About David Morse

David Morse was a pilot at Cardiff Docks.  He gave evidence to the opposed bill committees for the 1864 and 1866 Bute Docks Bills. 

David Morse had been a pilot for 22 years when he gave evidence to the 1864 Opposed Bill Committee on the Bute Docks Bill.  He was originally licensed as a Pilot under the Bristol Pilotage Board in 1849, some 12 years before Cardiff got a Pilotage Board of its own in 1861.

The evidence he gave in 1864 was limited to his opinion on whether or not a proposed pier would interfere with the passage of vessels up and down the Channel.  In 1866 he gave more detailed evidence about the docks and how overcrowded they were.  He told the committee that in the last year about 50 or 60 ships that were waiting to enter the docks lost anchor and had to ‘run for it’, some going as far as Newport.  This was due to overcrowding of the dock provision, and the fact that ships had to wait for nine or ten days before they could obtain dock space.  Please read David Morse’s evidence to find out more.

Our group found archive material relating to David Morse at Glamorgan Archives.  On 7 November 1865 the Pilotage Board recorded that David Morse had taken on two apprentices: Evan T Morse and David Morse.  The 1871 Census confirmed that these were his sons.  David Morse senior was married to Mary Ann and they had four sons and three daughters.

The group went on to find records relating to the career of David Morse junior, who went on to became a pilot.  They found his application to be examined as a Channel pilot in 1880, and the registration of two boats, Grace Darling and Twins.  The group noted from the 1871 census that two of David Morse junior’s sisters were twins.

The group felt that David Morse would have been in favour of further development of the Docks, and this was confirmed by the evidence he gave to the opposed bill committees.  He spoke as a witness for the promoters of the Bill, and stated that ‘he saw no objection to having more docks, because more docks were wanted.’  He went on the say that ‘The more docks we get the more we shall be able to get the ships in from the outer roads...’, demonstrating his particular concern for the safe passage of ships into the Docks.