George Morley


George Morley, Bishop of Winchester, is chiefly known for his active clerical career during the vicissitudes of the seventeenth century. He was also, however — at least during his early years at Christ Church, Oxford, and probably afterwards — author of several poems which had some circulation in manuscript verse miscellanies, at least three of them — the Epitaph upon King James (MoG 1-54), On the Nightingale (MoG 55-80), and Upon the drinking in a Crown of a Hatt (MoG 87-103) — being especially popular in their time. A verse miscellany which he himself once owned or partly compiled at Christ Church is also extant (now Westminster Abbey, MS 41).

The Canon

As with so many other poets of the period, there is no clearly defined canon of Morley's poems, certain generally attributed to him being also occasionally ascribed to other writers, while yet other poems ascribed to others can occasionally be subscribed with his name. The poems given entries below (MoG 1-103) would seem to bear reasonably clear attribution in the circumstances.

Letters and Documents

Many extant letters by Morley bear witness to his busy life. Repositories with examples include the Bodleian (including MS Rawl. C. 984, f. 50r; MS Tanner 44, ff. 27r, 223r-7r; and MS Tanner 45, f. 64r); New College, Oxford (MS 337, including, f. 28r, his letter to Clarendon's daughter, the Duchess of York on her intention to become a Catholic, 24 January ‘1670’); the British Library; Portsmouth City Records Office; Worcestershire Record Office; Yale; and Lambeth Palace, among others. His signatures, and references to him, also occur in the Disbursements Books at Christ Church, Oxford (MoG 104-110).

Peter Beal