Sir Henry Morgan

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Morgan, Sir Henry (c.1635–88). Morgan was a buccaneer and adventurer in the Spanish main. He came from Glamorgan and was a nephew of Colonel Edward Morgan, lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, who was killed in 1665. The Caribbean was a scene of permanent warfare between the English and Spaniards. Morgan joined an expedition in 1666 led by a buccaneer, Edward Mansfield: when he was killed in action, Morgan was ‘chosen’ to lead the raiders. They captured Porto Bello, slaughtered the Spanish garrison, and ransacked the town—on the pretext that the Spaniards were preparing an invasion of Jamaica. Next Morgan plundered parts of Cuba, including the town of Maracaybo, and was appointed naval commander in the area, to be paid in plunder. He proceeded to capture Panama despite a pitched battle by its defenders. His atrocities caused his recall to England, but he gained favour with Charles II, was made lieutenant-governor of Jamaica in 1674, and knighted. He spent the rest of his life there as a stern defender of law and order. Ferocious and fearless, Morgan was a brilliant guerrilla leader and a scourge to the Spaniards.

J. A. Cannon

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Sir Henry Morgan, 1635?–1688, Welsh buccaneer. In his youth he went to the West Indies, eventually joining the buccaneers there. On the death (1667) of Edward Mansfield, Morgan took his place as commander of the buccaneers. He operated as a privateer, and was commissioned in his activities by the British authorities. His exploits included the capture of Puerto Príncipe (Camagüey, Cuba) and the sack of Puerto Bello (1668), the capture of Maracaibo (1669), the ravaging of the Cuban and American coasts (1670), and the famously daring capture of Panama (1671). His operations were always marked by brutality and debauchery, but were sometimes executed with skill against great odds. Ordered arrested by Charles II and sent (1672) as a prisoner to England on complaints of piracy, he was never imprisoned or punished, but instead soon became a hero, was knighted (1673), and named lieutenant governor of Jamaica, where he spent the rest of his life and was acting governor (1680–82).

See biographies by P. Lindsay (1950), H. R. Allen (1976), D. Pope (1978), and T. Breverton (2005); studies by J. Ure (1983), S. M. Petrovich (2001), P. Earle (1982 and 2007), and S. Talty (2007).

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Morgan, Sir Henry (1635–88) Welsh adventurer in the Caribbean. He led a band of buccaneers against Spanish colonies and ships, capturing and looting Panama (1671). In 1672, he was sent back to England on a charge of piracy, but was greeted as a hero and returned to the West Indies with a knighthood as lieutenant governor of Jamaica.