Tradition and Legend

Traditions and Legends

At this time, there are no confirmed records online regarding James’ life in Ireland. But family tradition may give clues to his early years and provide foundations for his political beliefs as an adult.

The story is that James was arrested for treason by the British after the Young Irelander’s Rebellion of 1848.1)http://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/the-rising-of-1848/ While in jail he was visited by friends who informed him and his jailers that James’ poor mum was on her death bed. The officers were convinced to release him to speak to his mother one last time. Whereupon, he was promptly put on a boat bound for the U.S. under another man’s travel documents. His mother, you see, was in excellent health.2)James Morrissey Family Traditions, Bertha Morrissey compiler; privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, [address for private use,] Virginia, 2016; James Morrissey’s life in Ireland and reasons for immigration, ca 1848.

Some of James political opponents in Richmond spread the idea that he had deserted the British military.3)James Douglas Smith, “The Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1867-1868,” M.A. Thesis, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA, 1956. James’ political views while in Richmond were not the popular ones among influential white men.

The Morrisseys of Abbeyleix, Laois County, Ireland arrived in 1775 due to economic incentives by Lord de Vesci. See Tom Cox from the Abbeyleix Heritage Center:

I love this interview simply because I know he’s speaking English … I guess.

I suspect that James was naturalized in St. Louis on 5 Nov 1860.4)Naturalization Records, St. Louis City, Missouri, 5 Nov 1860, James Morrissey; microfilm, Missouri State Archives, vol K, p 307, reel C25816. He serves on a jury in Richmond immediately after the U.S. Civil War in 1867, so certainly he was a U.S. citizen before that date.5)“Jurors for Jefferson Davis’s Treason Trial,” David H. Anderson, photographer, glass plate negative, 1867; Cook Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center, Richmond, Virginia, 2016. So far inquiries in St. Louis haven’t turned up valuable leads.

Questions: Who were James’ parents? Did he have siblings? Why did he immigrate? When? Where did he immigrate to: St Louis, NYC or elsewhere? Where was he naturalized? What roll did he play in anti-British activities? Did he adopt the name on his travel papers to use in the U.S. or revert back to his own name? Is he related to original owners of Morrissey’s pub still operating in Abbeyleix today?

Next: James New Life in American Begins.

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/the-rising-of-1848/
2. James Morrissey Family Traditions, Bertha Morrissey compiler; privately held by Jean Morrissey Sanner, [address for private use,] Virginia, 2016; James Morrissey’s life in Ireland and reasons for immigration, ca 1848.
3. James Douglas Smith, “The Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1867-1868,” M.A. Thesis, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA, 1956.
4. Naturalization Records, St. Louis City, Missouri, 5 Nov 1860, James Morrissey; microfilm, Missouri State Archives, vol K, p 307, reel C25816.
5. “Jurors for Jefferson Davis’s Treason Trial,” David H. Anderson, photographer, glass plate negative, 1867; Cook Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center, Richmond, Virginia, 2016.