Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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MORGAN , THOMAS ( 1720 - 1799 ), Independent minister ;

b. 7 Jan. 1720 at Dyffryn-uchaf near Groes-wen , Eglwysilan, Glam. — in 1783 he had a brother, Morgan Thomas , living at Gwerngeiwn , Pontypridd . He was converted by Howel Harris in 1738 or 1739 ; throughout his life he spoke highly of Harris , and for some years he mingled with the Methodists of his countryside, such as John Belcher and Thomas William of Eglwysilan (qq.v.). He joined ( 1739 ) the Independent church at Watford, Glam. , and began to preach ; we know that he preached at Marshfield, Mon. , in June 1741 . In Sept. 1741 , against the wish of Edmund Jones (q.v.) , he went to the school kept by Samuel Jones ( fl. 1715-64 ) (q.v.) at Llanddarog, Carms. ; but in Jan. 1743 moved to the grammar school kept by Samuel Thomas (q.v.) at Carmarthen ; on 19 Oct. he entered the Academy there at its re-opening by Evan Davies and Samuel Thomas . His diaries give us a lively picture of the Academy, at work and at play. Morgan was a hard worker, and became a sound scholar ; with Evan Davies he became very friendly, but never warmed to Thomas . He was still a Methodist , and would wander around to hear Harris and Rowland , Howel Davies , and Williams of Pantycelyn , when these happened to be in the neighbourhood. But he became increasingly critical — found flaws in Pantycelyn and even in Rowland as preachers , and foregathered more and more with Philip Pugh and Christmas Samuel (qq.v.); indeed, he had parted with Methodism by the time he left Carmarthen . Yet, despite his friendship with his Arian fellow-student, David Lloyd ( 1724 - 1779 ) (q.v.) , one cannot agree with Walter J. Evans (q.v.) that Morgan became an Arminian — a Calvinist , though a ‘low’ Calvinist , he remained throughout his life. But his scholarly temperament bred moderation. He was a wide reader, and between 1745 and 1765 contributed frequently to the Gentleman's Magazine .

On 25 June 1746 he was ordained pastor of the large and far-flung congregation of Henllan Amgoed, Carms. He was perfectly happy and successful there, but his stipend was totally inadequate, and though he tried to run a farm on his wife's dowry, he hardly succeeded — from 1752 on he lived at Laugharne . He competed in 1757 with David Jardine (q.v.) for the tutorship at Abergavenny , and in 1759 the Calvinistic party tried to get him made tutor at Carmarthen rather than Jenkin Jenkins (q.v.) — two pretty sound indications of his Calvinism . In April 1760 , ‘ because I cannot maintain my family ,’ he removed to Delph, Yorks. , where hyper-Calvinists bothered him, and thence ( 1763 ) to Morley , where he was troubled by Methodists . He had half-promised ( 1763 ) to accept a call from Pwllheli , where his father-in-law had been pastor , but withdrew — and he refused a call to Bridgend . He was in vain begged ( 1766 ) to return to Henllan . There was talk, in 1777 , of appointing him co-tutor with Jenkins at Carmarthen , and in 1779 of his succeeding Jenkins there, but he wisely discouraged the suggestions. In 1795 he was paralysed , and resigned his charge; he d. at Morley 2 July 1799 . Together with the diaries of Edmund Jones , and indeed perhaps in an even greater measure than those, the papers and diaries of Thomas Morgan , now in N.L.W. , are our most valuable materials for the history of Welsh Independency in the second half of the 18th cent. , and of its relations with Methodism .

Morgan was twice m.: (1) to Sarah , youngest daughter of Daniel Phillips (q.v.) , minister at Pwllheli ; she d. 18 June 1764 ; (2) to Margaret , widow of the Lewis Phillips who had been ( 1748-68 ) co-pastor at Henllan .

Sources:

  • NLW MSS 5433-9;
  • Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru , iii, 341-3, 360-1;
  • Thomas Rees , ‘Thomas Morgan a'i Amserau,’ in Y Beiriniad , (1) 1859–71; (2) 1911–19 , ii ( 1861 ) and iii;
  • Y Cofiadur , 1923 , 9-21 (excerpts from Morgan's papers);
  • Cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , xvii, 89-104;
  • A History of Carmarthenshire , ii (consult index).

Author:



His son, THOMAS MORGAN ( 1752 - 1821 ), librarian of Dr. Williams's Library , was b. at Laugharne 26 Dec. 1752 . He went to Leeds Grammar School and to Hoxton Academy , and became minister at Abingdon and afterwards in various London churches — unlike his father, he was no Calvinist . From 1777 till 1799 he was a member of the Presbyterian Fund Board , and in 1804 became Dr. Williams 's Librarian . He d., still in office in 1821-on 2 Feb. says Jeremy , but on 21 July according to his obituary notice in the Monthly Repository . He had a degree of LL.D. from an unspecified university. He was one of the contributors to the General Biography edited by John Aikin (on whom see D.N.B. ).

Sources:

  • Monthly Repository , 1821 , 492;
  • W. D. Jeremy , The Presbyterian Fund and Dr. Williams' Trust , 1885 (indexed).

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959