MORRISON, George MA (1830-1898)

Modified on Thu, 27 Sep 2018 20:27 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Staff, Geelong College

MORRISON, Dr George MA (1830-1898)

See Also MORRISON, Dr George MA (Centenary History Text, 1961 Chapter 3)
See Also MORRISON, Dr George MA (Centenary History Text, 1961 Chapter 4)

Dr George Morrison.

Dr George Morrison.

Born in Moray, Scotland, George Morrison was the first and founding Principal of the Geelong College, a graduate of the University of Aberdeen and a man of outstanding scholastic and business ability.

He was the eighth of ten children born to Donald Morrison (c.1790-1867) and his wife Catherine nee Fraser (1790-1850) of Edinkillie, Moray who married at Auldearn, Nairn in 1816. One of six brothers and first educated at the Elgin Academy, he won a scholarship to the University of Aberdeen where he excelled in classics, mathematics and natural philosophy and became President of the University Debating Society. He graduated Master of Arts and first taught at the Naval and Military Academy, Gosport, England before following his brother Alexander to Australia in 1858 where he was appointed as mathematics master at Scotch College, Melbourne. Not long after his arrival, he married Rebecca Greenwood (1837-1932) on 7 December 1859 at Scotch College, Melbourne.

About 6 months after joining Scotch College he was offered the position as Head of the Flinders National School in Geelong where his reputation continued to grow. Appointed the founding Principal of the Geelong College in April, 1861 he quickly established the fledging school at Knowle House in Skene St where it expanded into neighbouring cottages over the next 10 years. Mr George Morrison was to preside over the College from 1861 until 1898. Nicknamed in his later teaching years, 'Old Mov’ and by later Old Collegians ‘the Doctor’, Morrison was renowned for his high academic teaching standards and his maintenance of educational rigour.

A Student View of George Morrison, 1873 drawn by E Watt.

A Student View of George Morrison, 1873 drawn by E Watt.

Three years after establishment, in 1864, the governing committee of the School, in recognizing their financial inability to fund a new home for the School, assigned the College to the ownership of Mr Morrison. Having outgrown its Skene St site the Morrisons purchased land at Newtown and built a new School and residence in a style befitting his successful management. The new School was to be his home for the next 27 years. In 1891 the University of Aberdeen recognised his work in education by conferring upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

Dr George Morrison died suddenly at the School on 15 February 1898 and was succeeded as Principal by his son, Charles Norman Morrison (1866-1909). His other sons also successfully continued the individual pre-eminence of the family. George Ernest Morrison (1862-1920) became a doctor, journalist and adventurer and became known as ‘Chinese’ Morrison for his work in China and his association with the first President of the Chinese Republic, Sun Yat Sen. Reginald Herbert Morrison (1864-1941) specialized in gynaecology and played international rugby. Arthur Robertson Morrison (1868-1921) became a mining engineer in South Africa, and Donald Clive Morrison (1873-1943) practised law at Shepparton, Victoria. His daughters also raised prosperous families. Mary Alice Morrison (1860-1944) married Sir Henry Bourne Higgins at Geelong in 1885. Rebecca Violet Morrison (1876-1956) married Lancelot Evelyn Gaunt (1875-1959). Evelyn Hilda Morrison (1877-1967) married Clive Herbert Gaunt (1872-1942) at Columbo, Ceylon in 1915. George Morrison’s wife, Rebecca nee Greenwood (1837-1932) continued living at the School until shortly after Norman Morrison’s death.

Dr George Morrison’s portrait by Sir John Longstaff (1861-1941) hangs in the Senior School Dining Room. The portrait was donated to the School by George Morrison's daughter Mary Alice Higgins (1860-1944) in 1934.

His sons, George Ernest Morrison (1862-1920), Dr Reginald Herbert Morrison (1864-1941), Charles Norman Morrison (1866-1909), Arthur Robertson Morrison (1868-1921), Donald Clive Morrison (1873–1943), were educated at Geelong College. It is not known where his daughters, Mary Alice Morrison, Rebecca Violet Morrison and Evelyn Hilda Morrison (1877-1967), received their education.

Sources: Notman, G. C. and Keith, B. R. The Geelong College 1861-1961 pp 20-24; Genealogy of the Morrison Family–Descendants of Donald Morrison (courtesy of David Morrison, Helen Rowan and Robert Hay Morrison).