Stephen Joseph Morell was born to Esteban, a Spanish restaurateur from Vila-seca, Catalonia, and Ada Morell in Carlton, Melbourne on the 15th August 1869. At the age of three Stephen went to Spain with his family, where he received his early education, but returned to Melbourne in 1883.
On return to Melbourne, Morell attended Scotch College where he developed an interest in rowing. After school he continued to excel in rowing, and was a member of the Victorian champion four in 1896 and of the champion eight in 1896 and 1897. Later in life Morell became the president of the Mercantile Rowing Club and Victorian Rowing Association. Amongst other interests, he was also involved in the Metropolitan Amateur Football Association, and later became vice-president of the Melbourne Cricket Club.
Thanks to the business prowess he had inherited from his father, Morell was a shrewd but fair businessman with many business interests. He owned numerous properties in Melbourne such as the Princes Bridge Hotel (Young & Jackson’s), had pastoral interests in Queensland, and was the director of companies such as Carlton and United Breweries, Equity Trustees, Melbourne Co-operative Brewery, Victoria Insurance Co, Windsor Pictures Co and Melbourne Tramways trust.
From 1901 to 1939 Morell represented Gipps Ward on the Melbourne City Council. He served on seven council committees, and in 1926 succeeded Sir William Brunton as lord mayor. In 1927 Morell entertained the Duke and Duchess of York and was knighted. In the same year he was unanimously elected for a second term as lord mayor and in 1928 he declined a third.
Soon after retirement from presidency of the Mercantile Rowing Club in 1933, the Anderson Street Bridge over the Yarra River was renamed ‘Morell Bridge’ in recognition of his passion for rowing and for his work for the City Council of Melbourne.
Sir Stephen Joseph Morell passed away on the 6th July 1944 at the age of 74 in his home in South Yarra.
Text by Maryanne Dawson, based on the following articles:
Dunstan, David, (n.d.) Morell, Sir Stephen Joseph (1869–1944), from http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/morell-sir-stephen-joseph-7651/text13381
Death of Sir Stephen Morell. (1944, July 7). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 3, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11350926 .