Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Morgan, Sylvanus

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MORGAN, SYLVANUS (1620–1693), arms-painter and author, born in London in 1620, was brought up to and practised the profession of an arms-painter. In 1642 he wrote 'A Treatise of Honor and Honorable Men,' which remained in manuscript (see Brydges's Censura Literaria, viii. 236). In 1648 he printed a poem entitled 'London, King Charles his Augusta, or City Royal of the Founders;' and in 1652 'Horologiographia Optica, Dialling universal and particular.' In 1661 he published a work on heraldry, entitled 'The Sphere of Gentry, deduced from the Principles of Nature: an Historical and Genealogical Work of Arms and Blazon, in Four Books.' Morgan says that this book had taken him years to compile and had been originally intended for dedication to Charles I, and that he had neglected his trade as arms-painter, suffered much illness, and had had his house burnt down. It contains a title-page with a portrait of Morgan, etched by R. Gaywood. The work was pedantic, and was discredited by Sir William Dugdale [q. v.] and other heralds; and it was alleged that it was really the work of Edward Waterhouse [q. v.], the author of 'A Discourse and Defence of Arms and Armory,' 1660. As the book contains much information concerning the Waterhouse family, it may be assumed that Waterhouse assisted Morgan in its compilation. In 1666 Morgan published a supplement, entitled 'Armilogia, sive Ars Chromocritica: the Language of Arms by the Colours and Metals.' Morgan lived near the Royal Exchange in London, and died on 27 March 1693. He was buried in the church of St. Bartholomew, behind the Exchange. He left a large collection of manuscripts, which came by marriage to Josiah Jones, heraldic painter and painter to Drury Lane Theatre, by whom they were sold by auction in 1759.

[Moule's Bibliotheca Heraldica Magnæ Britanniæ; Gent. Mag. 1796, pt. i. p. 366; Nichols's Anecdotes of Literature, ix. 801; Lowndes's Bibl. Man.; Wood's Fasti Oxon, ed. Bliss, ii. 164.]

L. C.