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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Philip Morant (1700-1770)

The biography of Philip Morant (1700-1770), written for the dedication of memorials to the Essex historian on 15 March 1966.

PHILIP MORANT, younger son of Stephen Morant and Mary nee Filleul, was born in the St. Saviour's parish, Jersey, on the 6th October, 1700.

Proceeding from the Grammar School, Abingdon, Berks., he matriculated at Pembroke College, Oxford, 17th December, 1717, and was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, 21st September, 1721. Although Philip Morant passed for the Master of Arts degree at Oxford he arranged to be incorporated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, taking his M.A. from that University, 10th October, 1729.

By Letters-commissory from the Bishop of London the Bishop of Norwich admitted him to Deacon's Orders, at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, Westminster, on 23rd September, 1722. Edward  Gibson, Bishop of London, ordained him Priest,  20th  December,  1724.                                                                                           ·

From September 1722 till August 1732, Nicholas Tindal, Vicar of Great Waltham, was assisted in his cure by the young Morant, as the account books of the Black Chapel show, but then Caroline, Queen Regent, nominated him to the chaplaincy of the English Episcopal Church at Amsterdam.

In quick succession there followed these preferments:
Rectory of Shellow Bowells.  From 20 April 1733, to November 1734
Rectory of Broomfield: From 17 January 1734, to April 1738
Rectory of Chignal Smealey: From 19 September 1735, to April 1743
Rectory of St. Mary's, Colchester: From 9 March 1738, to April 1770
Rectory of Wickham Bishops: 21 January 1743, to October 1745
Rectory of Aldham: from 14 September 1745, to October 1770.

In November,  1735, Mary, Dowager Countess of Cassillis, appointed  him her private chaplain.   Never did he hold more than two benefices at one time.

On 6th February, 1739, he married Anne, daughter of  Solomon  Stebbing of the  Brook  House,  Great Tey. Their only daughter, Anna Maria, was born 25th November, 1739; she afterwards married Thomas Astle, Keeper of the Records in the Tower.

When Mrs. Morant died, 20th July, 1767, aged 69, Morant moved to his daughter's home at Battersea Rise, London, and it was while returning by water from the Temple to Vauxhall, en route for South Lambeth, that he caught the chill from which he died, 25th November, 1770. He was buried beside his wife in the Old Church at Aldham and the stone marking that spot is now re-erected in the present Aldham Church with the Tablet presented by the Society near to it.   In the chancel of the Aldham church is the Latin Epitaph penned by Thomas Astle, his son-in-law, while the east window of the church was placed there as a memorial to his memory in 1854.

It was on 20th November, 1755, that the Historian of Essex was elected to the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He had published his History of Colchester in 1748 and was preparing The History and Antiquities of Essex, 2 vols., folio, 1760-1768.

The Essex Archaeological  Society has cared for the grave of the historian for some years now but so that the stone might be preserved was pleased to assist in saving this by placing it in the present Aldham Church. To mark his long association with the Borough of Colchester an armorial tablet is placed in the church of St. Mary-at-the Walls, Colchester.                                                          ·

Aldham's Church of Morant's day and the former Rectory of St. Mary-at-the-Walls, Colchester, have been demolished but work which the historian initiated goes on and almost two hundred years after his death his hand still  guides  researchers.

JOHN S. APPLEBY, F.R.Hist.S.
Hon. Secretary, E.A.S.

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