MORGAN, William (c.1640-80), of Tredegar of Machen, Mon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1640, 1st s. of Thomas Morgan, of Machen by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. and h. of Francis Wyndham of Sandhill Park, Bishop’s Lydeard, Som. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1656; G. Inn 1658. m. (1) 4 Nov. 1661, Blanche (d. 23 Mar. 1673), da. of William Morgan of Dderw, Brec. and h. to her bro. William, 4s. 1da.; (2) 4 Dec. 1675, Elizabeth, da. of William Lewis of Bletchington, Oxon. and coh. to her bro. Edward Lewis, wid. of Sir Francis Dayrell of Castle Camps, Cambs., s.p. suc. fa. 1664.1
Commr. for assessment, Mon. Jan. 1660-d., Glos. Sept. 1660-d., militia, Mon. Mar. 1660; j.p. Mon. Mar. 1660-d., Glos. 1665-d.; dep. lt. Mon. c. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for recusants, Mon. and Glos. 1675, inquiry, Forest of Dean 1679.2
Morgan’s ancestors had been seated at Tredegar since the 14th century, and first represented the county in 1588. Morgan’s father was regarded with suspicion by the Cavaliers as a creature of the Earl of Pembroke; he was arrested with Sir Trevor Williams at Abergavenny on 11 Sept. 1645, served on the county committee from 1647 and was returned at a by-election to the first Protectorate Parliament, but was marked as a commissioner on Roger Whitley’s list. Morgan himself appears on the list of proposed knights of the Royal Oak in recognition of his forwardness in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament; his estate, presumably in expectation, was put at £4,000 p.a. His wealth, together with his illustrious descent, made it no exaggeration to speak of him as a prince in his own country.3
Morgan continued to represent the county for the rest of his life, but he was not an active Member of the Convention. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges, and also took part in considering the breach of privilege in publishing parliamentary proceedings, the restoration of the dukedom of Somerset, in which his colleague Lord Herbert of Raglan (Charles Somerset) was vitally interested, and the defects in the poll bill; but he made no recorded speeches. On 27 Dec. 1660 he was sent to desire the Lords to facilitate business by sitting in the afternoon. He was re-elected in 1661 and included by Lord Wharton among the moderate men. But he was again inactive, being appointed to only 44 committees throughout the Cavalier Parliament. None of them was of much political significance, apart from the first committee to hinder the growth of Popery in 1663 and the committee to receive information about conventicles in 1669. No less than a quarter were elections committees, and another quarter were for private bills, including those promoted by the executors of Edward Lewis and by his brother-in-law Sir Trevor Williams, for which his consent was necessary. His first marriage brought him an important interest in Breconshire, and he was named to the committee for regulating manufactures of friezes and cottons in the county town.4
Morgan’s name first appears on lists of court supporters in 1675, when he received the government whip and promised to attend: ‘my weak endeavours shall not be wanting that the meeting prove a successful one’. Indeed Morgan’s support for the Court was sometimes over-enthusiastic; drinking the health of Secretary Williamson with Sir Edward Mansel not only cost him at least half a dozen bottles from his cellar, but laid him up ‘extreme ill of a violent fever’. Sir Richard Wiseman was confident of his very good affection to the King and Danby, and guessed that he might ‘prevail’ with Williams to vote with the Court. His name appears on the working lists of 1675-8, though he was noted as missing in one important debate, and it was even hoped that he might be induced to speak. On 5 Apr. 1677, he acted as teller against bringing in a bill to repeal the laws forbidding the import of Irish cattle. During the summer he entertained Williamson at Tredegar, and in return the secretary, always very kind to men from his own college, seems to have calmed down Morgan’s termagant wife, who had stormed off to London to complain to him of her husband, unable ‘to give his brisk spouse recreation’. Nevertheless he was sufficiently independent in the House to earn the rating of ‘doubly worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. Williamson’s friendship allowed Mansel and Morgan to present to the cabinet council their complaints about the turning of ‘several gentlemen of good note and condition’ out of the commissions of the peace in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, and on 9 Mar. 1678 a severe letter was written to Lord Herbert (now Marquess of Worcester), with whom Morgan was also at odds over the rights of his tenants to timber in Westwood chase. Perhaps Morgan celebrated this triumph a little too heartily, for on 7 May he found himself ‘unable to perform his duties in the House owing to a severe fever’. Williamson kept him in touch with the debates, and on 19 May Morgan wrote that he was
in much trouble to find things so much out of order as I hear by your proceedings in the House. I could wish moderation; I was always for it and ever shall be. I know no good of violent proceedings. Had I been able to attend, you should have found in me as good humour as formerly, and I shall always be to serve my king and friend.
Morgan’s name appeared on the government list of court supporters in 1678, and after the Popish Plot he was named to the committee to inquire into the French translation of the London Gazette, for which Williamson was censured.5
Perhaps because Morgan had opposed the reelection of Edward Progers for Breconshire, Shaftesbury rather surprisingly marked him as ‘worthy’ for the first Exclusion Parliament, in which he was moderately active, being appointed to five committees, including those for security against Popery and the prohibition of Irish cattle imports. But he did not speak, and was absent from the division on the exclusion bill. He escaped blacklisting in the ‘unanimous club’, and was re-elected unopposed; but on 28 May 1680, before Parliament met, Secretary Jenkins wrote: ‘Poor Mr William Morgan, the Monmouthshire Parliament man, died of a fever this afternoon. His Majesty has lost a very good subject.’ He was succeeded by his son, Thomas Morgan.6