Driffield, and appointed chaplain to the Duke of Cleveland. In 1854 he was presented by the Archbishop of York to the rectory of Nunburnholme, Yorkshire, and he held that living till his death on 10 Feb. 1893; a few years before his death he received a civil list pension of 100l. He married in 1835 Ann, second daughter of Mr. C. Sanders of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

Morris wrote much on religious subjects, but he is best known by his works on natural history, which, although "popular" rather than scientific, had much literary value. He was never able to accept the theory of evolution, and was an extreme anti-vivisectionist.

Left: Egyptian Goose (a rare visitor then, common in the south now). Source: F. O. Morris, A History of British Birds, Vol. 6, facing p. 140. Right: Redbreast's (robin's) nest — "Nidification commences very early in the spring" (62). Source: F. O. Morris, A Natural History of the Eggs and Nests of British Birds, facing p. 62.

His great work was A History of British Birds, in 6 vols. 8vo, London, 1851–7, a third edition of which appeared in 1891.

His other natural history writings include: 1. A Guide to the Arrangement of British Birds, 8vo, London [1834]. 2. An Essay on Scientific Nomenclature, 8vo, London, 1850. 3. Book of Natural History, 8vo, London, 1852. 4. A Natural History of the Nests and Eggs of British Birds, 3 vols. 8vo, London, 1853–6; 3rd edit. 1892. 5. A History of British Butterflies, 8vo, London, 1853; 3rd edit. 1893. 6. A Natural History of British Moths, 4 vols. 8vo, London, 1859–1870. 7. "Fact is Stranger than Fiction," Anecdotes in Natural History, 8vo, London, 1860. 8. Records of Animal Sagacity, 12mo, London, 1861. 9. The Gamekeeper's Museum, 8vo, London, 1864. 10. Catalogue of British Insects in all the Orders, 8vo, London, 1865. 11. Dogs and their Doings, 8vo, London, 1870; 2nd edit. [1887]. 12. Anecdotes in Natural History, 8vo, London [1872]; 2nd edit. [1889]. 13. "Birds," contributed to Simple Lessons for Home Use, 16mo, 1877. 14. Letters to the "Times" about Birds, 8vo, London [1880]. He also edited vols. vi. to viii. of The Naturalist, 8vo, 1856–8.

Left: The Lynx. F. O. Morris, Book of Natural History, facing p. 117. Right: Hawarden Castle (Gladstone's seat in Flintshire, Wales). Source: F. O. Morris, A Series of Picturesque Views, facing p. 65.

In connection with the Darwinian question he wrote: 15. Difficulties of Darwinism, 8vo, London, 1869. 16. A Double Dilemma in Darwinism, 8vo, London [1870]. 17. A Guard against "The Guardian", 8vo, London, 1877. 18. All the Articles of the Darwin Faith, 8vo, London, 1877; 2nd edit. [1882]. 19. The Demands of Darwinism on Credulity, 8vo, London [1890].

F. O. Morris, All the Articles of the Darwin Faith (a very entertaining attack on the theory of evolution!), front cover.

As a zoophilist he wrote: 20. A Word for God's Dumb Creatures, 8vo, London [1876]. 21. A Dialogue about Fox-hunting, 8vo, London [1878]. 22. "The Curse of Cruelty," a sermon, 8vo, London, 1886. 23. The Sparrow Shooter, 8vo, London, 1886. 24. The Sea Gull Shooter, 8vo, London [1890]. 25. The Cowardly Cruelty of the Experimenters on Living Animals, 8vo [London, 1890]. 26. The Humanity Series of School Books, 6 pts. 8vo, London, 1890. 27. A Defence of our Dumb Companions, 8vo, London [1892].

His religious and ecclesiastical writings include: 28. Extracts from the Works of ... J. Wesley, 8vo, 1840. 29. An Essay on Baptismal Regeneration, 8vo, London, 1850. 30. An Essay on the Eternal Duration of the Earth, 8vo, London, 1850. 31. The Maxims of the Bible, 12mo, 1855. 32. The Precepts of the Bible, 24mo, 1855. 33. The Yorkshire Hymn Book, 16mo, London, 1860. 34. Plain Sermons for Plain People, 210 nos. 8vo, London [1862–90]. 35. A Handbook of Hymns for the Sick Bedside, 8vo, London [1875?]. 36. Short Sermons for the People, 4 nos. 8vo, London [1879]. 37. The Ghost of Wesley, 8vo [1882]. 38. A Handbook of the Church and Dissent, 8vo, London [1882]. 39. A Dialogue about the Church, 2 editions, 8vo, London [1889]. 40. Methodism [anon.], 8vo, London, 1890.

His other writings include: 41. Penny Postage, 8vo, London, 1840. 42. A Plan for the Detection of Thefts by Letter Carriers, 8vo, London, 1850. 43. National Adult Education. Read before the British Association, 8vo, London, 1853. 44. The Present System of Hiring Farm Servants in the East Riding of Yorkshire, 8vo, Driffield, 1854. 45. Account of the Siege of Killowen, 8vo, Driffield, 1854. 46. Account of the Battle of the Monongahela River, 8vo, Driffield, 1854. 47. The Country Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland 5 vols. 4to, London [1866–80]. 48. The Ancestral Homes of Britain, 4to, London, 1868. 49. The Rights and Wrongs of Women, 8vo, London [1870]. 50. A Hundred Reasons against the Land Craze, 8vo, London [1885]. He also wrote letters to the Times on natural history; contributed "A Thousand and One Anecdotes on Natural History" to the Fireside Magazine, and wrote for the Leisure Hour.

Yorkshire Post, 13 Feb. 1893; Daily Graphic, 16 Feb. 1893; "The Naturalist of Nunburnholme," by E. W. Abram, in Good Words, September 1893 (with portrait); Crockford's Clerical Directory; Brit. Mus. Cat.; information kindly supplied by Miss L. A. G. Morris.

Original date of publication: 1894

Sources of illustrations

Morris, Francis Orpen. All the Articles of the Darwin Faith. London: W. Poole, 1882. Internet Archive. Contributed by the University of California Libraries. Web. 7 December 2016.

_____. Book of Natural History; containing a description of animals and birds. 1852. Internet Archive. Contributed by Oxford University Library. Web. 7 December 2016.

_____. A History of British Birds. Vol. 6. London: Groombridge, 1862. Internet Archive. Contributed by Tisch Library, Tufts University. Web. 7 December 2016.

_____. A Natural History of the Eggs and Nests of British Birds. Vol. II. London: J. C. Nimmo, 1892. Internet Archive. Contributed by the University of California Libraries. Web. 7 December 2016.

_____. A series of picturesque views of seats of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. With descriptive and historical letterpress. Vol. 6. London, Edinburgh, Dublin: William Mackenzie, 1880. Internet Archive. Contributed by the Getty Research Institute. Web. 7 December 2016.

Morris, M. F. C. Francis Orpen Morris: A Memoir. London: J. C. Nimmo, 1897. Internet Archive. Contributed by Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Web. 7 December 2016.


Created 7 December 2016