Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Morgan, Abel

MORGAN, ABEL (1673–1722), baptist minister, was born in 1673 at Allt Goch, Llanwenog, Cardiganshire. At an early age he removed to Abergavenny or its neighbourhood, became member of the baptist church at Llanwenarth in that district, and when about nineteen began to preach. In 1697 he was called to the pastorate of the newly formed church of Blaenau Gwent (Aberystruth and Mynydd Islwyn), but did not accept the invitation until 1700. In 1711 he resolved to emigrate to America, having laboured in the interval with much success, if we may judge from the fact that four years after his departure his church numbered one thousand members. He bade farewell to his flock at a meeting held on 23 Aug.; on 28 Sept. he took ship at Bristol. The voyage was a long and stormy one, and in the course of it he lost his wife and son. Accompanied by his brother, Enoch Morgan, and his half-brother, Benjamin Griffith, he settled in Pennsylvania, where there was a numerous Welsh colony, and there exercised the office of baptist minister until his death in 1722. Crosby's 'History of the English Baptists' contains a letter from him, in which he describes the position of the sect in Pennsylvania in 1715 (i. 122-123).

Morgan is best known as the compiler of the first 'Concordance of the Welsh Bible.' This he left in manuscript at his death. It was not published until 1730, when Enoch Morgan and some other friends caused it to be printed at Philadelphia. The printers, as we learn from the title-page, were 'Samuel Keimer' [q. v.] and 'Dafydd Harry,' both well known from the 'Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.' It is a mistake, however, to suppose that Franklin himself worked at the book; for by this time he had left Keimer's printing-house, and was printing on his own account. The book was probably one of the last turned out by Keimer before he removed to Barbados. Morgan's 'Concordance' was the basis of the one published in 1773 by the Rev. Peter Williams, and now commonly used in Wales.

[Rees's Hist. of Protestant Nonconformity in Wales, 2nd edit. 1883, pp. 300, 301; Rowlands's Cambrian Bibliography, p. 356; cf. art. on Samuel Keimer.]

J. E. L.