The family that lived at Tredegar House in Newport are usually associated with the old Monmouthshire. Quite right too, as the Morgans were one of the biggest landowners in the county. However, their lands extended far beyond that into Breconshire and Glamorganshire. Indeed it has been said that Lord Tredegar could get on a horse in Cardiff and ride to Hereford without leaving Morgan land. The better known of the Glamorganshire holdings were around Ruperra Castle and its demesne, but much of the land between the Taff and the Rumney rivers belonged to the Morgans too.
In the Fifteenth Century, Sir John Morgan of Tredegar Park had married Janet Matthew, the daughter and heiress of John Matthew of Llandaff. The Morgans had a knack of marrying well which helped ensure that the line continued, even when the male line failed. The Morgans spread throughout South East Wales. Although the main branch was at the Tredegar Park seat several important cadet branches were established throughout Monmouthshire, Breconshire and Glamorganshire.
For Cardiffians, the best known are the Morgans at Llanrumney Hall. The most notorious being Captain Sir Henry Morgan. At least, this is one of several places that claim him and we shouldn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
In the Seventeenth Century, marriages with Glamorganshire families such as the Lewises of the Van near Caerphilly brought increased land and wealth. This is the period when large parts of Splott and Roath came into the Tredegar Estate. By the Nineteenth Century the Morgans were the biggest landowners in the Roath / Adamsdown area and when housing was being built the area known as Tredegarville came into being.
When Godfrey Morgan became Lord Tredegar in 1875 . He became well known for his philanthropy and benevolance and gave much land for the public good. St Saviours and St German churches were built on land donated by him, as was the Tredegarville Baptist Church too. Parks were built on land give by Lord Tredegar too. Moorland Gardens, Roath Mill and Waterloo Gardens, Pengam Recreation Ground and part of Roath Park. His generosity was rewarded by him being made a Freeman of Cardiff. In 1854 as a young Captain in the 17th Lancers, Godfrey Morgan had charged down the Valley of Death during the Battle of Balaclava.
He was remembered as a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade with the erection of a bronze statue of him astride his charger on the 55th anniversary of the Charge. The statue, by Goscombe John, still stands in the Gorsedd Gardens outside Cardiff City Hall. Today, he overlooks Boulevard de Nantes.
There is much more to the story of the Tredegar Park Morgans and their Cardiff connections, which I hope to add to before long. Why is Godfrey’s war chest at Howell’s school for girls? What made Godfrey dress as Owain Glyndwr at Cardiff Castle? Why does a Lisvane pub have the Morgan crest as its sign? Watch this space!