Secret Marriage – The Riddle of the Hamptworth Morrisons – Oxford and the Oars

Secret Marriage – The Riddle of the Hamptworth Morrisons – Oxford and the Oars

George was described by one writer as “The greatest Oxford oar of the century…” [Henson. Sanday, p45] but it was as a coach that he achieved lasting fame. He was also a skilled rider and would often be seen on horseback calling instructions to his crew from the river bank. In 1864 he established a fund for prizes and presented his old College with the ‘Morrison Cup’, to be rowed for by Balliol fours annually. He also acted as umpire in a variety of races and was Chairman of the Thames Regatta Committee in the early 1870s.

One other race of international importance for which George coached, was the contest of the coxed fours of Harvard and Oxford in 1869. It was the first ever International University Boat Race and it was hoped the event would help to heal the diplomatic rift between Britain and the US caused by Britain’s stance in the recent American Civil War (1861 – 1865). Full page illustrations of the competing crews appeared in the leading journals of the day and the race caught the public’s imagination. An estimated half a million spectators lined the banks of the Thames on Race Day, 27th August. As usual, George’s meticulous coaching techniques ensured that Oxford won the day.