Newspaper – The Merlin and Silurian April 11th 1837
ADJOURNED MONMOUTHSHIRE LENT ASSIZES
THE PANTYGOITRE PROPERTY – MORGAN v NICHOLL
The case, as agreed upon at the Assizes last week, came on for hearing in the Nisi Prius Court of the Shire Hall Monmouth, on Wednesday last.
Mr Justice Willis took his seat at 10 o’clock.
A number of persons were present in addition to the witnesses, and the liveliest interest was manifested in the course of the proceedings.
Mr Alexander, Q.C., Mr. Serjeant Pigott, and Mr. Phipson, were counsel for the plaintiff; attorney, Mr. Tanner, of Bristol.
For the defendant,, Mr. Wheeley, Q.C., Mr Keating, Q.C., and Mr. Grey; attorney Mr. Washington, of Usk.
The following gentlemen were sworn on the SPECIAL JURY
Henry Beynon Newport gentleman.
Robert Pennington Jones, Newport, gentleman.
Daniel Davies, Llanwenarth Ultra, gentleman
James Little, Llanvair Kilgeddin gentleman.
George Reece, Langaton, merchant.
Thomas Carter, Llanvihangel, gentleman.
W. Bickford, Clifton-place, Newport, merchant
John Edward Lee, Caerleon, gentleman.
Samuel Batchelor, Newport, gentleman.
Wm. Llewellyn, Mynnydd, gentleman.
Wm. James, Tredegar, gentleman.
The pleadings were opened by Mr Phipson.
Mr. Alexander then proceeded to state the case to the jury, and, in doing so, expressed his regret that they should be summoned from their homes again to attend an adjourned assizes, but inasmuch as the case was of considerable importance, involved property to a large amount, and required calm and serious consideration; would have been attended with much inconvenience, and he was sure it would be satisfactory to them to know that a full and fair opportunity now presented itself to do justice between the parties.
As he had intimated the property was of considerable value, amounting in round numbers to between £60,000 and £70,000 in land and houses. The present proceedings were intended for the recovery of the land and real estate situated with Pantygoitre House in Llanvair-Kilgeddin. That might be considered a sample of the property. Some of the property was in other parishes. That lot was last in the possession of Miss Rachel Morgan; a maiden lady, who died intestate on the 29th September 1854, having never therefore, been married, and leaving no will.
By the law of England, therefore, the property descended to the heir-at-law, and one question they would have to consider was, who that heir-at-law was.
The plaintiff, Jacob Morgan, claimed to be the heir-at-law, and so did the defendant, the Rev. Iltyd Nicholl, a gentleman of high respectability in the county, and a member of the Established Church.
The Rev Iltyd Nicholl, was in possession, having taken it immediately on the death of the intestate.
He, (Mr. Alexander) believed that the reverend gentleman, or his father or brother on his behalf, took possession on the very night that Miss Morgan died, although she died at Clifton. The plaintiff was a man in humble life and narrow circumstances, in fact, a labourer, while, as previously intimated, the gentleman in possession was of wealth and station.
He, (Mr. Alexander) did mention these facts with a view to prejudice the jury for he knew at their hands the humblest defendant or plaintiff would meet with equal justice, but merely to show the difficulties which attended the plaintiff’s case.
Documents had to be looked into requiring great labour and much research; and in that respect the defendant had a great advantage over the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed as the lineal descendant on one John Morgan, who was stated to be the brother of the intestate’s grandfather.
This was denied by the defendant, by whom it was attested that the grandfather he (the learned counsel) believed, claimed as a descendant from Elizabeth, a sister of the intestate’s grandfather, and claimed therefore, through the female line.
The principal question they would have to consider was the brotherhood of plaintiff’s great-grandfather to the intestate’s grandfather.
Rachel Morgan, the intestate, was one of the daughters of John Morgan and Rachel Evans. Her grandfather, William Morgan, who it was contended, was the great great-grandfather of the plaintiff, married Rachel Jones of Graigwith. He had issue John Morgan of Graigwith, and William Morgan, of Mamhilad. The latter never married, and died intestate; and Ann dying before the intestate, she became possessed of the property, and by her death the present proceedings had arisen: Now for the plaintiff’s descent.
His great great-grandfather was John Morgan; who, he said, was the son of William and Eleanor Morgan; and that that William was the son of Richard Morgan, and that it was not unimportant to find the transmission of Christian names. They would see that the great grandfather of the present claimant was named Edmund. There was also a son named Edmund, who was married to Catherine Rosser, and who died in 1705. He had a son, William Morgan, who married Eleanor; and from him sprung first, William Morgan, the intestate’s grandfather; and secondly, John Morgan, the great great-grandfather of the claimant. He married Diana. His son was Edmond Morgan whom he would term, of Groeslanfro. He was born about 1733. That Edmund Morgan first married Ann White; and had a son named William Morgan, who married Ann Harrhy. From that marriage sprung Isaac, who married Ann Williams, and from that marriage came Jacob Morgan. Edmund Morgan secondly married a person named Mary Davies. They had, at all events, five children, three of whom were living, and of advanced years.
They would, no doubt, be important witnesses, because they were great uncles and great aunts to the plaintiff by the second marriage, and could carry back their memories as to what their father had said about his relationship.
With respect to the pedigree of the defendant, he said that going back to the same William Morgan, who was the husband of Eleanor, the father of the plaintiff’s great great-grandfather, and the intestate’s grandfather, that one of the daughters was one Elizabeth, and that she married John Morgan. Hence sprung Eleanor Morgan, who married George Bond; and they had a daughter, Eleanor, who married the defendant’s father. As he (the learned Counsel) had before observed the intestate died unmarried. All the lineal descendants by her grandfather became extinct, few marriages having taken place in the family.
In tracing out, therefore, the rights to the property, they were driven back to the other children of William and Eleanor Morgan. That source was common to both plaintiff and defendant.
The history of the Morgan family, beginning with the intestate’s grandfather, was this:- William Morgan, the husband of Eleanor, lived in the parish of Mamhilad. They had two sons. One son, John Morgan, through whom the intestate derived the property, married Rachel Jones, co-heiress of Graigwith; and the Mamhilad property, though small at first, became improved much by his marriage and other circumstances. On the death of Rachel, he went to live with his aunts, at Graigwith, and continued with them until their death; while his brother William removed at Mamhilad with his mother, to manage her affairs. These two maiden aunts were sisters of Rachel Jones, and aunts to John Morgan. They died in 1789 or 1790, and John Morgan became possessed of the whole of the property, and continued to reside there. In January, 1784, he married Rachel Evans, servant at Graigwith. The issue of that marriage was William, Rachel, the intestate, and Ann. John Morgan lived at Graigwith 32 or 33 years, and accumulated a considerable amount of money, while he added to the landed property. He died in 1805, leaving behind him his wife, son, and two daughters. They lived together some years. The wife died in 1824, leaving William, Rachel, and Ann, in possession of the property. William, of Mamhilad, never married, his worldly means considerable improved, and his property increased. He died in May 1823, and his landed property went to William, brother of the intestate – his personal property to the intestate and her sister Ann. This would account for the increase of the property. Pantygoitre became the most important residence, and thither the bachelor brother and sisters removed. He and Ann subsequently died. Rachel thus became possessed of the property which was the subject of inquiry.
There were some peculiar circumstances attaching to the parish in which the property was situated. Mamhilad was in the upper division of Abergavenny, and was a perpetual curacy, united with the perpetual curacy of Trevethin to the vicarage of Llanover, all deeds and registers being kept at Llanover, which was considered the mother church. That would explain certain confusion in the registers, some of which were defective and very irregularly kept. There was, consequently, some difficulty in tracing the plaintiff’s pedigree. Still he believed he should be able to show by the registers as well as by other sources, clearly up to the birth of the great grandfather – Edmund, the husband of Diana. An exception must, however, be made with regard to the plaintiff’s father, who disappeared in consequence of being concerned in the Chartist riots in 1841, and had not been heard of since; but it was only reasonable to suppose he was dead, as he had not been heard of for sixteen years. Prior to the birth of Edmund, the son of Edmund and Diana, no registers were kept or they were exceedingly defective and very irregular, – indeed for Llanover no registers from 1733 to 1745 were to be found. The plaintiff was, therefore driven to parole testimony – heresay evidence and declarations made by members of the family, as to the degree of relationship they have towards each other.
Upon that point a deal of evidence would be adduced at the outset: he would ask the attention of the jury to the name Edmund, the great-grandfather of John Morgan, and who married Diana. His son was baptised in the name of Edmund, and Diana, by no means an uncommon name, and not lost in the family, that being the name given to the daughter of Edmund Morgan. A witness would tell that Diana died in 1796, and it had been found that she was a dissenter, and was interred in Penygarn chapel, in the neighbourhood of Trevethin church. On a tombstone there discovered was an inscription – “Here lies the remains of Diana, wife of John Morgan, who died in 1746.” There would also be adduced a considerable mass of evidence to show that Edmund Morgan and John Morgan, of Graigwith and William Morgan of Mamhilad were in the habit of treating each other as cousins, their relationship – they being first cousins – being only intelligible from the supposition that Edmund Morgan was brother to the father of those two. He (the learned counsel) was told that it was the custom in and about Wales for the children of first cousins to call the fathers and mothers uncles and aunts.
The jury, however perhaps know more upon that matter that himself. After stating other facts he should prove with respect to the relationship, the learned counsel briefly glanced at the defendant’s case, remarking upon the facilities he possess of searching monuments and documents, and brought forward to sustain his case. Among other things, Mr. Alexander referred to a deed which was said to be a complete answer to the plaintiff’s case. The defendant, might have considered it all that was necessary for him, and, therefore have not instituted a further and so strict a search as he might have done. The possession he had obtained had given him an enormous advantage, and to say the least, considering his claim was through the female line, his taking possession was rather sharp practice. The learned counsel, after a few other remarks, observed that he should again have an opportunity of addressing them, and therefore, would not trouble them further then.
At the suggestion of Mr. Wheeley, all the witnesses were ordered out of Court.
Mr. Serjeant Pigott then proposed to prove, but it was admitted on the other side, that Rachel Morgan the intestate, died on the 29th of September, in 1854, unmarried, having been born in 1786; that she was the sister of Wm. Morgan, who died on the 4th June, 1843, a bachelor; that she was the daughter of John Morgan, of Graigwith who died May 19, 1805; that her mother’s name was Rachel Evans, who was married in 1784, at Bristol, and who died in March, 1824; that John Morgan, of Graigwith, and one brother Wm. Morgan, who a bachelor in August, 1825; that those two brothers were the sons of William Morgan, of Mamhilad, and Rachel Jones; that William Morgan married one of the co-heiresses of Graigwith; that Wm. Morgan, of Mamhilad, died in December, 1772, and that he was the son of Wm. Morgan, the common ancestor, and Eleanor Morgan; that the intestate had a sister Ann, who died unmarried in 1851.
Mr Robert Williams, of Beaufort, was then sworn as interpreter, said: the following witnesses were called:-
Harry Morgan, who gave his evidence through the interpreter, said: I am 86 years of age. When I first remember I lived at Groeslanfro, in the parish of Bassalleg, in this county. My father’s name was Edmund Morgan. He lived, when I was born, at Groeslanfro. I am the son of the second wife of my father. His mother’s name was Mary Davies. My grandfather’s name was John Morgan. I cannot say what was my grandmother’s name. I do not remember either grandfather or grandmother. My father’s mother’s Christian name was Diana. I had three sisters and two brothers. Amy and Ann Evans are the only two surviving sisters. My father’s first wife was named Ann White. I had a half brother named William. He was the oldest son of the family. I cannot say whom he married, or when. He had a son. His son’s name was Isaac Morgan. Isaac married. He had seven sons. Jacob the head plaintiff is the oldest. My father has been dead many years. His name was Edmund Morgan, of Groeslanfro. My half-brother, William, is dead. Isaac is dead.
Daniel Jones, aged 68, examined in English by Mr. Phipson: I am a collier, at Cwmcarne. I knew Rachel, the intestate, and her brother William. Did not know John Morgan. Of Graigwith. My father worked for William Morgan, of Mamhilad, for fifteen years. That was the uncle of William and Rachel. He was the father’s brother, William Morgan, of Mamhilad, and brother of John Morgan, of Graigwith. When I knew Rachel and William, Rachel the widow of John Morgan, had three children, and Rachel and Ann lived with her. I drove asses and mules for William the uncle, three weeks or a month. I knew William, the intestate’s brother. I have heard him speak of his relations. I have heard him say that Edmund Morgan, of Groeslanfro, was his father’s cousin. I never heard him speak of any relations but the Groeslanfro family. He called William, Edmund’s son, his cousin of Groeslanfro. He said he knew him very well. I knew old Edmund Morgan, of Groeslanfro, and William, and William’s sister, Diana Morgan. William had not another sister by the same father and mother.
Cross-examined by Mr. Whateley: It is a good many years since I knew Wm. Morgan. I was at Tonnybella, near Llangibby, when the conversation took place which I have spoken of. I lived there seven years. I was married about two years after I left Tonybella. I was married in June, 1826. I remember being examined at Bristol. I did not say there that I was married when I left Tonybella. Became acquainted with Wm. Morgan when I was driving mules, with hoops, out of Graigwith Wood. I was about 16 years of age. He was doing nothing except walking about that I knew of. I became a great friend of his. Sometimes saw him two or three times a day. He mentioned the relationship to me three or four times; may be half-a-dozen. The conversation took place on the road between Tonnybella and Pontypool, and other places. Wm. Morgan was living at Graigwith and I at Tonnybella. I was there the whole seven years. I was as familiar with him or more so than my own brother. I worked for weekly wages. Wm. Morgan was not High Sheriff of the county to my knowledge. I never said so at Bristol; I said his uncle was. I used to carry coal and lime with William Morgan. That was the William Morgan I was so intimate with while at Tonybella, the brother of Rachel. I travelled with him to Pontypool mostly every Saturday. He lived at Graigwith, a fine house, at the time. He kept servants and horses, cows and sheep. I have travelled with him more than a hundred times while I lived at Tonnybella. The conversation took place the first time in the wood by the house. It was several years before I went to live at Tonybella. I was then 14 or 15 years of age; I am now 65. I was first asked about the conversation about two years ago. John Rogers, of Abercarne, asked me about it. I have had nothing promised to me either by Jacob Morgan or anybody else, if Jacob Morgan wins the trial. I have had not note. William Walters said something about one. I take my oath I never saw a note for £300 in my life, nor was promised one. [William Walters was here called in.]
Mr. Wheeley: Did not Jacob Morgan put into Wm. Walter’s hands a note for £300, to be paid if he won the case?
Witness: There’s William Walters.
On the question being repeated, he replied – “I don’t know, indeed.”
Mr Whateley: Did not Walters speak to you about a note?
Witness: Yes, he spoke to me about a note. But that’s between Walters and him. I knew nothing about it.
Mr Whateley: Did you buy a stamp for the note?
Witness: We bought two stamps, Walter and me; but I never have had –
Mr Whateley: What did you buy the stamps for?
Witness: I did not but them. They were no use to me. I paid for one and Walters for the other. He drew me to buy the stamp. I did not owe Morgan money. Morgan owed me none. I did not ask Walters to ask plaintiff what he was going to give me for my evidence; but he told Walters and Thomas Lewis that he would give us a prize if he gained the trial. Walters bought the stamps at Pontypool. I paid for one, and he paid for the other. Rogers is a collier at Abercarne. I saw him about August, 1855. I have spoken to Jacob Morgan about giving evidence. I first spoke to him on a Sunday, when I saw him in Wm. Walters’s house. Cannot say whether it was before the stamps were bought. I bought the stamp thinking to raise about £250 on a note written by Charles Edwards, of Pontypool.
Re-examined by Mr Phipson: William Walters and myself went to Pontypool. I paid for one stamp, and he paid for the other. Never had the stamp in my hand. Never saw it after it was written on. I wanted money to build a house. Charles Edwards was to write out the note. My master, Thomas Jones of Abercarn, was to sign it. He was to be bail for the money. I had the promise of the money from another man. Never had any conversation with Jacob Morgan about what was to be put on the stamp. Do not know what was put upon it. Thomas Rogers, as far as I know was not to have anything to do with the note. I don’t know what was done with the stamp after Walters took it away. I cannot write. I can read print. When I had the conversation with William Morgan, he was about my own age. He was living at Graigwith, with his mother and two sisters.
Edmund Thomas, of Bassalleg, 76 years of age, was next examined by Mr Alexander, through the interpreter. I once assisted in ploughing and sowing wheat at Graigwith. I knew the Miss Morgan. It was for John Morgan, their father, that I ploughed and sowed wheat. I had my meals there. One day at dinner he asked me how I was going home. I said I was going by Groeslanfro. He asked me if I would call and inquire after the health of his cousin, Edmund Morgan, who lived there. I called at Groeslanfro, and delivered a message – that John Morgan, of Graigwith, sent to know about the health of his cousin, Edmund Morgan, Groeslanfro. The old man Edmund said he was surprised his cousin John had not called. I went to Groeslanfro a second time for John to ask how his cousin was. Mr. Morgan, of Graigwith, was the father of Rachel and Ann. He frequently spoke to them of Henry, William, Watkin, and John, sons of Edmund Morgan. The Misses Morgan said they were their second cousins. I know and have seen Henry Morgan here to-day. It is the same.
Cross-examined by Mr. Keating: I was working for a tenant of Miss Morgan, when I assisted in the wheat sowing, and was fourteen years of age. John Morgan gave me the message to take in his own house. The servants and family were there. I don’t recollect who the family were. Both daughters were present. Both of them said the boys were their second cousins. Mr Morgan’s age I never heard. I had been living half a year with the tenant when I was sent with the message from Graigwith. And was eight or nine years of age, if so much. She said she was second cousin to the Morgan’s, of Groeslanfro, frequently. Whenever the matter was mentioned, Rachel and Ann said they were so related at least twelve times. I cannot be certain that I said before the Commissioner at Bristol, that Ann was from ten to eleven. John Morgan told me many times he was cousin to the Morgan’s of Groeslanfro. He said nothing more about family matters, than that they were the children of two brothers. I was with Morgan’s tenant about two years. I was occupied in driving horses.
Daniel Jones, of Trevethin, examined in English, by Sergeant Pigott: I am a collier, and about eighty years of age. Knew John Morgan, William Morgan and Edmund Morgan. I saw them at Mr. White’s, of Pontypool. William Morgan, of Mamhilad, said they were all cousins. The Morgans always called each other and Mr. White, “cousin.” John Morgan, of Graigwith married the servant maid. I saw John Morgan after he was married, with Edmund. John was the father of Rachel Morgan.
Cross-examined by Mr. Grey: I recollect the time of this marriage very well. I saw John and Edmund Morgan in Mr White’s shop several times before the marriage, and after. At Bristol, when I was examined, I did not say that I did not recollect seeing them together in the shop of Mr White, at Pontypool, after the marriage. I used to go to Mr. White’s shop for change. I was 27 or 28 years of age then. I knew the Morgans were relations 70 years ago. I did not say at Bristol that it was in 1804 that I first knew they were cousins. Morgan, of Mamhilad, told me several times that they were cousins. I did not say he told me so at Bristol. [Here the witness became too confused, that the aid of an interpreter was called in.] I did not say before the Commissioner that Wm. Morgan told me he and Edmund were cousins. I did not say that neither John, William nor Edmund told me they were cousins. I was from 10 to 12 years of age when I first saw Edmund Morgan to know him. I did not say at Bristol I was over 20. I knew William first. I cannot recollect how old I was when I first knew John.
Re-examined by Serjeant Pigott: I was about eight when I first knew William. I said at Bristol that John, Edmund and William and Mr. White were cousins.
Thos Davis, of Pentrebach, seventy-seven years of age, examined by Mr Phipson, in English: I knew Wm. Morgan, of Mamhilad, well. I knew his nephew, Wm. Morgan, of Pantygoitre, son of Morgan, of Graigwith. I heard Wm. Morgan say Edmund was his cousin, at my father’s house. Wm. Morgan came there to get some one to assist him in taking some sheep home. Edmund Morgan went with William Morgan, to drive the sheep. I saw Edmund Morgan at Mamhilad several times. He lived there. He was sometimes called Edmund Morgan, of Groeslanfro, but not in Wm. Morgans presence.
The learned Judge remarked that this witness had proved nothing, and it was therefore unnecessary to take cognizance of his evidence.
John Rosser, aged 62, examined in Welsh, by Mr. Alexander, lived in the parish of St. Brides until he was 27 years of age. He remembered William Morgan of Graigwith, and Morgan of Mamhilad, his uncle. Wm Morgan bought some land of Mr. Phillips, of Bristol situate in St Bride’s. He kept the land four or five years, visiting the place about twice every summer. He put up his horse and had refreshment at my father’s house. Witness remembers Morgan of Graigwith talking to his father about Morgan’s, of Groeslanfro. His father asked Morgan, of Graigwith, about Morgan, of Groeslanfro. I knew Morgan, of Groeslanfro, and his father Edmund Morgan of Graigwith told witness’s father that he and Morgan of Groeslanfro, were second cousins – that their fathers were first cousins. Witness’s father told him it would not be much to render William Morgan, of Mamhilad, assistance. Morgan, of Graigwith said – “I will remember him some time or other”. Witness’s father made application for assistance two or three times. Morgan said nothing more that that they were cousins.
Cross-examined by Mr. Keating: When I first heard these conversations I was between 27 and 28. It was Morgan his nephew who spoke of the relationship. I knew William Morgan of Mamhilad. He once visited my father’s house, with his uncle. I was from 18 to 19 years of age then. The Morgans kept the land in their own hands for the first five or six years after they bought it. William Morgan came to my father’s house both before and after he let the land. My sisters and two brothers were present during these conversations.
Thomas Prosser, brother of the last witness, deposed to William Morgans of Graigwith, and the Morgans of Groeslanfro were distant relations. Morgan, of Graigwith, said his father and the father of Morgan, of Groeslanfro, were first cousins. Witness’s father and Morgan of Graigwith, ought to meet Morgan of Groeslanfro, as he was getting old. Knew William Morgan, of Graigwith, well. Witness’s father worked at the sea wall for him. Witness had gone to him for the money. William Morgan’s mother was alive at the time.
Cross-examined by Mr Grey: I knew Morgan of Bassalleg. My father, I believe, was acquainted with him. Morgan, of Bassalleg, was old and poor. I do not know whether he had any children. I knew his son Isaac afterwards. I was at the house of William Morgan of Bassalleg, a number of years ago. Jacob Morgan first spoke to me about this trial when the paper was out for the next of kin. I told Jacob Morgan of the conversation I had heard.
Re-examined by Sergeant Pigott: Before William Morgan, of Bassalleg, got poor, he was a farmer, as far as I can understand it.
The Court here adjourned for a quarter of an hour.
Ann Rosser, sister to the two proceeding witnesses was examined by Mr Phipson. She stated her age to be 70 years. She had heard Morgan, of Graigwith, calling Morgan’s, of Groeslanfro, his cousin.
Cross-examined by Mr Whateley: That was forty years ago. I was taken to Bassalleg before the Rev. Chancellor Williams. One of my brothers was with me. It was six or seven months ago. I did not see Jacob Morgan until the day before yesterday. I never spoke him at all upon the matter. Jacob Williams took me to Bassalleg. Jacob Williams is uncle to Jacob Morgan. He said he had a family at Bassalleg and that Williams was his name.
William Rosser of Bassalleg, in answer to Mr. Alexander, said: He was 78 years of age. He knew a Mrs. Chemeys, who lived in a lodge at Tredegar. He married the cook at the lodge in 1801. Remembered his father of the intestate calling at the lodge. I did not see him. Mrs. Chemeys came out, and asked him if it was likely he would see Mr. Morgan, of Groeslanfro. She sent witness to him with a message. When witness delivered the message, he said it was from Morgan of Graigwith. Morgan, of Groeslanfro, said “My cousin.” Witness went back alone. Morgan said he would come in the course of the afternoon. Did not know Rachel Morgan. Knew all Edmund Morgan’s children by both wives. I remember seeing Watkin, a son of Edmund Morgan, on the road. He pointed out John Morgan, of Graigwith, as his uncle. Second cousins in Wales generally call their respective mothers uncles and aunts. – This witness was also examined in Welsh.
Cross-examined by Mr. Keating: The first time I was spoken to on the subject was a year ago.
William Rosser, of Machan, another Welsh witness in answer to Sergeant Pigott said: I am son of Thomas Prosser of St Brides. I knew Mr. Morgan, of Graigwith. I remember him coming to see some land he bought within the parish. He frequently put up at our house. He used to converse with my father. I heard the name of Edmund Morgan, of Groeslanfro, mentioned. My father said “Being so bold, may I ask who are your relations in the neighbourhood?” He said, Edmund Morgan, of Groeslanfro, was the nearest relation that he knew anything of. He said Edmund Morgan was cousin to his father, and he should like him to come and see him. He also said he would like to see Edmund’s son who was very poor in the world. My father and he thought the son was at Tredegar.
Cross-examined by Mr Grey: Edmund Morgan was seven or eight miles from my father. It was forty-eight years ago that the conversation took place. I was about ten years old. I have stated the very words. I do not know how long Edmund lived after this conversation, but it was some years. I did not know Edmund to speak to him. Some time after I knew his son. At the time of the conversation, William Morgan, of Graigwith, appeared to be about twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. My brothers and sisters were present. It took place near the kitchen fire. The were no servants present.
Harry Morgan, the first witness, was here recalled. The poor old fellow was very feeble. He was the son of Edmund Morgan. Had heard his father speak of his father. The name of the witness’s grandfather was John Morgan. He lived at Trevethin. The witness continued – I knew John Morgan, of Graigwith. I saw him sometimes in Newport. I heard my father say that my grandfather and the father of Mr. Morgan of Graigwith, were two brothers. I have heard my father say that William Morgan and John Morgan were brothers. I have heard my father speak of William and John Morgan twenty times. I have many times seen my father in company with John Morgan of Graigwith. I have heard my father speak of the children on John Morgan of Graigwith – two daughters and a son. My father said the children of John Morgan of Graigwith were second cousins to us.
Cross-examined by Mr Whateley: I was examined at Bristol. I do not recollect that I said my grandfather John Morgan and William Morgan were brothers. Perhaps I said my father said so. My grandfather lived at Trevethin. I did not say at Bristol my grandfather lived at Goitre. I did not say that I did not know my brother of John Morgan. Did not say I heard my father say that John Morgan, of Graigwith, and Wm. Morgan of Mamhilad were first cousins to each other I have spoken to John Morgan of Graigwith, when I have seen him coming from the canal meetings. I am sure it was not William, but John that I saw monthly for many years. I said at Bristol that I did not know William by sight. I did not know him. I saw William Morgan of Mamhilad, once at the canal meeting. I knew no relation of the name of Morris. I know no relation of the name of White. That was before my time. I never heard from my father that he or his father had any aunts. For the last few years I have been living at Corn-street Newport. I have been in Newport Workhouse fourteen years. I did not know Rachel, her brother William Morgan, or the sister Ann. I did not know Rachel, wife of John Morgan, or Graigwith.
Re-examined by Mr. Phipson: It is 40 years since I saw William Morgan of Mamhilad.
Ann Evans, a deaf old woman, 83 years’ old, was the next witness. She was examined by the aid of an interpreter, her son, with whose voice she was familiar, putting the questions to her. She said: I am the daughter of Edmund Morgan of Groeslanfro. I knew John Morgan, of Graigwith. I heard my father say John Morgan was his cousin. I have seen John Morgan at Groeslanfro often on business with my father about the farming. I have heard John Morgan, of Graigwith, speak about my father many times. I have heard him say he was a cousin and speak of him as “Cousin Edmund.” My father used to call him “Cousin John of Graigwith.” When my father and John Morgan have been present, I have heard John call my father “Cousin Edmund.” I have heard my father say my grandmother’s name was Diana and my grandfather’s John. My father had a daughter by the first wife named Diana.
Cross-examined by Mr Keating: I was never at Graigwith. I do not remember my grandfather, John Morgan, of Graigwith, had the appearance of a farmer – not of a gentleman. I knew a brother John, of Graigwith. His name was William. I saw him at Groeslanfro several times. At Bristol, I don’t remember that I never saw William at Groeslanfro. I did go often to Pontypool. I did not go to see a cousin of my father’s there. My father had not a cousin there of the name of White. I never heard my father or John Morgan talk of any other cousins they had. I never heard of a relation of the name of either Morris or Bond. I never heard from my father that he had any aunt. John Morgan whenever he came to Groeslanfro asked for “My cousin Edmund.”
Anne Evans, half-sister to the last witness, and 81 years of age deposed: My maiden name was Morgan. My first husband’s name was Lewis Evans; my second, Henry Richards. I am daughter of Edmund Morgan by his second wife. My father had a son by her named William, and a daughter. He had five children by his second wife – Watkin, Henry, John, Amy and myself. William lived at Goitre. I don’t know a place called Mamhilad. My father told me William Morgan, when he came to Groeslanfro, was his cousin. He said John and William Morgan were brothers. When William came to Groeslanfro, he said my father was his cousin. Did not know Miss Rachel Morgan of Pantygoitre; My father said she was the daughter of John Morgan. My father said John Morgan had another daughter, Ann. I have heard my father speak of my grandfather. His Christian name was John. I heard my father say my grandmother’s name was Diana. I have heard John Morgan ask my father several times to go and see her on a Sunday. I never went to Graigwith or Mamhilad myself. My father sometimes left home on a Sunday. He said he was going to William Morgan, at the Goitre, who he said was his cousin.
Cross-examined by Mr. Grey: Was never at Graigwith. I have seen William, the brother of John but not William, the son of John. Was never at Mamhilad. Never heard from my father of my other relations, of an aunt named Morris and named White, a cousin named White, or a relation of the name of Bond. I have heard my father speak of the father of John and William Morgan. I was examined at Bristol.
John Rowlands, aged 78: I am son of Henry Rowlands, of Bassalleg. When I was fourteen years’ old, I remember Edmund Morgan, of Groeslanfro, talking with my mother on the fold, at Groeslanfro. My mother was taking some shoes home belonging to the people at Groeslanfro. I was with her. Edmund Morgan said he would be a rich man if he lived after Mr. Morgan, of Graigwith. He said they were not certain – the children of two brothers. This was sixty years ago.
Cross-examined: Edmund Morgan lived fifteen years after. Jacob Williams sent for me about ten weeks ago and to him I gave the last account. He sent for me. Jacob Williams is son of Edward Willis of Pie Corner. I suppose he is a relation to the Morgan; I can’ say what. I never spoke to Jacob Morgan about it.
George Llewellin: I know Jacob Morgan. I knew his father Isaac. I am 58 years old. I and Isaac were brought up together. My father and Isaac Morgan’s father, William, were near neighbours. I lived between two or three years with William Morgan, plaintiff’s grandfather, when I heard speak of William Morgan of Graigwith, as his cousin. I heard William Morgan, of Graigwith, say to Isaac Morgan that he should be his heir if he survived him, said that he must keep up his books. William Morgan, plaintiff’s grandfather, went to Graigwith and stayed there a couple of days and a night. He said he was going to visit his cousin. When he came back he said himself and cousin enjoyed themselves very much, as the old lady had been very kind to them. That was about 37 year since. Besides Wm. Morgan I saw no other of the Graigwith family.
Cross-examined: The plaintiff’s grandfather was getting old, but he was not very poor. Isaac was about eighteen years of age. He was at school at and after that age, a quarter now and then. By the old lady, I understood William’s mother. It was about Christmas that he went to Graigwith.
Walter Walters, 77 years of age, cowkeeper on the Tredegar estate knew William Morgan of Bassalleg. Knew Jacob Morgan, William’s grandson. William Morgan’s father was Edmund Morgan of Groeslanfro, who he knew well. Had conversed with William about his relation. William Morgan and his wife lived in his house, and were allowed 8s a week by Sir Charles Morgan. William Morgan and John Morgan, of Graigwith, was the second cousin.
Cross-examined: The paper I produced was written by my son that I might not forget the term of relationship. He wrote it about a fortnight ago. Jacob Williams or Jacob Morgan was not there. William Morgan told me the relationship before he was buried. Jacob Williams asked me about this two months ago. Nothing but that one work was written down. Jacob Williams nor anyone else never took down anything I had to say.
Re-examined: I asked my son to write it down because was very particular as to my oath. Nobody knew anything of the paper but myself and son. I did not see Jacob Williams until I was subpoenaed, The Rev. Chancellor Williams called upon me. I told him all except about the paper I have said to-day. I did not use the word second cousin to the Chancellor. It is since that I have remembered the relationship. I did not see Jacob Williams write down anything. I said the Chancellor did, and no one else.
Thomas Thomas said: I am a mason and builder at Newport. Plaintiff’s father worked for me. He told me he was the heir to Pantygoitre property – that the old family came from Mamhilad – that he was brought up in the parish of Bassalleg. The Miss Morgans were alive. He said he wished to go and see them but thought as he was so poor, they might be shy towards him.
Emma Thomas, wife of Thomas Thomas, sister of the last witness, remembered Isaac coming to her house at Bristol to hide after the riots at Newport in 1841, he said he had a rich aunt at Pontypool, and he wished he had some of her money, and he would leave the country.
P.C.Edward Killern produced a copy from a tombstone at Penygarn, near Pontypool, which ran thus – “Here lies the body of Diana the wife of John Morgan, who died 17th May 1873, aged 47.”
Harry Morgan was here re-called, and stated that he had heard his father say that his mother was buried at Penygarn chapel, Trevethin, and that her name was Diana.
The Rev. John Evans, Vicar of Llanover, gave some evidence to the deficiencies in the registers of the parishes of Llanover, Trevethin, and Mamhilad; and Frederick Phillips, grocer of Pontypool as to a tablet in Llangibby church, and the register; but it was ultimately arranged that both should be re-examined next morning.
Mr Alexander then handed an old Welsh Bible to the learned Judge, obtained from a man named Pritchard, who said he was a connection of the Morgan family; and put in a deed dated October 1st 1697, between Edmund Morgan, of Mamhilad, and Catherine his wife, and Wm Morgan, of Mamhilad, their son and heir apparent, of the first part, and Florentina, widow of Walter Morgan, Eleanor, the daughter of Theophilus Reynolds, and John Morgan of the parish of Llangibby, of the second part. The deed conveyed certain property to trustees, in trust for the heirs of Edmund and Catherine; but bore no reference to the matter in dispute.
Mr Herapath of Bristol – I have occasionally examined the signatures to ascertain whether they are written by the same person. I have examined the signatures in the Bible. In the signature of William there is a curious circumflex “W” they appear to be written by the same person. (The document was here handed to witness.) I believe the signature in the Bible, and to the deed, are by the same person. There are several signatures of Edmund in the Bible.
His Lordship suggested that it would be preferable to examine the signatures by daylight, and the Court accordingly adjourned at eight o’clock.
Mr Justice Willes took his seat at nine o’clock.
Edward Tiller, clerk to Mr Tanner, produced the registers of Llanover, and a number of the surrounding parishes, and spoke of the deficiencies which existed.
Joseph Hackwork, deputy registrar of Llandaff, stated he had instituted a search among the diocesan registries. Those relating to Llanover, Trevethin, Mamhilad and other parishes were deficient.
Mr. Herapath was again called. He stated that, after examining the Bible and the deed produced, he believed the signatures of Edmund Morgan in each to be by the same person. He believed the writing to have been exposed to the atmosphere a great many years.
The Bible was then put in merely, however, to show that signature in it “John Morgan” authenticated the fact of there having been a John Morgan.
Two letters from Mr. Waddington to Mr. Tanner were also put in. One dated the 16th of August 1855, stated that the defendant had no documentary evidence, that the intestate’s grandfather had no brother: the other dated February 16th 1856 that the defendant’s father had discovered a written document which had been mislaid, and which contained the previous information.
This closed the plaintiff’s case, and Mr Whately addressed the jury for the defendant, detailed the evidence it was his intention to call, and expressed what he considered many inaccuracies in the examination of the witnesses just conducted. He then called
Iltyd Nicholl, Esq, the defendant’s father, who deposed that he had known the late Miss Rachel Morgan about fifty years.
He occasionally visited her, her brother, another uncle William at Mamhilad. He heard of her death, and immediately took possession of her deed and documents which he handed to Mr. Waddington her solicitor. Among her papers he found a prayer book, which she had shown him a few days after her uncle’s death. It contains a good many family entries. Found a draft of a deed of gift, and subsequently the original was found in his presence by Mr. Waddington.
Witness married Eleanor Bond in 1807, She died in 1849. She was the only surviving child of George Bond, who married Eleanor Bond, whose maiden name was Morris. John Morris of the Pant Llantillio Crossenny, and Elizabeth Morgan daughter of Wm. Morgan of Mamhilad, witness heard from his mother-in-law, were her father and mother. She had two sisters, Mary married to White and Ann married to Jones. She had a brother, William Morgan of Mamhilad. He was father of William Morgan, of Mamhilad, whom witness knew, and John. Mary White had a son. Witness knew him. He lived at Pontypool. Ann Jones had no children. Never heard until this dispute that Elizabeth had a brother John. Had frequent conversations with Rachel Morgan upon the subject of her family. Upon one occasion, a few days after her uncle’s death, she asked witness to insert the death, so as to make the pedigree complete. That took place at Mamhilad. Witness attended the funeral of Wm. Morgan of Mamhilad along with Wm. Morgan of Graigwith, the brother of Rachel. Mr John White of Pontypool died a few months before. Witness attended his funeral. Wm. Morgan of Graigwith was there. They were the only relatives, and the only two who had hat-bands. There were no Morgans of Groeslanfro there. The book was in the same state as when the witness first knew it, except as to the binding. Witness was in the habit of going with his wife and children to Mr. White’s of Pontypool, once a year at least, to meet Wm. Morgan and his sisters, Ann and Rachel, as a family party. Had talked to White several times upon those occasions about the family.
Witness’s family frequently visited Rachel Morgan and William Morgan. Witness produced the marriage settlement of his wife’s grandmother, Elizabeth Morgan, and John Morgan of Llantillio Crossenny. It was dated December 1780.
Also produced the marriage settlement of witness’s mother-in-law, dated February 1771, between Eleanor Morgan and John Bond. Witness’s mother married a second time one Rogers.
Cross-examined: I never heard of a family of Lewis’s being connected with the Morgans.
Alexander Waddington, defendant’s solicitor examined:
I was solicitor to Miss Rachel Morgan for those years before her death. Three or four days after, I went to Pantygoitre House. I was employed by next of kin as regarded the personal property, as well as by Mr Nicholl.
Witness produce certificates of the baptism and burial of William Morgan of Berthlandu, in the parish of Llanhennock, in 1704. Berthlanau is a farm belonging to Mr Nicholl, to whom it descended from Florence Morgan.
Witness also produced the marriage settlement of William Morgan the younger, of Mamhilad, and Rachel Jones, which document spoke of William as son and heir apparent of Edmund and Catherine Morgan; and a certificate of the burial of Wm Morgan in 1772, a copy of probate of the will of Florence Morgan dated March 1712, appointing Wm. Morgan , of Mamhilad, her executor, and making bequests to the Morgans of Graigwith and Mamhilad; a copy of the register of baptism in 1732 of John, son on Elizabeth and John Morris; of a second son, Morris; two daughter Eleanor and Elizabeth; the certificate of the burial of Elinor daughter of George and Elinor Bond: the certificates of the two marriages of Mr Nicholl’s mother-in-law, and several other documents.
Witness continued: I have carefully searched all the documents in the Nicholls’s possession; I find no trace whatever of a John.
Cross-examined: I began to search for and classify the deed on the 12th of October. The original deed of gift was found on the 21st February 1856 – the draft a fortnight later.
Francis McDonnell, Esq: I was articled to Mr Prothero, solicitor to the Morgan family. Afterwards I went into partnership with him, and we continued solicitors to the Morgans till 1836. I was also solicitor to the Nicholl family. I know the intestate, Rachel Morgan, and the two Williams. Rachel, Ann and William spoke of Mrs Nicholl as their aunt, Mrs. Nicholl, call Mr. Morgan of Mamhilad, her uncle. The Morgans and Nicholls were upon terms of the greatest intimacy. The Morgans called Mr. White of Pontypool, cousin. I have met William Morgan of Graigwith, at Mr. White’s several times. I never heard of such people as the Morgans of Groeslanfro. The elder William Morgan was a share-holder in the canal. I was solicitor to the Company.
Margaret Morgan, of Mamhilad, 67 years of age, deposed: My father, William Morgan, who lived at Mamhilad all his lifetime, died seventeen years ago, aged 86. I do not recollect my grandfather. I remember Wm. Morgan the uncle of the late William Morgan, of Mamhilad House. I and my father have been to Mamhilad House. I never heard anything about the relationship from William Morgan, of Mamhilad House, except that he considered my father was descended from one of the family. William Morgan, of Mamhilad House, frequently said the Nicholls were his nearest relations; and I have heard them call John White “cousin.” I have seen Mrs Nicholl and Mrs. Nicholl, Mrs Rogers, at Mamhilad House visiting several times.
Captain Charles Bird aged 69 years had all his life been on terms of intimacy with the Morgans and Nicholl families. Knew Miss Rachel Morgan. She called Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. Nicholl “aunt”. He heard Rachel say that Nicholls were her nearest relations. Never heard the Morgans, of Groeslanfro, mentioned.
George Whitlock-Nicholl Esq., barrister, brother to the defendant said: My mother died in September 1860. Before my mother died, I asked her to endeavour to find out her relationship to the Morgans. My mother said that her grandmother had one brother and two sister. I remember making the same inquiry of the said Mrs Nicholl. She said her grandfather had three sisters and no brother. Miss Rachel Morgan told me it was her intention to provide for her poor relations on the mother’s side. She specified seven or eight of the name of Jones. She made no mention of any Morgans of Groeslanfro.
Eleanor Nicholl, sister to the defendant, said: I knew the intestate Rachel Morgan. Before her brother died, she said my mother was her nearest relation on the father’s side. She said she must take care and make a will; otherwise all the property would go to my brother Iltyd.
Cross-examined: The first conversation might have been three or four years before the death of her brother. I do not know whether she had any property in her own right then. The second conversation took place in 1851. She was in good health and was alive and well.
Thomas Jenkins, tenant of the Mamhilad estate. I and my uncle have been tenants for thirty-nine years. I remember my uncle applying to Mr. William Morgan, above 25 years ago, concerning some repairs, and Mr. Morgan coming to our house. He said he was laying out a deal of money, that he should not be here long, but that it would go to his nephew, William Morgan. He heard Rachel say she had no nearer relation to her property than Mr. Nicholl.
Sarah Parcell: Was formerly servant to Mr. White, of Pontypool. Mrs. White died in November, 1830. Mr. Morgan attended the funeral. Mr. and Mrs. Nicholl were invited. After dinner, Mr. Morgan said he and Mr. Nicholl came to the funeral out of respect to their late cousin, Mrs. White.
John Eastub, carpenter, of Llanvair, had worked for the brother of Rachel Morgan 13 years. Mr. Iltyd Nicholl was there frequently. Three days before Mr Morgan died, in consequence of my asking him if he had settled his affairs, he said Mr. Nicholl was the nearest heir.
Cross-examined: For the last eighteen months I regularly attended upon Mr Morgan. No one was present when I spoke to him besides ourselves.
Wm. Hunter Little Esq., Llanvair often visited Rachel Morgan. Upon one occasion she told him Nicholls, of Usk, were her nearest relations.
Cross-examined: The conversation took place prior to the year 1840.
Henry Phillips, oil and iron merchant, Newport: Seven years ago I was manager of the Monmouth and Glamorgan Bank, Usk. Miss Rachel Morgan had an account at the Bank. I kept her accounts till her death. I frequently went to Pantygoitre house. When speaking to me — the settlement of her affairs, four or five years ago, she said defendant’s mother was her cousin.
George Harrison, chief clerk to the Monmouthshire Railway and Canal company, had searched the books from the incorporation of the company in 1792 to 1805. The name of John Morgan did not once appear amongst the minutes of the committee meetings.
By the Jury: I have not searched the shareholders’ list
By the Judge: The committee meet about once a week; the shareholders twice a year.
William Walters, tailor, at Abercarne, was the next witness. A note was handed to him. He said: This note was signed by Jacob Morgan and left with me.
By the Judge: It was left with me, so that Jacob Morgan might clear himself, and say he had received nothing for the trial.
Cross-examined – I wrote all the note but the signature. I wrote the note at the request of Daniel Jones to get the stamps. He paid 9s for them, 4s for one, and 5s for the other. The notes were written at my public-house. Jacob Morgan came there without my sending for him. I went with Daniel Jones to Bassalleg. He was unwilling to give evidence unless he had a promissory note for £300. I kept the note for £500 for myself. The notes were written in August 1836. Thomas Rogers signed as witness. Jacob Morgan was anxious there should be a witness. I told Mr. Waddington of both notes in November. I did not show them to him. I will swear I told Mr. Waddington I had a note for £500. My landlady Mrs Williams, grandmother of the Plaintiff, detrained (?) upon me for six months. He also proceeded against me in county court to recover possession of the premises. When I told Mr. Waddington of the notes, he did not ask to see them.
Re-examined: I was to have £500 for going about to get evidence. He said he had given his cousin, D.E.Williams, of Brynmawr, a note for £500, and he same by me.
The defendant, the Rev. Iltyd Nicholl, was next sworn: I made the memorandum produced by Mr Waddington shortly after the copy of the deed of gift was found. I cannot say another memorandum was attached to it. The last memorandum was made after the draft of the deed of gift.
The witness Walters was re-called at the request of the jury, and stated that the Williams who received the note was the interpreter of the previous day.
Mr. William Jones, one of the jury, said that they did not wish it to be inferred that Mr. Williams interpreted unfairly.
At the suggestion of the Judge, Jacob Williams was called. He deposed having examined the notes, and said: I know nothing of the notes. I believe the signatures are those of Jacob Morgan. I never asked him about them. I never knew anything of them until yesterday. I have been about trying to get up evidence. I have spoken to Walters about the notes, but not since last April twelve months. I have spoken to him twice, something simple. The last time was 16 months ago. I have not spoken to him in the presence of Jacob Morgan during the last 16 months. I did 16 months ago. I know Daniel Jones.. I never heard from anybody that he objected to give evidence. I spoke to him but was not the first. I know Thomas Rogers. He is a stranger to me. I don’t know whether his writing is appended to the note. I do not know of any note having been given to Mr. Williams.
Re-examined : He is my sister’s son.
Mr Wheeley then summed up the evidence. He commented indignantly upon the conspiracy which had evidently been got up upon the part of the plaintiff, and which must cast a cloud of the deepest die over the whole of his case. The fact of Mr Iltyd Nicholl’s early possession had been made the subject of much cross-examination; but the gentleman had acted he contested, in a very proper manner, and upon a bona fide belief of right. The defendant said his solicitor had not taken any undue advantage. The plaintiff’s attorney had been given every facility with regard to the documents. Copies had been furnished of any required; while the documents themselves had been subjected to every kind of examination; and there was no doubt that they were all genuine.
Was it at all probable – was it possible – that so many documents could have been produced without the name of John, had there been such a person in the family? As to the Bible, he was at a loss to know what it proved. The evidence brought forward to support the plaintiff’s course was full of inconsistencies and improbabilities. Most of it was scarcely worthy of notice.
The witnesses, who had been called to speak to the relationship of the plaintiff, told the tale they had been taught up to a certain point, but could go no further. They knew of the Morgans, of Groeslanfro, but of the relation at Pontypool they could tell nothing at all, although on intimate and visiting terms with the Morgans, of Pantygoitre; while on the other side there were the distinct statements of Mr McDonnell and other friends of the family – of Mr. Nicholl and others of the family – that no connection whatever existed between them.
It could not be supposed for a moment that they were of kin. Again could they believe that the poor old workhouse man, had he been really related to the rich owners of Pantygoitre, would not have applied to them in his distress; or that the latter would not have spontaneously assisted him? Referring again to the documents, the learned Counsel preceded to contend that nothing could be more conclusive of the utter falsity of the plaintiffs claim. In 1741 William Morgan made a will, mentioning his daughters and son William; but no mention was made either in that or any other of John Morgan, or a son of John Morgan in the face of such evidence as they had heard for the plaintiff, and the ample contradiction given it by the defendants witnesses, he trusted they would give a verdict for his client.
Mr. Alexander replied at some length upon the whole case; and his Lordship minutely reviewed the evidence adduced, carefully directing the jury’s attention to the legal bearing of the several parts of the witnesses testimony. –
The jury, after being locked up for about an hour, returned a VERDICT FOR THE DEFENDANT.
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