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MORSE family - Yorkley and Bream and 'Down Under'

Updated March 2, 2005

About Our Family Research

My name is Janet Rigby (nee Smithson) and I am related to the Morse family by my Great Grandmother Phoebe Morse born in 1838 in Yorkley, West Dean, daughter of John Morse and Damaris Bailey.
Phoebe’s daughter Damaris Gifford (1881 - 1957), my grandmother, left Yorkley at the turn of the 1900s to join two of her Morse cousins, John Wheatstone Morse and his sister Minnie Violetta, who went to live and work in Lancashire at the Asylum at Whittingham. Damaris subsequently married my grandfather in 1904 and never returned to the Forest.

Phoebe had a brother called Edmund born around 1831 who married Theophilia Whetson, the half sister of Selina Hook (Ken Morse’s great grandmother).

Edmund & Theophilia’s daughter, Minnie Violetta, and her husband, Charles Morse, eventually returned to Bream were licencees of the ‘Rising Sun’ Inn there for the period around 1901 to 1910. They took over the Inn from Charles' brother Thomas and when they gave it up, Thomas's grandson, Arnold Morse, was landlord until at least 1920.

To be a publican was a popular occupation amongst the Morses, as Selina and her husband, William, were licensees of the Nags Head Inn at Yorkley Slade at the time of the 1881 census. Also staying there at this time were Selina's nephew, John Wheatstone Morse (son of Edmund and Theophilia) who, after retiring from his post as 'Head Lunatic Attendant', along with his wife Emily Freeman (Morse) ran the White Bull Public House in Great Eccleston, Lancashire from about 1924 to Emily’s death in 1940.

I have traced my Morse ancestors back to George Morse, born in Awre in 1758, who owned several mineworkings, land and property in the Yorkley area. He left shares and part shares in various collieries with names like 'Uncertainty' and 'As You Like It' to his family.

The Morse family is vast and far flung, George Morris Morse, grandson of the above and his family emigrated from Yorkley to New Zealand on the ‘Tip Tree’ in 1864 and there are many descendants living there to this day, some of which I have 'discovered' during research.

Two of the children of Richard Morse, brother of George Morris Morse, born 1811, emigrated to Australia in the 1840s and his Granddaughter, Elizabeth Esther Ellen Jennings was the celebrated Australian Shakespearian actress, Essie Jenyns 1864-1920. Richard Morse was also said to have had books of poetry and prose published.

Should you wish to contact me I will respond as quickly as I can. My email address follows at the foot of this page. A message to say that you have visited would be very welcome - Thank you.


This site was created 14th February 2005, and last updated 1st March 2005.

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