The Lord Morris
Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland
In office
Preceded byGeorge Augustus Chichester May
Succeeded byPeter O'Brien
Personal details
Born14 November 1826 (1826-11-14)
Galway, County Galway
Died8 September 1901 (1901-09-09) (aged 74)
Spiddal, County Galway
Alma materTrinity College Dublin

Michael Morris, Baron Morris and 1st Baron Killanin, PC, PC (Ire) (14 November 1826 – 8 September 1901), known as Sir Michael Morris, Bt, from 1885 to 1889, was an Irish lawyer and judge. He was Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland from 1887 to 1889 and sat in the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1889 to 1900.

Background and education

Born in Galway, eldest son of Martin Morris and Julia Blake, Morris was educated at Galway College and Trinity College Dublin, graduating BA in 1847. His father was a justice of the peace, and in 1841 became the first Roman Catholic to be High Sheriff of Galway Town, an office his son also held. The Morrises were a long-established merchant family, who were one of the fourteen Tribes of Galway who dominated the town's commercial life. His mother, a doctor's daughter, died of cholera in 1837.

Legal and judicial career

After being called to the Irish bar in 1849, Morris was appointed High Sheriff of Galway Town for 1849–50. Eight years later he was made Recorder of Galway, and in 1863 became one of the country's Queen's Counsels. He was the recognized leader of the Connacht Bar, impressing clients and juries alike with his wit and commonsense. Elected to Parliament in 1865 as Liberal member for Galway,[1] Morris became a Conservative the following year when he took office in Lord Derby's administration as Solicitor-General for Ireland. Though a Roman Catholic he was a staunch supporter of the Act of Union 1800, but it is said that he was not enthusiastic about the Reform Act 1867. In late 1866 he was appointed Attorney-General for Ireland, and the following year became third Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, eventually being made its Chief Justice in 1876. As a judge, he showed the same wit and commonsense which had been his hallmarks at the Bar, and was notably impatient of legal technicalities.

In 1885, Morris was created a Baronet, of Spiddal in the County of Galway,[2] and two years later he was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland. In 1889, on being made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, he was given a life peerage as Baron Morris, of Spiddal in the County of Galway,[3] and sworn a member of the Privy Council.[4] He was well regarded by his fellow Law Lords, despite his frequent dissenting judgments.

Eleven years later, on his retirement from office, Lord Morris was made an hereditary peer as Baron Killanin, of Galway in the County of Galway.[5]



Family vault of Michael Morris, 1st Baron Killanin, in Bohermore Cemetery, Galway

Lord Morris died at Spiddal in September 1901, aged 74, and was buried in the family vault in Bohermore Cemetery at Galway.

He married, in 1860, Anna Hughes, daughter of Henry George Hughes, Baron of the Court of Exchequer and his wife Sarah Isabella l'Estrange. She was the child of a mixed marriage, and had been brought up in the Church of Ireland. They had four sons and six daughters. The eldest son Martin Morris was an MP and succeeded in the barony of Killanin and baronetcy.

Another son was Lt. Col. George Henry Morris, who was the first commanding officer to lead an Irish Guards battalion into battle and was killed in action during the Retreat from Mons in September 1914. George's son Michael went on to serve as the sixth President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1972 to 1980. He succeeded his uncle Martin as Baron Killanin in 1927.

Coat of arms of Michael Morris, Baron Morris
On a fasces Proper a lion’s head erased Argent gutté de sang.
Ermine a fess indented Sable in base a lion rampant of the last armed and langued Gules.
Si Deus Nobiscum Quis Contra Nos[7]


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "G" (part 1)
  2. ^ "No. 25511". The London Gazette. 15 September 1885. p. 4334.
  3. ^ "No. 25999". The London Gazette. 6 December 1889. p. 7014.
  4. ^ "No. 26002". The London Gazette. 17 December 1889. p. 7275.
  5. ^ "No. 27202". The London Gazette. 15 June 1900. p. 3751.
  6. ^ "Report 63 (1988) – Jurisdiction of Local Courts Over Foreign Land". Law Reform Commission, New South Wales. 30 May 2001. Retrieved 1 September 2008. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1959.