We are sad to report the passing of Professor Robert J Morris (Bob), one of our Honorary Vice-Presidents and previous Editor of the Book of the Old Edinburgh Club. As one of our Trustees said: “Bob’s been a great stalwart of the OEC and we’ll all miss him.”
Bob was Professor Emeritus, Economic and Social History, University of Edinburgh. He graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Keble College, Oxford in 1965 and three years later joined the University as a Lecturer.
He served as Editor of the Book of the Old Edinburgh Club between 2013/14 and 2019/20, taking over from Andrew Fraser. In recognition of his contribution to the Club, he was elected an Honorary Vice-President in 2021. Bob was also a contributor to the Book with articles, including ‘The formation of the Old Edinburgh Club and its first 300 members’ in 2015. His co-author, Alan McKinney, was also a loss to us earlier this year. Latterly, Bob was President of the Scottish Economic and Social History Society.
Bob devoted his retirement to writing about the landscape and social relationships of Scottish and Irish towns over the past 300 years. This included examining the social processes behind the rebuilding of the Royal Mile. In May this year, he was invited by the University of St Andrews to give a TC Smout lecture on ‘Why does Edinburgh have historic buildings?’ Look out for the forthcoming book.
He also gave a talk in Helsinki earlier this year at a conference on pandemics throughout history. He addressed the social response to the outbreak of cholera in Edinburgh in 1832, the subject of his first book (pictured right) in 1976, which has recently been republished by Routledge, both in print and as an e-book.
Bob’s other publications include ‘Men, Women and Property in England, 1780-1870’ (2005) and ‘Scotland 1907: The Many Scotlands of Valentine and Sons, Photographers’ (2007). He also edited volumes such as ‘People and Society in Scotland, 1830-1914’ (1990), ‘The Victorian City: A Reader in British Urban History, 1820–1914’ (with Richard Rodger, 1993) and ‘Civil Society, Associations and Urban Places’ (2006).
For a fuller obituary, please see the article by Richard Rodger, Council member, professor and colleague of Bob in The Guardian, 1 December 2022.