MORGAN, Henry I, of Bassaleg, Mon. and Cardiff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

5th s. of John Morgan of Bassaleg by either his 1st w. Anne, da. of Lewis ap John of Baglan or his 2nd w. Maud, da. of Richard Jenkins of Llanowen. m. Mary, da. and h. of William Robin, at least 2s.1

Offices Held

Customer and collector of Cardiff to at least 1597; ?commr. piracy by 1577.2


There can be no certainty as to which of the numerous Henry Morgans of south-eastern Wales was the 1571 MP. It seems likely, however, that he was the man who held the position of customer of the port of Cardiff for many years. Research into the origins of the customer’s brother, Thomas Morgan, the Catholic conspirator and secretary to Mary Queen of Scots, has shown that they almost certainly came from the Bassaleg branch of the Morgan family of Machen. This being so, Thomas and Henry were first cousins of Thomas Morgan II, MP for Monmouthshire in 1589. Henry probably owed his position at Cardiff, as well as his return to Parliament, to the earls of Pembroke.3

The activities of Thomas Morgan, and of another brother Rowland, who had been converted to Catholicism and sent on the English mission from Rheims in 1582, brought Henry under suspicion at about the time of the Parry and Babington plots. One of his neighbours in south Wales told the authorities that he had harboured Rowland, now a priest, and had conveyed ‘moneys yearly beyond the seas’. As a result of this and other accusations, Henry was examined by Edward Flowerdew. He maintained that he had received no letters from Thomas ‘tending either to the hurt of her Majesty or danger of the state’. He agreed that he had sent £40 or £50 overseas for Rowland’s education, but had refused to pass on letters from Thomas seeking financial help from a number of prominent Welshmen. On this occasion, he must have cleared himself, but he may have spent a short time in the Gatehouse prison in the summer of 1586. Thomas, in recommending Henry to Mary Queen of Scots, claimed that he ‘hath lovingly remembered me in this banishment’, and he was still trying to communicate with him in 1590. Still, there is no evidence that Henry was himself a Catholic: indeed he regretted that Rowland had been ‘perverted to popery’. One of his accusers claimed to be acting for ‘the good and quiet preservation of the state’, but he was in fact trying to acquire a lease of the manor of ‘Rompney’, Glamorganshire, which Thomas, fearing the forfeiture of his property, had conveyed to his brother. Henry, evidently, was allowed to retain the estate, for he renewed the lease for the lives of himself and two sons in 1591. He still held his position at Cardiff in 1597, after which year nothing is known of him.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. Clark, Limbus, 316; Trans. Cymmrod. Soc. 1900-1, pp. 124-7; Augmentations, ed. Lewis and Davies (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 455-6.
  • 2. J. Dawson, Commerce and Customs of Newport, 14; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 580; 1595-7, p. 371.
  • 3. Clark, Limbus, 316; Trans. Cymmrod Soc. loc. cit.; L. Hicks, An Elizabethan Problem, 5 and n. 5; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. iv), 139.
  • 4. SP12/178/64, 65, 66; Cath. Rec. Soc. ii. 267; CSP Scot. 1584-5, p. 608; HMC Hatfield, iv. 6-10; CSP Span. 1587-1603, pp. 565-9; H. Foley, Recs. of Eng. Prov. of Society of Jesus, vi. 14-15; L. Hicks, An Elizabethan Problem, 5, 91; Augmentations, 455-6; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 371.