John Morton  |  Robert Morton

The Will of Dr John Morton, Cardinal, Archbishop of Canterbury (c.1420-1500)

In the late spring of 2016, Dr Betty Knott, a retired Latinist from Glasgow University, graciously agreed to participate in The Missing Princes Project and offer her expertise. As the information gathering for the modern investigation into the disappearance of the sons of King Edward IV continued apace, it was becoming increasingly clear that the enquiry had to consider all potential sources of information.

With John Morton’s role in the key period of investigation (1483-1486), coupled with Dr Knott’s academic neutrality, revealing Morton’s will in full for the first time would not only be consistent with the aims and ambition of the project, but might offer new connections and insight into this important figure. Previously, only a short extract of Morton’s will was available in English translation.1

The translation of Dr Morton’s will is published here for the first time. It is also available on the Richard III Society’s website:

Dr Knott’s article on Morton’s will was published in the Ricardian Bulletin, June 2018, pp.47-54 and is available here

Our very grateful thanks to Dr Betty Knott for undertaking this original research work on behalf of The Missing Princes Project.

With thanks also to Marie Barnfield whose meticulous and informed transcript and decipherment of the very difficult hand of the original manuscript considerably expedited Dr Knott’s own reading of the original text, and author, Isolde Martyn, whose investigations into John Morton instigated this complete English translation of his will.

Philippa Langley

John Morton Roof Boss

Image of (possibly) John Morton from the roof boss in Bere Regis Church, Dorset. Reproduced by kind permission of Michael Day.

John Morton's Will

First Page of John Morton’s Will (PROB11-12-77-NA) Courtesy of the National Archives ©

1. C. Everleigh Woodruff, Kent Archaeological Society, 1914, vol 3, Sede Vacante Wills: Canterbury, pp 91-93.

Robert Morton: The Composer and the Cleric – A Mystery Solved

Project members Julie Stafford, in the USA, and Nathalie Nijman-Bliekendaal, in the Netherlands, finally solve one of the intriguing mysteries of the period. This relates to whether the cleric Robert Morton in England (nephew of Dr John Morton) was also Robert Morton, the composer, in Flanders. Over the years, historians have suggested this may well have been the case. However, now Julie and Nathalie have finally solved this historical mystery. First published in the Ricardian Bulletin magazine of September 2020 pp.35-38, you can now view their paper here.

The updated family tree also includes the newly discovered Morton family connection to John Forster (one of Dr John Morton’s co-conspirators on 13 June 1483). With thanks to Philippa Langley for this discovery.

Our very grateful thanks go to John Saunders, editor of the Ricardian Bulletin magazine, for his kind permission to publish these papers here for you.

Choir singers at the Burgundian Court, fifteenth century. Public Domain.