Morris was the first chair of Queen's Board of Trustees (1840-1842) and a crucial figure in the university's early development. He was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1786 and immigrated to Canada with his parents when he was 14. He became a businessman, a founder of Perth, Ontario, and was named a Justice of the Peace in 1818.
Beginning in 1820, Morris was a member of the Upper Canada Parliament as a representative for Lanark, and served as the political leader of the Scottish Presbyterians who founded Queen's. Perhaps more than anyone else at this early stage, his views shaped the university's future course.
He led the effort to obtain the university's Royal Charter and, wary of too much clerical influence at Queen's, ensured that it was established not as a simple Bible college, but as a true university, providing secular as well as theological training.
It was also largely thanks to his efforts that the university was named "Queen's," in honour of Queen Victoria.
Morris Hall is named in his honour.