MORGAN (formerly GOULD), Sir Charles, 2nd bt. (1760-1846), of Tredegar Park, Mon. and Pall Mall, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



6 Dec. 1787 - 1796
1796 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 4 Feb. 1760, 1st s. of Sir Charles Gould†, 1st bt., of Tredegar and Jane, da. of Thomas Morgan† of Tredegar. educ. Westminster 1771-4. m. 6 Apr. 1791, Mary Margaret, da. of Capt. George Stoney, RN, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.). Took name of Morgan 16 Nov. 1792 and suc. mother to Tredegar estate of her bro. John Morgan† 1797; fa. as 2nd bt. 6 Dec. 1806. d. 5 Dec. 1846.

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1777, lt. and capt. 1781, capt. and lt.-col. 1790, ret. 1792; lt.-col. commdt. Tredegar and Ruperra vol. inf. 1798; col. Mon. vols. 1803; lt.-col. commdt. W. Mon. militia 1818-d.

Dir. Equitable Assurance Co. 1804, pres. 1807.

Recorder, Newport 1807-35.


Morgan, according to one of his Monmouthshire critics, was ‘a handsome little man ... possessed of great power’, which he deployed solely to further his own dynastic interests.1 By 1820 the Dderw, Ruperra and Tredegar estates from which his political influence in the counties and boroughs of Brecon, Glamorgan and Monmouth derived were worth about £40,000 a year in rentals, revenue from coal and iron workings at his new town of Tredegar, and investments in the Brecon and Monmouth canal, Newport docks and turnpikes. He had supported these enterprises by promoting and scrutinizing local and private bills in the Commons, where he had generally supported Lord Liverpool’s ministry and opposed Catholic relief.2 He controlled the representation of Brecon, reserving it since 1806 for his sons, and chose to sit for Monmouthshire, making his interest in Monmouth’s contributory borough of Newport, where he was recorder, available to the lord lieutenant, the 6th duke of Beaufort, whose relations occupied the second Monmouthshire seat. He had failed, despite Beaufort’s assistance, to bring in his son and heir Charles Morgan Robinson Morgan* for Breconshire in 1818; and popular opposition to his family was also manifested in Brecon, which his second son George Gould Morgan represented, and in Monmouthshire, where Beaufort-Morgan co-operation was resented.3 In 1820 he adhered to the arrangement with Beaufort in Monmouthshire and its boroughs, returned George for Brecon, left Breconshire undisturbed, and came in unopposed.4 Differing from Beaufort in Glamorgan, Morgan and his brother-in-law, the industrialist Samuel Homfray, paraded with their tenants in support of the defeated sitting Member John Edwards* of Rheola.5 Turning down a requisition to Charles from an unnamed constituency, 13 Feb., he informed its conveyor, Sir John Nicholl*, that he looked forward to

leaving my son the county of Monmouth without an opposition, and my second son the borough of Brecon - an ambition beyond which I am by no means desirous of aspiring to; leaving my sons and daughters independent of seeking from administration.6

After the election Morgan was pressed to sign and support a strongly worded petition complaining of agricultural distress and the inadequate protection afforded by the corn laws, and his agents attended to the Great Forest of Brecon enclosure, and urged him to dine his supporters and create further freeholds in Monmouthshire, where ‘a regularly organized opposition’ threatened.7 He also devoted time early in the 1820 Parliament to securing a new house of correction for Usk and opposing legislation regulating steam engine emissions and clauses in the Western Union Canal bill that jeopardized his interests.8

He signed the Breconshire loyal address to the king, sponsored by Thomas Wood*, Lord Camden and Beaufort, when Queen Caroline’s cause attracted popular support in Brecon and Newport in January 1821, and voted against the censure motion criticizing government’s handling of the affair, 6 Feb.9 He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825 (having paired, 1 Mar. 1825), and inquiry into voting rights in parliamentary elections, 20 Feb. 1823.10 As requested at the meeting, he presented Monmouthshire’s petition for lower taxes and the abolition of ‘useless places’ to combat distress, 15 May 1822, but observed on doing so that the remedies sought would be ineffectual.11 He presented his constituents’ petitions against the Insolvent Debtors Act, 10 Mar., and truck payments, 23 May 1823; for the Rhumney railway and Dyffryn Llynfi tramroad bills, 4 Feb., 21 Mar. 1825, and for the abolition of West Indian slavery, 10 Feb. 1826. He confirmed his support for Beaufort at the October 1821 Monmouth dinner, presided annually over the Gwent Cambrian Society and Brecon eisteddfod, and remained a prominent patron of race meetings, Newport charities, the London Cymmrodorion and Tredegar cattle shows, which, like Thomas William Coke I’s* sheep shearings at Holkham, had a political dimension. Morgan’s large family served as his entourage, and he provided generous settlements for them, sanctioned by a private Act of 17 June 1824 enabling him to issue leases on property in Stepney, Middlesex.12 His business and industrial concerns prospered, but his right to claim ‘wharf money’ in Newport was disputed, and the 1826 Newport Improvement Act he steered through the Commons made him and his agent, the town clerk Thomas Prothero, targets of the vitriolic pen of the pamphleteer and future Chartist John Frost, who also criticized the sinecures held by Morgan’s brother-in-law, Rowley Lascelles of Catherel, and son-in-law, the 3rd Baron Rodney.13 Morgan had failed to secure government patronage for another son-in-law, Francis Miles Milman.14 The prospect of opposition to Tredegar evaporated before the dissolution in 1826. Breconshire, where Morgan had quarrelled with his local agent Hugh Bold, remained quiet, and he and George were returned unopposed.15

Morgan presented a petition for agricultural protection from some Monmouthshire landowners, 14 Feb., divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and presented his constituents’ petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 9 May, 6 June 1827. He was prosecuted that summer over gaming rights in Breconshire Great Forest, where he had exchanged allotments with Charles Kemeys Kemeys Tynte*; and the Rev. Thomas Vaughan Watkins of Penoyre disputed his claim to land in the borough of Brecon.16 His generosity at the Tredegar show and races and in clothing the poor in December 1827 was unsurpassed.17 He welcomed Peel’s return to the home office in the duke of Wellington’s coalition ministry in January 1828, and promised that ‘a government formed on the principles of Lord Liverpool’s will ever meet with the support of myself and family’.18 He presented numerous Monmouthshire petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 11, 18, 25 Feb., 1 Mar., but divided with ministers against the measure, 26 Feb.19 He presented and endorsed others for repeal of the 1827 Malt Act, 4, 7 Mar., and hostile to the friendly societies bill, 21 Apr., and Catholic relief, 6 May, which he voted against, 12 May 1828. As the patronage secretary Planta had predicted, Morgan’s diehard views remained unchanged when Wellington and Peel conceded emancipation in 1829, and he divided, 6, 18, 30 Mar., and presented petitions against it, 16 Mar. He voted against Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform proposals, 18 Feb., and presented a petition from John Hodder Moggeridge, the defeated candidate in Monmouth boroughs in 1820, against paying wages ‘in goods’, 4 Mar. 1830. He had failed to secure a Welsh judgeship on the Brecon circuit for his kinsman by marriage Sir William Owen in 1828, and afterwards allowed his name to be added to the list of Glamorgan magistrates favourable to the abolition of the Welsh court of great sessions. However, he held aloof from constituency meetings and Commons proceedings on the 1830 administration of justice bill by which the change was enacted.20 His opposition to the 1830 Monmouth canal bill left him at odds with Capel Hanbury Leigh of Pontypool and others who had supported him hitherto despite their political differences, but they posed no threat to his return at the general election that summer, when, as arranged in 1829, he substituted Charles for George as Member for Brecon.21

Ministers listed Morgan among their ‘friends’ in the new Parliament, but he was absent from the division on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He was granted two weeks’ leave because of illness in his family, 25 Nov., and was at Tredegar when rioting and incendiarism broke out there in December. He chaired a meeting at Newport, 6 Dec. 1830, ‘to adopt measures for the effectual preservation of the peace and property’; but the fixed wage of 8s. a week he introduced for his workers failed to please, and a local campaign for lower taxes, universal suffrage, fair and equal representation and shorter parliaments gathered momentum. He was also taken to task by Frost, who claimed that he had everything to gain and nothing to lose by supporting reform.22 Meetings in Breconshire and Monmouthshire, where arrangements to field reform candidates were already in place, passed resolutions thanking Morgan and his son for dividing for the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar. 1831. Morgan protested when the Staffordshire reform petition was presented, 19 Apr., that its sole signatory, the marquess of Cleveland, a political turncoat, was guilty of corrupt borough management, and his vote that day for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment put a severe tussle between him and Lord Granville Somerset for the second Monmouthshire seat in prospect. Morgan was 72, and, after establishing that Charles did not wish to take his place, he decided to stand down at the dissolution rather than risk the ignominy of defeat.23 ‘Very much mortified at ... the ingratitude of the county gentlemen’ and his own inability to rally support through the local press, he announced his retirement, 20 Apr. 1831, and dismissed Prothero, whom Charles had long mistrusted and who now backed the reformers.24

Morgan returned Charles for Brecon in 1831, giving his interests in Monmouth Boroughs and Breconshire to the anti-reformers Lord Worcester* and Wood. He was fêted on his return to Tredegar in July and dined by his supporters.25 Addressing him, Prothero’s legal partner, the Newport attorney and reformer Thomas Phillips, stated:

We are afraid if in future Parliaments gentlemen like yourself should either be drawn from their seats or through distaste or disgust on their part retire from the ... Commons, then that House will more resemble the French convention, or a House of republican delegates than the high and independent branch of the legislature which in spite of all that has been said to the contrary we maintain to have been the chief glory of our constitution and the admiration and envy of the world.26

Morgan refused to stand for Parliament again. Business interests, including the Risca Level dispute (a long and costly case concerning mineral rights that he pursued against Prothero) preoccupied him; and he also sponsored a new race course and paid regular visits to Brecon, where Charles was defeated in 1832 but returned as a Conservative in 1835. The difficult task of canvassing Newport was delegated to his son Charles Augustus Morgan, rector of Machen and future dean of Llandaff.27 He refused to allow his sons to contest Glamorgan, but he co-operated with Lord Bute in the establishment of the Conservative Glamorgan, Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian, and delighted in the success of his fourth son Charles Octavius Swinnerton Morgan (1803-88) in recapturing the second Monmouthshire seat in an 1841 by-election coup.28 Morgan died at Tredegar in December 1846, after receiving the last rites from Charles Augustus, and was buried in the family vault at Bassaleg and commemorated by a bronze statue in Tredegar Park.29 His estates and baronetcy passed to Charles and, as he had willed, a family settlement of 1844 was perpetuated.30

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. J. Frost, Letter to Sir Charles Morgan (1821), 1.
  • 2. D. Williams, John Frost (1939), 21; Wraxall Mems. ed. H.B. Wheately, v. 328-30; NLW, Tredegar Park mss 191, passim.; NLW, Tredegar mss 45/1445-77, 1510; J.B. Hilling, ‘Britain’s First Planned Industrial Town? The Development of Tredegar, 1800-1820’, Gwent Local Hist. xciv (2003), 55-76; HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 46.
  • 3. W.T. Morgan, ‘Mon. Elections’, NLWJ, x (1957), 170-4; Tredegar mss 45/1478; 121/852-4.
  • 4. Tredegar mss 45/1506-7; 135/764-7, 775, 778; Bristol Mercury, 21 Feb., 20 Mar. 1820.
  • 5. Tredegar mss 135/765-9, 773, 803; NLW, Bute mss L63/22; NLW, Penrice and Margam mss 10223, 10226, 10232-3, 10240; H.M. Williams, ‘Geographic Distribution of Pol. Opinion in Glam. Parl. Elections, 1820-1950’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1951), 21-23.
  • 6. Tredegar mss 135/771.
  • 7. Ibid. 45/1457, 1497, 1516-17; 135/782-3, 795.
  • 8. Ibid. 45/1497, 1520; M. Elsas, Iron in the Making, 216.
  • 9. Tredegar mss 141/1-6; NLW, Maybery mss 6545, 6919; Seren Gomer, iii (1820), 383, 387; iv (1821), 28-29; The Times, 27 Dec. 1820; Courier, 31 Jan. 1821.
  • 10. Seren Gomer, v (1822), 187; The Times, 4 Mar. 1825.
  • 11. The Times, 16 May; Bristol Mercury, 18 May 1822.
  • 12. Bristol Mercury, 20 Oct. 1821; Seren Gomer, iv (1821), 374; v (1822), 187, 346-9; Tredegar mss 20/34; 57/35, 37, 42, 48-53, 58-60, 451; 72/134; Cambrian, 16 Oct. 1824, 1, 8 Oct. 1825; LJ, lvi. 211, 301, 364, 372, 426; CJ, lxxix. 476, 488, 497, 504; lxxx. 229, 282, 518.
  • 13. Tredegar mss 57/43; 84/3, 19-20, 228-31; D. Williams, 21-56; Frost, passim; NLW ms 17104 D (Llangibby Castle Letters, f. 7), A.M. Hawkins to T. Cooke, 24 June 1826; CJ, lxxxi. 10, 17, 29, 39, 40, 92, 109, 118, 165, 198.
  • 14. Add. 40383, ff. 325, 329.
  • 15. Tredegar mss 57/44-47, 68; Cambrian, 3, 10, 17 June 1826.
  • 16. Tredegar mss 124/106, 302; 146/101-4; Glam. RO D/DKT/232, 246, 251.
  • 17. Cambrian, 12 Jan. 1828.
  • 18. Add. 40395, f. 91.
  • 19. Cambrian, 16 Feb. 1828.
  • 20. Wellington mss WP1/928/2; 943/8; PP (1829), ix. 387.
  • 21. Bute mss L73/43; Hereford Jnl. 30 Sept., 7 Oct. 1829; Cambrian, 3, 10 Oct. 1829, 16 Jan. 1830.
  • 22. D. Williams, 60-62; Mon. Merlin, 11, 18, 25 Dec. 1830, 12 Feb.; Cambrian, 21 Jan. 1831; Frost, A Christmas Box to Sir Charles Morgan (1833), passim.
  • 23. Cambrian, 19 Mar., 16 Apr.; Hereford Jnl. 23 Mar.; Mon. Merlin, 26 Mar., 2, 9 Apr. 1831; Bute mss L74/34; Morgan, NLWJ, x. 176-7.
  • 24. Tredegar mss 1/205-6; C. Williams, ‘The Great Hero of the Newport Rising: Thomas Philips, Reform and Chartism’, WHR, xxi (2003), 488-92; Cambrian, 9 July 1831.
  • 25. Tredegar mss 1/205-6; Cambrian, 9 July 1831.
  • 26. Tredegar mss 1/204.
  • 27. Ibid. 24/121-6; 84/210-13; 137/346-64; M. Cragoe, Culture, Politics, and National Identity in Wales, 1832-1886, pp. 51, 53; Mon. Merlin, 8 Oct. 1831, 31 Mar., 4, 11 Aug., 6 Oct., 1 Dec. 1832.
  • 28. Cardiff Pub. Lib. Bute estate letterbks. iii. 36; Bute mss L75/101, 122; Tredegar mss 84/810-29; Cragoe, 17-18.
  • 29. Mon. Merlin, 12, 19 Dec. 1846, 15 Jan. 1847; Tredegar mss 86/20-21.
  • 30. PROB 11/2049/56; IR26/1777/36.