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Sir Henry Morgan

AKA Henry Morgan

Born: 1635
Birthplace: Llanrumney, Wales
Died: 25-Aug-1688
Location of death: Lawrencefield, Jamaica
Cause of death: Cirrhosis of the Liver
Remains: Missing (washed out to sea)

Gender: Male
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Military, Criminal, Government

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Knighted pirate of the Caribbean

Military service: British Navy (1654-73, to Admiral)

Henry Morgan's father was a Welsh squire, but next to nothing is known with certainty of young Henry's childhood. By his twentieth year he was serving under General Robert Venables in the British military, and stationed in British Jamaica, where his uncle, Sir Edward Morgan, was Lieutenant Governor of the island. After marrying the Lt Governor's daughter (Morgan's first cousin), he was quickly promoted and given command of ten ships.

Operating with the tacit permission of Jamaican governors, Morgan was allowed and encouraged to keep whatever he could steal, so long as he plundered the Spaniards. And this he did with great success, earning a fearsome reputation for villainy. His routine tactics were said to include torment and mass executions of troublesome locals, using Jesuit clergymen to shield himself and his men in battle, and other habits that would today be seen as crimes against humanity.

Accompanied by his fleet of Caribbean buccaneers, his conquests included Vilahermosa, Mexico and Gran Granada, Nicaragua. Sent to make war on Cuba in 1667, his fleet took the Cuban city of Puerto Principe, and then captured Portobelo, Panama, quickly withdrawing in exchange for a ransom from Panama's governor. In 1669 he seized and looted Maracaibo, Venezuela, torturing the populace until they died or told him where their treasures were hidden. When Spain sent three ships to block his escape, Morgan attacked the Spaniards by sailing one of his own ships -- purposely lit afire -- into collision with the Spaniards' 48-gun warship Magdalenand, which sank. Another Spanish vessel fled, and a third was captured and plundered. Morgan subsequently overran and claimed the treasures of Santa Catalina, then took the wealthy city of Panama, and burned it to the ground.

In 1672 he faced charges in England, not for rape and pillage but for because his attack on Panama had violated a tentative treaty between England and Spain. He was found not guilty, knighted by King Charles II, and appointed Jamaica's Lieutenant Governor. Eventually he was made Governor, but due to his near-perpetual drunkenness he did not last long as the island's administrator. He is believed to have died of alcohol-induced liver damage. He was buried in the Jamaican town of Port Royal, but his grave and most of the town sank into the Caribbean Sea in an earthquake, four years after Morgan's death.

Father: Robert Morgan (squire)
Wife: Mary Elizabeth Morgan (Sir Henry's cousin, no children)

    Knight of the British Empire 1673
    War Crimes
    Welsh Ancestry Paternal
    German Ancestry Paternal
    Risk Factors: Alcoholism

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