William Morse (Liberal politician)

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William Ewart Morse

William Ewart Morse (23 November 1878 – 18 December 1952) was an English businessman and Liberal Party politician, briefly member of parliament for Bridgwater and later a member of Wiltshire County Council.

Family and education[edit]

Morse was the son of Levi Lapper Morse, a prominent Swindon shopkeeper [1] and the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Wilton or South Division of Wiltshire from 1906-1910. He was educated at the High School, Swindon. In 1910 he married Alma the daughter of Hawthorn Thornton of South Africa, a civil engineer.[2] They appear to have two sons and a daughter.[3] Their second son, Stanley, was killed on active service with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1941.[4]


Morse was a director of a limited company [3] and a leading businessman in Swindon.[5] His wife owned Croft Down Kennels, which bred at least one champion dog.[2] He served as President of Swindon Chamber of Commerce and was a Freemason for 40 years, Past Master of the Royal Sussex Lodge of Emulation, 355 and held the office of Provincial Grand Standard Bearer.[6]


Morse, like his father, was a lifelong member of the Primitive Methodist Church. In 1923 he was one of three Primitive Methodists chosen to represent his denomination on the British Council of the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches.[7] He was elected Vice-President of the Primitive Methodist Church for 1925-26.[6]


Local politics[edit]

Morse followed his father’s path in politics as in religion, perhaps prompted by his given forenames. In local politics, Morse was a member of Swindon Town Council for 20 years. He was Chairman of the Finance Committee, an Alderman [8] and served as Mayor of Swindon for two years. Morse was also elected to Wiltshire County Council and sat for 30 years on that authority.[6] He also served as a Justice of the Peace and was Chairman of one of Swindon’s three rotas of Justices.[5]


Morse first stood for Parliament at the 1922 general election in the Bridgwater Division of Somerset. He narrowly failed to defeat the sitting Conservative MP, Sir Robert Sanders, losing by 119 votes in a three-cornered contest. The Labour candidate, T. S. B. Williams, came in third place losing his deposit.[9] Morse was Liberal candidate again in Bridgewater at the 1923 general election. This time he gained the seat from Sanders in a straight fight by a majority of 1,431 votes.[10] He fought the seat again in 1924, this time in another three-cornered contest. Sanders had announced he would not fight the Bridgwater Division again after his defeat and stood down as Tory candidate.[11] He had been replaced for the Tories by Brooks Crompton Wood. The Labour Party was represented by a local trade union official, and a former Liberal Party worker, Mr J M Boltz. Boltlz's intervention threatened to split the anti-Tory vote depriving Morse, who was said to be a strong candidate, of a seat he was otherwise predicted to hold.[11] Boltz gained 1,966 votes and Labour again forfeited their deposit. Wood took the seat from Morse by a majority of 3,441.[12]

In the 1929 general election Morse switched Somerset constituencies, this time standing for the seaside seat of Weston-Super-Mare. In a three-cornered contest in which the Labour candidate Mrs C E M Borrett lost her deposit, Morse came second to the sitting Conservative MP Lord Erskine losing by 5,679 votes.[13] He did not stand for Parliament again.


Morse died on 18 December 1952 at the age of 74 years.


  1. ^ E. H. Goddard, The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine; Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, Item notes 1937-1939, p527
  2. ^ a b The Women's Who's Who, Shaw Publishing, 1934 p288
  3. ^ a b Who was Who, OUP 2007
  4. ^ The Times, 18 August 1941 p1
  5. ^ a b The Times, 23 September 1936 p9
  6. ^ a b c Who was Who, OUP 2007
  7. ^ The Times, 2 May 1923 p12
  8. ^ The Times, 26 October 1922 p8
  9. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow, 1949 p454
  10. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results, 1918-1949 p454
  11. ^ a b The Times, 22 October 1924 p8
  12. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results, 1918-1949 p454
  13. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results, 1918-1949 p458

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Robert Sanders, Bt
Member of Parliament for Bridgwater
Succeeded by
Brooks Crompton Wood