Dictionary of American Biographies p. 213
Lewis Morris (October 15, 1671 - May 21, 1746), chief justice of New York and governor of New Jersey, was the first
lord of the manor of Morrisania in New York.
In 1692 he was appointed a judge of the court of common right of East Jersey and was named a member of
Governor Andrew Hamilton's council. He vigorously supported Hamilton, but in 1698 he opposed the appointment of
Governor Jeremiah Basse on the ground that the choice had been made by only ten of the required sixteen proprietors.
His obstructive tactics resulted in his dismissal from the governor's council.
Although Governor Fletcher had issued royal letters patent in May 1697 erecting Morris' New York estate into the
manor of Morrisania, the new lord was less interested in his manorial grant than in the politics of New Jersey.
He went to England in 1702 to promote the transfer of political authority from the Jersey proprietors to the Crown.
Ambitious to be the first royal governor of the province, he was keenly disappointed when the ministry named
Lord Cornbury to be governor of both New York and New Jersey. As a member of Cornbury's council for New Jersey,
Morris became an outspoken opponent of that unscrupulous official. Dismissed from the council, he was elected
in 1707 to the assembly, where he collaborated with Samuel Jennings in formulating the protest to Queen Anne
against Cornbury's reprehensible conduct, which was largely responsible for the governor's removal from office.
After 1710, Morris supported the admirable administration of his friend Robert Hunter. He spent more time in
New York, especially after Hunter appointed him chief justice of the supreme court of that province (1715).
He continued, however, to serve upon the govenor's council for New Jersey under Burnet andd Montgomerie. With
the administration of Governor William Cosby the lord of Morrisania found himself once more at odds with the
representative of the Crown. When Cosby sought to establish a court of chancery to hear his suit against
Rip Van Dam, chief-justtice Morris pronounced the whole proceeding illegal, whereupon the governor removed
him and appointed James De Lancey, 1703-1760, in his place (August 21, 1733). Morris was elected to the
assembly from the town of Eastchester, and joined James Alexander and William Smith in championing the
popular cause against the "court party" led by Cosby and De Lancey. In 1734 he presented the assembly's
grievances in London, where he failed to secure the removal of Governor Cosby but won a vindication of
his own conduct as chief justice.
When the political connection between New York and New Jersey was severed, he became governor of the latter
province (1738). Though he had challenged the royal prerogative as represented by Cornbury and Cosby, he
permitted no questioning of his own authority. He frequently lectured the provincial assembly on its duties
and complained to the lords of trade in 1740 that the legislators "fancy themselves to have as much power
as a British House of commons, and more" ("Papers of Governor Lewis Morris," post, p.23). His administration
was marked by bitter and wordy quarrels with the assembly over taxation, support of the militia, issuance of
bills of credit, and validity of land titles.
For many years Lewis Morris was an active churchman, serving from 1697 to 1700 as a vestryman of Trinity Church
and encouraging the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel in its missionary enterprises. In 1702 he
suggested to the Society that New York, as the center of English America, was a proper place for a college
and that Queen Anne might be persuaded to grant her farm in New York toward the project. Morris' public
career was never touched by the least suspicion of political jobbery. His enemies accused him of inordinate
vanity, and no doubt he was fully conscious of his talents, which were great. The contentious spirit,
manifest in his youth, grew stronger with the passing years and involved him in controversy until his death,
which occured at "Kingsbury" near Trenton. He was buried at Morrisania with simple rites in accordance with
the terms of his will. The bulk of his estate was divided between his son Lewis, who became second lord of
the manor and his son Robert Hunter Morris, who inherited the New Jersey property.
"The Papers of Lewis Morris, Governor of the Province of New Jersey,"
NJ Hist. Soc. Colls., vol. IV (1852)
Robert Bolton, A Hist. of the County of Westchester (2 volumes, 1848)
William Smith, The Hist. of the Late Province of NY (1829)
Archives of the State of NJ, i ser. IV-VII (1882-83)
EB O'Callaghan, Documents Relative to the Colonial History