The Ngati Werewere people occupied the high land around Morrinsville, and for some time, shared it with traders until an influx of settlers arrived in the late 1860s and bought land. In 1873 saw a further influx of settlers such as AW Murray at Annandale (The present day homestead is about 3 kms on SH26 towards Te Aroha) John Turnbull at TeAu-o-Waikato, (the area immediately south of Morrinsville generally on the route to Matamata) George Crummer at Te Mimi (an estate 4kms north of Morrinsville on the Tahuna Road) and the Auckland entrepreneur, Thomas Morrin, who purchased the Kuranui Block with the help of agents. Motumaoho No. 2 and Motumaoho No.1 followed in May 1874.
Not long after this, the village of Morrinsville was born.
It was the service centre for Morrin’s Lockerbie Estate. There was a need for houses for workers, a blacksmith shop, the Jolly Cripple Hotel with its general store. Morrin had the town surveyed in 1882 and the first plan was deposited. It had only ten streets namely Anderson, Hamilton, Studholme, Moorhouse, Lorne, Thames, Canada, Cureton, Sumerville and Thorpe (the first and last three streets where named after Morrin family members).
The Nottingham Castle hotel replaced the Jolly Cripple and shifted the business area north to Hamilton Road. The railway line to Morrinsville was opened on 1st October 1884, giving a further boost to the fledgling township (Morrinsville riding numbers in the year 1881 were 115 people but by 1886 the population was 633 people.
Morrin sold half of the estate to John Studholme, but a long and deep depression resulted in Morrin losing his estate, which was transferred to the Bank of New Zealand, then to the Asset Realisation Board. The Board farmed the estate and subdivided it into smaller farms. This coincided with the rise of dairy farming and by 1911 the town and district were prospering again.
Significant events such as the 1913 waterfront strike, the World War I and World War II had Morrinsville taking its part in supplying personnel and food produced in the district.