MORGAN, Sir Edmund (c.1561-c.1655), of The Savoy, London, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Westminster and Penhow Castle, Mon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1561,1 2nd s. of Henry Morgan of Llandaff, Glam. and Penllwyn Sarth, Mynyddislwyn, Mon. and Elinor, da. of John Morgan of Pencrûg, Mon.; bro. of Henry Morgan II†. m. c.1600, Margaret (d. Nov./Dec. 1628), da. of John Francis of Combe Florey, Som., wid. of William Fortescue (d. 29 Jan. 1599) of Preston, Devon, 2s. d.v.p.2 kntd. 5 Aug. 1599.3 d. by 3 Feb. 1655.4 sig. Edmond Morgan.
J.p. Mon. 1604-c.46;7 dep. v. adm. Hants by 1613;8 commr. subsidy, Mon. 1621-2, 1624, 1641,9 public money retained in private hands 1626,10 Forced Loan 1626-7,11 charitable uses 1629,12 oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1629, 1630,13 knighthood fines, Mon. 1631-2,14 repair of St. Paul’s cathedral 1635-8,15 Irish aid 1641, Poll Tax 1641,16 assessment (roy.), Glam. 1643.17
Sir Edmund Morgan was descended from one of the numerous branches of the Morgan dynasty which wielded great political power in Monmouthshire, and he proudly proclaimed that his family was derived from the ‘ancient house and family of Tredegar and Machen’.18 An active soldier under Elizabeth, Morgan enjoyed close ties with Sir Robert Sidney† and the 2nd earl of Essex.19 He was not implicated in the 2nd earl’s rising in 1601, but the pacific foreign policy pursued by James I from 1603 deprived military men like Morgan of a career in England.
Morgan married the widow of a Devon gentleman in around 1600 and became involved in a lengthy court battle with the brothers of his wife’s first husband, who claimed annuities from her jointure lands.20 Dame Margaret’s son by her first marriage became Morgan’s ward, but he sued out his livery and attempted to gain control of the manor house of Barton, Devon, which he claimed his stepfather had allowed to fall into disrepair.21 Morgan was, it seems, sparing where money was concerned, as was demonstrated by a case he brought against Sir John Sammes* in 1617. Morgan claimed that Sammes had failed to pay a modest sum for clothes sold to him 18 years previously, to which Sammes retorted that he admired Morgan’s powers of recall but wondered why he had not simply requested payment personally ‘without bringing themselves upon the stage for rags and rubbish’.22
Morgan’s first son was born in Kensington in 1602. The child’s godparents testify to the powerful political contacts that Morgan had forged under Elizabeth: William Herbert, 3rd earl of Pembroke, Henry Somerset (later 5th earl of Worcester) and Barbara, wife of Sir Robert Sidney.23 Morgan cultivated his affiliation with Pembroke (who had doubtless secured his return to the Commons for Wilton in 1601), becoming his deputy in the captaincy of Portsmouth and arousing deep concern among the corporation officials when he forcefully invoked the earl’s authority over them.24
As a younger son, Morgan had not inherited lands from his family’s Penllwyn Sarth estate. He lived in and around London during the Jacobean period, but acquired a lease of the manor of Penhow, Monmouthshire from Sir Henry Billingsley*, at a rent of £90 p.a. After Billingsley’s death in 1606, he attempted to escape his rent charges by claiming encumbrances on the property, but Billingsley’s heirs and the manor’s new owner, Bishop Theophilus Field of Llandaff, obtained a decree for payment of arrears and an order that Morgan keep his properties ‘in good and sufficient reparations.’25
The lease of Penhow was sufficient to secure Morgan a place on the Monmouthshire county bench in 1604.26 This, and his strong family connections, fortified by his own aristocratic contacts, proved sufficient to ensure his return as one of the knights of the shire in 1621. His military background may have played some part in his decision to attend an assembly which met amidst the diplomatic crisis caused by the invasion of the Palatinate by Spanish forces. Certainly, his first speech, on 13 Feb., concerned the licence granted to Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, to export iron ordnance. Wary of challenging James’s prerogative of granting export licences, he counselled that Members ‘ought to [be] tender [of] His Majesty’s honour, therefore it [is] not fit to press too far’.27 The next day, perhaps speaking on behalf of Monmouth’s new free school, he requested that free schools be included in a bill for encouraging works of charity.28 Morgan’s only nomination was to a committee to consider the misgovernment of Ireland (26 Apr.), where he had experience as a soldier under Elizabeth. However, before this body was able to assemble the king forbade all discussion of Irish affairs.29
Morgan continued to be active in local administration after 1621, but made little impact on the political scene. Apparently neutral during the Civil War, his nomination as a royalist commissioner of assessment may have been speculative, although in 1651 he claimed that parliamentarian troops had expelled him by the ‘strong hand and mere violence’ from the Penhow estate he leased from the bishop of Llandaff.30 Certainly he avoided sequestration, shielded perhaps by his niece’s husband, Henry Walter, whom Morgan made one of his executors and who may have been the itinerant puritan evangelist and ‘approver’ of ministers named in the Act for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales (1650).31
‘Weak and feeble in body’ and approaching his ninetieth year when he composed his will in June 1651, Morgan seems to have outlived his sons. In an earlier lease he conveyed his freehold properties in Penhow and other parishes in the south-east of the county to his nephew, Edmund Morgan of Penllwyn Sarth.32 Consequently, he made only limited bequests in his will, including £20 to a female cousin who may have nursed him in his old age. He appointed Henry Walter and his nephew, Edmund Morgan, executors of his will, which was proved on 3 Feb. 1655.33
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Lloyd Bowen
- 1. He claimed to be ‘near 90’ in a petition of c.1651: NLW, Tredegar Park 53/3; C8/101/153.
- 2. J.A. Bradney, Hist. Mon. ed. M. Gray (S. Wales and Mon. Rec. Soc. viii), 135; G.T. Clark, Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae, 317; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 357; HMC Hatfield, x. 112; C2/Jas.I/M3/52; 2/Chas.I/M32/52.
- 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 97, as ‘Richard (Edward) Morgan.’
- 4. PROB 11/247, f. 385v.
- 5. Lansd. 149, f. 49v; SP84/50, f. 191; 84/54, f. 101; 78/26, ff. 19-20; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 214, 359-60; HMC Hatfield, xi. 296; REQ 2/424/108; APC, 1591, p. 233; 1592-3, p. 239.
- 6. Add. 31825, f. 33; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 191; E351/3583.
- 7. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 351-9.
- 8. HCA 14/41, ff. 306, 308.
- 9. C212/22/21, 23; SR, v. 64, 79.
- 10. APC, 1626, pp. 113-14.
- 11. C193/12/2, f. 36.
- 12. C93/11/20.
- 13. C181/3, f. 260v; 181/4, f. 43v
- 14. E178/5512, ff. 9, 14, 19.
- 15. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 49v; HEHL, EL7420.
- 16. SR, v. 141, 153.
- 17. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 49.
- 18. C2/Chas.I/M67/15.
- 19. HMC Bath, v. 260.
- 20. C2/Jas.I/M3/8, 52; C2/Chas.I/M80/125; C78/319/11.
- 21. C2/Chas.I/M82/126; C78/226/13; WARD 9/528, f. 37v.
- 22. REQ 2/424/108.
- 23. D. Lysons, Environs, iii. 196.
- 24. HMC Hatfield, xxi. 191.
- 25. C2/Chas.I/S24/21; 2/Chas.I/S117/25; 2/Chas.I/M82/111; 2/Chas.I/M56/63; 2/Chas.I/M27/51; C78/407/4; STAC 8/257/12, f. 2.
- 26. C2/Jas.I/M12/35.
- 27. CJ, i. 519b; CD1621, ii. 70; R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, pp. 39-40.
- 28. CD1621, ii. 79.
- 29. CJ, i. 593a, 598a, 600b.
- 30. C8/101/153; NLW, Tredegar Park 53/3.
- 31. DWB (Henry Walter).
- 32. NLW, Tredegar Park 91/149.
- 33. PROB 11/247, f. 385r-v.