Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gwen Morgan & John Bright

Apparently, the Morgan family was of the Quaker faith. Anthony Morgan married Catherine Evans in 1804. Catherine died before 1840, apparently the last of the practicing faith. Their daughter, Anne Clarke Morgan married Charles Taylor in 1844.

However, they had another daughter, Gwen Morgan, who has survived obscurity because of a romance with a well-known politician, John Bright, MP. The basic story is that John Bright met Anthony Thomas Morgan (brother to Gwen & Anne) at Ackworth, a Quaker boarding school in Rochdale. They became friends and eventually, John Bright met Gwen and fell in love. The feeling appears to have been mutual. Something, however stops their courtship and John Bright marries Elizabeth Priestman up near Rochdale while Gwen marries Richard Humphrey Richards in Llangelynnin (see this poem by John Owen, in Welsh...looking for a translation still). What the "something" was is up for debate. The story becomes a little sadder when we find that Gwen dies in 1841 after just five years of marriage and, years later, John Bright begins to visit her grave regularly until his death.

Now, the big question is what stopped their courtship? Here is an article from North Wales Weekly News in 1932 which gives some insight into the story. Also a few pages from J. Travis Mills' John Bright and the Quakers which also discusses their love story.

Why, if Anthony Morgan was so against Gwen's marriage to John Bright, did he then allow Anne to marry Charles Taylor? Wouldn't that be the same type of marriage? Second, Charles Taylor was listed as "independent" on the 1841 census with Anthony Thomas Morgan...did he misrepresent himself? Was it before he actually started working in the family business? Every census thereafter and every record we find him on states that he was a druggist or chemist. Third, Anne Clarke Morgan only had one child, Mary Collis Taylor, and died 12 years into their marriage. Did she have a bad marriage, too? Mary Anne Moore/Marian DeBarcy lived the longest of his wives, but she left him after 10-15 years. His third wife died young as well, after about 10 years of marriage. Each of his wives was quite young (25ish at the time of marriage) while he kept getting older. What do you think?

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