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Francis Marris (1768-1838)

Francis Marris was the youngest of three sons of a prosperous landowner George Marris of Barton upon Humber in Lincolnshire and his wife Elizabeth who was a devout member of the local Methodist society.

Marris attended the village school to the age of fourteen after which he was apprenticed to Mary Wittey, a grocer in Hull.

After two years Mrs Witty's business was sold to a Quaker woolen draper called Joseph Walker with whom Marris continued his apprenticeship.

Walker died before Marris's term was completed and he then entered the employment of the linen draper William Green of Hull. Green was the son of Jane Green, a well-known Methodist of Rotherham in Yorkshire. He remained with Green for the remainder of his time in Hull.

Marris attended the Methodist chapel in Hull and in 1787 was admitted into the society. He was a member of a class that met under the leadership of John Harrop.

In November 1789 Marris moved to Manchester to take a shopman's position with one Mr Broadhurst. In Manchester, Marris was a member of Jonathan Barker's class.

Despite the fact that Broadhurst was not himself a Methodist, Marris's honesty and strong principles raised him high in his employer's estimation. Marris was eventually offered a partnership and he was the instrument through which Broadhurst and his wife were both converted to Methodism.

Marris was married in November 1797 to Grace Milner in Halifax, Yorkshire. The couple had a son Francis junior who was baptised in November 1799 at Manchester Collegiate Church (now the Cathedral) but the child died in infancy.

Within the Manchester society Marris filled the offices of class leader, circuit steward and chapel trustee. He was also the treasurer of the Manchester District Auxiliary Wesleyan Missionary Society. He was described by James Wood esq. as 'a truly good man, in the best and noblest sense of the word. As a Christian he was uniformly consistent&as a commercial man he was in the highest degree honourable. He was truly benevolent, and his benevolence was as truly unobtrusive&'

Marris's generosity to the poor was particularly notable. He assisted a number of poor widows in Manchester and Leeds and every Christmas he donated a sum of money to be distributed among needy Methodists as recommended by the class leaders' meeting. This was in addition to regular help for the poor.

Marris moved to Roundhay near Leeds in May 1833. He died there after a short and unexpected attack of pleurisy and 'inflammation of the liver' in May 1838. Marris left a total of £4700 in charitable bequests, mainly to Methodist causes.

Source: International Geneaological Index and Methodist Magazine 1840, 625-636.

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