MORGAN, Thomas (1564-1645), of Graig Olwy, Llangyfiw, Mon., Michaelston Fedwy, Mon. and Rhiwperra Castle, Llanfihangel-y-fedw, Glam.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



2 June 1607

Family and Education

b. Oct. 1564,1 7th s. of Edmund Morgan (d. by 1595) of Penllwyn Sarph, Mynyddislwyn, Mon., being his 1st s. with his 3rd w. Elizabeth, da. of Richard Carne of Nash, Cowbridge, Glam. and wid. of Richard Gwyn.2 educ. ?Jesus, Oxf. 1584; M. Temple 1608.3 m. c.1586 Margaret, da. and h. of Rowland Lewis of Rhiwperra, 7s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (1 d.v.p.).4 kntd. 7 Aug. 1623.5 d.1645.6 sig. Th[omas] Morgan.

Offices Held

Steward to 2nd and 3rd earls of Pembroke by 1596-d.7

J.p. Mon. 1602-?d.;8 surveyor, royal estates south of the Trent 1603-10;9 commr. sewers, Som. 1603,10 enclosure, Gillingham Forest, Dorset;11 freeman, Wilton, Wilts. 1614-d.;12 collector (jt.), pretermitted customs, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb., Hull, Yorks., Ipswich, Suff. and Sandwich, Kent 1618-24;13 commr. subsidy, Glam. 1626,14 knighthood fines, Glam. and Mon. 1631;15 steward, Romney manor, Mon. by 1631-d.16

Gent. of privy chamber, king’s Household 1623-?d.17

Member, Mineral and Battery Co. 1622, asst. 1623, dep.-gov. 1623-c.39.18


Not to be confused with three contemporary namesakes - a steward to Robert Sidney†, 1st Viscount L’Isle; a servant to the attainted George Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham; and a former secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, who narrowly escaped execution in 1605 for conspiracy against the French king - Morgan was descended from the Machen branch of a prolific Glamorgan family whose ancestry predated the Conquest.19 Among the first tier of the county’s gentry, the Morgans were related to the Herbert earls of Pembroke, who secured the return of numerous family members to Parliament for constituencies in Wales, Monmouthshire and Wilton, Wiltshire.

As the seventh son (though the first by his father’s third marriage), Morgan’s inheritance was limited: he acquired a house in Graig Olwy and another at nearby Michaelston. His fortune derived from his marriage to the heiress of Rhiwperra, although he did not take possession of his wife’s inheritance until 1598.20 Following in the family tradition, Morgan entered the service of the earls of Pembroke by 1596, when a published survey of the earl’s Pembrokeshire estates was dedicated to him. He served as estate steward to Henry Herbert, the 2nd earl, and also to the latter’s sons William and Philip*, who succeeded as 3rd and 4th earls respectively.21 Earl William was largely responsible for Morgan’s acquisition of additional offices and land: in May 1603 Morgan was appointed surveyor of the royal forests south of the Trent, with a life annuity of £50; while in 1606 Pembroke granted him lands in Glamorgan, made him a trustee of Baynard’s Castle (the earl’s London house), and soon afterwards assigned Morgan and Edward Leech*, his secretary, his lease of alienation fines.22

Morgan was also involved with two larger ventures. In November 1618 he joined Edmund Nicholson in a 31-year lease of the pretermitted custom on cloth exported from four east coast ports. The Crown’s right to levy this duty was contested by Parliament in 1621 and 1624, when Sir Edward Coke* and solicitor-general (Sir) Robert Heath* argued that it was grounded upon the 1604 Tunnage and Poundage Act. Under examination, Nicholson asserted that he and Morgan received a pension of £1,000 p.a. for their work on behalf of the Crown, but on 19 Apr. 1624 their patent was quashed; Morgan was compensated with an annuity of £505 charged upon the farmers of the pretermitted customs, backdated to 1621.23 In 1621 Morgan joined the Mineral and Battery Works Company - doubtless at the nomination of Pembroke, one of the Company’s two governors. He was elected a deputy-governor in 1623, a few months after being knighted by King James during a royal visit to Wilton.24 Morgan’s profits from these enterprises allowed him to rebuild Rhiwperra as a substantial country seat in the Renaissance style, incorporating his family’s arms alongside those of Pembroke over the entrance.25 The grandly renamed Rhiwperra Castle and a new residence, the Red House in Cardiff, were rumoured to have cost £20,000.26

Pembroke, who owned the manor and had his main residence there, nominated Morgan for Wilton at seven parliamentary elections, beginning in June 1607, following the death of Pembroke’s former tutor, Hugh Sanford. An obscure figure, Morgan is never recorded to have spoken in the House, but was named to various committees. On 7 Mar. 1626 he was ordered to attend the conference with the Lords at which Pembroke and Archbishop Abbot justified the war with Spain.27 His interest in the pretermitted customs explains his nomination to bill committees concerning extortion by customs officials (10 Mar. and 7 May 1621), and the sealing of draperies (1 Apr. 1628).28 His connection to Pembroke and Wales explains his nomination to committees to consider a Chancery decree against Arnold Herbert* (10 May 1628 and 21 Feb. 1629), and bills concerned with the establishment of an almshouse in Monmouth (16 May 1614), the export of Welsh butter (6 Mar. 1626), and the repeal of a clause in the 1536 Act of Union which allowed the Crown to make law for Wales by Proclamation (6 Mar. 1624 and 19 May 1628).29

The majority of Morgan’s committee appointments, however, concerned bills in which neither he nor Pembroke had any significant interest. These included the rebuilding of Minehead harbour (added 1 Mar. 1610); a bill to confirm a long-defunct duty on Newcastle coal (29 Apr. 1624); three naturalizations (19 and 20 Mar. 1621, 8 May 1624); sales of private estates (Sir George Booth, 24 Mar. 1610; Sir Robert Wroth II*, 25 May 1614; Sir William Seymour*, 10 Mar. 1624; Sir William Somerville, 26 Apr. 1624);30 a Chancery decree against the master and fellows of Magdalene College, Cambridge (9 Mar. 1624); and confirmation of the manor of Sherborne, Dorset to Sir John Digby*, 1st earl of Bristol (23 May 1628).31 He was also nominated to several committees for bills of a legal nature: the removal of suits from inferior courts (20 Apr. 1621); the prevention of bribery (27 Apr. 1621); the making the estates of debtors liable to seizure (28 Apr. 1621); the prevention of forfeitures before attainder (23 Jan. 1629); the punishment of larceny (8 May 1624 and 25 June 1625); and the procuring of licences of alienation in the Exchequer (5 Mar. 1624).32

His lavish building activities apparently caused Morgan financial difficulties, as arrears on his annuity from the pretermitted customs drew anguished protests in 1635.33 In the same year Morgan’s eldest son, (Sir) Lewis*, died, while his second son, Philip, murdered a man who jilted his sister.34 Little is known about Morgan’s final years. He may have drafted a will on 20 June 1638, but if so it has not survived.35 Too old to take part in the Civil War himself, he died shortly before King Charles visited Rhiwperra on 27 July 1645, which was then held by his grandson and heir, Thomas; the compounding commissioners valued the family estates at £1,000 p.a.36

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Simon Healy


  • 1. G. Clark, Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae, 318.
  • 2. Ibid. 35, 317-8; G. Williams, Recovery, Reorientation and Reformation Wales c.1415-1642, p. 393; R. Lewis, ‘Breviat of Glam. 1596-1600’, (S. Wales and Mon. Rec. Soc. iii), 132.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss. i. 91.
  • 4. Clark, 318, 536.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 182.
  • 6. Wilts. RO, G25/1/21, f. 258.
  • 7. Lewis, 94.
  • 8. C181/1, f. 140v; C231/5, f. 257.
  • 9. SO3/2, unfol. (May 1603); CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 10, 642.
  • 10. C181/1, ff. 129, 170.
  • 11. J. Hutchins, Hist. and Antiqs. of Dorset, iii. 649.
  • 12. Wilts. RO, G25/1/21, f. 312.
  • 13. ‘Lowther 1624’, f. 53.
  • 14. E179/224/598.
  • 15. E178/5892, 5512.
  • 16. LR1/237, f. 120.
  • 17. LC3/1.
  • 18. BL, Loan ms 16/2, ff. 7v, 10v, 11, 87.
  • 19. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iii. 85; iv. 161, 265; HMC Hatfield, xiv. 289; xvi. 14, 193, 198; xvii. 53; J. Burke, Landed Gentry, iii. 255; J. Burke, Commoners, i. 222.
  • 20. J. Bradney, Hist. Mon. iii. pt. 2, p. 141; Al. Ox. (Sir Lewis Morgan); List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 257.
  • 21. Lewis, 94.
  • 22. SO3/3, unfol. May 1606; Lansd. 1217, f. 67v; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iii. 133; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 10, 319, 483, 642; Glam. Co. Hist. ed. G. Williams, iv. 41; Wilts. IPMs ed. G.S. and A.E. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 100.
  • 23. A. Friis, Alderman Cockayne’s Project, 434; CD 1621, ii. 75, 213; iv. 218; ‘Spring 1624’, f. 228; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 116, 158; SP16/180/17; E351/631, 712, 731, 763, 780-6, 791, 794.
  • 24. Wilts. RO, 2057/E1/1, f. 48; R.C. Hoare, Hist. Wilts. ‘Salisbury’, 337.
  • 25. RCHM Wales, iv. 454; Account of Duke of Beaufort’s Progress through Wales in 1684 ed. R. Banks, 358-9.
  • 26. Glam. Co. Hist. iv. 129; J. Phillips, Concise Hist. of Glam. 84.
  • 27. Procs. 1626, ii. 216.
  • 28. CJ, i. 611b, 877b.
  • 29. Ibid. 486a, 551b, 730a, 831a, 900a; Procs. 1626, ii.201; CD 1628, iii. 464.
  • 30. CJ, i. 414a , 490a, 562b, 563b, 681a, 694a, 700b, 775a.
  • 31. Ibid. 403a, 680a, 895a, 932a; CD 1628, iii. 355, 558.
  • 32. CJ, i. 583a, 595a, 595b, 678a, 700b, 922a; Procs. 1625, p. 245.
  • 33. CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 5.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 214.
  • 35. Clark, 318.
  • 36. Wilts. RO, G25/1/21, f. 258; Symonds Diary ed. C. Long (Cam. Soc. ser. 1. lxxiv), 212, 217; P. Moore, ‘Three Seventeenth-Cent. Travellers in Glam.’, Glam. Historian, vii. 15.