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The pedigree of Sir William Morgan of Tredegar 
"collected and gathered" by Lewis Morris in 1612. 

The Data Wales website contains many references to the Morgans of Monmouthshire in south Wales. The family, whose members were often known as the Morgans of Tredegar after their primary residence on the outskirts of the town of Newport, is well documented and its study illuminates many aspects of the history of Wales. The Morgans survived the depredations of the Norman French knights, the consequences of their support for Owain Glyndwr's revolt against the English crown and the upheavals of the English Civil War. They retained a degree of influence over the ages and achieved a final flowering in the 19th. century when their great wealth and land ownership allowed them to take a prominent part in the industrialisation of south Wales. 

In 2001 we were contacted by a descendent of a branch of the family which had long ago removed to France. Servane de Morgan was kind enough to send me copies of sections of a 1612 pedigree and we publish these illustrations by express permission. (The scans which accompany this note are copyright of Data Wales and must not be published elsewhere.)   

The pedigree takes the form of a roll and when extended measures around ten metres in length. The roll format has fortunately protected the contents and the skillfully painted crests retain their original bright colours. (The present illustrations suffer from being heavily compressed in order to allow a relatively fast download of this page.)  The pedigree commences with the marriage of Brutus, a legendary King of Britain supposed to to have descended from "Priamus, King of Troy". This invocation of figures from classical antiquity was quite common in the old Welsh pedigrees and seems to demonstrate a lingering memory of the days when Britain enjoyed the comparative security of Roman rule and its first exposure to classical culture. 

A significant marriage. Around 1334 Llewelyn ap Ifor, Lord of St. Clere, married Angharad, daughter and heiress of Sir Morgan ap Maredudd (Meredith), Lord of Tredegar. According to the pedigree, their son Morgan ap Llewelyn, was responsible for the adoption of Morgan as a fixed surname.  

In 1337 Edward III of England claimed the throne of France and the subsequent "100 Years War" gave the Morgans much opportunity for advancement through military action overseas. 

  

Rowland Morgan of Machen marries Blanche (described here as the only daughter, by his first wife, of Will. Jenkin, but elsewhere described as the daughter of Thomas Jones of Treowen). 

Rowland was Sheriff of the county in 1558. Like many Welsh families, the Morgans had prospered through their support of the victor at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. A gold "sovereign" coin of King Henry VII shows him seated on a throne with a Welsh dragon atop one of its side pillars in acknowledgment of his Welsh roots.  

  

The pedigree ends with this painting, the heraldic "achievement" of Sir William Morgan. One year after the preparation of this pedigree in 1612, Sir William became Sheriff of the county and in 1628 was a Member of Parliament. He died in 1653. 

The English Civil Wars started in 1642 and the period from then until the restoration of Charles II in 1660 was one of uncertainties and divided loyalties. Some of the Morgans looked overseas for relief from the religious and constitutional squabbles. Henry Morgan set sail for the West Indies and a glorious career as a buccaneer (or perhaps more properly as a privateer).  

  

Nothing is known of Lewis Morris, the compiler of this pedigree. He writes that he has "collected and gathered" the genealogical information but does not specifically claim the illustrations. These are very intricate and demanded much skill. The shield above is only four inches wide in the original but contains thirty different crests, all carefully drawn.   

 

 John Weston, 2001

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