John Bowes Morrell

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John Bowes Morrell

Lord Mayor of York
In office
MonarchGeorge VI
Preceded byWilliam Dobbie
Succeeded byErnest Harwood
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded byHenry Rhodes Brown
Succeeded byWilliam Alexander Forster Todd
York City Councillor [1]
In office
Personal details
Political partyLiberal Progressives
OccupationPolitician, author and historian
Known forConservation; University founder; Liberalism

John Bowes ('J.B.') Morrell (1873–1963) was an English author and historian. He was twice Lord Mayor of York, a leading figure in the local movement to establish a university in York, and founder of the York Conservation Trust.[2] The "JB Morrell Library" at the University of York is named after him.

He joined Rowntree's Cocoa Works when he was 17, becoming Director at 25. He was Mayor of York in 1914 and again in 1950.

He helped found the University of York and the Borthwick Institute for Archives. He bought many newspapers, including the Birmingham Gazette, Lincolnshire Chronicle, and Westminster Press.

He wrote books, especially about York which he loved; e.g. 'York Monuments', and 'Woodwork at York'. He was made an Honorary Freeman of the City of York, given honorary degrees and declined a knighthood.

Early life[edit]

John Morrell's father was William Wilberforce Morrell (1837–1904), a bank manager in York, and the author of 'The History of Selby' which was illustrated by his sister Jemima.

His mother, born Lydia Hutchinson (1832–1939) married the non-conformist Morrell, who was a Wesleyan Methodist, whilst it appears she was a Quaker.[3] Their extreme religiosity seems to have been behind John's activism in Liberal Politics from a young age.[2]

John Morrell married Bertha Spence Watson (1877–1954) in the Friends Meeting House at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1902. Her mother's Family Chronicles explained that in "1877 ... our Darling little Bertha was given to us on the 18th of May. I recovered nicely, & the new baby, like all of her sisters in turn before her, was much made of, & considered the greatest treasure ..."[4]

In 1884 John attended Bootham School, a Quaker establishment. It was at this school where he was to meet his future colleagues at the Rowntree's family chocolate and confectionery company, Arnold Rowntree and Seebohm Rowntree.[2]

York Conservation Trust[edit]

The York Conservation Trust (YCT) was formed as Ings Property Company Limited in 1945 by JBM and his brother Cuthbert Morrell, who had both been buying medieval properties in York for many years, which they restored and rehabilitated, together with Dr Morrell’s son Mr William Bowes Morrell. In 1976 they bequeathed all the properties in the company to the current registered charity, York Conservation Trust Limited.[5]

Buildings named after JBM[edit]


  • How York Governs Itself: Civic Government As Illustrated By the County of the City of York, 1928
  • (ed. with A. G. Watson) Whitehall at York. How York is governed by the ministers of the Crown, 1933
  • York Monuments, 1944
  • The biography of the common man of the city of York as recorded in his epitaph, 1947
  • Woodwork in York, 1949
  • “The City of our dreams” 1955


  1. ^ Webb, Katherine (29 November 2011). "Public servant". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Webb, Katherine (29 November 2011). "City of our Dreams: JB Morrell and the shaping of modern York". Lecture at the Tempest Anderson Hall, the Yorkshire Museum: 1–25. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  3. ^ "John Bowes MORRELL".
  4. ^
  5. ^ "York Conservation Trust". 24 March 2009. Archived from the original on 24 March 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

External links[edit]