Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Morgan, Thomas (d.1743)

MORGAN, THOMAS (d. 1743), deist, of Welsh origin, is said to have been a 'poor lad in a farmer's house' near Bridgwater, Somerset. He showed talents which induced a dissenting minister, John Moore (1642?–1717) [q. v.], to give him a free education, the cost of his living being provided by his friends. He became independent minister at Burton in Somerset, but was ordained by the presbyterian John Bowder [q. v.] at Frome in 1716, and was minister of a congregation at Marlborough, Wiltshire. He was decidedly orthodox at the time of his ordination, but was dismissed from the ministry soon after 1720 in consequence of his views. He took to the study of medicine, and describes himself as M.D. on the title-pages of his books in 1726 and afterwards. He first appeared as a writer during the controversy among the dissenters at the time of the Salters' Hall conference, on the anti-subscription side. He afterwards defended Boulay's theory as to the corruption of human nature against the early writings of Thomas Chubb [q. v.], and was much puzzled about freewill. He became a free-thinker, contributed some books to the latter part of the deist controversy, and described himself as a 'Christian deist.' He was opposed by Samuel Chandler [q. v.], John Chapman [q. v.], Thomas Chubb, Samuel Fancourt (1704–1784) [q. v.], John Leland (1691–1766) [q. v.], and other writers, but never obtained much notice. He died 'with a true Christian resignation' 14 Jan. 1742–3. Morgan married Mary, eldest daughter of Nathaniel Merriman, a prominent dissenter of Marlborough. By his wife, who survived him, he left an only son.

Morgan's writings are: 1. 'Philosophical Principles of Medicine,' 1725; 2nd edit., corrected, 1730. 2. ' A Collection of Tracts . . . occasioned by the late Trinitarian Controversy,' 1726. This includes the following reprints (dates of original publication are added) : ' The Nature and Consequences of Enthusiasm considered ... in a letter to Mr. Tong, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Reynolds' (four ministers who had supported the subscribing party at Salters' Hall), 1719; a defence of this against Samuel Fancourt's 'Certainty and Infallibility,' 1720; another defence against Fancourt's 'Enthusiasm Retorted,' 1722; 'The Absurdity of Opposing Faith to Reason,' against Thomas Bradbury [q. v.], another writer on the same controversy, whom he had also attacked in a postscript to his first tract, 1722; the 'Grounds and Principles of Christian Communion,' 1720; a 'Letter to Sir Richard Blackmore, in reply to his 'Modern Arians Unmasked,' 1721; a 'Refutation of ... Mr. Joseph Pyke,' author of an 'Impartial View,' with further remarks on Blackmore, 1722; a 'Letter to Dr. Waterland, occasioned by his late writings in defence of the Athanasian hypotheses,' 1722 (?); 'Enthusiasm in Distress,' an examination of ' Reflections upon Reason,' in a letter to Philileutherus Britannicus,' 1722, with two postscripts in 1723 and 1724. 3. 'A Letter to Mr. Thomas Chubb, occasioned by his "Vindication of Human Nature," ' 1727, followed by ' A Defence of Natural and Revealed Religion,' occasioned by Chubb's 'Scripture Evidence,' 1728 (in defence of the views of Robert Barclay [q. v.], the quaker apologist). 4. 'The Mechanical Practice of Physic,' 1735. 5. 'The Moral Philosopher, in a dialogue between Philalethes, a Christian Deist, and Theophanus, a Christian Jew ' [anon.], 1737; 2nd edit. 1738. A second volume, in answer to Leland and Chapman, by Philalethes appeared in 1739, and a third, against Leland and Lowman, in 1740. A fourth volume, called 'Physico Theology,' appeared in 1741. 6. 'Letter to Dr. Cheyne in defence of the "Mechanical Practice,"' 1738. 7. 'Vindication of the "Moral Philosopher,"' against S. Chandler, 1741. 8. 'The History of Joseph considered … by Philalethes,' in answer to S. Chandler, 1744.

[Protestant Dissenters' Mag. i. 258; Monthly Repository, 1818, p. 735; Gent. Mag. 1743, p. 51; Williams's Eminent Welshmen, p. 342; Sermon at the ordination of T. Morgan, by N. Billingsley, with Morgan's 'Confession of Faith,' 1717.]

L. S.