William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield

William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield
The Viscount Nuffield
wife Elizabeth Anstey
Full name
William Richard Morris
Father Frederick Morris
Mother Emily Ann Morris
Born 10 October 1877
Worcester, England
Died 22 August 1963
Occupation motor manufacturer and philanthropist

William Richard Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield GBE, CH (10 October 1877 – 22 August 1963), known as Sir William Morris, Bt, between 1929 and 1934 and as The Lord Nuffield between 1934 and 1938, was a British motor manufacturer and philanthropist. He was the founder of the Morris Motor Company and is also remembered as the founder of the Nuffield Foundation and Nuffield College, Oxford.



Morris was born in 1877 at 47 Comer Gardens, a terraced house in the Comer Gardens area of Worcester, about 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) north-west of the centre of Worcester, England. He was the son of Frederick Morris and his wife Emily Ann, daughter of Richard Pether. When he was three years old his family moved to 16, James Street, Oxford.


Morris' first garage on Longwall Street, Oxford

Upon leaving school at the age of fifteen, Morris was apprenticed to a local bicycle-seller and repairer. Nine months later, aged 16, he set up a business repairing bicycles from the family home. The business being a success he opened a shop at 48, High Street and began manufacturing as well as repairing bicycles. In 1901, he began to work with motorcycles, designing the Morris Motor Cycle, and in 1902 acquired a garage in Longwall Street from which he sold, repaired and hired cars.

In 1912 he designed a car, the "Bullnose" Morris and began manufacturing at a disused military training college in Cowley, Oxford. The outbreak of World War I saw the nascent car factory given over to the production of munitions but in 1919 car production recommenced rising from 400 cars in that year to 56,000 in 1925. During the period 1919–1925 Morris built or purchased factories at Abingdon, Birmingham, and Swindon to add to that in Oxford. Morris pioneered the introduction to the United Kingdom of Henry Ford's techniques of mass production. In 1927, in competition against — amongst others — Herbert Austin, Morris purchased the bankrupt Wolseley Motor Company and the company passed into his personal control. Wolseley were at this stage in fairly advanced development of an overhead camshaft 8 hp car, which Morris launched as the first Morris Minor in 1928 (this was also the basis of the original MG Midget, launched in 1929).

In 1938, Nuffield purchased the bankrupt Riley (Coventry) and Autovia companies from the Riley family and quickly sold them to his own Morris Motor Company, with the addition of Wolseley later that year, the combined enterprise became known as the Nuffield Organisation. This merged with Austin Motor Company in 1952 to become the British Motor Corporation. It was later merged with Jaguar to become British Motor Holdings. In 1968, nearly every British automobile manufacturer, including BMH, became British Leyland.

Morris was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1918, created a Baronet, of Nuffield in the County of Oxford, in 1929[1] and raised to the peerage as Baron Nuffield, of Nuffield in the County of Oxford, in 1934.[2] In 1938 he was further honoured when he was made Viscount Nuffield, of Nuffield in the County of Oxford.[3] He was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1939, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1941[4] and a Companion of Honour (CH) in 1958.

Personal life and philanthropy

Morris was married to Elizabeth Anstey on 9 April 1904 — there were no children, and as a result he dispersed a large part of his fortune to charitable causes. He founded the Nuffield Foundation in 1943 with an endowment of £10 million in order to advance education and social welfare. He also founded Nuffield College, Oxford. The College owned his former Oxfordshire home, Nuffield Place, but has now passed it to the National Trust[5]. It was open to the public and is now to be reopened[6] although a sale had been mooted[7]. He is also commemorated in the Morris Motors Museum at the Oxford Bus Museum. Morris also has a building named after him at Coventry University, at Guy's Hospital London and a theatre at the University of Southampton.[8] His home in James Street now has a Blue Plaque.[9] He died in August 1963, aged 85. The baronetcy and two peerages died with him as he was childless.

See also



Leasor, James Wheels to Fortune - The Life and Times of William Morris, Viscount Nuffield UK 1954, 2011. ISBN 978-1-908291-24-0

External links

Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Nuffield
1934 – 1963
Baron Nuffield
1938 – 1963

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