Extracts from his obituary in the Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News, 13th of March 1913:
"A Noble Gentleman"
"Viscount Tredegar passed away on Tuesday morning, full of years and honours and was one of the best loved and revered citizens of Wales. The announcement of the end, expected so long, came at last as a great sorrow, and it was regarded as a personal loss by all who came into contact with him in his public life, however slightly. As a soldier he belonged to the entire nation, and as one of the little band of the Light Brigade who made that famous charge, he belongs to the world of heroes.
Though Lord Tennyson made the charge famous in song, Lord Tredegar was never known to refer to it publicly except on the one occasion of a memorable gathering to celebrate the anniversary of the charge, As a citizen he played his part right well, and was equally at home at a foundation-stone laying or the re-opening of a church, or in presiding as he did for so many years, over the Newport cabmen's annual dinner. He belonged to the two counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, and although his house was in the latter he was just as well-known and revered as a landlord and public man in Glamorganshire. All classes claimed him as a friend, all churches as a supporter, for he lent his interest and gave of his time as freely to all who asked.
As a public speaker at all kinds of gatherings he was in demand, for though not a clever speaker, or a learned thinker and orator, he brought to all his tasks a geniality and a kindly wit which delighted and amused all without offending anyone. When the erection of a monument to his good work was suggested in the columns of the "South Wales Daily News" the testimonial was taken up with such splendid public spirit that appeals for funds became unnecessary, and the commission for the statue being put in hand, the committee found themselves with the means to clear the cost and the incidental expenses of its erection. It stands today in Cathays Park as a fine and a beautiful and lasting monument to the memory of a local gentleman, a gallant soldier, a kindly landlord and a patriotic supporter of all that tended to uplift and advance Wales.
Death of Viscount Tredegar
Great Welsh Nobleman's Career - A Distinguished Soldier and Public Servant - Benefactions to National Institutions - Un-interrupted Devotion to Cymric Ideals... Full of years and honours, Viscount Tredegar, the great Welsh nobleman who, above all others, lived in the hearts of his fellow-countrymen, passed away on Tuesday morning last at Tredegar House, the ancestral home of the Morgan family, near Newport.
His Lordship, who was in the 82nd year of his age, and had been critically ill for some days, those nearest and dearest to him being in constant attendance upon him to the last.
Viscount Tredegar became perceptibly weaker on Monday night, and Dr. Frederick Brewer, of Newport, remained in the sick chamber. As the distinguished patient became still weaker in the early morning, the doctor sent for his father, Dr. Reginald E.W. Brewer. The latter arrived shortly after six o'clock, and with Colonel Courtenay Morgan, nephew and heir, and Mr. Ivor Forestier-Walker, remained in the bedroom till the end, which came peacefully at 7.30.
The first symptoms of a breakdown in Viscount Tredegar's health came in the early part of 1911. On April 27th of that year he took his customary seat as chairman of the Monmouthshire Territorial Association. Two days later, on the Saturday, he became ill in the night, although during the earlier hours of the day he had attended to his correspondence.
Dr. Reginald E.W. Brewer, of Newport, was summoned, and a few days later a London specialist was consulted. For a time, his Lordship rallied, and in the beautiful summer months of 1911 he was frequently driven about the park, but not infrequently there was a relapse, and at times his condition became grave.
From these low conditions he rose to a better state of health, only to revert again to his former weak condition. For long months his Lordship hovered between illness and convalescence.
On January 4th last, his Lordship again took to his bed. Since that time however, he had intervals when he was able to get downstairs. On Saturday, March the 8th, however, his Lordship had a further relapse, and Dr. Brewer and his son, Dr Frederick Brewer, had been in constant attendance upon their distinguished patient. On Sunday last his condition became so critical that his immediate relatives were summoned to Tredegar Park, and kind enquires were made as to his condition by his Majesty the King, and by friends throughout the land.
His Majesty the King, on being informed of Viscount Tredegar's death, sent a gracious message of sympathy to Colonel Courtnay Morgan at Tredegar Park:
"To Lieut-Colonel Courtnay Morgan
The King is grieved to hear of the death of Lord Tredegar, for whom his Majesty had the highest respect, and who was then his Majesty's representative in Monmouthshire:
The King wishes to express his true sympathy with you and your family.
A Noble Line of Ancestry
The deceased Viscount was able to look back upon a noble and illustrious ancestry, who, through many generations, had in various directions, rendered distinguished service to their country. It is a lineage whose story originates in the mists and uncertain ties which so frequently envelop the early descent of Cymric families. A noted ancestor of the Morgans was Cadivor-fawr, a chieftain, of Dyfed, who died late in the eleventh century, leaving five sons, Of these, Bledri was the ancestor of the Morgans of Tredegar. Seven generations later Llewelyn ap Ivor married the beautiful Angharad, daughter and heiress of Sir Morgan ap Meridith, as a result of which the Monmouthshire estates were acquired by the family. Angarad was the mother of Ifor Hael, the friend and patron of Dafydd ap Gwilym, the fourteenth century bard and the greatest of all Welsh lyric writers. Every century in the subsequent history of the Morgan family has produced its outstanding figures. In 1448 Sir John of Tredegar was a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. Half a century later Sir Morgan of Tredegar was knighted by King Henry.
Born in the stirring times of the middle-half of the 17th century was Sir William Morgan who, when a white-haired old man of 85, gave shelter to the hapless King Charles in July of 1845, after Naseby had been lost, and the Royalist cause looked very bleak indeed. It was either Sir Thomas Morgan his successor, or his son, Sir William Morgan, who began the rebuilding of the present mansion. Sir William, who succeeded his father in 1664, further increased the family estates by espousing the heiress of the Dderw lands in Breconshire. During the 18th century there but few years when the family did not supply the Parliamentary representatives for either Monmouthshire or Breconshire, or both, whilst others did useful service for their country on the field of battle. In 1785 Jane Morgan, of Tredegar, married Sir Charles Gould, who was created a baronet in 1792, and assumed by Royal Licence the arms and name of Morgan.
During the first half of the last century the whole-hearted desire to serve the public was still a leading characteristic of the family, and in 1859 the then head of the family, Charles Morgan Robinson Morgan, was created Lord Tredegar. He died at the age of 83 in 1875, and was succeeded by his second (but eldest surviving son) who in the year 1905 was created Viscount Tredegar.
The Charge at Balaclava
Viscount Tredegar's Description. - Graphic Story Of Hand-to-Hand Fight. - Lord Tredegar, as everyone knows, was in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. He was then Captain Godfrey Morgan of the 17th Lancers, and one of those who rode into "The Valley of Death.
Lord Tredegar was averse to speaking of that terrible day - it seemed to him like a hideous nightmare, but on the one occasion he was induced to write of his experiences - and, we believe, it was the first and only occasion upon which he described his own participation in the famous charge, and his feelings as he rode down the valley on his charger, "Sir Briggs", long since accorded an honoured burial after peaceful years spent in Tredegar Park.
His Own Words'I do not remember (wrote his Lordship) hearing a word from anybody as we gradually broke from a trot into a canter, though the noise of the striking of men and horses by the grape-shot was deafening, whilst the dust and gravel thrown up by the round-shot that fell short was almost blinding, and so irritated my horse that I could scarcely hold him at all. But as we came nearer, I could see plainly enough, especially when I was about one hundred yards from the guns and I distinctly saw the gunner apply his fuse. I shut my eyes then, for I thought that question was settled as far as I was concerned, but the shot missed me and struck the man on my right full in the chest.
'In another minute I was on the gun, and the leading Russian's grey horse - shot, I suppose, with a pistol, by somebody on my right, - fell across my horse, dragging it over with him and pinning me between the gun and himself.
'A Russian gunner on foot at once covered me with his carbine, he was just within easy reach of my sword, and I struck him across the neck. The blow did not do him much harm, but it disconcerted his aim. At the same time a mounted gunner struck my horse across the forehead with his sabre. Spurring Sir Briggs, he half-jumped, half-blundered over the fallen horse, and then for a short time bolted with me. I only remember myself alone amongst the Russians, trying to get out as best I could. This, by some chance I did, in spite of the attempts of the Russians to cut me down...
'When I was back pretty well where we started from I found that I was the senior officer who was not wounded, and consequently, in command.'
Such is the modest story written many years afterwards by Lord Tredegar himself.
A Touching Letter
Happily, however, there is in possession of the family a letter written on the very night of the battle by Lord Tredegar to his father, and in this letter, itself a document which may be regarded as a model of its kind, dutiful, unaffected, modest, direct, there are many touches which reveal the character of the writer.
Addressed to 'My dear father,' it relates at the outset that it is being written whilst he was on outlying picket, with my vedettes and the Cossacks staring each other in the face, a bitter, cold, frosty day, with a north-east wind.'
After outlining the earlier events of the day, and expressing the bitter humiliation that he felt on seeing the Russians capture a redoubt, at which he says, 'I could have cried.' He then describes the relative positions of the Light Cavalry and the rest of the Allied troops and the Russians. They were about a mile away from the guns when 'poor Nolan' galloped up with the fatal order, 'Knowing the strength of their position and our own want of support,' he wrote, 'I felt it was a critical moment, but grasping our horses by the head; away we went.'
'We had not gone many yards before we were under fire from the first heavy battery (on our left) the first shot from which killed poor Nolan, a splinter going right through his heart. He was a dashing fellow, and with a smile on his face, was riding about twenty yards in front of us. On we went, the pace increasing, amidst the thickest shower of shell, shot, grape, canister, and minie, from front and flanks, horses and men dropping in scores every yard...
'Under this we went for some three-quarters of a mile, the enemy's guns firing in front of us until we were within a yard and a half of them. Just as I was close to one it went off, and naturally, round went my horse. I turned him around and put him at it again, and got through. On we went and passed the guns, and saw cavalry retreating on the other side. No more than a dozen of the 17th and about the same number of the 13th were to be seen, so we turned back, knowing that we could not hold the guns we had taken...
'We saw the enemy between us and home, so at them we went. I struck at one fellow as he ran one of my men through with his lance, and digging my spurs into his sides, he went at it as he had often gone at the big fences in Monmouthshire. I got through them with only a few lance pokes, which I was able to parry, but the number of men had diminished... I numbered off 32 men. We had gone into action 145 strong that morning... Our mess, too, was sadly shortened. Of seven, only two remained sound; one was killed, and the others wounded. The worst thing was that the enemy still remained in the possession of the ground... We are now moving to the heights above Sebastopol. Storming is expected daily. I am afraid there will be slaughter.'
The letter concludes in a manner which shows to the full the affection between members of the family, for it goes on:'Dear old Fred is very flourishing. He saw the charge and you may well imagine his anxiety... I enclose you the order which came out after our charge. Very flattering, is it not. Love to dearest mother and sisters and brothers. Hoping this affair will soon be terminated, so that I may have the chance of seeing you all once again. Believe me, your ever most attached son.
P.S. There is a tremendous amount of cannonading going on at Sebastopol. I am now the commanding officer.'
When young Morgan returned to Tredegar Park on April 18th 1856 he was given a princely reception, and when he and his brother, the late Colonel the Hon. Fred. C. Morgan, made their first appearance at the dinner of the annual Tredegar Show they were received with boundless enthusiasm, and their father, Baron Tredegar, was so overcome with emotion that he was for a time unable to speak.
The Story of His Life
His Benefactions to Wales - Spared to a ripe old age, enjoying the entire use of his faculties to the last, Lord Tredegar passed away full of years and honour. A rich man, but rich above all in the sincere personal esteem with which he inspired all who knew him, and a Welshman of long descent, he lived a life which typified the honourable phrase, "fine old English gentleman," manifesting always the dignity and courtesy, the kindliness and general goodwill, with that unreserved personal association, which endear a man of the higher class to his neighbours, his tenants, and all who had the good fortune to come under his personal influence.
A model landlord, he loved to dwell among his own people. All his life long he was a keen sportsman and as a keen cricketer played for Eton and also for a Monmouthshire team which took on an All England X1 at the Old Marshes, Newport. He was the friend of all, the agricultural labourer, the Uskside cabman, the docks hobbler, the Western Valley miner, the church or chapel bazaar-promoter, the children in the schools and the man-in-the-street. Each and all regarded him as their friend - and with it he possessed that fine old-world courtesy and deference - that thoughtfulness for other people through which for so many years built up for him in the hearts of the people an affectionate regard such as none other of his generation has evoked.
Birth, Education and Offices
Born in Ruperra Castle on April 28th 1831, Viscount Tredegar was educated at Eton, and thence entered the Army and served through the Crimean campaign in the 17th Lancers. Before starting, he promised his father that he "would never disgrace the name of Morgan," and the part that he played in the immortal Balaclava Charge showed how he had kept his word. At the conclusion of the war he returned home and sat in the House of Commons from 1858-75 as the member for Breconshire.
After succeeding his father he took his seat in the House of Lords. He was created Viscount Tredegar in 1905. He was a magistrate for the counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan and Brecon, and since 1899 he had been Lord Lieutenant for Monmouthshire.
While he had always manifested the greatest interest in agriculture and in the welfare of the tenants on his large estates, which covered 40,000 acres, Lord Tredegar also took an active part in the development of the vast commercial interests in which he was concerned. He was chairman of the directors of the Newport Alexandra Docks Company, past president of the Newport Chamber of Commerce and the Cambrian Archeological Society and president of the Cardiff and South Wales Horse Show as well of several agricultural societies in the district.
His Lordship also played a large part in the national affairs of Wales. A patron of the arts, literature and music the Welsh National Eisteddfod had no more loyal friend than "Ifor Hael yr Ail" as he was well-known and honoured in bardic circles. In its long struggle for better educational facilities Wales could always count on the generous support and devotion of the Baron of Tredegar, and his five-year presidency of the University College of South Wales will always be remembered an epoch making period in the history of that institution, and it is no secret that later developments, notably in the creation of the new college buildings in Cathays Park, Cardiff, were hastened by his princely generosity and inspiring leadership. He took a deep and abiding interest in Howell's School, Landarf, serving on its Court of Governors, and attending whenever possible, the school's annual prize-days.
Noble Hearted Philanthropist
While Lord Tredegar's philanthropy made itself felt in practically every circle of society, no institution benefited more from his generosity than the South Wales and Monmouthshire University College at Cardiff. He was amongst the pioneers of the higher education movement, which culminated in the establishment of the three university colleges in Wales, and afterwards of the University itself, in which he represented, by direct appointment, the Lord President of the Council. It is interesting to recall that he was one of the few to whom the charter of the University of South Wales was granted, and his name will be associated with that institution for all time. When the College was established in 1884 Lord Tredegar gave £500 to the original fund. To the holding fund in 1896 he later gave £2,500; in the year 1905 he gave another £5,000 and later his Lordship gave a further gift of £5,000. In addition to this he had, for specific purposes, made two gifts of £50 each bringing the total gifts to the College to £13,000 - a larger sum that given by anyone else. Inside the new College buildings at Cardiff there a stone let into the wall which bears the Tredegar arms, and places on record that Lord Tredegar was amongst the most generous benefactors to that institution.
Gifts to Cardiff and Newport
The Cardiff Infirmary is another institution which benefited largely from Lord Tredegar's generosity. For many years past he contributed the sun of 20 guineas annually, but whenever a special effort was required, he responded most lavishly. In the year 1881 he gave £100; in 1887, £50; in 1890, £200; in 1892, £300; in 1904, £7000 (all for the specific purpose of constructing the verandas which have proved such a boon to the patients); in 1905 he gave £500, and towards the New Wing he gave £1,000 to the building fund and £500 to the maintenance fund.
The ratepayers of Cardiff were again and again indebted to his Lordship for gifts. When Roath Park was made, a portion of land. totalling some five or six acres, was his gift. Subsequently he gave the site for Splott Park, and within the past year or so he gave a long strip of land by the side of Roath Brook to be laid out as pleasure grounds. Innumerable religious causes in Cardiff have profited by his generosity; and in this particular area Lord Tredegar gave without regard to creed or sect - the fact that a body was doing good works was enough for him.
Many churches were built on sites presented by him, among them being St. Germain's at Roath, Dewi Sant Welsh Church, Howard Gardens; and St. James, Newport Road. The site occupied by Trede Garville Baptist Church was a gift from his family, while the Welsh Forward Methodist Movement and other causes had not only to rejoice at this gift of land, but at the fact that he had gone to the trouble of taking a personal part in the opening ceremonies. In non-sectarian institutions of a religious or philanthropic nature his Lordship evinced an equally kindly interest. His presence at a bazaar always set the seal on its success.
Newport, like Cardiff, benefited in a hundred ways from his Lordship's munificence. When the movement to erect the Newport and Monmouthshire Hospital was mooted, he readily came forward with a free site on which now stands the magnificent pile of buildings on Cardiff Road; while a few hundred yards lower down is the beautiful Belle Vue Park, another example of his generosity. The site of the Free Library and Museum in Dock Street, the site of the Young Girl's Christian Association, buildings for the Nurse's Home's and Institutions, Girl's Homes, etc, are all further illustrations of his large-heartedness.
South Wales Sorrow
Tributes by Public Bodies. - The Deceased Peer's Farewell Message. The death of Viscount Tredegar has stirred the heart of the whole of South Wales and already many private and public references have been made to the great loss the entire community has sustained. At Newport, public buildings flew flags at half-mast and in all directions were evidences of the love in which the deceased gentleman was held.
To his servants, Viscount Tredegar was friend as well as master. His old retainers, whose labour power had been spent, rested in the comfortable enjoyment of pensions. None who had faithfully served the house of Tredegar had need to seek public assistance. Indeed, because of this, there are districts in Monmouthshire from which there is practically no call upon the Poor Law Guardians for relief.
Foreseeing oncoming death, the nobleman bade farewell to a number of his servants a few days ago, and he sent a message to his friends around the world.
The Death Chamber - Last Visit to Beloved master - The Dead Viscount's Bedroom Library. - It was in what was known as the "Blue Room" at Tredegar House that the Viscount breathed his last
One of those who was privileged to enter the death chamber on Tuesday afternoon describes the room as "above all things notable for the simplicity of its ornament." In this respect (he adds) it forms a remarkable contrast to the majority of the apartments at Tredegar House, many of which bear as hallmark the florid work of the master wood-carver of the Restoration period, Grinling Gibbons. The late Lord Tredegar's bed-room is reached by traversing the stately Front Hall and ascending the richly-carved old oak staircase.
Hither yesterday afternoon (piloted by Mr. Perrott, the house steward) came the servants of the late Lord Tredegar to gaze for the last time upon the features of their beloved master. It was a touching spectacle. Many of these were men who had grown grey in his Lordship's service, and they had come to regard him not merely as a master, but as a friend. None was ashamed to leave the chamber with tear-dimmed eyes. In the bed-room, as indeed everywhere else in the mansion, was abundant evidence of the dead Viscount's love for literature. Close to the head of the four-poster bed in which he died, was a small book-case filled with well-chosen and well-used volumes.
The late Lord Tredegar loved poetry. Two of the books on the shelves were the poems of William Wordsworth and Alfred Tennyson. Hard-by were a couple of volumes of Kipling's. History, travel, philosophy, all were represented - it was a little bed-side library, and told a tale of great breadth of outlook and fine taste. But after all, what was left was an abiding memory of those who were privileged to enter the room, of the utter absence of ostentation. It recalled the life of the deceased nobleman, whose worn-out earthly habitation lay so peacefully upon the bed, more in slumber than one from whom the soul had passed...
The Funeral - Pathetic Tribute
In depressing atmospheric conditions the interment took place yesterday of Viscount Tredegar at Bassaleg Churchyard. By 11 o'clock a large body of estate workers were assembled in the drive of Tredegar House, ready to follow the cortege across the Deer Park to the church, while large numbers of the Tredegar tenantry were outside the main entrance.
For the past day or so the coffin had rested in the "Brown" drawing-room at Tredegar House. By it was the flag presented to the Viscount some years ago by the ladies of Monmouthshire when he was appointed the Lord Lieutenant. On the coffin rested a laurel wreath of evergreen bearing the inscription: "With Sincerest Regret, on behalf of the Survivors of the Balaclava Light Brigade Charge," T. H. Roberts... This wreath was the only one taken with the cortege from Tredegar House to Bassaleg Church. It had been placed on the coffin the previous day by Colonel Courtnay-Morgan, and had remained there.
Another wreath bore the inscription: "With deepest regret, from the 17th Lancers Old Comrade's Re-Union,", while another came from the 17th Lancers regiment itself. A floral tribute to which pathetic interest was attached was a wreath from Mrs. Everard Hutton, bearing the inscription: "From the widow of One of the Six Hundred." With much sympathy." (A specific request was made by the family at the time of publication of his obituary notice that "No women were to be present at the funeral and that no flowers were to be sent.")
The cortege was timed to leave the house at 11.30.
The body had been enclosed in an elm shell, and this in turn placed in an hermetically sealed lead shell. The outer case was of solid English oak, with four pairs of handles. On the breast-plate and foot plate were inscribed:- "Godfrey Charles, Viscount Tredegar. Born 28th April 1831 - Died 11th March 1913."
Behind the coffin, which was on an open car, walked the bearers, with twenty-two members of the Permanent Staff of the Royal Monmouth Engineers Militia, under the command of Serjeant-Major Crocker, and following them came the family mourners and friends in seven carriages. The estate workers lined the drive from the house to the entrance. A large crowd had also gathered here, and heads were bowed and many a face was tear-stained as the solemn procession passed. The route thence ran across the Deer Park, the estate workers falling in behind the carriages. Here the cortege was joined by hundreds of tenantry and at Bassaleg itself the general public had also gathered in large numbers. Here follows a list of the representatives of the Crown, the County Associations, business interests and public bodies, who attended as mourners...
The service at Bassaleg Church was simple, but very impressive. the coffin being borne into the church to the strains of Chopin's "Funeral March." Two hymns were sung, "My God, my Father, while I stray," being the favourite hymn of the dead Viscount. The Dead March from "Saul" was played as the coffin was carried out of the church to the family vault, where the last sad rites were performed.
After the interment, many hundreds of people who were present in the church and in the churchyard passed through the vault and viewed the coffins containing the bodies of the ancestors of the dead nobleman. In the church were seven Crimean and Indian Mutiny veterans, of whom three were at Balaclava, but not in the Charge. They had come over from Bristol..."
"Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News", 13th of March 1913.