Sir Thomas Morgan

Sir Thomas Morgan

Thomas Morgan — born in 1604, knighted in 1658, made a baronet in 1661 and dying in 1679 — was the most illustrious person associated with Llangattock Lingoed, the only one to be found in the Dictionary of National Biography. (Though some, including Bradney, have claimed that the buccanneer, Sir Henry Morgan, was his brother and so shares the distinction.)

Old Court

We know that Sir Thomas Morgan bought Old Court in 1664 (Deeds) and that it had previously belonged to his father, Lewis Morgan, so it was quite likely that he had been born there. Since he already possessed other, wealthier estates, the purchase may well have been an act of nostalgia or perhaps a way of restoring the family's position in the locality. He did sometimes style himself as "of Llangattock Lingoed", so he must have thought it important.

He went off to be a soldier at the age of sixteen, speaking only Welsh, and fought in German, French and Dutch armies. It was after his return to England in 1642 that he joined the Parliament forces in the Civil War. His ability quickly saw him promoted from captain to major and then, after a brief retirement during which he married his second wife, Delariviere Cholmondeley, to colonel in 1645. Later that year he was appointed governor of Gloucester and successfully led the capture of Berkeley Castle, Chepstow, Monmouth and Hereford. As commander of all parliamentary forces in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Monmouthshire, he laid siege to and negotiated the surrender of Raglan Castle.

After another few years of retirement, he again returned to military duties in 1651, fighting in Scotland, and Flanders. These duties earned him a knighthood from Richard Cromwell in 1658. In 1660, however, he transferred his allegiance to those seeking the restoration of the monarchy and he personally fired off the huge cannon, Mons Meg, in the celebrations of the Restoration in Edinburgh. He was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1661. It was after this that he began to set himself up with landed estates, mainly in Herefordshire (Chanstone Court, near Vowchurch, and Kinnersley Castle), but including Old Court in Llangattock Lingoed.

He was made governor of Jersey in 1665 and, although he was absent from duties for long periods in the 1670s, died at St Helier on 13 April 1679. His body was buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

We know from contemporary descriptions that he was undersized, had a distinctive high-pitched voice and smoked a pipe. He was barely literate and could sign his name only with difficulty. He was always eager for battle and ferocious in action. The fact that he suffered badly from gout throughout his life can have done little to soften his quick temper.

Last updated February 2005