MORGAN, Robert (1608-73)

MORGAN, Robert (1608–73)

cons. 1 July 1666 bp. of BANGOR

First sat 10 Oct. 1667; last sat 1 Apr. 1671

b. 1608, 3rd s. of Richard Morgan and Margaret, da. of Thomas Lloyd of Gwernybuarth, and wid. of Charles Powell of Llandysul. educ. Jesus, Camb. BA 1628, MA 1631; St John’s, Camb. BD 1638; DD 1666; ord. deacon and priest 1629. m. Anne, da. of William Lloyd, rect. of Llaneilian, Anglesey, and cos. of William Lloyd, bishop of St Asaph; 4s. (1 d.v.p.), 4da. d. 1 Sept. 1673; will 24 Feb., pr. 18 Nov. 1673.1

Vic. Llanwnnog, Mont. 1632, Llanfair-Dyffryn-Clwyd, 1637–42; rect. Llangynhafal, Denb. 1632–42, Efenechtyd 1638–42, Llandyffnan 1642–66; Trefdraeth, Anglesey 1642–66; chap. to David Dolben, bp. Bangor, 1632, to William Roberts, bp. Bangor, 1637; preb. Chester 1642–66, Bangor 1657–61; comportioner, Llandinam 1660; adn. Anglesey 1660,2 Merioneth 1660–6.

Also associated with: Bronfraith, Llandysilio, Mont.; Henblas, Anglesey, c.1650-60.

The son of a former Member of Parliament for the Montgomeryshire boroughs, Morgan was unswervingly royalist throughout the civil wars and interregnum, helping to organize the Caernarvonshire declaration for the king in 1648.3 When William Roberts bishop of Bangor, died in 1665, the king quickly settled on Robert Price (bishop of Ferns in Ireland) as his replacement, issuing the congé d’elire for his election on 7 Sept. 1665.4 Price died in March 1666, before he could be consecrated.5 Morgan, whose long service in the diocese may have convinced him that he was Roberts’ natural successor, then appears to have commenced a lobbying campaign to secure the see for himself. It is otherwise difficult to explain the glowing testimonials forwarded to Lambeth Palace on his behalf. Even one of Morgan’s allies feared that this might be an unusual course of action and ‘too tumultuous and popular’, and it seems that Gilbert Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury, had reservations about the appointment, but the campaign was nevertheless successful.6 One of Morgan’s first acts as bishop elect was to petition to have his archdeaconry permanently annexed to the bishopric: it was worth £200 a year whereas the bishopric was worth only £120.7

Of the six parliamentary sessions in which he was entitled to sit, Morgan attended only two, both for fewer than half of all sittings; he was named to only 13 select committees throughout his time in the House of Lords. He did not attend the House for the 1666-7 session, registering his proxy to George Hall, bishop of Chester. Morgan took his seat on the first day of the 1667–9 session, some 15 months after his consecration. He then attended almost every day until his final appearance that session on 19 Dec. 1667. On 6 Feb. 1668 he entered his proxy in favour of John Dolben, bishop of Rochester (vacated at the end of the session).

Morgan appears to have had a role in Welsh ecclesiastical life that transcended diocesan boundaries. In October 1668, after Henry Glemham, bishop of St Asaph, confirmed the lease of the Whitford rectory profits to Sir Roger Mostyn, Morgan intervened to warn Sheldon of an infringement of the archbishop’s prerogative rights.8 Unlike his fellow bishops in south Wales, Morgan was not overly troubled by the activities of Dissenters: in January 1669 he reported that the diocese was wholeheartedly conformist.9 At or about this time he became embroiled in a dispute with Thomas Jones, the minister of Llandyrnog. Jones, a former chaplain to James Stuart, duke of York, had been dismissed from his position at court after the conversion of the duchess of York and blamed George Morley, bishop of Winchester. He now found himself prosecuted in the consistory courts in Bangor for what he later called ‘a frivolous controversy about a reading seat’. Llandyrnog had previously been held in commendam by the bishops of Bangor. Morgan wanted it back but Jones refused either to exchange or quit it. His determination to use ‘the stately seat’ erected for the use of the bishops provided an excuse for the churchwardens to commence a prosecution against him, which Jones clearly believed to have been instigated by Morgan, in alliance with Morley.10

The next session of Parliament opened in October 1669. When the House was called on 26 Oct. 1669 Morgan was excused attendance on grounds of ill health and promised to send a proxy, although there is no record that he ever did so. The 1670–1 session saw him present for nearly 48 per cent of sittings; in particular he attended throughout the prolonged debates on the second Conventicle bill in March 1670. During this session he helped to sustain episcopal solidarity when he opposed John Cosin, of Durham and registered his dissent on 17 and 28 Mar. against the divorce bill for John Manners, Lord Roos (later 9th earl and duke of Rutland). Parliament was adjourned on 11 April; when it reassembled in October Morgan was absent. He registered his proxy in Dolben’s favour on 28 Oct. 1670; it was cancelled on 23 Jan. 1671 when Morgan returned to the House. During the course of the year he had become involved in yet another dispute with Thomas Jones, this time as a witness in the scandalum magnatum case brought against Jones by Morley.11

On 15 Mar. 1671 Morgan registered his dissent against the suspension of the judgment against John Cusack in Cusack v Lord Dungannon. Of the 14 bishops present in the House that day, only Morgan and Dolben registered their protest, together with Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, and James Butler, duke of Ormond, two peers clearly identified with the government of Ireland. The resolution highlighted the perennial difficulties over procedure and jurisdiction in the Irish courts. Morgan’s interest in the case is unclear, but Lady Dungannon was the daughter of John Lewis of Anglesey and Morgan had other connections to Irish affairs through Griffith Williams, his controversial absentee dean who was also bishop of Ossory.

It is probable that Morgan’s more conscientious attendance throughout this session was also due to the passage of a bill enabling him and Isaac Barrow, bishop of St Asaph, to set lead mines on their land for 21 years.12 Read for the first and second times on 11 and 17 Jan. 1671, the bill was reported from committee by William Herbert, 3rd Baron Powis, on 8 Feb. and sent to the Commons three days later. Passed without amendments, it received the royal assent on 6 March. Back in his diocese, in the summer of 1672 Morgan was appointed by Sheldon (on the recommendation of Humphrey Lloyd, then dean of St Asaph, later bishop of Bangor) as a ‘very fit’ arbitrator in the dilapidations dispute between Barrow and his chapter.13

In December 1672 Sheldon asked Morgan to attend the House for the forthcoming 1673 session despite the rigours of winter travel. The bishop reported that he was too ill to do so. Too old to ‘raise false excuses’, he promised to send to Convocation proctors who were loyal to the king and ‘true sons of the Church’.14 His proxy was again registered in Dolben’s favour on 10 Feb. 1673. In April 1673, aware of the imminent end of his ‘earthly pilgrimage’ he was determined to spend his remaining time on ‘righteous’ acts. These included improving the income of the diocese for his successors by uniting the archdeaconry of Bangor to the bishopric. He told Sheldon that he had

laboured for an annexation and employed my most dear friend Sir Leoline Jenkins therein, but he met with so many obstructions and difficulties that I was forced to write unto him for to desist foreseeing that nothing would do it but an Act of Parliament, and as poor as I am, I would not have been deterred as to charges of going that way, but that I conceived it difficult for to have the Bill pass, my self not able to be there to solicit it in person.15

Morgan asked Sheldon to secure an act of Parliament for the purpose, fearing that the archdeaconry might be ‘snatched away’ at his death, in the same way that Llandyrnog had been at his predecessor’s death. He also recommended his cousin William Lloyd, later bishop of St Asaph and eventually of Worcester, as his successor. Morgan died on 1 Sept. 1673 and was buried in Bangor Cathedral. He was not without property and at his death bequeathed land scattered throughout Montgomeryshire and Anglesey to his sons.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/343.
  • 2 Willis, Survey of Bangor, 143.
  • 3 J.R. Phillips, Mems. of the Civil War in Wales and the Marches, 1642–1649 ii. 399–400.
  • 4 Bodl. Carte 45, f. 169; CSP Dom. 1664–5, p. 553.
  • 5 Willis, Survey of Bangor, 115.
  • 6 Bodl. Add. C 302, ff. 152–4; Add. C 305, f. 56.
  • 7 CSP Dom. 1665–6, p. 450.
  • 8 Bodl. Add. C 304a, ff. 115, 117.
  • 9 LPL, ms 639, f. 140.
  • 10 T. Jones, Elymas the Sorcerer (1682); Bodl. Add. C 305, f. 331.
  • 11 Ath. Ox. iv. 51.
  • 12 PA, HL/PO/PB/1/1670/22&23C2n12.
  • 13 Harl. 7377, f. 36; Bodl. Tanner 146, ff. 35–36, 46.
  • 14 Harl. 7377, f. 39; Tanner 43, f. 68.
  • 15 Tanner 146, f. 70.