Philip Morant

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Philip Morant


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Philip Morant (1700-1770), antiquarian and writer was the second son of Estienne Mourant and Marie Filleul (possibly Jeanne), of Les Pigneaux, St Saviour. In 1734 he changed the spelling of his name to Morant

Education

He was educated at Abingdon Grammar School and obtained a grant from the Don Baudains and matriculated at Pembroke College Oxford in December 1717. He was ordained 1722. In 1729 he took his MA at Cambridge as a member of Sidney Sussex College.

Career

From 1722 to 1752 he was Curate of Great Waltham, Essex, where he helped his vicar, Nicholas Tindal, to prepare a new edition of Rapin's History of England, and to translate de Beausobre and Lenfant's Commentary on St Matthew.

He attracted the notice of Bishop Gibson of London, through whose influence he became Chaplain of the English Church at Amsterdam, 1732—1734. The same patron secured for him a bewildering succession of Essex livings, Shellow Bowells, 1733; Broomfield, 1734; Chignal Smealy, 1735; St Mary at the Walls, Colchester, 1737; Wickham Bishops, 1743; Aldham, 1745.

His main work was that of an antiquarian. In 1748 he published History and Antiquities of Colchester. He followed this with History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, 1st vol 1760, 2nd vol 1768. In 1768 he was entrusted by a committee of the House of Lords with the preparation for the press of the ancient Rolls of Parliament, an arduous task for which his knowledge of Norman French specially qualified him.

He was a friend of Philippe Falle, the historian, who added to a second edition of his Caesarea or an Account of Jersey, 1734, a long dissertation "by the hand of my ingenious Countryman, Mr Mourant".

In 1753 he wrote to the governors of the Don Baudains expressing gratitude for the help given him by the fund in his youth, and offering either to repay all that he had received, or to found an exhibition for Jersey lads at Oxford. The Governors suggested that, instead of creating a separate exhibition, he might increase the endowments of the Don Baudains, and he adopted this course.

In 1755 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

He married Anne Stebbing of Great Tey, Essex, and they had a daughter, Anna Maria, who married Thomas Astle, Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London.

Morant died in South Lambeth, where he was living to be near his work at the House of Lords, on 25 November 1770, and was buried in Aldham Church, of which was still Rector. His portrait shows a keen-looking, portly man in a wig with a very large aquiline nose.

School

The Philip Morant College in Colchester, Essex, was named after him shortly after its formation in 1963.. The school’s website says:

” Philip Morant was born in 1700 and died in 1770. Born in Jersey, he studied at Pembroke College Oxford, later taking his MA degree at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge. From 1737 until his death he was rector of St Mary-at-the-Walls, Colchester, but his grave is to be found in Aldham, of which parish he was also appointed Rector in 1745. His chief claim to fame was as the author of a detailed History of Essex which, although criticised, remains a standard work of reference. A copy of Morant’s History, in two volumes dated 1768, is on permanent loan to the school by the Essex Archaeological Society. The school also possesses a framed portrait of Morant which was presented by John Appleby on the occasion of the school’s commemoration service in 1963. Philip Morant was known as an amiable portly gentleman, with a great interest in the County of Essex.

Family tree

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Descendants of Drouet Mourant

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