St Sepulchre's Cemetery

William Richard MORFILL (1834–1909)
His wife Mrs Charlotte Maria MORFILL, née Lee (1835/6–1881)
St Giles [Ss Philip & James] section: Row 53, Grave P42

Morfill grave

IN
LOVING MEMORY
OF

CHARLOTTE MARIA
WIFE OF
WILLIAM RICHARD MORFILL
DIED JUNE 10, 1881

AND ALSO OF THE ABOVE
WILLIAM RICHARD MORFILL
PROFESSOR OF RUSSIAN
AND THE OTHER SLAVONIC LANGUAGES
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
WHO DIED NOVEMBER THE 9TH 1909

Detail of Morfill grave

See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for the full academic career
of William Richard Morfill, Slavonic languages scholar

William Richard Morfill was born on 17 November 1834 at Maidstone, Kent. The 1841 census shows William (5) living at Church Street, Maidstone with his parents William and Elizabeth Morfill, his older sister Elizabeth (8), and his younger brother Albert (4). His father was a music teacher.

William was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Corpus Christi College on 28 May 1853 at the age of 18, but migrated to Oriel College on 5 December when he was awarded a classical scholarship there. He was seriously ill at the time of his final examinations and was unable to finish them, so was only awarded a pass degree. He stayed on in Oxford giving private tuition.

He studied Russian in the 1850s, and also taught himself other Slavonic languages.

On 6 September 1860 he was married to Charlotte Maria Lee (born in Welton, Northants in 1835/6), the daughter of a grazier, Thomas Lee. By 1863 they were living at 2 Clarendon Villas (now 42 Park Town). They had no children.

At the time of the 1881 census Morfill still described himself as a private tutor. He and Charlotte shared their home in Park Town with Charlotte’s unmarried sister Elizabeth Lee (51). They had three servants (a cook, housemaid, and general servant). Later that same year Mrs Morfill died:

† Mrs Charlotte Maria Morfill née Lee died at the present 42 Park Town at the age of 45 on 10 June 1881 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 14 June (burial recorded in the parish register of Ss Philip & James’s Church).

On 14 December 1889 Jackson’s Oxford Journal announced that Mr W. R. Morfill had been appointed Reader in Russian and other Slavonic Languages with a stipend of £300 a year.

At the time of the 1891 census Morfill, a widower of 56, was living in Park Town with his sister-in-law Elizabeth Lee (61) and his niece Louisa Downing (44). A certificated nurse was living with them, and a cook and housemaid.

Blue plaque to Morfill

 

On 4 June 1900 Morfill was constituted by Convocation the first Professor of Russian and the other Slavonic languages, for so long as he held his readership in those subjects.

At the time of the 1901 census Professor Morfill was living alone at 42 Park Town with his two servants.

 

Left: Blue plaque to William Richard Morfill at 42 Park Town.

See his Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board biography

Morfill himself died in 1909:

† William Richard Morfill died at 42 Park Town at the age of 74 on 9 November 1909. The funeral service was read in Ss Philip & James’s Church on Saturday 13 November, followed by burial at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery.

On 17 November 1909 the Oxford Journal Illustrated published three photographs of his funeral: (1) The the University Bellman and Marshal at the head of the cortège; (2) The long line of carriages conveying mourners and friends; and (3) Prominent Members of the University in the procession.

His wealth at death was £10,054 16s. 4d.


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