Morgan Surname Meaning, History & Origin
from Morgan Mwynfawr, the 8th century King of Gwent, and the Morgan
south Wales. Glamorgan accounted for 30
percent of all Morgans in Britain in the 19th century..
- Tredegar House. History of the Morgans
- The Morgan Family. Morgans of Llanrhymney
in North Carolina.
- The Morgan Society. Morgan
Select Morgan Ancestry
The surname traces
its origin from a powerful Welsh family, descended from Cadifor Fawr,
established around 1330 by Morgan ap Llewelyn who adopted Morgan as a
The Morgans of
Tredegar on the outskirts of
Newport date from this time. This family
was Lancastrian during the Wars of the Roses and Royalist during the
Civil War. William Morgan returned to
favor after the restoration and rebuilt Tredegar House to a grand scale. The family owned more than 40,000 acres in
Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, and Breconshire by the end of the 18th
There were subsidiary branches of the Tredegar family
at Llantarnam, Llanrhymney and various other places in Glamorgan and
Morgan of Llantarnam was involved in
to put Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne and had to flee the
a cadet branch of
came Sir Edward Morgan, Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica in 1661, and his
Morgan, the famous Caribbean pirate who was buried in
Morgans of Tredegar became prominent again for their role in the
industrialization of south Wales during the 19th century.
thanks to coal and iron ore development, became a boom town at that
time. The Morgan line continued into the
century with Evan Morgan, a true eccentric who kept a menagerie of
Tredegar House. The line finally died
out in 1951.
England. The Morgan name in England was mainly to be found in
the English border counties. Philip Morgan, for instance, was the
bishop of Worcester in 1419. Richard
Morgan, also of Welsh ancestry, represented Gloucester in the 1550’s
briefly Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
In more recent times, HFS (Harry) Morgan, the founder of the Morgan
came from a church family in Herefordshire.
Scotland. Morgan (derived
from the Gaelic word mor meaning “sea”)
was an Aberdeen clan of the 14th century that some believe became the
Strathnaver Mackay clan. The Morgan name
did subsequently spread along the east coast of Scotland.
Ireland. The Irish Morgan name may
have derived from
the Gaelic O’Muireagain. There were also Welsh
had settled in Ireland, notably the Morgans of Llantarnam in Kildare
Limerick. Morgans in Ireland today are mainly to be found in
Cork, Clare, and north Roscommon.
America. One early Morgan line in
America started with
Morgan from Llanrhymney who came to Essex county, Virginia
His descendants later moved to North
Thomas Morgan and his family settled
in 1718 into what was to become Morgantown in Berks county,
Pennsylvania. James Morgan was ironmaster
at the Durham
furnace in Bucks county and his son Daniel became one of Washington’s
in the Revolutionary War. George Morgan,
from another Welsh family in Pennsylvania, was an Indian agent for the
Continental Congress at this time.
Morgan, born in Carmarthen, had emigrated from Bristol to Boston in
1636. The Morgan family settled in Holyoke,
Massachusetts and became wealthy and successful – first through Joseph
then through his son J.S. Morgan, and finally and most emphatically
son, the American financier J.P. Morgan. A
later resident of Holyoke, William Morgan, invented the game of
volleyball in 1895.
Morgan, an English soldier, arrived in Nova Scotia in 1745. His descendants later settled to farm in
Morgans, mainly from Scotland, were to be found in
Newfoundland from the late 1700’s. Henry
Morgan from Fife came out to Quebec in 1844 and, a year later, opened
Morgan department store in Montreal. Store ownership remained with the
family until 1960.
Morgan Origins. Dr. T.J. Morgan, co-author of the 1985 book Welsh Surnames, has
warned of the dangers inherent in explaining the meaning of a name which was probably
in use for many centuries before the time of the first surviving Welsh manuscripts. However, with that caveat
in mind, he has suggested the following as to the origin of the Morgan name:
elements of Morgan can
be seen in the earliest spelling of Morcant. Mor
is probably from the Welsh word Mawr meaning
‘great’ and cant is ‘hundred’ with a
secondary meaning of ‘herd’ or ‘throng.’
‘Great throng,’ with the suggestion of a battle throng, seemed
been a typical wishful name to give to a boy.”
was probably in use from the 8th century. It
became Morgan in the medieval period. The
Morgans of Tredegar began using Morgan as a surname in the 1330’s.
The writer Theophilus Evans had thought that Morgan meant “sea born.”
But this was probably based on the mistaken
view that Morgan was derived from “mor-gen-i” (mor
being Welsh for “sea” and geni being “to give birth”).
The Morgans of Tredegar. The Morgans of Tredegar claimed descent from Cadifor
Fawr, lord of Cilsant, who had lived in the 11th century.
During their early history, they survived the
depredations against the Norman French knights, support for Owen
revolt against the English Crown, and the turmoils of the Wars of the
ap Ifor, Lord of St. Clere, had
married Angharad, the daughter and heiress of Sir Morgan ap Maredudd,
of Tredegar, in 1334. According to
Morgan pedigree of 1612, their son Morgan ap Llewelyn was responsible
adoption of Morgan as a fixed surname.
Thomas Wakeman in his notes on the pedigree pointed out that
was still alive in 1375 as he was a witness to a deed that year. But he was dead by 1387 as his son Llewellyn
ap Morgan stood in his place.
grandson Sir John Morgan was known as Y Marchog Tewor
“the Fat Knight,”
according to his bard Gwilym Tew or
the “Fat William.” He was said to have
made a journey to Jerusalem where he was made a Knight of the Holy
Sepulchre. He was a strong supporter of
Henry Tudor and ended up in his later years on the winning side at the
of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Sir Henry Morgan the Pirate. Much about the pirate Sir Henry Morgan has become
blurred by myth. Not even upon his
birthplace can the historians decide. He
was born in 1635 in either Penkarne in Monmouthshire or Llanrhymny in
Glamorgan. He is believed to have spent
his childhood in Wales. Two of his
uncles, Edward Morgan and Thomas Morgan, were army officers of some
although in opposing camps. During the Civil War Thomas was a Colonel
Royalist cause and his brother Edward was Major-General in Cromwell’s
How did Henry Morgan come to the Caribbean in
the first place?
version has it that he was “Barbadosed,” beaten over the head in
Bristol and on a ship the next day to America to be sold as an
laborer. Another version has him joining
up with General Venables’ troops in 1654 in their mission to attack the
Spaniards in the Caribbean.
expedition turned out to be a disaster.
But Henry stayed on in the area and 1662 saw him as Captain
charge of a ship that raided the Spanish settlement of Santiago de Cuba.
Thus began Morgan’s career
as a privateer. Two years later he
returned to Jamaica from his sorties against the Spanish with great
riches. He was to earn a reputation as
one of the most ruthless privateers among those active along the
Spanish Main and
in fact as one of the most notorious and successful pirates in history.
Morgans in Virginia and North Carolina. The forebear of these Morgans was John Dorian Morgan from the Llanrhymney Morgans in Glamorgan. He was born about 1648, the
youngest child of Edward Morgan. In the 1680’s he emigrated to Essex county, Virginia where he
settled with his wife Hannah. They had a
son named John Morgan who married Ann Barbee and settled on Occypacia
St. Ann parish in Essex county.
John’s death, Ann married Dr. Thomas Caruthers who then sold all her
rights. Ann moved to Onslow county in
North Carolina where she died. Her sons
had to start over in acquiring their own property.
Joseph became one of the first judges of
Onslow county, his brother William the county constable.
Another brother Nathan opened a trading post
in the wilderness, mostly trading with the Indians, and a fourth
brother Mark moved to Bladen county where he had bought land.
Morgan had a remarkable daughter named
Nancy. She defied the Tories during the Revolutionary War. She stood
tall and had flaming red hair. She was renowned for her marksmanship
musket. The neighboring Indians called her Wahatchee,
meaning “War Woman.”
The Morgans of Holyoke. Miles Morgan was an early settler of Springfield, Massachusetts and there is a bronze statue of him at Court Square in Holyoke. He had emigrated from Wales in
great grandson Captain Joseph Morgan fought against the French in the
1750’s and suffered a head wound during an attack on Fort William. He returned home and married Experience Smith
in 1765. They had one son and six
daughters. A Morgan family history
remarked about him:
“In character as well as in physique he was reckoned to be one of the
staunchest men in western Massachusetts.”
Captain’s great grandson was John
Pierpont Morgan, the famous financier.
He gave $10,000 towards the building of the Holyoke Public
donation he could well afford.
Harry Morgan and the Morgan Sports Car. When
he was born in 1881, HFS (Harry) Morgan was the
son and grandson of Anglican vicars from Herefordshire.
He chose not to pursue the pulpit and instead
set about on a career in engineering. He
worked first in the railways before meeting up with some early auto
emerged in 1909 was
the first Morgan sports car, a three-wheeler with the engine mounted
transversely at the front and a single rear wheel driven by a chain
clutches. These three-wheelers were to
Morgan for the next quarter-century, achieving success in both
racing and in hill climbs. Their first
four-wheeler was introduced in 1936.
Morgan died in 1959, leaving his son Peter to carry on the business. Morgan owners revere their cars the firm has
remained unflinchingly steadfast in hewing to tradition. The Morgan
Company is still located in Malvern Link, still builds traditionalist
cars by hand in tiny quantities (647 in 2007) – with most now destined
buyers. Among their enthusiasts, Morgans
are affectionately known as “Moggies.”
- Morgan ap Llewelyn in the 14th century was the first to adopt Morgan as a surname.
- William Morgan, bishop of
Llandaff, made the first translation
of the Bible into Welsh in 1588.
- Sir Henry Morgan was a notorious Welsh pirate on the Spanish Main in the 17th century.
- Justin Morgan pioneered the
Morgan horse breed in the
United States in 1789.
- Henry Morgan founded the first department store
in Canada, Henry Morgan, in the 1860’s.
- John Pierpoint Morgan the American financier whose House of Morgan dominated corporate finance at the
turn of the 20th century.
- HFS (Harry) Morgan founded the Morgan sports
car company in 1911 and was its Chairman until 1959.
- Cliff Morgan was a Welsh rugby
footballer of the 1950’s and later a TV rugby broadcaster.
Select Morgan Numbers Today
- 150,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 106,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 51,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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