Open main menu

MORGAN, Sir THOMAS (d. 1679?), soldier, second son of Robert Morgan of Llanrhymny (Clark, Limbus Patrum Morganice, p. 315), early sought his fortune as a soldier, and served in the Low Countries, and under Bernard of Saxe- Weimar in the thirty years' war (Aubrey, Lives of Eminent Men, Letters from the Bodleian, 1813, ii. 465). At what time he returned to take part in the English civil war is uncertain. Fairfax, recommending Morgan for a command in Ireland in October 1648, states that 'ever since the beginning of the first distractions' he had had 'constant experience of Colonel Morgan's fidelity 'to the parliament's service (Cary, Memorials of the Civil War, ii. 45). Major Morgan, described as expert in sieges, was in Fairfax's army in March 1644, and 'one Morgan, one of Sir Thomas his colonels, a little man, short and peremptory,' took part in the siege of Lathom House during that month (Fairfax Correspondence, iii. 83 ; Ormerod, Lancashire Civil War Tracts, p. 166). On 18 June 1645 Morgan, who is described as 'colonel of dragoons, late under the command of the Lord Fairfax,' was appointed by parliament governor of Gloucester, in succession to Sir Edward Massey [q. v.], made colonel of a regiment of foot (5 July), and commander-in-chief of the forces of the country (31 Oct.) (Lords' Journals, vii. 440, 478, 670). In October 1645 he took Chepstow Castle and Monmouth ({sc|Phillips}}, Civil War in Wales, ii. 279; Two Letters from Colonell Morgan, London, 1645). Next, in conjunction with Colonel Birch, he took part in the surprise of Hereford (18 Dec. 1645 ; cf. Two Letters sent by Colonell Morgan, London, 22 Dec. 1645). Though 'under great distemper' from an ague, he endured all the hardships of a winter campaign, and personally led the horse in the assault (Lords' Journals, viii. 59 ; Military Memoir of Colonel Birch, p. 26 ; Report on the Duke of Portland's MSS. i. 328). On 21 March 1646 the combined forces of Morgan, Birch, and Sir William Brereton defeated Sir Jacob Astley at Stow-in-the-Wold, thus routing the last army which the king had in the field (Lords' Journals, viii. 231 ; Memoir of Colonel Birch, p. 34 ; Vicars, Burning Bush, p. 398). In June and July 1646 Morgan was engaged in besieging Raglan Castle, which finally surrendered to Fairfax on 19 Aug. (Phillips, Civil War in Wales, ii. 314 ; Cary, Memorials, i. 84, 131, 147).

For the next few years Morgan's history is again obscure. On 17 June 1647 he was again recommended as governor of Gloucester, but seems to have been superseded in January 1648 by Sir William Constable (Col. State Papers, Dom. 1645-7, p. 563 ; Rushworth, Historical Collections, vu. 979). His application for an Irish command in October 1648 was without result (Gary, Memorials, ii. 45). In 1651 Morgan was in Scotland, and on 28 Aug. Monck requested Cromwell to 'send down a commission for Colonel Morgan to be colonel of the dragoons' (ib. ii. 347). Cromwell sent the commission, and for the next six years Morgan was Monck's most trusted coadjutor in the subjugation of Scotland, holding, for the latter part of the period, the rank of major-general in the army in Scotland. On 26 May 1652 Dunottar Castle surrendered to him after a siege of three weeks (Mackinnon, History of the Coldstream Guards, i. 48). On 19 June 1654 he defeated General Middleton at Lough Garry, thus striking a fatal blow at the rising headed by Middleton in the highlands (Mercurius Politicus, 27 June-3 Aug. 1654, 10-17 Aug.)

On 23 April 1657 Cromwell summoned Morgan from Scotland to take part in the expedition sentto the assistance of the French in Flanders. He was second in command to Sir John Reynolds, governor of Mardyke after its capture from the Spaniards, and practically commanded the English contingent after the death of Reynolds, though Lockhart nominally succeeded to the generalship. The reason for thus passing over Morgan was no doubt that, though he was well qualified to lead an army in the field, the relations between the allied armies required a general who was also a diplomatist. The narrative attributed to Morgan (printed in vol. i. of the 'Phoenix Britannicus,' a collection of tracts made by Morgan in 1732) claims all the successes of the campaign as his ; but his own letters are modest enough (Thurloe, vii. 217, 258). He was wounded in the storming of an outwork at the siege of St. Venant (Heath, Chronicle, p. 726).

At the battle of the Dunes (4 June 1658) Lockhart was present and commanded the English contingent, but more than one account represents Morgan as its real leader (Thurloe, vii. 155; Clarke, Life of James II, i. 347). After the capture of Dunkirk, Morgan with three English regiments continued to serve in Turenne's army, while the rest were left in garrison, and he was again slightly wounded at the taking of Ypres (Mercurlus Politicus, 17-24: June, 19-26 Aug. 1658). At the close of the campaign he returned to England, and was knighted by the protector, Richard Cromwell, on 25 Nov. 1658. His command in Scotland had been kept vacant, but illness delayed his return to it. In October 1659, when Monck declared against Lambert's expulsion of the parliament, Morgan was at York, where the gout had obliged him to halt on his way north. Monck was anxious for his assistance, but the letter which he sent him was intercepted by Colonel Robert Lilburne. Morgan was afraid that he would be stopped, but persuaded Lilburne and Lambert that he disapproved of Monck's proceedings, and they accordingly commissioned him to induce Monck to lay down his arms. He delivered his message, but at the same time told Monck that he meant to share his fortunes. 'You know,' he said, 'I am no statesman ; I am sure you are a lover of your country, and therefore I will join with you in all your actions, and submit to your prudence and judgment in the conduct of them.' Morgan's coming ' was a great accession to Monck's party, and a great encouragement to all the officers and soldiers ; for he was esteemed by them to be, next the general, a person of the best conduct of any then in arms in the three nations, having been nearly forty years in arms, and present in the greatest battles and sieges of Christendom for a great part of that time.' He was specially useful in the reorganisation of Monck's cavalry, which was the weak part of his army (Baker, Chronicle, ed. Phillips, 1670, pp. 688-90; Gumble, Life of Monck, p. 144; Price, Mystery of His Majesty's Restoration, ed. Maseres, p. 738). Morgan accompanied Monck in his march into England, but after the occupation of York was sent back to take the command of the forces left in Scotland. He played a conspicuous part in the celebration of the king's restoration at Edinburgh (19 June 1660), building an enormous bonfire at his door, and firing off Mons Meg with his own hand (Mercurius Publicus, 28 June-3 July 1660). His command in Scotland ended in December 1660, when the English regiments there were disbanded, but his services were rewarded by a baronetcy (1 Feb. 1661) and by the reversion of some beneficial leases in Herefordshire (Cal. State Papers, Dom., 1661-2, pp. 204, 384).

In 1665, during the war with Holland, a French attack on Jersey was feared, and Morgan was made governor of the island (20 Dec. 1665 ; for Morgan's instructions see Rawlimon MSS. A. 255, 25 ; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1665-6, pp. 110-19; Dalton, English Army Lists, i. 57). Morgan repaired the forts and reorganised the local militia. Falle, the contemporary historian of Jersey, gives him high praise for his vigilance and care. He 'would sit whole days on the carriage of a cannon hastening and encouraging the workmen.' But the discussions of the estates he found insufferably tedious, and would retire to smoke and walk about till they had finished (Account of Jersey, ed. Durell, pp. xxii, 141, 283). His correspondence with Lord Hatton during his government is in the British Museum (Additional MSS. 29552-7).

According to Burke's 'Extinct Baronetage' (ed. 1844, p. 369) Morgan died on 13 Aug. 1670, but Aubrey states that he died in 1679, and his correspondence with Hatton ends in 1678. Burke adds that Morgan married De la Riviere, daughter and heiress of Richard Cholmondley of Brame Hall, Yorkshire, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son, Sir John Morgan of Kinnersley Castle, Herefordshire. The dignity became extinct in 1767 with the death of the fourth baronet. Noble states that Morgan's commissions and other papers were in the possession of Thomas Glutton of Kinnersley, to whose family the estate had descended (House of Cromwell, ed. 1787, i. 448).

A portrait of Morgan, engraved by Guleston, is said by Bromley (Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits, p. 95) to be given in 'Phœnix Britannicus,' p. 532; but it is not in any of the three editions in the British Museum. After the taking of Dunkirk, Mazarin and others, says Aubrey, 'had a great mind to see this famous warrior. They gave him a visit, and whereas they thought to have found an Achillean or gigantic person, they saw a little man, not many degrees above a dwarf, sitting in a hut of turfs with his fellow soldiers, smoking a pipe about three inches, or neer so long, with a green hat-case on. He spake with a very exile tone, and cried out to the soldiers when angry with them, "Sirrah, I'll cleave your skull," as if the words had been prolated by an eunuch' (Letters from the Bodleian, ii. 465).

In 1699 a pamphlet of sixteen pages, quarto, was published as ' A True and Just Relation of Major-general Morgan's Progress in France and Flanders, with the 6,000 English in the years 1657 and 1658 ... as it was delivered by the General himself.' It was written by Morgan in 1675 at the request of Dr. Samuel Barrow, but its historical value is very doubtful (Godwin, History of the Commonwealth, iv. 547; Egerton MS. 2618, f. 127). It is reprinted in the 'Harleian Miscellany,' ed. Park, iii. 341. Some letters of Morgan's are among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library, and several printed letters are among the collection of pamphlets in the British Museum Library (cf. Catalogue, s. v. 'Morgan').

[Authorities mentioned in the article.]

C. H. F.