Patrick Morris

Patrick Morris, merchant, shipowner, politician and officeholder (b at Waterford, Ire 1789; d at St John's 22 Aug 1849).
Patrick Morris, merchant, shipowner, politician and officeholder (b at Waterford, Ire 1789; d at St John's 22 Aug 1849).


Morris, Patrick

Patrick Morris, merchant, shipowner, politician and officeholder (b at Waterford, Ire 1789; d at St John's 22 Aug 1849). Morris came to St John's around 1804 to work as a clerk in the merchant fishery and within 6 years he had accumulated enough expertise, capital and connections with the predominantly Catholic Irish clientele to enter trade on his own account. From its inception Morris's trade centered on the transportation of fishing servants and salt provisions from his native Waterford, and return cargoes of dried cod and train oil. His trade grew rapidly, resulting in the purchase of 4 oceangoing vessels 1814-25, and expanded along the south shore of St John's, by 1820 heavily Irish, and the populous Conception Bay. He also entered the seal fishery. In 1832, for example, he sent 6 schooners with 132 men to the ice and exported over 10 000 pelts to London.

Throughout his long political career he championed the rights of the poor and disadvantaged, especially the poor immigrant Irish of St John's. In 1820 he was chairman of the St John's Committee of Inhabitants, a group of leading citizens pursuing political and juridical reform. His efforts were rewarded with the judicature Act of 1824 and a local legislature in 1832. Morris served on more than a dozen committees in St John's and was a juror, justice of the peace, member of the House of Assembly, and in 1840, colonial treasurer. Morris was head of a political and commercial clan probably unprecedented among the immigrant Irish in Canada. A dozen of his kinsmen were merchants or agents in St John's; 6 were members of the assembly; 5 of the council, virtually the only Catholics to be so honoured up to the 1850s.