Morris Burgess Brocklesby was born in Preston, Lancashire, England in 1863. He later changed his named to Roderick Burgess and became an obsessive scholar of the occult. In the early 1900s, Burgess used his vast inherited wealth to establish a mystical fraternity known as the Order of Ancient Mysteries. He conducted the organization's affairs out of his mansion Fawny Rig in Wych Cross. In occult circles, few paid Burgess' efforts much respect and he was often laughed at by mages from more prestigious orders such as Aleister Crowley's Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Little is known of his private life during this time, but at some point he took a mistress and sired a son named Alexander.
On June 10th 1916, Burgess bartered with a museum curator named Doctor John Hathaway and acquired a powerful mystic tome known as the Magdalene Grimoire. In exchange, Burgess promised to use the tome's power to resurrect Hathaway's late son, Edmond. Roderick publicly announced that he would use the knowledge and tools at his disposal to summon and imprison the very essence of death itself. That same evening, the Order of Ancient Mysteries conducted its ritual. Although Burgess failed to capture Death, he did succeed in summoning Death's brother Morpheus – the Lord of Dreams. Morpheus had already been weakened due to a matter taking place in the Dreaming and he was ill-prepared to resist the Order. Burgess bound him within a mystic circle and took from him his symbols of office: a helm, a ruby and a bag of sand. A large crystal dome was erected around the circle to contain his corporeal form, while the circle itself was used to secure his astral essence. Morpheus (also known as Dream) remained a prisoner at Fawny Rig for more than seventy years. Roderick knew immediately that this was not the personification of Death that he had hoped for, but he soon learned about the true nature of his captor. He also suspected that Dream possessed the power to bring the essence of Death into the physical world. Roderick tried to force Dream to do his bidding, but the Dream King kept a silent vigil, never answering to the magus' demands.
Doctor John Hathaway meanwhile was heartbroken over Roderick's failure to raise his son. Further, Burgess had been blackmailing Hathaway and using his resources to acquire more occult artifacts from the museum. In June of 1920, Hathaway could endure no more. He wrote a suicide note, then took his own life by stabbing himself with a sacrificial dagger. The note he left behind implicated Roderick Burgess and a public scandal soon followed. Burgess was cleared of any charges relating to the suspicious death of Doctor Hathaway however.
In 1930, a schism caused the Order of Ancient Mysteries to split apart. Ruthven Sykes, second in command of the order stole Morpheus' tools of office and ran off with Burgess' mistress Ethel Cripps. One of the pilfered items was the Dream Ruby, which protected Sykes' from any retribution that Roderick might visit upon him. In 1936 however, Ethel Cripps left Ruthven and took the ruby with her. No longer protected by the gemstone's enchantments, he was now vulnerable to Roderick's revenge. Burgess used his mystical prowess to weave a spell that caused Sykes' head to explode.
Years passed, and Burgess continued to pressure Morpheus into giving in to his demands, but Morpheus always refused. Finally in 1947, Burgess succumbed to the rigors of age, having never achieved the power he so fervently sought. His son Alexander, now an adult, became Morpheus' new caretaker, and remained so until Morpheus' accidental freeing in the September of 1988.
- Roderick Burgess' actual birth year is a matter of speculation. A newspaper article from The Daily Mail states that he was born in 1872, but the date on his gravestone indicates that he was born in 1863. As the date on the gravestone likely came from an official registry, it should be considered the more reliable source of information.
- 3 Appearances of Morris Burgess Brocklesby (New Earth)
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