Sir William Morice Overmantel

Charles II carved oak overmantel of the finest quality, made for Sir William Morice of Werrington Hall (Devon) now Cornwall. The front carved with four huge arcaded panels being flanked by terms and above with four coats of arms, all described below:

The armorial bearings as carved upon this Commonwealth or later Charles II Oak Overmantel dating from circa 1653 and not after 1676 are those of the family of Morice and other associated marital arms. The first example cited below is the six quartered arms of Morice, whilst the remaining three examples denote the marshalling of a marital coat showing on the dexter (the heraldic right on the left as you view the piece) the arms of the husband and on the sinister (the heraldic left on the right as you view it) the arms of the wife.

These armorial bearings undoubtedly commemorate marriage alliances or genealogical connections of the Morice family of Werrington in the County of Devonshire. Given the date of the overmantel it may well have been commissioned by Sir William Morice (born 6th November 1602 died 12th December 1676), Knight, of Werrington aforesaid and of Spring Garden, Westminster in the County of Middlesex. Sir William was the eldest son of Evan Morice, the chancellor of the Diocese of Exeter and his wife, Mary Castell. Sir William Married around the year 1630, Elizabeth Prideaux (born 1604?). Alternatively, it may have been commissioned by his eldest son Sir William Morice (born circa 1628 died 7th February 1690), the 1st Baronet of Werrington who married as his first wife, Gertrude Bampfylde (died before 1676) on the 21st July 1653 prior to Gertrude’s death which would give the latest possible date for the commissioning and carving of this overmantel. Although, so, saying, it might be possible put forward a further conjecture to reduce the date of the carving of this overmantel to between Sir William and Gertrude’s marriage in 1653 and Sir William’s creation as a baronet in 1661 as no baronet’s augmentation appears on his arms. If this were in case such an augmentation may have been omitted by design or in error on the part of the carver.
The Morice family were anciently of Welsh gentry stock who are stated in various sources to have come from the County of Carmarthenshire or perhaps the northern Welsh County of Carnarvonshire. Certainly, the various quarters the family bore indicate Welsh antecedents, but sadly, there is a dearth of genealogical information concerning the origins of the family.
Given the presumed date of this overmantel upon the balance of probability and without any evidence to the contrary it was at one time in situ within Werrington Hall, the seat of the Morices prior to the various periods of remodelling of the hall during the late 17th Century or into the first decades of the 18th Century by the family or by its later owners. It is, therefore, not known at present when this overmantel was removed from Werrington Hall.

Research done by: Beacon Genealogical and Heraldic research.

Origin: Werrington Hall (Devon) now Cornwall, Launceston
Date: 1653 - 1676
Dimensions: Width 97" x Height 46 1/2" x Depth 8"
Stock Number: Marh2021