MORGAN, Sir Matthew (b.c.1563), of Pencarn, Mon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1563, 3rd s. of Edward Morgan of Pencarn by Frances, da. of Ralph Leigh of London.1 prob. unm. Kntd. 1591.
Morgan came of fighting stock, a branch of the Morgans of Tredegar: his relative Thomas Morgan I—‘the warrior’, and governor of Bergen op Zoom—left him by will his suit of gilt armour; his younger brother Charles was ‘brought up to arms since ten years old’, and spent most of his life fighting abroad until his death in 1643. Morgan himself fought under Norris in the Low Countries before 1589, but he was recalled in that year to serve as a captain of horse in the Portuguese expedition. He was dangerously wounded (and knighted by the Earl of Essex) at the siege of Rouen in 1591, and continued to serve under Essex in the Normandy campaign of the following year until he was sent back to the Netherlands in 1593, and returned home in time for the Parliament.2
He had by this time become one of Essex’s most devoted henchmen, and his return for Brecon Boroughs in 1593 was part of the campaign of Essex’s Welsh steward Gelly Meyrick to build up an Essex ‘interest’ in Parliament from those South Wales constituencies where the name of Devereux and Meyrick’s own family influence counted. Meyrick’s fellow-steward Thomas Crompton II and four of Essex’s captains (Sir Conyers and Sir Nicholas Clifford, Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Thomas Baskerville) were all fellow-Members with Morgan for South Wales boroughs in this Parliament. For Morgan, a soldier of fortune, it was evidently something of a financial strain, but through the good offices of Meyrick he was able to borrow £300 from Thomas Myddelton, the London merchant, to see him through. In the House he sat—along with the county Member, Robert Knollys—on the committee concerning the recusancy laws (4 Apr.), but it would be rash to make from this any inferences as to his political or religious principles.3
In 1596 Morgan went with Essex on the Cadiz expedition, and he was called to account for his booty. If it was as modest as he alleged, he was certainly out-distanced by many of his fellow-captains. In 1597-8 he was campaigning in Flanders again in company with his ‘good friend’ Sir Robert Sidney (the future Earl of Leicester), who undertook his defence against the Queen’s unexplained displeasure. But his company was depleted for the Irish service, and eventually, after obtaining a minor commission at sea in 1598, he was given a colonelcy of foot under Essex in Ireland. He remained there till the end of 1599, apparently avoiding involvement in his patron’s treasons. Essex’s death, however, left him without employment and in desperate financial straits. Since 1598 he had been demanding arrears of pay running back several years. A Lincolnshire estate he had bought with his earnings was long since mortgaged to the hilt, and the £300 he borrowed in 1593, had grown by 1595 to more than £1,500. By 1602 he was hopelessly insolvent, and after this date nothing is heard of him.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Clark, Limbus, 326.
- 2. Clark, loc. cit.; HMC Hatfield, ix. 18; DWB, 640; HMC Ancaster, 246; APC, xvii. 116, 377, 392-3, 401; xviii. 63, 140; xix. 15, 72, 185; CSP Dom. 1591-4, pp. 200, 211, 283-4, 331-2; Lansd. 78, f. 138.
- 3. Neale, Commons, 238; Parlts. ii. 280-97; D’Ewes, 517; NLW, Chirk castle mss F. 12540, 122.
- 4. Lansd. 81, f. 184; 149, f. 31; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 273-4; HMC Hatfield, vii. 245, 335; viii. 26-7, 312, 340, 501; ix. 18, 145, 147, 331; NLW mss cit., 163, 164, 165, 185, 192, 193, 233; Eliz. Govt. and Soc. 277.