Lewis Morris (governor)

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For other people named Lewis Morris, see Lewis Morris (disambiguation).
Lewis Morris
Portrait, by John Watson, ca 1726 (Brooklyn Museum)
8º Colonial Governor of New Jersey
In office
Preceded by John Hamilton
as Acting Governor
Succeeded by John Hamilton
as Acting Governor
Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court
In office
Preceded by Roger Mompesson
Succeeded by James De Lancey
Personal details
Born 15 October 1671
Morrisania, New York
Died 21 May, 1746 (aged 74–75)
Kingsbury (near Trenton), New Jersey
Spouse(s) Isabella Graham
Children Euphemia, Mary, Sarah, Lewis, Robert, Anne, Arabella, Isabella, Margaret, Elizabeth, John, Nancy
Parents Richard Morris and Sarah Pole Morris

Lewis Morris (15 October 1671 – 21 May 1746), chief justice of New York and British governor of New Jersey, was the first lord of the manor of Morrisania in New York (in what is now the Bronx).


Born on the estate of his parents, Richard Morris (originally from Monmouthshire, Wales) and Sarah (Pole) Morris in 1671, this Lewis Morris was the first in a lengthy string of men with the same name to inherit the prominent estate of Morrisania in the southwest section of today's Bronx. Richard and Sarah moved their estate from Barbados to the Bronx after buying the estate from Samuel Edsall in 1670 when it was still known as Broncksland. As the name suggests, Broncksland was the original settlement of Jonas Bronck and his wife, for whom the borough is named. In the fall of 1672, both Richard and Sarah died, leaving only the infant Lewis, barely a year old, as the lord of the manor.

Although the manor was left in the trust of five prominent Westchester citizens until Lewis could rightfully inherit the estate, Matthias Nicoll, secretary of the colony, sent word to Colonel Lewis Morris, the infant's uncle in Barbados. Col. Lewis immediately made plans to move to Morrisania to care for his young nephew and his nephew's estate, which had been somewhat embezzled. Col. Lewis made great pains to secure his nephew's lost property, including a few slaves that had been captured and resold. He was even successful in petitioning for an additional land grant with the help of family friend, Walter Webley. When the childless Col. Lewis and his wife, Mary, died, the now fully-grown Lewis inherited the estate in 1691.

Lewis married Isabella Graham and was later appointed Chief Justice of New York. When William Cosby was appointed Governor of New York, his opponents were called "Morrisites" as Lewis Morris was a prominent critic, whom Cosby dismissed from the court. His dismissal led directly to the John Peter Zenger trial [1] affirming Freedom of speech in the United States.

In 1738, New Jersey petitioned the crown for a distinct administration from New York, and Lewis Morris served as Governor of New Jersey until his death. His remains are in the Morris family crypt at St. Ann's Church in the Bronx.[2]

He was the grandfather of Signer Lewis Morris (1726–1798), Gen. Staats Long Morris (1728–1800), Chief Justice Richard Morris (1730–1810) and U.S. Senator Gouverneur Morris (1752–1816).

He was an ancestor of the Louisiana publisher Sarah Hudson-Pierce.[3]