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MORGAN Family History
Morgan is an ancient Welsh personal name which eventually developed into a surname. Its origins lie in Old Welsh or pre-Christian Brythonic (ancient Welsh/Celtic), deriving from the orginal name 'Morcant'. While the first element 'mor' can mean 'sea' in Welsh, it is uncertain if this part of the name has derived from this particular meaning, but 'cant' originally meant 'circle' or 'complete'. In this sense, 'sea defender' may be a reasonable theory as to its original meaning.
It was a very popular personal/given name in medieval Wales. Traditionally there were no surnames in Wales as children were always identified via their first name and their father's (or grandfather's) personal name. A son of a man whose given/personal name was Morgan would therefore have been known as 'ap Morgan' (meaning 'the son of Morgan'), while a daughter would have been known as 'ferch Morgan' (ferch meaning 'daughter of'). Settled surnames only widely came into existence in Wales between the 16th and 19th centuries, during which time the name 'Morgan' and a related form 'Morgans' came to be fixed as a surname.
The county of Glamorgan (Morgannwg in the original Welsh form) was named after princes called Morgan.
The surname is seen in greatest numbers in south Wales. At the time of the 1881 census, Breconshire was home to the highest number of Morgan families, followed by Monmouthshire, Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire. The surname is also seen in high numbers in the English counties that border Wales, including Herefordshire and Shropshire.
- Sir Henry Morgan was an infamous captain, privateer and buccaneer who was born in 1635 in Monmouthshire. He later became the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica where he died in 1688.
- John Pierpoint Morgan, American financier and one of the most influential bankers on Wall Street during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in Hartford, Conneticut in 1813, his family originated in Wales. Miles, John and James Morgan were born in Llandaff, Glamorgan in the early 1600s, and sailed to the New World in 1636 where Miles became a significant members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
- Cliff Morgan (1930-2013) was a rugby union player who played for Cardiff Rugby Football Club and who earned 29 caps when playing for the Welsh national team between 1951 and 1958. He further became a well-known figure in Wales after his retirement from rugby when he became a BBC commentator and presenter.
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