The story of three colourful members of the Morgan family of Tredegar House
HENRY MORGAN - PIRATE
Sir Henry’s connections to the Morgans of Tredegar House are not confirmed by any substantial evidence. He never lived at Tredegar House himself and there is no evidence to say he ever visited the estate. However, in his will he makes reference to "my ever honourable cousin, Mr. Thomas Morgan of Tredegar." Similarly, in 1862 William Morgan of Tredegar when writing a letter on behalf of Henry Morgan refers to him as "a relation and formerly a neer neighbour."
Both these references would suggest that the Morgans of Tredegar were certainly familiar with Sir Henry and William Morgan’s indication that he was a “neer neighbour” would appear to confirm that Henry Morgan did indeed grow up just down the road from Tredegar House.
As a young man he decided to leave Wales and sailed for the West Indies to make his fortune. Once there he quickly took to piracy, basing himself in Jamaica, then the pirate capital of the Caribbean. Henry Morgan led several expeditions against the Spanish, the principal land owners in the West Indies; his activities were given a degree of tacit approval by the British government. Morgan was a cruel and blood thirsty individual who showed little mercy to his victims but his actions should be viewed in the context of the times. He undoubtedly made himself rich but the British government also benefited greatly from his actions.
Indeed, so successful were his campaigns and so well-thought of was he back in the UK that he was knighted in 1674 and appointed deputy governor of Jamaica.
GODFREY MORGAN - INDUSTRIALIST AND
When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, Lord Tredegar, aged 22, held the rank of Captain in the 17th Lancers and accompanied his famous regiment to the scene of the great struggle. He was in action at the Battle of Alma and later on 25 October 1854 was in command of a section of the Light Brigade that rode into the 'Valley of Death' at the Battle of Balaclava, which he survived. Godfrey's horse, 'Sir Briggs', also survived, and lived at Tredegar House, Wales, until his death at the age of 28. He was buried in the Cedar Garden at Tredegar House (though not with full military honours as is frequently believed). The monument still stands there today.
Unlike his father, Godfrey spent most of his time at Tredegar House. He took more of an interest in local politics (he was an MP in Brecon) and society and was regarded as a great philanthropist. He could afford to be. Godfrey had never married, there were no children and his lifestyle was simpler than those who preceded and succeeded him. He was also the owner of land that was bringing industrial wealth and had interests in much of the economic infrastructure in the area. By the turn of the Century there were around a thousand farms paying rent to the Tredegar Estate. Godfrey’s net daily income was in the region of a thousand pounds.
In later years, as other members of the Morgan family had been in the past, he became a benefactor to the people of Newport. Large tracts of land were donated to the Newport Corporation for the benefit of the public, including Belle Vue Park, the Royal Gwent Hospital and Newport Athletics Grounds (Rodney Parade). This earned him the nickname of "Godfrey the Good" among local people. He served as High Sheriff of Monmouthshire for 1858. Tredegar succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Tredegar in 1875.
Less than a century ago, when in 1913 he died at the age of 81, Godfrey Charles Morgan, Viscount Tredegar, was acclaimed as Wales’s “most distinguished citizen” by the Liberal South Wales Daily News.
EVAN MORGAN - ECCENTRIC
Evan succeeded to the title in 1934 but by then his reputation for outlandish behaviour had been well established. Born in 1893, by the beginning of the First World War Evan Morgan was abroad in society. Over the next 30 years he created the myth of wildness and extravagance that has lasted until today.
A poor poet and painter, he was nevertheless adviser on art to the Royal Family. He dabbled on the artistic fringes of society and Queen Mary referred to him as her favourite bohemian. He was also something of a favourite with Lloyd George and was a great influence on Brendan Bracken, Churchill's right hand man. Those were the more acceptable sides to his character and behaviour.
At Tredegar House he kept a menagerie of wild animals, including a boxing kangaroo and whole flocks of birds that easily and effortlessly did his bidding. More often than not the animals lived inside the house rather than outside. His friends included writers like Aldous Huxley and GK Chesterton, artists such as Augustus John and, above all, the great 'black magician' Aleister Crowley.
Despite making no secret of his homosexuality he was twice married: (1) in 1928 to the Honourable Lois Sturt (died 1937), daughter of the 2nd Baron Allington, and (2) in 1939 the Princess Olga Dolgorouky, a marriage which was annulled in 1943. He died at Honeywood, Horsham, 27 April 1949 and the viscountcy lapsed with him.