Morgan, George Cadogan (DNB00)
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Morgan, George Cadogan
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MORGAN, GEORGE CADOGAN (1754-1798), scientific writer, born in 1754 at Bridgend, Glamorganshire, was the second son of William Morgan, a surgeon practising in that town, by Sarah, sister of Dr. Richard Price [q. v.] William Morgan [q. v.] was his elder brother. George was educated at Cowbridge grammar school and, for a time, at Jesus College, Oxford, whence he matriculated 10 Oct. 1771 (Faster, Alumni Oxon.) An intention of entering the church was abandoned, owing to the death of his father and the poverty of his family. His religious views also changed, and he soon became, under the guidance of his uncle, Dr. Price, a student at the dissenting academy at Hoxton, where he remained for several years. In 1776 he settled as Unitarian minister at Norwich, where it is said that his advanced opinions exposed him to much annoyance from the clergy of the town. He was subsequently minister at Yarmouth for 1785-6, but removed to Hackney early in 1787, and became associated with Dr. Price in starting Hackney College, where he acted as tutor until 1791. In 1789, accompanied by three friends, he set out on a tour through France, and his letters to his wife descriptive of the journey are still preserved (see extracts printed in A Welsh Family, &c.) He was in Paris at the storming of the Bastille, and is supposed to have been the first to communicate the news to England (ib. p. 88). He sympathised with the revolution in its earlier stages, and held very optimistic views as to human progress, believing that the mind could be so developed as to receive, by intuition, knowledge which is now attainable only through research. In 1791 he was disappointed of Dr. Price's post as preacher at the Gravel-pit meeting-house at Hackney, and retired to Southgate in Middlesex. There he undertook the education of private pupils, and met with much success.
Morgan gained a high reputation as a scientific writer, his best-known work being his 'Lectures on Electricity' (Norwich, 1794, 16mo, 2 vols.), which he had delivered to the students at Hackney. In these he foreshadowed several of. the discoveries of subsequent scientific men (see extracts in A Welsh Family). In chemistry he was an advocate of the opinions of Stahl in opposition to those of Lavoisier, and was engaged upon a work on the subject at the time of his death. In 1785 he communicated to the Royal Society a paper containing 'Observations and Experiments on the Light of Bodies in a state of Combustion' (Phil. Trans, vol. lxxv.) He was also the author of 'Directions for the use of a Scientific Table in the Collection and Application of Knowledge, . . . with a Life of the Author ' (reprinted from the 'Monthly Magazine' for 1798), London, 1826, 4to. This contains an elaborate table for the systematisation of all knowledge. He also made considerable progress in writing the memoirs of Dr. Richard Price.
He died on 17 Nov. 1798 of a fever contracted, it was supposed, while making a chemical experiment in which he inhaled some poison. He was a handsome man, and his portrait was painted by Opie.
By his wife, Nancy Hurry of Yarmouth, he had seven sons and one daughter, Sarah, wife of Luke Ashburner of Bombay, who was a prominent figure in Bombay society (see Basil Hall, Voyages and Travels, 2nd ser. iii. 134, which contains a sketch by Mrs. Ashburner). Two of the sons, William Ashburner Morgan and Edward Morgan, successively became solicitors to the East India Company, while most of the others settled in America, where the eldest, Richard Price Morgan, was connected with railroad and other engineering works (A Welsh Family, p. 145).
[A Welsh Family from the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century (8vo, London, 1885, 2nd ed. 1893), by Miss Caroline E. Williams, for private circulation ; Gent. Mag. 1798, ii. 1144 ; Monthly Mag. for 1798; Memoirs of the Rev. Richard Price, 1815, pp. vi, vii, 178-81 ; Williams's Eminent Welshmen, p. 338; Foulkes'sl Enwogion Cymru, pp. 732-3.]