Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sir Henry Morgan


The Newport historian Haydn Davis sent me the following e-mail regarding Sir Henry Morgan, who, in his will, referred to his 'ever-honest cozen, Mr Thomas Morgan of Tredegar.' There is a portrait of Sir Henry in the Brown Room at Tredegar House but his exact links with the Morgans of Tredegar have always been uncertain.

Haydn wrote:

Congratulations on a great website. At last a decent source of information on the Morgans of Tredegar and an opportunity to clear up by discussion any misconceptions about this long-lived estate. This feature has immediate interest for me if only to iron out to some extent the kinks in the conflicting stories which have developed over the years about the semi-legendary Sir Henry Morgan. You see, my research, such as it is, has made me come down heavily on the side of those who believe that he was not related to the noble Morgan line, and that he was born at Llanrhymney but to one of the Morgan of Tredegar's tenant farmers. There does not seem to be any conclusive proof either way.

In support of this argument, I ask why would a young man, if he was heir to great wealth, go trawling the streets and docks of Bristol looking for work? Was he shanghaied (or barbadosed) or did he willingly sign on for the extremely harsh life of a 17th century sailor?

What evidence is there of his visits back to these shores? Were there any at all except for the brief occasion when he was recalled to London to account for acts of piracy against the Spanish after peace had been declared, only to be given a slap on the wrist, a knighthood and the Lieutenant Governorship of Jamaica? By the same token, where is the proof that he ever visited Newport and was received as a guest at Tredegar House?

His exploits in the Caribbean are legion and well documented, but at home his background is exceedingly murky!

In any debate, this would be my argument.

15 comments:

Paul Busby said...

No, Haydn, there is no evidence whatsoever that Henry Morgan visited Tredegar House. His origins certainly are murky and shrouded with legend and half-truths. For example, one of the nuns who worked at Tredegar House when it was a school claimed to have seen an 'ancient' document that stated that the Great Staircase had been made using wood from one of Sir Henry's ships!

This document, now lost, was almost certainly a Victorian legend which beared no relation to fact.

Thank you for your kind comments.

Jeanne Lewis said...

Our line comes together through Llewelyn ap Ivor of Tredegar, Lord of St. Clear, who married Angharad, daughter of Sir Morgan ap Meredith. I am so looking forward to the histories of these Morgans. I have facts, names, dates, spouses and some children, places. but the history, the stories of these Morgans is exciting to us. I love your site.
Jeanne Lewis

Anonymous said...

Where might I find histories/biographies of Sir Henry Morgan's descendants? Family legend has it that I am supposed to be one of his descendants. However, family tradition is such that when making a choice between an accurate story and an entertaining story we must always decide in favor of entertainment.

Paul Busby said...

Sir Henry Morgan had no direct descendants. He had no children; at least not legitimately.

You could of course be descended from Henry's family, but not from Henry himself.

John Dann said...

May I suggest to readers an excellent book by Dudley Pope, HARRY MORGAN'S WAY, The Biography of Sir Henry Morgan 1635-1684, published by Secker & Warburg, London 1977. Written with a historian's accuracy, and includes a Morgan family tree

Anonymous said...

Well I do know for a fact, that I am a decedent of Sir Henry Morgan. My Great Aunt Dotty did research on our family tree. She later found out that my Great Grandmother Isabel Morgan, is a decedent of Sir Henry Morgan. If I had my hands on the genealogy paperwork this would be so very easy to prove.

John Dann said...

We'd all love to have a 'pirate' in the family -but Sir Henry Morgan had no children. In his will (signed 17 June 1688) he left his Jamaican property to his godsons Charles Byndloss (b.1668) and Henry Archbold on condition they adopted the surname of Morgan. He did have a sister Catherine Morgan born c.1630’s, she married a (Loyd)sic and in his will he awarded her £60 pa. ‘Paid into the hands of my ever honest cozen (sic) Thomas Morgan of Tredegar’. Any family links would probably descend through Lloyd or Morgan cousins. John Dann.

Natasi Leeva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natasi Leeva said...

Henry Morgan might not become that famous if only he didn't leave his home http://www.fampeople.com/cat-henry-morgan

John Dann said...

Natasi's link (http://www.fampeople.com/cat-henry-morgan) has an oft repeated error in the first paragraph. It is true to say Robert Morgan (father) was a landowner -or more likely a tenant farmer. However Henry Morgan (Son) was born in Rhymney near Tredegar -NOT the Rhymney in the Cardiff suburbs. Again, if readers are interested in facts not fiction -read Dudley Pope's book -see previous blogs.

Anonymous said...

I am a descendant of his uncle, Edward. My famliy has fairly extensive paperwork on the family. Unfortunately Sir Henry Morgan (the pirate) did not have any children. I believe a lot of Morgans who believe they are descended from him are actually confusing him with his great grandfather (also named Henry)

John Dann said...

Anonymous said...
I am a descendant of his uncle, Edward. My famliy has fairly extensive paperwork on the family.
I am researching this family link too - any help or information would be helpful.
If you'd like to make contact at johndann@ntlworld.com it would be welcome. John Dann

Anonymous said...

He did visit newport and it was to see his family and many still think that he burried some of his plunder in the grounds i would love to get the metal detector and search but you aint aloud i recon could be somwere in the lake also

Kat Tomlinson said...

My grandmother told me that he was my great great great great great great grandad and that he had illegitimate children who he called his "god children"...the more research i do the more i believe its true. My grandmothers maiden name was morgan-ferness and she was born in cardiff. I guess I'll never really know but it's a great story when you're a barmaid 😂

Rick Combs said...

Has anyone on here done an autosomal DNA test to see if you are related to the Morgan line from Wales? My gedmatch.com id is Z849248 if you would like to compare. I descend from a Hannah Morgan, possible sister to General Daniel Morgan through Zachariah Morgan. I have never been able to find a Morgan or known Morgan relative to compare DNA with. -Rick Combs (slickato@yahoo.com) 6/1/2017