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.
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.