Morgan, Henry (1635-1688) (DNB00)
MORGAN, Sir HENRY (1635?–1688), buccaneer, lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, eldest son of Robert Morgan of Llanrhvmny, Glamorganshire,was born about 1635 (Clark, Limbus Patrum Morganiæ, p. 315). While still a mere lad he is said to have been kidnapped at Bristol and sold as a servant at Barbados, whence, on the expiration of his time, he found his way to Jamaica and joined the buccaneers. His uncle, Colonel Edward Morgan, went out as lieutenant-governor of Jamaica in 1664 (ib. ff. 189-90), and died in the attack on St. Eustatius, in July 1665 (Cal. State Papers, America and West Indies, 10 May 1664, No. 739 ; 23 Aug., 16 Nov. 1665, Nos. 1042, 1085, 1088). But Henry Morgan had no command in this expedition; and although the presence of at least three Morgans in the West Indies at Morgan the time renders identification difficult, it is possible that he was the Captain Morgan who, having commanded a privateer from the beginning of 1663, was, in January 1665, associated with John Morris and Jackman in their expedition up the river Tabasco in the Bay of Campeachy, when they took and plundered Vildemos; after which, returning eastwards, they crossed the Bay of Honduras, took Truxillo, and further south, went up the San Juan river in canoes as far as Lake Nicaragua, landed near Granada, which they sacked, and came away after overturning the guns and sinking the boats (ib. 1 March 1666, No.J1142). This appears the more probable, as the later career of John Morris was closely connected with that of Henry Morgan (ib. 7 Sept. 1668, No. 1838 ; 12 Oct. 1670, No. 293).
After the death of Colonel Edward Morgan, the governor of Jamaica, Sir Thomas Modyford [q. v.], commissioned a noted buccaneer, Edward Mansfield, to undertake the capture of Curaçoa, early in 1666. In that expedition Henry Morgan is first mentioned" as commanding a ship, and he was with Mansfield when he seized the island of Providence or Santa Catalina, which the Spaniards had taken from the English in 1641. Leaving a small garrison in the island, Mansfield returned to Jamaica on 12 June (ib. 16 June 1666, No. 1216), but shortly afterwards, falling into the hands of the Spaniards, he was put to death (ib. No. 1827), and the buccaneers elected Morgan to be their 'admiral.' Santa Catalina was retaken by the Spaniards in August 1666. In the beginning of 1668 Morgan was directed by Modyford to levy a sufficient force and take some Spanish prisoners, so as to find out their intentions respecting a rumoured plan for the invasion of Jamaica. Morgan accordingly got together some ten ships with about five hundred men, at a rendezvous on the south side of Cuba, near the mouth of the San Pedro river. There, finding that the people had fled, and had driven all the cattle away, they marched inland to Puerto Principe, which, owing to its distance from the coast, had hitherto escaped such visits. The people mustered for the defence, but were quickly overpowered. The town was taken and plundered, but was not burnt on payment of a ransom of a thousand beeves, and Morgan was able to send Modyford word that considerable forces had been levied for an expedition against Jamaica.
Morgan himself, with his little fleet, sailed towards the mainland and resolved to attempt Porto Bello, where not only were levies for the attack on Jamaica being made, but where, it was said, several Englishmen were confined in the dungeons of the castle, and among them, according to popular rumour, Prince Maurice. The French who were with him refused to join in the attack, which seemed too hazardous; but on 26 June Morgan, leaving his ships some distance to the westward, rowed along the coast with twenty-three canoes, and landed about three o'clock next morning. The place was defended by three forts, the first of which was carried at once by escalade, and the garrison put to the sword. The second, to which the Spanish governor had retreated, offered a more obstinate resistance; but Morgan had a dozen or more ladders hastily made, so broad that three or four men could mount abreast. These he compelled the priests and nuns whom he had captured to carry up and plant against the walls of the castle; and though the governor did not scruple to shoot down the bearers, Morgan found plenty more to supply the place of the killed. The castle was stormed, though the stubborn resistance continued till the governor, refusing quarter, was slain. Then the third fort surrendered, and the town was at the mercy of the buccaneers. It was utterly sacked. The most fiendish tortures were practised on the inhabitants to make them reveal where their treasure was hidden, and for fifteen days the place was given up to brutal riot and debauchery.
On the fifth day the president of Panama, at the head of three thousand men, attempted to drive the invaders out, but was rudely beaten back. A negotiation was then entered into, by the terms of which Morgan withdrew his men on the payment of a hundred thousand pieces of eight and three hundred negroes. According to the official report made at Jamaica by Morgan and his fellows—John Morris among the number—the town and castles were left 'in as good condition as they found them,' and the people were so well treated that 'several ladies of great quality and other prisoners who were offered their liberty to go to the president's camp refused, saying they were now prisoners to a person of quality, who was more tender of their honours than they doubted to find in the president's camp, and so voluntarily continued with them' till their departure (ib. 7 Sept. 1668, No. 1838). But the story as told by Exquemeling, himself one of the gang, and with no apparent reason for falsifying the facts, represents their conduct in a very different light (cf. ib. 9 Nov. '68, No. 1867). Exquemeling adds that the president of Panama, expressing his surprise that four hundred men without ordnance should have taken so strong a place, asked Morgan to send 'some small pattern of those arms wherewith he had taken so great a city.' Morgan sent a pistol and a few bullets, desiring him to keep them for a twelve-month, when he would come to Panama and fetch them away. To which the president replied with the gift of a gold ring and a request that he would 'not give himself the labour of coming to Panama.'
In August, when Morgan returned to Jamaica, Modyford received him somewhat doubtfully, not feeling quite sure how his achievement might be regarded in England. His commission, he told him, was only against ships. But in forwarding Morgan's narrative to the Duke of Albemarle, he insisted that the Spaniards fully intended to attack Jamaica, and urged the need of allowing the English there a free hand, until England's title to Jamaica was formally acknowledged by Spain (ib. 1 Oct. 1668, No. 1850)
The Porto Bello spoil was no sooner squandered than Modyford again gave Morgan a commission to carry on hostilities against the Spaniards. Morgan assembled a considerable force at Isle de la Vache (which in an English form is sometimes called Cow Island, and sometimes Isle of Ash), on the south side of Hispaniola, and seems to have ravaged the coast of Cuba. In January 1669 the largest of his ships, the Oxford frigate, was accidentally blown up during a drinking bout on board, Morgan and the officers, in the after part of the ship, alone escaping. It was afterwards resolved to attempt Maracaybo; but many of the captains, refusing to adopt the scheme, separated, leaving Morgan with barely five hundred men in eight ships, the largest of which carried only fourteen small guns.
With these, in March 1669, he forced the entrance into the lake, dismantled the fort which commanded it, sacked the town of Maracaybo which the inhabitants had deserted, scoured the woods, making many prisoners, who were cruelly tortured to make them show where their treasure was hid; and after three weeks it was determined to go on to Gibraltar, at the head of the lake. Here the scenes of cruelty and rapine, 'murders, robberies, rapes, and such-like insolencies,' were repeated for five weeks; when, gathering together their plunder, the privateers returned to Maracaybo. There they learned that three Spanish ships of war were off the entrance of the lake, and that they had manned and armed the fort, putting it 'into a very good posture of defence.' Morgan, apparently to gain time, entered into some futile negotiations with the Spanish admiral, Don Alonso del Campo y Espinosa; and meanwhile the privateers prepared a fireship, with which in company they went to look for the Spanish ships. At dawn on 1 May 1669 they found them within the entrance of the lake, in a position clear of the guns of the fort, and steered straight for them, as though to engage. The fireship, disguised as a ship of war, closed the admiral's ship—a ship of 40 guns—grappled and set her in a flame. She presently sank. The second, of 30 guns, in dismay ran herself on shore and was burnt by her own men. The third was captured. As no quarter was asked or given, the slaughter must have been very great, though several from the flagship, including Don Alonso, succeeded in reaching the shore. From a few who were made prisoners Morgan learned that the sunken ship had forty thousand-pieces of eight on board, of which he managed to recover fifteen thousand, besides a quantity of melted silver. Then, having refitted the prize and taken command of her himself, he reopened negotiations with Don Alonso, and was actually paid twenty thousand pieces of eight and five hundred head of cattle as a ransom for Maracaybo, but a pass for his fleet was refused. By an ingenious stratagem, however, Morgan led the Spaniards to believe that he was landing his men for an attack on the fort on the land side. They therefore moved their guns to that side, leaving the sea face almost unarmed. So in the night, with the ebb tide, he let his ships drop gently down till they were abreast the castle, when they quickly made good their escape.
On his return to Jamaica, Morgan was again reproved by Modyford for having exceeded his commission. But the Spaniards, on their side, were waging war according to their ability, capturing English ships, and ravaging the north coast of Jamaica. Provoked by such aggressions and by the copy of a commission from the queen regent of Spain, dated 20 April 1669, commanding her governors in the Indies to make open war against the English, the council of Jamaica ordered, and Modyford granted, a commission to Morgan, as 'commander-in-chief of all the ships of war' of Jamaica, to draw these into one fleet, and to put to sea for the security of the coast of the island; he was to seize and destroy all the enemy's vessels that came within his reach; to destroy stores and magazines laid up for the war; to land in the enemy's country as many of his men as he should judge needful, and with them to march to such places as these stores were collected in . The commission concluded with an order that 'as there is no other pay for the encouragement of the fleet, they shall have all the goods and merchandizes that shall be gotten in this expedition, to be divided amongst them, according to their rules' (ib. 29 July, 2 July 1670, Nos. 209, 211, 212; Present State of Jamaica, pp. 57-69).
Morgan sailed from Port Royal on 14 Aug. 1670, having appointed the Isle de la Vache as a rendezvous, from which, during the next three months, detached squadrons ravaged the coast of Cuba and the mainland of America, bringing in, more especially, provisions and intelligence. On 2 Dec. it was unanimously agreed, in a general meeting of the captains, thirty-seven in number, 'that it stands most for the good of Jamaica and safety of us all to take Panama, the president thereof having granted several commissions against the English.' Six days later they put to sea; on the 15th captured once again the island of Santa Catalina, whence a detachment of 470 men, commanded by a Colonel Bradley, was sent in advance to take the castle of Chagre. This was done in a few hours, in an exceedingly dashing manner; and Morgan bringing over the rest of his force, and securing his conquest, started up the river on 9 Jan. 1670-1, with fourteen hundred men, in seven ships and thirty-six boats. The next day the navigation of the river became impossible; so, leaving two hundred men in charge of the boats, the little army proceeded on foot. As the route was difficult, they carried no provisions, trusting to what they could plunder on the way. The Spaniards had carefully removed everything; but after many skirmishes and excessive sufferings, on the ninth day they crossed the summit of the ridge, saw the South Sea, and found an abundance of cattle. On the morning of the tenth day they advanced towards Panama. The Spaniards met them in the plain, with a well-appointed force of infantry and cavalry, to the number of about three thousand, some guns, and a vast herd of wild bulls, intended to break the English ranks and make the work of the cavalry easy. But many of the bulls were shot, and the rest, in a panic, turned back and trampled down the Spaniards, who, after a fight of some two hours' duration, threw down their arms and fled, leaving about six hundred dead on the field. The buccaneers had also lost heavily; but they advanced at once on the city, and by three o'clock in the afternoon were in quiet possession of it. It was, however, on fire, and was almost entirely burnt, whether, as Morgan asserted, by the Spaniards themselves; or, according to Exquemeling, by Morgan's orders; or, as is most probable, by some drunken English stragglers.
As a feat of irregular warfare, the enterprise has not been surpassed, though its brilliance is clouded by the cruelty of the victors a force levied without pay or discipline, and unchecked, if not encouraged in brutality by Morgan. But if we may credit Exquemeling, the invaders, owing to their drunkenness and dissolute indulgences, neglected to prevent the escape of a Spanish galeon, which put to sea, as soon as the Spaniards saw their men were defeated, with all that was of value in the town, including money and church plate, as well as many nuns. Much of the spoil was thus lost, and on 14 Feb. the bucneers began their backward march. On the 26th they arrived at Chagre, and there the plunder was divided, every man receiving his share, or rather, according to Exquemeling, 'what part thereof Captain Morgan pleased to give them.' This, he says, was no more than two hundred dollars per head. Much discontent followed, and the men believed themselves cheated. But Captain Morgan, deaf to all complaints, got secretly on board his own ship, and, followed by only three or four vessels of the fleet, returned to Jamaica. Several of those left behind, the French especially, 'had much ado to find sufficient provisions for their voyage to Jamaica.'
At Jamaica Morgan received the formal thanks of the governor and the council on 31 May. But meantime, on 8 July 1670, that is, after the signing of Morgan's commission, a treaty concerning America had been concluded at Madrid; and although the publication of this treaty was only ordered to be made in America within eight months from 10 Oct. (Cal State Papers, A. and W.I., 31 Dec. 1670, p. 146), and though in May 1671 Modyford had as yet no official knowledge of it (ib. No. 531), he was sent home a prisoner in the summer of 1671, to answer for his support of the buccaneers; and in April 1672 Morgan was also sent to England in the Welcome frigate (ib. No. 794). His disgrace, however, was short. By the summer of 1674 he was reported as in high favour with the king (ib. p. 623), and a few months later he was granted a commission, with the style of Colonel Henry Morgan, to be lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, 'his Majesty,' so it ran, 'reposing particular confidence in his loyalty, prudence and courage, and long experience of that colony' (ib. 6 Nov. 1674, No. 1379). He sailed from England, in company with Lord Vaughan, early in December, having previously, probably early in November, been knighted. His voyage out was unfortunate. 'In the Downs,' wrote Vaughan from Jamaica, on 23 May 1675, 'I gave him orders in writing to keep me company… However, he, coveting to be here before me, wilfully lost me,' and sailed directly for Isle de la Vache, where, through his folly, his ship was wrecked, and the stores which he had on board were lost (Dartmouth MSS., Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. pt. v. p. 25; cf. Bridge, Annals of Jamaica, i. 273).
For the rest of his life Morgan appears to have remained in Jamaica, a man of wealth and position, taking an active part in the affairs of the colony as lieutenant-governor, senior member of the council, and commander-in-chief of the forces. When Lord Vaughan was recalled, pending the arrival of the Earl of Carlisle, Morgan was for a few months acting governor, and again on Carlisle's return in 1680, till in 1682 he was relieved by Sir Thomas Lynch [q. v.] 'His inclination,' said the speaker in a formal address to the assembly on 21 July 1688, 'carried him on vigorously to his Majesty's service and this island's interest. His study and care was that there might be no murmuring, no complaining in our streets, no man in his property injured, or of his liberty restrained' (Journals of the Assembly of Jamaica, i. 121). About a month later Morgan died; he was buried at Port Royal, in St. Catherine's Church, on 26 Aug. 1688 (Add. MS. 27968, f. 29).
With very inadequate means Morgan accomplished a task—the reduction of Panama—which the great armament in the West Indies in 1741 feared even to attempt (cf. Vernon, Edward). Both in that expedition, and still more in his defeat of Don Alonso and his escape from the Lake of Maracaybo, his conduct as a leader seems even more remarkable than the reckless bravery of himself and his followers. By his enemies he was called a pirate, and if he had fallen into the hands of the Spaniards he would undoubtedly have experienced the fate of one. But no charge of indiscriminate robbery, such as was afterwards meant by piracy, was made against him. He attacked only recognised enemies, possibly Dutch or French, during the war, and certainly the Spaniards, with whom, as was agreed on both sides, 'there was no peace beyond the line,' a state of things which came to an end in 1671, when the Spaniards recognised our right to Jamaica and the navigation of West Indian waters. Moreover, all Morgan's acts were legalised by the commissions he held from the governor and council of Jamaica.
The brutality and cruelty which he permitted, or was unable to restrain, have unfortunately left a stain on his reputation; as also has his dishonesty in the distribution of the spoil among his followers (Cal. State Papers, A. and W.I., No. 580); 60l. per man for the sack of Porto Bello, 30l. as the results of the Maracaybo expedition (ib. 23 Aug. 1669, p. 39), or two hundred dollars for Panama, bear an unjustly small ratio to what must have been the total amount of the plunder (cf. ib. 6 April 1672, No. 798). Two engravings of Morgan are mentioned by Bromley one by F. H. van Hove, the other prefixed to the 'History of the Buccaneers,' 1685.
Morgan married, some time after 1665, his first cousin, Mary Elizabeth, second daughter and fourth child of Colonel Edward Morgan, who died at St. Eustatius (ib. 16 Nov. 1665, No. 1085; Add. MS. 27968, f. 45), but left no children. Lady Morgan died in 1696, and was buried, also in St. Catherine's, on 3 March (ib. f. 29). By his will (copy, ib. f. 14), dated 17 June 1688, sworn 14 Sept. 1688, Morgan left the bulk of his property to his 'very well and entirely beloved wife' for life, and after her death to Charles, son of Colonel Robert Byndlos or Bundless and of Anna Petronella, his wife's eldest sister, conditionally on his taking the name of Morgan.[Exquemeling's Buccaneers of America (1684), translated, through the Spanish, from the Dutch, and often reprinted wholly or in part (Adventure Series, 1891), forms the basis of all the popular accounts of Morgan. Exquemeling, himself a buccaneer who served under Morgan, and took part in some, if not all, of the achievements he describes, seems to be a perfectly honest witness. His dates are, indeed, very confused; but his accounts of such transactions as fell within the "scope of his knowledge agree very closely with the official narratives, "which, with much other interesting matter, may be found in the Calendars of State Papers, America and West Indies. They differ, indeed, as to the atrocities practised by the buccaneers; on which Exquemeling's evidence, even with some Spanish colouring, appears preferable to the necessarily biassed and partial narratives handed in by Morgan. Addit. MS. 27968 contains the account of many researches into Morgan's antecedents, though without reaching any definite conclusion. Other works are : The Present State of Jamaica, 1683; New History of Jamaica, 1740; History of Jamaica, 1774; Bridge's Annals of Jamaica; Journals of the Assembly of Jamaica, vol. i.]