Hon. Perez Morton, Esq. was born 13 November 1751 in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States to Joseph Morton (1712-1793) and Anna Bullock (1722-1759) and died 14 October 1837 Dorchester, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Sarah Wentworth Apthorp (1759-1846) 1778 .


Perez Morton served as Massachusetts Speaker of the House, 1806–1808, and 1810–1811; and as Massachusetts Attorney General, 1810-1832.

Morton was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1751, and raised in Boston. His father, Joseph Morton, worked as a tavern-keeper at the White Horse Tavern. Perez attended the Boston Latin School starting around 1760, and Harvard College, graduating in 1771.[1] He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1774.

He participated in the Committee of Safety, and the Committee of Correspondence; he was also a Mason, serving as Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1789-1790.[2] In 1775-1776, he was Deputy Secretary of the Council of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.[3] On April 8, 1776, Morton spoke at the memorial service held for Joseph Warren, at King's Chapel.[4]

Marriage and Family

In 1778, he married Sarah Wentworth Apthorp. Together they had 5 children: Sarah Apthorp Morton (1782–1844); Anna Louisa Morton (1783–1843); Frances Wentworth Morton (1785–1831); Charles Ward Apthorp Morton (1786–1809); and Charlotte Morton (1787–1819)[5][6] From ca.1796 to ca.1803, the Mortons owned a house on Dudley Street in Dorchester; the house may have been designed by Charles Bulfinch.[7] Friends and associates of Morton included James Bowdoin, John Adams, and James Swan.

In 1788, the Mortons were the subject of a public scandal regarding an illegitimate child of Sarah Morton's sister, Fanny Apthorp, rumored to have had an affair with Perez. The scandal was amplified in the press, notably the Massachusetts Centinel and the Herald of Freedom and the Federal Advertiser. A novel published in 1789, The Power of Sympathy, written by a neighbor of the Mortons, William Hill Brown, depicted an adulterous affair between a man and his sister-in-law; at the time, many suspected the novel to be based on the real-life Morton/Apthorp affair.[8]


He died in Dorchester in 1837.

Portraits of Morton have been made by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin, and others.[10][11] Some items owned by Perez Morton are now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, including a silver ladle made by Paul Revere.[11]

Morton's daughter Charlotte was the wife of Andrew Dexter, Jr.[12]


Offspring of Hon. Perez Morton, Esq. and Sarah Wentworth Apthorp (1759-1846)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Sarah Apthorp Morton (1782-1844) 2 June 1782 14 July 1844 John Richard Cunningham (1781-1848)
Anna Louisa Morton (1783-1843)
Frances Wentworth Morton (1785-1831)
Charles Ward Aprthorp Morton (1786-1809)
Charlotte Morton (1787-1819)

Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General