Meet the Morgan family of Tredegar House
Welsh, wealthy and wild, the Morgan family called Tredegar House home for centuries.
Claiming descent from the Welsh princes, they were influential in Newport and the surrounding counties, playing a big part in social, political and economic issues in the area throughout their time.
Inheriting the house
The Morgan’s inherited Tredegar House in 1664. From their political power to excessive partying, the walls of Tredegar House saw it all.
Sir William Morgan was the first to call Tredegar House home. Marrying his cousin, Blanche, their combined wealth was used to boast their high fashion and affluence, turning the old manor house into the red brick country mansion that it is now.
By the late 1700s, the Morgan family had passed through several generations. Sir Charles Gould Morgan, who had inherited the house and 40,000 acres of land, realised the worth of his estate as it was rich in minerals.
Charles began to invest in industrial projects that can still be seen in South Wales today, including leasing his land for coal mines and iron works, and establishing the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal.
Owning such a vast estate came with its difficulties too, and in the 1830s, the Morgan family became the focus of the Chartist movement, a protest for increased political rights for the working classes.
The new owner of Tredegar House, Sir Charles Morgan, was the MP for Brecon and Monmouthshire at the time. In 1830, John Frost, one of the leaders of the Chartist movement, wrote a pamphlet entitled A Christmas Box for Sir Charles Morgan, which accused Charles of mistreating his tenants, and called for universal suffrage and a secret ballot.
You can find out more about Charles’ role in the Chartist rebellion at our Riches and Rebellion exhibition.
The local favourite
The Morgan’s continued to have significant political influence throughout the years that followed, with many of Charles’ descendants following in his footsteps as Members of Parliament. His grandson, Godfrey, a conservative MP, inherited the House in 1875.
Godfrey is widely remembered for his kind heart. Not only did he give away parts of his land, including what is now Belle View Park and the Royal Gwent Hospital. He also widely reduced rent for his tenants and even let one widow live rent-free after the death of her husband.
Extravagance, opulence and the end of an era
The end of the Morgan family at Tredegar House came with Evan, Godfrey’s great-nephew. Wild at heart, he was known for his extravagant parties and attempts at practicing black magic. Evan died in 1949, leaving behind the most scandalous stories of the Morgan era and a financial burden that meant Tredegar House was soon sold by his relatives.