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Morris, Sir James Nicoll (1763?–1830), naval officer, probably born in 1763, was the son of Captain John Morris RN, who, in command of the Bristol, was mortally wounded in the unsuccessful attack on Sullivan's Island on 28 June 1776 and died on 2 July. James is said to have entered the navy under the immediate command of his father, but by 1778 he was in the Prince of Wales, the flagship of Rear-Admiral Samuel Barrington, in the West Indies, and in her was present at the battles of St Lucia and Grenada. He was promoted lieutenant on 14 April 1780, and served on board the Namur in the action off Dominica on 12 April 1782. He was again with Barrington in the Royal George during the Spanish armament in 1790, and by his interest was promoted commander on 21 September. In 1791 he was appointed to the sloop Pluto on the Newfoundland station, where, on 25 July 1793, he captured the French sloop Lutine. On 7 October 1793 he was posted to the frigate Boston (32 guns), which he took to England and commanded for the next four years in the channel and the Bay of Biscay and on the Spanish coast, cruising successfully against merchant ships and privateers. Towards the end of 1797 Morris was moved into the frigate Lively (32 guns), which was lost on Rota Point, near Cadiz, in the early part of 1798. The following year he was appointed to the Phaëton (38 guns), in which in the autumn he carried Lord Elgin to Constantinople. In May 1800 the Phaëton was with the fleet off Genoa, and being detached to co-operate with the Austrians, inflicted severe loss on the retreating French at Loano and Alassio. In October she was off Malaga, and on the 28th her boats, under the command of Mr Beaufort, her first lieutenant, captured and brought off a heavily armed polacca, which, with a French privateer schooner, was lying under the protection of a five-gun battery. During 1801 the Phaëton continued active on the coast of Spain, and in the winter returned to England.

On 25 October 1802 Morris married Margaretta Sarah, the second daughter of Thomas Sommers Cocks, a banker (1737–1796), and the niece of Charles Cocks, first Baron Somers. On the renewal of the war he was appointed to the Leopard (50 guns), but was shortly afterwards moved into the Colossus, a new 74 gun ship, which, after some eighteen months off Brest under Admiral Cornwallis, was, in October 1805, with Nelson off Cadiz, and on the 21st took part in the battle of Trafalgar. She was the sixth ship in the lee line, following Collingwood, and sustained greater damage and heavier loss of men than any other ship in the fleet. Morris himself was severely wounded in the thigh but, the bleeding being stopped by a tourniquet, remained on deck until the close of the action. For the next three years he continued in command of the Colossus, on the home station or in the Mediterranean, and in 1810 he commanded the Formidable (98 guns). On 1 August 1811 he was promoted rear-admiral, and in 1812, at the special request of Sir James Saumarez, was appointed third in command in the Baltic. On 2 January 1815 he was made a KCB, and on 12 August 1819 he became vice-admiral. He died at his house at Marlow, Buckinghamshire, on 15 April 1830.

J. K. Laughton, rev. Roger Morriss

Sources  

J. Marshall, Royal naval biography, 4 vols. (1823–35) [with 4 suppls.] · GM, 1st ser., 100/1 (1830), 467 · pay books of HMS Bristol, TNA: PRO · W. James, The naval history of Great Britain, from the declaration of war by France in 1793, to the accession of George IV [4th edn], 6 vols. (1847) · The dispatches and letters of Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson, ed. N. H. Nicolas, 7 vols. (1844–6) · J. Ralfe, The naval biography of Great Britain, 1 (1828) · A. B. Rodger, The war of the second coalition: 1798–1801, a strategic commentary (1964) · R. Muir, Britain and the defeat of Napoleon, 1807–1815 (1996)