The Account Book of Thomas Morgan of Carmarthen


By H J Lloyd-Johnes. National Library of Wales Journal Vol IX/1 1955

Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales

This is a substantial extract of this article, I have abbreviated/summarised some sections [Gareth Hicks Feb 2002].

Here also is an index of NLW journals


The author of this article came into possession of an account book covering the years 1729-1792.

He researched the matter and, with the help of Dr Thomas Parry, Librarian of the National Library of Wales and Mr E D Jones, Keeper of Manuscripts,  discovered the owner to be one Thomas Morgan who was born at Dyffryn Uchaf near Groeswen, Glamorgan in 1720.

Originally a Methodist he was a member of the Watford Independent Church in 1739 and soon after began to preach. In 1741 he became a pupil of Samuel Jones at Pentwyn and a pupil at the grammar school of Samuel Thomas in Carmarthen in 1743, later at the academy of Evan Davies and S Thomas  in the same town . Before the end of his stay at Carmarthen he had renounced Methodism and in 1746 was ordained as minister at the large church [Independent] of Henllan Amgoed.

He was twice married, first to Sarah, youngest daughter of Daniel Phillips of Pwllheli, who died in 1764, and secondly in 1768 to Margaret, widow of Lewis Phillips, who had been his assistant pastor at Henllan. [these biographical details taken from Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig]

Thomas Morgan  appears to be a man of good education, familiar with both Latin and Greek, and between 1745 and 1765 a frequent contributor to the Gentleman's Magazine. It is remarkable therefore that only eight lines of Welsh appear in the whole book.

The account book contains details of books he had read ; general information about London churches ; martyrs who died in Queen Mary's reign  for 'proposing the Protestant religion'; salaries of bishops ; moral dictums ; cookery recipes ; accounts of articles purchased at Carmarthen and Haverfordwest; a list of pupils at  the school at Laugharne; wages paid to servants;  and rents owing.

Amongst all this miscellanea  there are references to local persons and places.

This is an octavo manuscript bound in original vellum with remains of clasp and tie. Thomas Morgan gives many extracts from the Epistles of St Paul, Pope's 'Essay on Man', Dr Young's 'Night Thoughts', Dr Burnet's 'Pastoral Care', and Dr Mather's 'Manuductio ad Ministerium'.

In the first few pages Morgan writes 'Rules of Common Prudence which experience taught me'.

  • I. Never to speak ye worst of any person when he is absent but endeavour to extenuate his faults, when he is reflected upon by others.
  • II. To be very cautious in speaking anything which I should not like my friends to hear.
  • III.Not to come to a resolution suddenly in any case of moment or consequence till I have had time to consider ye whole affair over and over.
  • IV. Not to allow my passion to overcome my reason when I am abused.
  • V.To avoid placing any confidence in ye man who once deceived me.

After these fundamental observations of common prudence the writer continues with particulars of the stipends of the higher clergy for the years 1741;

The stipends for the Welsh Diocese were;

  • St Asaph £187.11s.6d
  • Bangor £131.16s.4d
  • St Davids £457.1s.10d
  • Llandaff £154.14s.1d

After some topographical notes on London, and its environs, Mr Morgan mentions some details from the Gloucestershire Journal of 1748 concerning evidence in the Court of King's Bench against seven rioters in Leominster. Then follow some notes on the strength of the Fleet under St John Norris; homely receipts for making a universal bait for fishing and for shining bark for shoes and how to make Poppy water.

In 1752 and 1753, Pembrokeshire coal cost 1s.8d for four bags, culm was 3s.4d and a cart load of furze 1s.6d. In the same year Morgan rents a tenement called Gwaintre beddau [Laugharne ?] for £9 from Anne Parry whose receipt is a very shaky 'A'.

Outgoings fill several pages.  

In 1755, he expends on his servant James Howell [in Laugharne ?];

  • To trimming his coat  1s.6d
  • To pay for waistcoat  3s.0d
  • For velvet 3s.0d
  • For linnen 6s.0d
  • For shoes 1s.6d

In 1761 he paid his servant maid Susan Hanmer £1.15s.0d per annum, had her shoes mended for a shilling and bought a silk hat for 4s.4d. Other purchases included a cotton gown, handkerchiefs, whale bone and even a pair of garters. Disbursements to two other maid servants, Sarah and Martha Bottomley, sisters, appear in 1762 and 1763.

Morgan made many purchases from a Mr John Whitehead, a general merchant who sold everything from turf, oatmeal, flour, and hops to medicines like rhubarb powders.

Here is an account of some household stuff bought at Carmarthen in 1750, The carriage of these items was eight shillings, a high price compared with the cost of the various articles;

  • One Bedstead and Curtains  £1.15s.0d.
  • Six leather bottom Chairs £0.9s.0d
  • One  Press and one elbow Chair £0.18s.0d
  • Fire shovel, tongs and grate £0.5s.0d
  • Baking Stone 2s.6d. Saucepan 6d.   £0.3s.0d
  • Bedcord 1s.4d. flower box 4d. pepper box 2d.  £0.2s.2d  ........[ I make that 1s.10d in total]
  • One Decanter 18d. Waterglas 3d.  £0.5s.11d   .............[I make that 1s.9d]
  • One bottle of mustard 7d. and Pot 3d.  £0.0s.10d
  • Three Single Deal boards   £0.6s.6d

On April 26th 1750 he attends a sale at Gellidywyll and buys;

  • One Feather  bed, bolster, 2 pillows for  £2.8s.2 1/2d
  • Blankets £1.0s.6d
  • One quilt and a round table  £1.6s.0d
  • Six Cane Chairs, one elbow do. & cushion  £1.0s.0d
  • One bottle decanter and a Map of Wales  £0.7s.6d
  • One bedstead with linen curtains  £1.2s.6d
  • One pair of small wheels  £0.19s.0d

Morgan married his first wife in 1750 and these purchases show he was setting up house;

  • Seven cane chairs  £0.17s.6d
  • One Brass Pan  £1.6s.7d
  • Five Pewter Dishes  £0.8s.4d
  • Twelve Pewter Plates  £0.11s.0d
  • Two brass candlesticks  £0.3s.9d
  • Two Iron Pots  £0.6s.0d
  • Two small casks  £0.2s.0d

Again in September 1750 he makes further purchases, among which are a warming pan 11d., a tea table at 7s., a churn at 4s., and a clock at £1.15s.0d.; he also paid smaller sums for various tools.

This is followed by 'An Acct. of wt. & per whom a 7br 8th 1750', which it may be assumed is a list of 'biddings' or wedding gifts, which explains why no prices are mentioned. The entries give the names of ; Damaris James, one large cheese ; Mary Thomas, Llanboidy, three bottles of wine; Richard Evan's daughter, six small chickens ; and Richard ye turner, six trenchers.

Thomas Morgan was a subscriber to several magazines and newspapers for which he paid Mr Wm. Llewelin the following sums; Sept 1748  - 4s.11d; April 1749   -7s.0d; August 1749  -6s.11d; Nov  -9s.0d; April 1750  -11s.0d; Jan 1750/1751  -15s.10 1/2d

An undated expenditure for clothes is;

  • For cloth and trimmings  £3.3s.9d
  • For a hat  £0.10s.6d
  • For two shirts  £0.13s.3d
  • For a pair of stokins  £0.5s.3d
  • For the making of two wigs  £0.10s.0d
  • For a pair of shoes  £0.3s.9d
  • For making my cloathes  £0.8s.0d

The only Welsh entry now occurs;

Gynt nid oed neb a ufeu y Tea
Ond Bonedd wrth Bleser mewn Plasau
Nawr mai pob Coigan ai Cawgau
'n Trefnu iw Tai i ufed Tea

Nant pan sonjant wi'n synnu---
mae eno mwy hynod i Ddyfi:
Ar hin-dda nid yw Honddi
Ond Cornant meddant i mi

'Feby 12 1753, N.S set up then a Grammar School in Laugharne. Enter'd at that time'.

  • William Shewen, Daniel Shewen, Thomas Willy, Thomas Lewis, Thomas Phillips,
  • Rees Davies, James James, John Morris, Wm. Amos, Thos. Phillips of Pencod,
  • James Brigstock, John Beynon, James Athoe, Thomas William, John Williams,
  • John Thomas of Maes, David Read, Wm. Read, Stephen Lewis, David Owen,
  • John Griffith, Wm.Griffith, John Jenkin, Wm. Jenkin, Lewis Roberts.
  • And the following girls ;
  • Mary Thomas, Margaret Walter, Elizabeth Francis, Margaret Rogers, and Mary and Margaret Jenkin

Though successful as a Minister Thomas Morgan appears to have been always short of money. His salary appears to have been inadequate, and it is said that he squandered his first wife's small patrimony in acquiring and running a farm.

In 1754 the  expenses of Morgan's four acres of hay came to £5.5s.3d.; this included the rent of £4. In 1755 the cost dropped to £3.17s.6d. In 1756 it rose again to £5.4s.0d.

From 1752 to 1760 the Morgans were living at Laugharne, where their son, *Thomas Morgan was born in the year of their move to that town.

In April 1760, 'because I cannot maintain my family', he moved to Delph, in Yorkshire and later in 1763 to Morley, near Leeds. Morgan refused offers to minister to Churches at Pwllheli, Bridgend Henllan, and he also declined the second time to become a tutor at Carmarthen Academy.

In 1764, the year his first wife died, Morgan was recording hay-making on his own ground and these entries continue down to the end of the book. Meanwhile his maidservants appear to change rapidly while wages show a slight rise. In 1764, Mary Mathews earns only £1.2s.0d per annum but in 1766 Catherine Evans is being paid £2.10s.9d.  Four years later Catherine is still earning the same figure. In 1771, Betty Darnbrooke came for the same wages but she stayed only five weeks and was followed by Mercy Towlson at two guineas per annum. In October 1773 catherine Evans has returned for her former wage of £2.10s.0d She again left in 1776 and after several girls had come and gone returned once more. Her name appears for the last time in 1780. By this time poor Mr Morgan's handwriting is beginning to get shaky but his entries for servants continue. In 1784 he paid Sally Brooke £3.0s.0d. per annum and by 1792 Hannah Scott's wages were £3.10s.9d. His last entry under June 1794 records wages paid to Hannah Atkinson, £4.0s.0d. per annum. His writing is now becoming difficult to read, and he must have been failing rapidly.

However, he lived on for several years, dying at Morley on 2 July 1799.

Some final pages written at different dates contain miscellaneous. In 1766 Morgan purchased the following fruit trees:--- two White Pippins, two Royal Permains, two Beaufins. Did Thomas Morgan carry on book-selling amongst his other activities ? Several pages are filled with lists of books sold to various persons whose names are given together with the prices charged. he may, however, have only been shedding books from his own library. This Common-place book gives us no lead in this direction.

H J Lloyd-Johnes, Monmouth


* Thomas Morgan (1752-1821), born at Laugharne. 26 December 1752, educated at Leeds Grammar School and Hoxton Academy, was Minister at Abingdon and various churches in London. In 1804 he was appointed librarian of Dr Daniel Williams's Library. He was one of the authors of the General Biography, edited by John Aikin.