MORGAN, Sir Edmund (d. by 3 Feb. 1655), of Penhow, Mon.
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Family and Education
2nd s. of Henry Morgan of Penllwyn Sarth, Mynddislwyn, Mon. by Elinor, da. of John Morgan of Pencraig, Mon.; bro. of Henry Morgan II. m. (1) Frances, 2s. d.v.p. 3da.; (2) bet. 29 Jan. 1599 and 17 Apr. 1600, Margaret, da. of John Francis of Combe Florey, Som., wid. of William Fortescue of Preston, Som., s.p.s. Kntd. ?at Dublin, Aug. 1599.
Capt. in Netherlands 1585, in Normandy 1591, in Jersey 1598, in Netherlands 1594; sergeant-major on Islands voyage 1597-8.
The Morgans of Penllwyn Sarth were a junior branch of the Monmouthshire family of Morgan of Machen, and were related by blood or marriage to several other members of this widespread Glamorgan and Monmouthshire clan, as well as to the Stradlings, Carnes, Mathews and other eminent local families. Edmund Morgan’s place in the lineage is confirmed by his will, for he made his nephew Edmund Morgan of Penllwyn Sarth one of his executors.1
As a younger son of a cadet branch Edmund Morgan doubtless needed to seek his fortune, and it was as a professional soldier that he did so. His own claim, in a letter of July 1601 to Robert Cecil, to have served for 16 years suggests that he began his career in the expeditionary force sent to the Netherlands in 1585. If so, he was probably already a follower of Robert Sidney whose steward Thomas Morgan may have been his kinsman; and he is perhaps to be identified with the Edward Morgan who took a company over in August 1585 and was sharing its command four months later with David Powell. How long Morgan remained in the Netherlands is uncertain, but he was in England by the summer of 1591, when he took a company of 150 men from Lincoln to Normandy as part of Essex’s expedition against the Spaniards in Brittany. From this mission Morgan had returned by late September, and in an account compiled two months later he is shown as having earned payment at the standard rate of 6s. 8d. a day for ten weeks. In the autumn of 1593, he was commanding 150 foot-soldiers in Jersey. By September 1594 he was back in the Netherlands, this time as a captain in the Flushing garrison under the governorship of Sir Robert Sidney; and he was to serve there (with an absence in the spring of 1596 and another in 1597 when, following an appeal to Essex for advancement, he went as sergeant-major of the Earl’s regiment on the Islands voyage) until the close of 1598. He was more than once charged with the governor’s letters, and in the spring of 1597 he escorted Lady Sidney from England to Flushing.2
Morgan’s experience of fighting with Essex made him eager to accompany the Earl to Ireland, and after another mission in charge of reinforcements to Normandy in May 1599 he joined the Irish expedition. If, as is probable, Essex knighted him at Dublin in August, he must have stood well with the lord deputy, and he may have been one of those who returned with Essex in September. He was certainly in England in April 1600, and the marriage with Margaret Fortescue of which he then wrote to Cecil is likely to have taken place after his return. This union may help to explain why Morgan escaped being caught up in the Essex rebellion. It was to Cecil that he had looked for assistance over the disputed wardship of the eight year-old boy to whom, with four sisters, his marriage made him stepfather, and it was to the same source that he was to turn, in July 1601, with a request to be sent back to the Netherlands. It had earlier been reported that Morgan and others would give £300 each to be employed there.3
The application was not immediately successful, and in the autumn of 1601 Morgan made the first of his two appearances in the House of Commons. He was at this time living at Kensington, and proximity to Westminster may have strengthened his desire to sit. He owed his return for Wilton to the 3rd Earl of Pembroke, who was in disgrace during 1601 and did not himself attend the Parliament, though his control of Wilton was not affected. Morgan was presumably commended to Pembroke by Sir Robert Sidney, the Earl’s uncle.4
Morgan occupies a niche in the history of this Parliament by reason of his part in a privilege case. Midway in the session he and Goddard Pemberton, one of the citizens for Peterborough, were each served with a subpoena out of Chancery at the suit of the brothers Sir Walter and Sir Carew Ralegh. When on 24 Nov. Morgan reported this in the Commons, an order for privilege was made, and the two officers who had served the writs were taken into custody by the serjeant-at-arms. Three days later, with the prisoners waiting at the door of the House, the Speaker asked for direction as to what should be done with them. After some discussion, in the course of which a recent case of arrest was also ventilated, the two were brought to the bar. One of them, Christopher Kennall, who had served the writ on Morgan, declared that he had not then known Morgan to be a Member; he had himself, he said, sat in the House and had also served for 18 years in the wars, and he would not have wittingly offended. The other, William Mackerells, ‘a poor simple fellow’, could only stammer a similar plea in extenuation. As soon as the two had been removed, what might have swelled into an angry insistence upon exemplary punishment was quickly halted by Morgan himself. In a short speech which was ‘marvellous well liked of by the House’, and which could indeed serve as a model for all such occasions, he accepted Kennall’s plea and urged that ‘in regard of his person and good service done to her Majesty’ his offence might be ‘as freely remitted by the House as it is by me; and that it would please you all to reserve your justice to matters of greater importance’. This example of magnanimity prevailed over a ‘churlish’ demand by Pemberton for justice on Mackerells, and the two offenders escaped with the pains (and cost) of three days’ imprisonment by the serjeant. The episode could not but have further damaged the reputations of the Raleghs.5
The remainder of Edmund Morgan’s long career, which included more active service and Membership of another Parliament, lies outside the purview of this biography. He is first heard of as established in the neighbourhood of Penhow, between Newport and Chepstow, in 1613, and it was as of that place that he made his will on 18 June 1651. The absence of any reference to his wife and children suggests that he had outlived them, as he had his stepson, Francis Fortescue, who died in 1649. The will was proved 3 Feb. 1655, so that Morgan may well have been a nonagenarian.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Authors: A.H.D. / P. W. Hasler
- 1. Clark, Limbus, 317; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 357; HMC Hatfield, x. 112; Shaw, Knights, ii. 97, giving the name ‘Richard (Edward) Morgan’.
- 2. HMC Hatfield, iv. 377; vi. 494; xi. 296; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 155, 176, 214, 237, 269, 284, 286, 312, 323; iii. passim; iv. 161-3, 175, 265; APC, xxi. 233, 243, 467; Lansd. 149/49/263; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 221.
- 3. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 359-60, 487-8; HMC Hatfield, ix. 165; x. 112; xi. 296.
- 4. HMC Hatfield, xi. 296, 375-6.
- 5. D’Ewes, 651, 655-6.
- 6. Bradney, Mon. iv. 113; PCC 259 Aylett, 21 Pembroke.