19 Jan Secret Marriage – The Riddle of the Hamptworth Morrisons
James was a self made man in other respects too. His insatiable curiosity and love of books led him to becoming renowned for his intellect and and his fine taste in, and patronage of, the arts as well as a radical Member of Parliament. James and Mary Ann had eleven children; seven sons and four daughters. George was their tenth child. He was born on 30th November 1839 and baptised at St Giles in London the following New Year’s Day. The Morrisons had a London residence near the haberdashery business and their country home, at the time of George’s birth, was Basildon Park near Reading in Berkshire, now a Grade I listed National Trust property.
George was a small baby, taking after, it would seem at first, his mothers side of the family. Most of his other siblings were tall like the Morrison clan. George’s eldest brother Charles, twenty years George’s senior, wrote to his mother Mary Ann a couple of months after George’s birth:
“I am sorry that the present dimensions of no 10 [tenth child] are such as to have earned for him the name of Tiny – as it wd be a sad thing if he shd turn out a speciment of the Todd race, & so have to bring up the rear of his long-legged brothers and sisters.” [C Dakers, Genius or Money, fn 63 for p140]
Charles needn’t have worried for when George later rowed for Oxford he was not only tall but the heaviest, and probably strongest, member of the crew.