The information in this document is from the joint research efforts of Geoffrey Morris and his late brother Peter Morris, Gill Hibberd, Julia Hamilton and Diana Nutting. After James Morris the chainmaker I have concentrated on the descendants of James Morris the jeweller , leaving Geoffrey to deal with the descendents of Alfred Morris, and of the descendants of James Morris the jeweller I have concentrated on Annie Morris (my grandmother) and left Gill Hibberd to deal with the descendants of Gladys Morris.
Annie Elizabeth Morris (1890-1945)
Annie Elizabeth married Frank Billingham in 1914 and became Diana and Julia Hamilton’s grandmother. In 1911 she had left home and was living with her maternal grandfather William Perry at 4 Market Street Stourbridge, working from home as a dealer in fancy goods. Her marriage certificate in 1914 lists her as a domestic servant, which seems unlikely given the family’s prosperity.
Frank and Annie’s children were
Frank S (Syd) 1916
Jessie B 1918
Dorothy E (Betty) 1921
Mary Gwendolyn (Gwen) 1927
She died on VE Day in 1945 of cancer.
James Morris the Jeweller
James Morris the jeweller was born in 1867, the eldest son James Morris the Chainmaker and Sarah Little. He was married to Ann Elizabeth Perry, but we have been unable to find their marriage record. In 1881 when James was 14 the census lists him as a chain striker, so it looks as if he was set to follow his father’s trade. But for reasons we don’t understand both James and his younger brother Alfred became jewellers with shops in Stourbridge and Lye respectively. There is a photograph of Alfred and his family standing outside the Lye shop.
James’s shop was at 10 Lower High Street, Stourbridge. The Morrises were prosperous and in 1901 had a living-in servant Ethel Bowen. By 1911 no servant is listed.
James and Ann had nine children.
Annie Elizabeth 1890
James Albert 1893
Dorothy E 1895
John Walter 1897
William C 1889
Samuel and William were both killed in 1st World war in 1918.
James Albert also became a jeweller and Frank a glass engraver. John Walter left home after an unspecified scandal, and settled in Kingston upon Thames where he re-married.
Gladys Morris married William Rowlands and became Paul Hibberd’s grandmother. We do not know what happened to Dorothy or Minnie, although I can remember my mother referring to “Auntie Dolly”.
Edwin Morris refers to James the jeweller in his autobiography
My father had an older brother, James, who also was trained as a watch and clock repairer. He learned the trade under a Mr. Ravenscroft at Brierley Hill, and continued the business after Mr. Ravenscroft’s death. There were also two sisters, Emily and Sarah, whom my father set up in a drapery business in premises he bought for them, not far from his own shop. He bought the next house as a home for his parents and a younger brother, Leonard, who, as sometimes happens with a child born much later than the main family [but not in my case!], was somewhat simple. He never went to school. Quite late in life, however, he gave my father a surprise. Leonard had been hob-nobbing with another man regarded as mentally wanting. My father remonstrated with him for this association, only to get the illuminating reply, "He ain’t daft. He only acts it."
James died in 1947 at the age of 81. Dad describes him as “bedridden” in the short time he knew him.
James Morris the Chainmaker
James Morris the Chainmaker was born on 17th September 1839 at 8 Court New John Street, Birmingham, on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter in the parish of St George His father is James Morris, a filer for silver plating, and his mother Roseannah Hannah Morris, formerly Cole.
By 1841 the family had moved to Pritchett Street, the next parallel street.
By the 1851 census. Rosannah was calling herself the wife of Thomas Betts, although we have no evidence that they ever married. James the Chainmaker is listed as James Morris, and there is a further child Emily Betts aged 2.
12 year old James is described as a lapidary, According to the dictionary this is a cutter, grinder and polisher of gem stones. William Betts is an agricultural labourer (a strange job for the middle of Birmingham) and Rosannah is a tailoress.
By 1857 the family has moved to Beefeaters Field (now Albert Street) Lye and Rosannah has married William Wooldridge who is a chainmaker.
The 1861 Census shows Rosanna (listed as Hosanna) married to William Wooldridge, together with James, Henry and Louisa (presumably Emily Louisa) Morris. William Wooldridge was a chainmaker, and they were living in Dudley Road Lye. James who is 20 is also a chainmaker. They are all described as being born in Birmingham, but we know that Rosannah was born in Cradley.
James married Sarah Little on 4th April 1864 (registered 1865). James and Sarah had 8 children of whom 5 survived childhood
James 1867 (Diana and Julia Hamilton and Paul Hibberd’s great grandfather)
Alfred 1870 (Geoffrey Morris’s grandfather)
By 1871 they were living in Pedmore Road Lye (next door to some Billinghams, but we have been unable to make a connection, so far, with our Billinghams)
In the 1881 Census James and Sarah are living in Engine Lane, Lye. James Junior (James the jeweller, our great grandfather) is working as a chain striker, aged 14. Other children at home are Emma, Alfred, Sarah and Walter
In the 1891 Census James and Sarah are living at Stourbridge Road Lye, with Emily, (no occupation listed) Alfred,(Jeweller & watchmaker) Sarah (Dressmaker) and Leonard. Walter is no longer there.
In the 1901 census James and Sarah are living in Stourbridge Road Lye, with Sarah (Draper & Milliner), Emily (Draper & Milliner) and Leonard
By the 1911 census James is 71. He gives his birth year as 1840; his wife Sarah is 69. James describes himself as a former iron cable chain maker, now old age pensioner, while Sarah is a shopkeeper dealing in laces, cotton, pens and pencils etc. Son Leonard is living with them described as an invalid. They are living at 59 Stourbridge Road Lye, near to their son Alfred’s jeweller’s shop.. There is an apocryphal story that in his old age James used to sell watches from his sons’ shops in the pubs in the Lye.
James died in 1924
James is the first of our ancestors for whom we have a picture. We do not know who everyone was in this picture, and it includes some members of the Lickert family (Alfred Morris married a Lickert) James Morris is seated third from the left, with his son Alfred behind and Edwin his son two places away to the right The old lady sitting third from the right is Grannie Lickert, The occasion was Edwin Morris’s 21st birthday in 1915. Julia and I believe that the first seated man on the left is our great grandfather James the Jeweller, but we have no evidence for this.
James Morris the Silversmith
James was born in 1814 and died on 5th August 1849. An inquest recorded accidental death due to a contusion in the back. I have been unable to find the coroner’s report. In various documents where James’s name turns up, he is variously described as a silver plater, a spoon filer and a silversmith.
He married Rosannah Cole nee Westwood in 1837. They had one child that was certainly his – James (the Chainmaker). Rosannah had two other children who used the surname Morris: Emily Louisa born in 1849, who could be James’s child; and Henry, born 1854, who could not have been. On both their marriage certificates Emily and Henry put down James Morris as father. I have been unable to confirm birth dates for either of them, so cannot check their actual birth certificates.
George Morris and Hannah Wilkins
We know very little about George and Hannah, the parents of James Morris, the Silversmith except that they turn up in the 1841 census in the jewellery quarter in Birmingham in New Church Street in St George’s parish. I cannot find this street on a modern map. The 1841 census shows them as being born in 1786 and 1796 respectively, but unfortunately does not tell us what they did for a living.