Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1890 & 99

William Morton (1825 - 1897)

William Morton was an Artist and a well known member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Art. His work was mainly watercolour and pencil drawings, and regularly exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery. He was also an engraver and book illustrator.

He was born on 2nd July 1825 in Manchester. He was the eldest son of James Morton (b.1902 in Scotland) who was a Rope Maker and who came to Manchester from Glasgow shortly before William was born. His mother was Louisa Morton (b.1904 in Scotland). Whilst quite young William worked firstly in a Solicitor's office and then at a Letterpress Printer's, where he designed bobbin tickets, hat labels and trade marks.  Then William became apprenticed to Messrs Stephenson and Royston, letterpress printers and engravers, in Market Place Manchester. In 1848 he established his own engraving business in Essex Street, King Street, Manchester. He had a desire to draw and paint, and attended evening classes at Manchester School of Art. In 1851 William lived with his parents and siblings at Ashley Lane, Manchester.

On 28th November 1855, William Morton married Alice Hunt at Culcheth New Church, Leigh, Lancashire. Alice was born in 1829 in Culcheth, the daughter of James Hunt. However in 1851, Alice's address was Mount Pleasant, Culcheth, the home of her grandparents, John Hunt (b.1783 in Manchester), a Proprietor of Houses, and Lucy Hunt (b.1783 in Flixton, near Manchester). William and Alice moved to Hulme and their children were Mary Una (b.1857), Percy (b.1860), Herbert (b.1862), Louisa (b.1865, but died only 17 days old) and Alice (b.1866, but died only 23 days old). To add to the family's tragic circumstances, William's wife Alice died on 25th October 1867, aged only 38. She was buried at Weaste Cemetery. In 1881, William was living at his widowed mother's house at 11 Thurlow Street, Salford, with his son Herbert aged 18, who was an unemployed Warehouseman. However, on 24th March 1886, Herbert was admitted to Prestwich Asylum, where he died on 1st September 1895.

William Morton became great friends with, and provided illustrations for, the well-known, Manchester author Richard Wright Procter. He also provided illustrations for Samuel Bamford, the well-known Middleton radical who also wrote poetry, and John Critchly Prince, a Wigan-born working class poet who wasn't a radical. Apart from his work as a book illustrator, William Morton was one of the best-known water-colour artists the Manchester Academy produced. At the Peel Park exhibition of the works of local artists in 1857 he was represented by several works. In 1859 he was elected an associate of the Manchester Academy and in 1862 a full member. In 1870 he was elected Literary Secretary to the Academy which he held until 1875. And shortly after he was elected to the Academy Council. Newspaper reports from 1883 to 1894 show that William Morton was a popular exhibitor at the Academy's exhibitions. At the Jubilee Exhibition at Old Trafford in 1887, his reputation was fully sustained by one of the finest Lancashire subjects, "Myerscough-le-Fylde with the Bleasdale Hills."

On 5th June 1897, William Morton died at his home in Patricroft, Eccles and was re-united with his wife Alice at Weaste Cemetery. He was 71 years old.