David Morgan ‘Dai O’r Nant’ 1840 – 1900

David Morgan 1840 - 1900

David Morgan was a part of a family of 10 children, he was born at Cefn Coed Cymmer, Merthyr Tydfil of February 14th 1840, and was the son of William and Mary Morgan. His father was a well-known Eisteddfodwr and a regular attendant at Eisteddfodau “Y Fenni” in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s, and his name appears in some of the lists of prize winners at those far-famed Eisteddfodau.

Two medals won by him in 1838 have been deposited at the Welsh National Museum by some of his descendants. In addition to being an excellent baritone singer, William Morgan could play the flute and violin, and was for some time the precentor at the Unitarian Church at Merthyr, where he conducted a small orchestra. He was known as William Morgan, “Full Moon,” his parents having at one time occupied the “Full Moon” in Nantygwenith, Merthyr, from a brook adjoining which the future miners’ leader took his “ffugenw.”

Young David however, had none of the advantages of early education in a day school, but he and his brother John (who went to America in the 1850’s), were regular attendants at the Unitarian Sunday School. Those were the days when the Sunday School had to make up in many respects for the absence of day schools. His real education was obtained in the stern school of experience, for when only seven years of age he became door-boy at Cyfarthfa, and in his own early experience made him in after years a stern and uncompromising opponent of child labour in mines. The family later removed to Swansea Road, Clwydyfagwyr; Merthyr Tydfil, where they resided for several years.

Mountain Ash Years

When he was 18 years old, David sought work at Mountain Ash, to which place the family soon after removed. At that time the canal was a great highway. So the whole of the family possessions all the younger members of the family with their mother were conveyed on the canal boat from Merthyr to Abercynon, and so up to their destination Mountain Ash. They were “on the water” for about twelve hours for the time of their arrival was 11 p.m. Waiting for them on the canal bank was the future miners’ agent.

For some years he worked at the collieries of Messrs Nixon and Powell Duffryn Company in the locality. At this time he laboured hard to improve his education attending night school assiduously. That he added considerably to his knowledge is quite certain but apparently hand writing was not his strong point.

Musical and Religious Interests

During these early years David also aimed at winning distinction at the various local Eisteddfodau and adopted the nom-de-plume of “Dai o’r Nant.” The possessor of a sweet tenor voice, he was in popular demand at all musical gatherings, and although his parents attended St David’s Welsh Church at Mountain Ash. David and his brothers and sisters were attracted to Rhos Welsh Baptist Church choir by some musical friends.

He married Ruth Fisher, the daughter of Thomas Fisher, a respected deacon Bethania Congregational Church, Mountain Ash, of which church she was a member, but after her marriage she took membership at Rhos. They had eight children, seven daughters and one son.

Commencement of Life’s Work

His forte however was not in the direction of music and he soon became prominent among his fellow-workmen as an ardent advocate of Trade Unionism, being often selected by his colleagues to represent them at the various delegate meetings held in the district. Many of these were held at local public houses and at the Workmen’s Hall where the Council Offices now stand. Other open air meeting at Mountain Ash were New Inn Square where Pugh’s shop now stands, the yard at the rear of the Bruce Hotel the site now occupied by the Co-op stables, Cwmpennar Bridge and Plough Tap. Aberaman Space will not permit the giving of accounts of meeting attended by our subject, often as a delegate and frequently as a speaker such as conferences (in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Bristol, Birmingham, and London), or mass meetings were held on Llanwynno Mountain, where the colliers of the Rhondda met their friends of the Aberdare Valley, when the numbers present were 10,000, and sometimes 25,000, or at the Common at Pontypridd, or at Aberaman and Aberdare, where the colliers from Merthyr Valley met those of our Valley.

Some of the interesting matters dealt with at such meetings were unionism, wages, the tuck shop, safety in mines, the eight hour day, education, and Labour representation.

School Management Representation

A press report of a meeting held at the Allen’s Arms, Mountain Ash on February 15, 1872 states “A collier introduced another local matter for the consideration of the meeting, namely the advisability of having some person or persons to represent the colliers on the Dyffryn School Board of Managers. He was there to state that the Board consisted of three managers, all of whom represented the landowners’ and companies interests. It was only right that the matter should be brought before the meeting as all were aware that the schools were partly supported by the voluntary system of poundage money allowed to be kept in the office from the hard earnings of all present.

At the close of the meeting it was proposed and carried “That this meeting considers it the duty of the working men to see to this matter, and that this meeting appoint proper persons to acquaint the colliery managers if those proceedings and request the same to grant the workmen the privilege of appointing some persons to represent their interests on the “Dyffryn School Board of Managers.”

In the leading article appearing in the ‘South Wales News’ on the following day, the Editor says: “We trust that the collier as yet unknown to fame who ventured to make the suggestion will preserve until he has obtained a patient hearing, and induced his associates to give the subject careful consideration.”

At a further meeting of colliers held on January 23, 1873, “Mr David Morgan on behalf of himself and co-elected friend, Mr Daniel Williams, raised the subject previously discussed the selection of extra managers on the Dyffryn School Board. The colliers had carried out what Mr Bruce had suggested. They had elected tow working-men and two dissenting ministers to be added to the Board of Management. The following resolution was ultimately unanimously agreed to: “That we as a body of workmen in Mountain Ash do insist on having the four gentlemen selected by us to represent the workmen on the Management Committee of the Dyffryn Schools, and unless the same be conceded to us we shall withdraw our support from the schools.”

In records of minutes of meetings and visits of managers to Dyffryn Schools subsequent to this, the names of David Morgan and Daniel Williams are mentioned as having been present as representatives of the workmen.

Triumphs in the Sliding Scale Negotiations

His attitude in the whole matter of furthering Labour representation shows that his confidence in the collier, leading to a strong belief in the necessity of direct Labour representation, was already deeply rooted. His efforts in this direction did not always meet with the sympathy of the majority of the workmen. Throughout his life he had to encounter bitter opposition to this idea. At a mass meeting in Aberdare in 1888, when he essayed to speak on Labour representation, he was actually refused a hearing.

A description of these controversies would require a whole article itself. However it can be said that at a meeting of colliers and trade delegates at Abermorlais Hall, Merthyr, on September 29th, 1888, held to select a Labour candidate for Parliament, the voting resulted in an overwhelming majority for David Morgan.

Mr Morgan, whilst admitting that he would be proud and willing to accept the honour of representing them in Parliament, preferred and his name should not be submitted as a candidate in the circumstances, although he thanked the delegates for the support they gave him, It was afterwards decided to inform the Liberal Association that, “they were not prepared this time to bring out a Labour candidate.”

In this connection it is interesting to note that his elder brother, John W. Morgan, then of Lost Creek, Pennsylvania State Legislature on the Labour Ticket during the years 1873-1878.

Social Reformer

Not only was David Morgan interested in matters connected with his livelihood, but he allied himself with all forces working for social reform, Temperance, Education, Local Government, the Reading Room movement, Co-operative Societies, etc. Despite his untiring efforts on behalf of his colleagues of the mine, his interest in the politics of his time continued unabated.

In 1868 he had taken an active part in the General Election in supporting the first Lord Aberdare, (then Mr H. A. Bruce), and Henry Richards, as Liberals. The policy of “Peace, Retrenchment, and reform” advocated by Henry Richard became life convictions with David Morgan, but certain later developments of Liberalism in the direction of Imperialism were looked upon by him with deep distrust.

In the election of 1874 he again supported Mr Richard, and was also an ardent supporter of Mr Halliday, while in later elections he gave consistent support to Mr D.A. Thomas, M.P., and Mr W. Pritchard Morgan, M.P., but we are told that towards the end of his life he accepted the principles of Socialism in the entirety.

Industrial Leadership

During the troublous times preceding the strike of 1871, and acted between men and employers. As a result of the strike the men obtained what their leaders had been anxiously fighting for, “A sliding scale,” David Morgan being one of the signatories to that scale on December the 11th, 1875. The other signatories on the men’s side were William Abraham (Mabon), John Prosser (then of Aberdare), Henry Mitcham (of Monmouthshire), and Thomas Halliday.

At that time David Morgan firmly believed in the principle of the Sliding Scale, and when a rupture occurred in 1878, and the two sides did not meet for a considerable time, it was through David Morgan’s suggestion that Sir W. T. Lewis arranged a further meeting of the Sliding Scale Committee which led to the adoption of the Scale of 1879.

Miners’ Agent

In January 1882, Mr Morgan was appointed miners’ agent for the Aberdare Valley, a new association being then formed which subsequently extended to Merthyr, Dowlais and the Plymouth Collieries; and although re-organisation of the District took place after the formation of the South Wales Miners Federation, Mr Morgan was to the end the agent for Aberdare and parts of the Merthyr District, He therefore took up residence at Aberdare, where he lived to the end.

In March 1883, he was elected unmemorable mass meeting on Aberaman Mountain he spoke strongly in favour of the adoption of the principle of arbitration. It was at this meeting that the very long strike was brought to a close, and a meeting was arranged with the employers at which David Morgan was present as one of the men’s representatives. He also attended the adjourned conference, when the final terms of settlement were agreed upon.

In the disputes which arose in the Rhondda house-coal pits in 1872, and in the whole of the collieries connected with the iron works from Merthyr to Tredegar in 1873, he consistently and persistently advocated the formation of a Permanent Wage Board for South Wales, at first without success.

Abernant Dispute 04.12.1897

On Saturday evening at the Public Hall, Cwmaman, a crowded meeting of the colliers employed at the Fforchaman and Cwmaman Collieries was held to hear an appeal on behalf of the Abernant workmen made by a deputation of the men now on strike. Mr Joseph Price, checkweigher at No. 9 Pit, and Mr C. B. Jones, checkweigher at Pwllbach, and other members of the deputation having spoken, it was unanimously resolved that a collection should be made on pay day, every fortnight, as long as the dispute lasts at each colliery.

At the close of a lecture delivered at the Liberal Club on Saturday evening the sum of 18s 11d was collected in aid of the relief fund.

A public meeting of colliery workmen was held at the Temperance Hall, Tredegar, on Saturday evening, under the presidency of Councillor D. Hughes, for the purpose of hearing an appeal from Alderman D. Morgan, miners’ agent, of Aberdare, on behalf of the men connected with the dispute at Abernant. Alderman D. Morgan, in making his appeal, explained the cause of the dispute. The employers wished to retain the money in a lump sum and pay it out as circumstances justified, and they characterised that as a most generous proposition. He did not think so, as, in the first place, he was not prepared to trust the money in the pockets of the employers, and, in the second place, he did not believe in the principle of the workmen working for a fortnight and then to trust to the conscience of the managers to pay them what allowance they thought proper. He had not sufficient confidence in them that they would do what was just. His opinion was that the employers would put the money in their pockets, and the amounts paid to the men would be gradually reduced. As a district they were very weak, and unable to maintain 900 men. They were weak because the employers had fought their association during the-last three or four years, and it seemed to him very queer, but he had it upon the most excellent authority, that it was the intention of the employers to crush the association. This course was taken because they put their foot down when any encroachment was made upon the rights of labour. The employers produced a list, dated as far back as July, showing that some of the men were earning 10s 2d per day. This was denied by the men, and it was explained tha.t, after making deductions for various items and the working of overtime, the earnings by some were brought down to 5s per day. Some, however according to the employers’ list, earned at that time as little as 2s 2d per day. He was there to tell them honestly that, after making all deductions, the wages of the men were reduced to 3s 6d per day, and the proposal of the employers was that it should be further reduced to 3s per day. He did not like fighting but, although an old man, and he had gone through many wars between capital and labour, he would prefer participating in war during the whole of his lifetime than ask any of his men to work in the bowels of the earth for 3s per day (Applause.) The case was a deserving one, and he had no hesitation in saying that the colliery owners were bent upon ruining the association of which he had the honour to be the agent. This question was mutually referred to the Sliding Scale Committee four years ago when it was agreed to put on the 3 1/2d, and by the force of logic it should not be taken off, apart from mutual agreement. That agreement had been ignored, and he must say that the employers had become so dishonest that they could not be trusted to carry out an agreement when it was made. They, as leaders, were blamed for not doing their duty towards the men but if they had a proper and uniform organisation in South Wales they would be able to perform far more effective work. He strongly appealed for support towards the men he represented. (Applause.) Alderman H. Bowen and Mr Lewis Holloway spoke in favour of contributions being sent towards the support of the men on strike, and Mr E. Carter moved, and Mr Wm. Daniel seconded, that the sum of £5 be voted from the local fund. Carried unanimously, Mr Morgan, in returning thanks, regretted the incomplete state of the organisation among miners in South Wales, which was further back today than it was 30 years ago. He was ashamed to admit it, bat such was the case. Two representatives from Abertillery also attended the meeting, and appealed for continued support towards the men on strike in that district: Arrangements were made for canvassing the collieries.

Attitude of the Pwllbach Men

A meeting of the men engaged at Pwllbach was held at the Commercial Hotel on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning. None of the committee nor the miners’ agent were present, but the contractor, Mr Tom Evans, was present, having been asked to attend by the men engaged at the pit. The matter was then fully discussed, and ultimately a resolution was passed that the men resume work at Pwllbach on the old terms, and stating that they are of opinion after fully considering the matter, that the old terms of allowances by the contractors are fairer than an uniform allowance of 2d a ton asked for, inasmuch as in the past it was proved that the contractor was allowing in poor places allowances of 4d, 6d, and even 10d a ton to enable the men to make up their wages at a reasonable amount. The men then resolved that they would at once go to the management for their tools and resume work in the morning. This will affect 200 out of the 900 men on strike.

During the afternoon our correspondent had an interview with Alderman D. Morgan, miners’ agent, who pooh-poohed the report as to the Pwllbach men, and assured our correspondent that he knew on the best authority that the number of men at the meeting where it was decided to resume work was only 15, and that 9 or 10 of those were contractors. He declared that the majority of the men were backing up his action and that of the committee. Arrangements, he said, were being made to pay the men at No. 9 an instalment of their strike pay on Friday, and this would be the third instalment to the Pwllbach men.

Later on, our correspondent proceeded to Pwllbach, and there ascertained that some of the men had been there inquiring as to the proposal of a start being made today (Wednesday). However, it transpires that the owner, Mr James Lewis, J.P., has now decided to close Pwllbach, and that the whole of the coal will be worked through No. 9 Pit. Proceeding to the No. 9 Pit, the Pressman ascertained that about 20 to 30 men, accompanied by Mr Tom Evans, the contractor, had been there arranging for their tools to be taken down for work on Wednesday, and he was also assured by several who were present at the meeting that at least 60 men were present when the decision to resume work was arrived at, and that that decision was unanimous. As the meeting was, however, held with closed doors, it is utterly impossible to know which statement is true. Subsequently our representative saw Mr James Lewis, J.P., Mr Edward Morgan, the general manager and Mr Rees Howell, the manager of No. 9 Pit and Pwllbach, and learnt from Mr Lewis that he had decided to close the No. 9 Pit for the present, and that he had had a heading driven through from No. 9 to Pwllbach, and that he would work all the coal in future through that seam. Mr Morgan said that at least 40 or 50 men had been there, and had arranged to have their tools taken doom, and that they were then doing so. The outlook at these collieries is a little brighter. On Wednesday 18 men went down to their working place belonging to Pwll Bach, Cwmbach. A good number of trams were risen about 10 o’clock, and continue. A most enthusiastic meeting of the workmen employed at No. 9 Windsor Level and Pwll Bach Pit was held on Wednesday evening at the Bute Arms. Mr Joseph Price, checkweigher, presided. The following resolutions were passed unanimously:

“(1) That the few men now working at Cwmbach Pit are not to receive strike pay next Friday.
(2) That this meeting composed of Cwmbach No. 9 and Windsor Level pass a vote of censure upon the few men that have gone to work this morning, and that no deputation be sent to the manager to ask him to reopen the seams not in dispute, and that we shall adhere to our first resolution that no one shall return to work unless the men working in the yard seam be paid according to our first claim.” An amendment was proposed, which only received two votes.

Local assistance to Abernant Men

On Saturday a rabbit and a loaf of bread were distributed to each necessitous family. Rabbits to the value of £2 were given by Mrs Hunt, fishmonger, Duke Street, and bread to the same amount by Mr Kelly, herbalist, Aberdare. Mr Joyce, the Bute Arms. Aberdare, the treasurer of the relief fund, also subscribed £1, and Alderman D. Morgan a like sum, for which Mrs Hunt supplied rabbits at cost price. On Monday Mr D. Williams, manager of the Abergwawr Brewery, handed Mrs Edwards, the treasurer, £5 towards the relief fund.

The Cyfarthfa colliers themselves have not been working regularly during the last few days, and on Tuesday the whole of the workmen, numbering about 1,500, were idle, in consequence, presumably, of the different conditions of trade. A deputation from the Abernant colliers came over on Monday night, and when it transpired there would be no work on the day following, the Cyfarthfa men determined to call a mass meeting with the object of considering what could be done to help the sufferers through the dispute on the other side of the hill. Mr Thomas Thomas. D.C., was elected chairman. It was agreed unanimously: “That this mass meeting of the Cyfarthfa colliers calls upon the workers generally of the above place to rally, and give their mite towards alleviating the distress which of necessity must prevail under the present circumstances at Cwmbach and No. 9 Pit, Abernant, believing as we do that they are fighting an honest battle for the rights of labour therefore we beg to impress upon each district to awaken to their duty and make all efforts possible to help our fellow-workmen at the Abernant Collieries.” It was agreed to authorise the treasurer to send at once the sum of £10 to the Aberdare District Strike Fund, and those present to pledge themselves to contribute the sum of 3d per week towards their support of the strikers.

Mr J. W. Evans gave £5, and not £50, to the strike fund, as reported.

The Aberdare Intimidation Case
Alderman David Morgan sent to Gaol

At the Glamorgan Assizes on Monday, David Morgan (miners’ agent), Joseph Price, C. B. Jones (checkweigher) and Thomas Price were found guilty of intimidating the men on strike at Abernant Colliery, Aberdare, in December, 1897. Mr Justice Wills sentenced prisoners as follows: David Morgan to two months’ imprisonment, Jones to one month, James Price to fourteen days, and Thomas Price was bound over.

The Sentence on Ald. D. Morgan 10.08.1898
Mr Keir Hardie’s Views

Speaking on Monday night at an open-air meeting, held on the Tumble, Pontypridd, Mr Keir Hardie referred to the Aberdare intimidation case and to the proceedings that led to the prosecution. Alderman David Morgan, he said, had been tried that day, and he had just learned that he had been sentenced to two months’ hard labour. (This announcement caused quite a sensation, and cries of astonishment and sympathy came from all parts of the crowd.) Why, proceeded the speaker, it was an outrage upon justice. (Hear, hear.) Dai o’r Nant” was over sixty years of age, and bore an irreproachable character, and his only crime was that he spoke his mind as an honest man should. It mattered not what sort of ill-treatment was meted out to a Trades Unionist; it served him right. But if a man was a blackleg he was a hero, and held up as a model and an example for others to follow, whilst the whole power of the State, civil and military, was ranged behind him for his protection.

Sympathy from the Black Country

We received on Tuesday a telegram to the effect that the Old Hill miners wished to tender through our columns their sympathy with Alderman David Morgan’s family.

Merthyr Workmen’s Action

A mass meeting was held on the Thomastown Tips, Merthyr, on Tuesday afternoon, of colliers and steel workers of Dowlais, Cyfarthfa, and Plymouth. Mr Thomas Thomas, C.C., occupied the chair, and referred in terms of deep sympathy to Alderman David Morgan. The evidence adduced at the trial, he said, did not warrant what had been done. He asked them for the sake of the past, and for the sake, of the noble stand the alderman had made during this great struggle, to do what they could to help to obtain a remission of the sentence which had been passed upon him. Mr W. Williams, Dowlais, spoke in vigorous terms of appreciation of the alderman’s manly attitude, and in deprecation of the position he was now placed in, and Mr Morgan Morgan moved: “That this meeting of Dowlais, Cyfarthfa, and Plymouth Colliery workmen and tradesmen desires to record its sympathy with Alderman David Morgan, Aberdare, in respect of the unjust sentence passed upon him at the Swansea. Assizes yesterday that we recognise him as a martyr in the noble cause of freedom and progress, and unanimously resolve that we, as colliers of Dowlais, Cyfarthfa, and Plymouth, will hold no discussion with the associated employers with a view to a settlement until our agent is released from prison that we recognise that this unjust sentence is passed upon him to secure a settlement of this dispute that a copy of this resolution be sent to Mrs Alderman David Morgan, conveying our sympathy. We call upon all colliers in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire to stand by this resolution also that we call upon our working committees of South Wales to send in a petition to the Home Secretary demanding his release.” This was then duly seconded and carried unanimously. It was added by way of a rider, “That we send an intimation to the Provisional Committee not to come to any settlement unless we can have the release of Alderman David Morgan.” It was decided also to ask those people of London who were forced to work under great difficulties for the want of Welsh coal to sign a petition for the alderman’s release from gaol. It was unanimously resolved that a meeting of the joint committees of the three works should be held that evening to arrange for the presentation of a petition forthwith. It was further resolved to send to the Provisional Committee a strong letter expressing the opinion of the meeting that the enginemen and stokers should be called out if the alderman’s release was not obtained. Complaints were made that some of the contractors at levels were paying ridiculously low wages, and that some men had gone back to work at Abercanaid.


At a mass meeting at Tredegar on Tuesday evening, on the motion of Alderman Bowen, seconded by Mr Thomas Addis, a resolution was unanimously passed, the audience signifying assent by rising to their feet, strongly disapproving of the sentence passed upon Alderman David Morgan, of Aberdare, and a copy was ordered to be forwarded to the Home Secretary.

International Workers

The Central Council of the International Workers Federation on Tuesday passed a resolution of sympathy with Mr Alderman David Morgan.

Mr D. A. Thomas’s Assistance Promised

A meeting of the Executive of the Aberdare, Dowlais, and Merthyr colliers on Tuesday night passed votes of sympathy with the families of Messrs Alderman D. Morgan, Joseph Price, and C. B. Jones, and resolved to prepare a petition to the Horne Secretary for remission of sentences, especially as far as the hard labour imposed on Mr David Morgan is concerned, and to hold a mass meeting this evening at 7 o’clock in the Market Hall. A telegram from Mr D. A. Thomas, M.P., announced his readiness to do all in his power to secure the object in view and it was also stated that Mr Rees Llewellyn, managing director of the Bwllfa Colliery, the High Constable of Miskin Higher, had expressed his readiness to sign the petition.

Other resolutions of sympathy with Alderman David Morgan have been passed by Treharris workmen, and the Nantmelyn Colliery men.

The Release of Alderman David Morgan 16.09.1898
Reception at Mountain Ash and Aberdare

Alderman David Morgan, who was sentenced at Swansea at the last assizes to two months’ imprisonment for intimidation at Aberdare, was released from Cardiff Gaol, where he has been undergoing his term of incarceration, at twenty minutes to ten on Friday morning. Nothing was I known of his release, which was quite unexpected, and, consequently, the alderman was not met by any friends. It may be mentioned that a few days ago the Mayor of Cardiff (Alderman Ramsdale) wrote to the Home Secretary saying that, now the strike had been settled, and there was no fear of fresh complications, it might greatly smooth matters over if Alderman David Morgan were released. The Home Secretary wrote in reply that he had the matter under his consideration. What the result of that consideration was is now evident.

On leaving the prison Alderman David Morgan at once made his way to the Gordon Coffee Tavern, owned by Councillor Edward Thomas (Cochfarf), J.P., but, finding the latter was not there, he proceeded to Mr Thomas’s residence at Fitzalan Place, and there had breakfast. Mr Morgan looked pale and thinner than before his incarceration. He knew nothing about the details of the strike settlement. His wife was telegraphed for.

Writing of the reception the worthy alderman received, Morien says:

It would be difficult to exaggerate the greatness of the reception accorded to Alderman David Morgan as a welcome home to Aberdare on Friday night. It seemed the news .that he had been liberated in the morning had rapidly spread to all the adjacent villages. During the afternoon vast numbers of night men employed underground at the various collieries resolved not to go to work that night. It was conjectured that Alderman David Morgan had purposely decided to delay his return home until a late hour so that his return might not tempt the workmen to absent themselves from work that night. But, as the tidings of his unexpected release having been wired to Mrs Morgan, the enthusiasm of his wife and children soon communicated itself to the entire population, setting the heather on fire. Very soon people were engaged decorating the streets with flags, Union Jacks, or any bit of colour that came handy, so that late in the afternoon the town and the roads down through Aberaman, etc., bore a festive appearance. It became known that the late prisoner, “the Martyr of Adamsdown,” would leave Cardiff by the 6.10 train, accompanied by Mrs Morgan and several of his six grown-up sons and daughters, and sister. Soon after that hour people began pouring into the streets of Aberdare. Long before the time for the arrival of the train the streets were thickly lined with people, from the Great Western Railway Station to the central square of the town. By 7.20, the time the train from Cardiff was due, night had come, but the space below the station was crammed with an eager and enthusiastic multitude. When the train ran in a mighty, prolonged cheer rent the air; but it soon transpired that Alderman Morgan was not in the train, and the passengers stated that at Mountain Ash, three or four miles down the line, enthusiastic hundreds on the platform had compelled him to alight there, and that he had received at Mountain Ash a regular ovation from the many thousands thronging the streets. The Aberdare reception committee, which had been hurriedly called together, now entered the yard outside, but it was long before it could start owing to the throng and the swarms of young men who crowded the vehicle and clung to it like spiders in a storm.

David Morgan 1840 - 1900

Brake Carriage

At last the brake made its way slowly through the crowded streets, and the occupants called out to the people “Get out at Mountain Ash.” In a few minutes there was a regular rush through the gas-lighted streets down the Aberdare Road, in the direction the hero of the hour was to come home. After the brake had gone a mile and a half the lights of bicycles were seen coming up the road, and as they dashed by the riders of them called out, “Dai o’r Nant is coming.” At a distance of two miles below Aberdare the brake containing the alderman was met, followed by other brakes. In a few seconds the horses were taken out, and lines of men took their places. At this time the brake containing the hero of the hour was jammed in a roaring sea of men and women, who shouted their welcome home. The crowds were in-all directions and extended back into the darkness to unknown distances. The journey towards Aberdare was now resumed amidst continuous rejoicings. Most on the cottage doors of the miners living in the street were open, revealing fine polished furniture and blazing hearts. The housewives everywhere were highly demonstrative, and, judging by the Welsh remarks one overheard, those in the same brake as Mr David Morgan all regarded the discharged prisoner as having suffered on their behalf. This idea prevailed all along the line, and placed him higher in popular estimation than a martyr, and gave him a character which will increase his influence in the future tenfold. On the brake travelled slowly, and the scores of men tugged gallantly along. Meanwhile the vast moving procession sang snatches of songs. Now a large party of thoughtless youngsters burst out singing vociferously, “Pan aiff Syr Wil i’r bedd, daw’r nefoedd yn hawddgarol; pan aiff Syr Wil i’r bcdd.” It appeared, however, that this was regarded as fine fun, and was not done in an angry spirit. Then the throng would sing a few bars of “See, the Conquering hero comes,” and “The Land of My Fathers” was sung till the mountains echoed in reply. After this “For he’s a jolly good fellow” rang out merrily. Several times the brake stopped, and Mr Morgan, hat in hand, stood up and attempted to address the people. He was under a great disadvantage owing to the continuous roar of his noisy, hearty, enthusiastic friends. Twice the crowd broke out into tremendous booing’s, once when passing houses said to be occupied by some of the men employed at No. 9 Abernant, whose action was alleged to have caused the affair which resulted in Mr Morgan being sentenced, and the next booing’s were while the procession was passing The Mardy, the residence of Sir William Lewis and family.

David Morgan 1840 - 1900

Mardy House

While passing the quarters where there was a detachment of the Welsh Regiment, 50 in number, are quartered (the soldiers were in the open darkened windows), the thousands were very respectful in their demeanour, and some young Welshman eagerly spoke of the famous fellows. The climax of the demonstration was in the square in front of the Boot Hotel. There were many thousands of people here, wild with joy at seeing Mr Morgan again. He spoke briefly, telling the people three things, namely, that while in gaol he enjoyed a quiet conscience, was kindly treated by the officials, and he believed he was favoured with the smile of Almighty God. These expressions were received with great cheering. The procession then passed up Canon Street, and, passing the Black Lion, proceeded to Mr Morgan’s home. He told me he picked oakum the first three days, and he was eight pounds lighter in weight than when he went to prison. The vast multitude quietly dispersed.

In 1875 he proposed as a member of the Aberdare School Board, and was soon afterwards instrumental on obtaining a reduction of fees for parents having more than two children in school. He was re-elected in 1886 at the top of the poll, receiving more than 3,000 votes in excess of the next candidate, and was re-elected on the Board in 1889, 1892, and in 1895, but he declined to allow himself to be nominated in 1898.

In 1892 he was elected a member of the Glamorgan County Council, and in 1895, he was appointed Alderman of that body. He was also a member of the Court of Governors of the University = of South Wales and of the Aberdare Intermediate School.

Funeral pf Alderman D. Morgan 10.07.1900
A Valley in Mourning

It can be said without the slightest hesitation that the funeral of Alderman D. Morgan, miners’ agent, Aberdare, on Monday was one of the, if not the, largest ever seen in the valley. Men, women, and children had turned cut to do honour to a veteran leader who had for a. generation past J been a power in the South Wales coalfields, and whose influence in his own district was unprecedented, and as one watched the huge cortege, measuring far over a mile, as it wended its way from Aberdare to Mountain Ash, one could only think of the weary march of the children of Israel when they brought the body of their father Jacob from Egypt to Canaan.

The morning opened gloomy and threatening, and just before dinner it looked much like rain, but daring the afternoon the sun shone brightly and the weather was simply delightful as the long cortege slowly passed through the valley and past the scenes of the late alderman’s many fighL-victorie3 and occasionally defeats. The Bwllfa and Nantmelyn Collieries, owned by the Bwllfa and Merthyr Dare Colliery Company, the Werfa Colliery, and the collieries of the Marquis of Bute at Hirwain were idle during the day. At the latter collieries Councillor Isaac H. Jones, the manager, was asked by the men to allow them to take the day, and upon his making a, representation to that effect to Sir W. T, Lewis, Bart. The Mardy, Sir William not only conceded their request, but instructed Councillor Jones to specially attend the funeral as his representative.

The whole of the other collieries ceased to work at noon. The mid-day trains, both on the G.W.R. and the T. V. R. to Aberdare, and on the G.W.R. to Abernant; brought a large number of gentlemen to the town to attend the funeral, while many more ca.me by the 2.20 train from Abernant. As early as 1 o clock groups of colliers were seen, all clad in black, and wearing a, knot of white ribbon, wending their way to the town from all directions to pay the last sad and solemn tribute of respect to a revered and much beloved leader, and long ere half-past 2, the hour fixed for starting the funeral, the main streets leading to Glannant Street were filled with those who purposed to attend the funeral, and it was only with some difficulty that the cortege could be formed. The executive of the Aberdare and Merthyr District had however made splendid arrangements for marshalling the procession, the committees of the various colliery lodges being appointed marshals, and in this manner every- thing was got into order for starting in good time. A short service was held at the house before the removal of the body, the Rev. J. Griffiths, Calfaria, the pastor of the church where deceased had been a deacon for many years, officiating.

The procession was headed by the executive of I the Aberdare and Merthyr District, including Messrs W. Williams, (chairman), Illtyd Hopkins (secretary), Mrs Edwards, Bute Arms (treasurer), J. Jones, Cwmbach John Williams, Fforchaman Edward Richards, Gadlys Shadrach Williams, Treaman David Phillips, Aberaman D. T. George, Werfa; J. Prowle, Bwllfa; W. Hopkins, Blaengwawr Henry Wheeler, Dullas Thomas Jones, Gorllwyn members of the executive i Messrs Morgan Williams, Werfa; John Evans. Gadlys and T. Parfitt, Treaman, trustees of the district.

Then came the members of the Executive Council of the South Wales Federation: Messrs W. Abraham, M.P. (Mabon), president W. Brace, vice-president Alfred Onions, treasurer T. Richards, secretary Lewis Miles, financial secretary to the Sliding Scale George Barker, Abertillery District: Evan Thomas, Rhymney; John Thomas, Garw; George Churchill, Pontypool David Beynon, Maesteg John Evans, Blaina John Davies, Dowlais; William Pryce, Ebbw Vale Ben Davies, Pentre W. Williams, Aberdare T. Daronwy Isaac, Treorky D. Watts Morgan, Pontypridd Tom Morgan, Cymmer James Winstone, Tredegar; Tom Evans, Penygraig; Tom James, Clydach Vale; Enoch Morrell, Taff and Cynon T. Thomas, Merthyr John Williams, Skewen W. E. Morgan, sub-agent of the Western District. Following came the representatives from other districts in the Welsh coalfield, including Messrs John Granville, chairman of the Garw District; Lewis Holloway, Tredegar; R. J. Sampson, Maesteg Peter Gardener, Taff and Cynon; John Powell, Mountain Ash, secretary, Taff and Cynon District; W. Hopkins, agent to the Enginemen’s and Stokers’ Association; T. Pope. chairman, and Roger H. Williams, treasurer, of the Western District; R. Price, Abergwynfi; Daniel Jones, Cwrtybettws, Neath; W. R. Lewis, Primrose; J. Jones, Alltwen; Joseph Coughlin, representing the Workers’ Union of Merthyr and Dowlais District; Ll. N. Francis, Merthyr and Dowlais Socialists D. W. Jones, solicitor, Pontypridd, representing the Rhondda District of Miners Henry Thomas, member of the board of directors of the Miners’ Permanent Society; Walter Lewis, New Tredegar Richard Owens and Wm. Lewis, Llanbradach Moses Abraham, Edward Collins, Evan Hushes, George Wiltshire, Wm. Morgan, James Morgan, D. S. Thomas, and Thomas Lewis, Globe Lodge, Merthyr; W. Roberts, W. Price, James Harries, and Tom Fitzgerald, representing the Merthyr District; Benjamin Evans, Senghenydd Simon Edwards, E. M. Davies, Daniel Rowlands, Vochriw; Joseph Evans, Morgan Williams, D. Davies, Samuel Rjmmin3, W. Williams, Alltwen E. Evans, Vochriw and David Thomas, representing the Dowlais District; W. Thomas, treasurer of the East Glamorgan District, Senghenydd; Charles B. Jones, Merthyr Vale and W. Hopkins.

Then came the miners of Aberdare, numbering at least 3,000. It is utterly impossible to give their names, but the following officials of the various lodges and collieries were present: The Tower Colliery and Aberdare; Merthyr Colliery, Hirwain, Evan Williams, chairman Tom H. Evans, secretary Bwllfa Colliery; Edwin Prosser, chairman W. Rosser, secretary; W. Williams, check-weigher, Nantmelyn Colliery; Lewis Beynon; Hirwain, chairman, Thomas Griffiths, secretary David Williams, check-weigher. Victoria and Graig Collieries, Gadlys, Edward Richards, chairman; James Williams, secretary; D. Morris, checkweigher, Werfa Colliery, W. Thomas, chairman; Fred Brough, secretary; Cwmneol, W. Phillips, chairman W. Evans, secretary; Tunnel Pit, Abernant, John Williams, chairman, John Hughes, secretary. Blaennant Colliery, Abernant, John James, secretary, David James, checkweigher. Lletty Shenkin Colliery, Lewis Williams, secretary. Tirfounder Colliery Cwmbach, Edward Craven secretary, Fforchaman Colliery; Llewellyn Owen, chairman J. Williams, secretary; Henry Davies, checkweigher. Cwmaman Colliery, W. lees, checkweigher. Aberaman, Charles Williams, chairman Edward Howells, secretary; Illtyd Hopkins, checkweigher Treaman Colliery, W. Phillips, chairman; John Knight, secretary; P; D. Rees, checkweigher. De Winton Pit, Aberdare, John Jones, chairman Thomas Davies, secretary and Torn Peek, treasurer.

Then came the ministers of the various denominations in the town, including the Revs. J. Griffiths, Calfaria Dr. Gomez Lewis, Swansea (ex-chairman of the Welsh Baptist Union) R. E. Williams (Twrfab), Ynysllwyd J, Grawys Jones, Ebenezer, Trecynon Abernant T. Jones, Carmel, Aberdare; J. Sulgwyn Davies, Siloh W. James. Bethania, ex-moderator of the Calvinistic Methodist denomination J. T. Richards, Bethel, Gadlys, J. Solon Rees, Aberaman B. Evans, Gadlys; T. Evans, Gwernogle E. T. Jones, Senny Bridge; T. Davies, Gwawr, Aberaman D. Thomas, Cwmbach W. Thomas, Cwmdare and T. T. Hughes, Mountain Ash, These were followed by representatives of various public bodies and general public, including Dr. Evan Jones, J.P., Tymawr, Messrs D. A. Thomas. M.P., Alfred Thomas, M.P., Alderman J. W. Evans, Aberdare; Alderman William Jones, Mountain Ash W. P. Nicholas, solicitor, Mountain Ash Evan Owen, J.P., secretary of the Miners’ Permanent Society Councillor John Howell, high constable of Miskin Higher Henry Thomas, Hafod, and Joseph Price, Aberdare, members of the board of directors of the Miners’ Provident Society David Parker. late secretary of the Aberdare District W. Evans, Liberal agent, Rhondda; S. Shipton, clerk to the Llanwynno School Board; G. G. Jones, registrar, Aberdare D. Hay, W. Jenkin Thomas, M.A,, headmaster of the County School, Aberdare G, George J.P., E. Thomas, Cardiff; Henry Brewer, Bournemouth; T. Rees Cowbridge; H. Hawkins, Cwmbach; J. W. Harries, superintendent, Aberdare; D. Davies (Dewi Vechan), Aberdare; W. T. Morgan, The Newlands, Aberdare; E. H. Davies, J.P., Pentre; J. Pritchard, Beehive, Aberdare Llywelyn Richards, T. Hughes, R, Owen, Councillor Isaac H. Jones, Hirwain (representing Sir W. T. Lewis), Thomas Williams, under manager, Pentre; J. O’Connor and Thomas Jones, Pentre; D. Ashford, John Llywelyn, Aberdare T. Bryant, Evan Jones, C. Wilson, Trecynon W. h. Hughes, Pontypool G. A. Treharne, architect, Evan Davies, Globe Hotel, Aberdare; John Thomas, John Gethyn, John Hek, W. Hopkins, Capcoch. Then came the Bush Philanthropic Lodge, of which the deceased was a member.

David Morgan 1840 - 1900

The grave of David Morgan
(Picture courtesy of RCTCBC)

These were followed by a united choir of males and females, numbering some 400 to 500, conducted by Mr .Daniel Griffiths, of Calfaria. Then came the coffin placed in a glass hearse, provided by Messrs J. Morgan end Sons, which was covered by some magnificent wreaths sent by Mr D. A. Thomas M.P., and Mrs Thomas, With deepest sympathy the Executive of the Aberdare and Merthyr District of Miners, Mr and Mrs John Thomas, Cemetery Lodge; the Aberdare District of Miners. The following acted as bearers: Messrs W.; Williams, Bwllfa; Illtyd Hopkins, Aberaman John Williams, W. Hopkins, Edward Richards, and Shadrach Williams. Then came a large number of mourners walking behind the hearse, including Mr Fisher Morgan, son Mr William Morgan, brother Mr John Morgan, Mr David Edwards, Utah, U.S.A., cousin; Messrs Roger Thomas, John Howell, and David Davies, sons-in-law; and a large number of other relatives.

The female relatives were in carriages in the following order: First coach, the Misses M. and Edith Morgan, Mrs Davies, Mrs Howells, and Mrs Thomas, daughters; second coach, Mrs Fisher Morgan, daughter-in-law; Mrs Davies, Mountain Ash, sister Mrs Jenkins, Port Talbot, i sister and the Misses Davies, Mountain Ash, nieces. Then came 16 vehicles bearing the members of the general public mostly females. The whole cortege took over half an hour to pass a given point, and the whole distance from the house to the cemetery at Mountain Ash was traversed in about 2 1/2; hours. Signs of mourning were noticeable in every direction, and as the, procession passed down the well-known Welsh hymns, “Mae nghyfeillion Adreu myned” to the tune of “Lansanne;” “Rwyf yma dan y tonau,” “Babel;” “Cofiaf enaid cyn it dreutio Prydain,” and “Beth sydd imi yn y byd,” “Aberystwyth.” were sung, with much effect. The hymns were printed, and on the centre page was an excellent portrait of the deceased. At the cemetery, in accordance with the often expressed wish of the deceased and the desire of the family, a very brief service was held, the Revs. J. Griffiths, Calfaria; T. T. Hughes, Rhos, Mountain Ash R. E. Williams, Ynysllwyd and T. Davies, Gwawr, Aberaman, taking part.

Expressions of Sympathy

At Monday’s meeting of the No. 1 (Rhondda) District of the Miners’ Federation a vote of condolence with the relatives of the late Alderman Morgan was passed on the motion of Mr W. Abraham, M.P., who paid a touching tribute to the merits of his old colleague, seconded by Mr D. Watts Morgan.

During Monday the family received letters and telegrams of sympathy from Messrs Alfred Thomas, M.P., Alderman Walter Morgan, J.P., Pontypridd James Williams, secretary, Gadlys; Thomas Davies, secretary, De Winton Pit W. Jenkins, secretary, Lower Duffryn; David Jones, Lletty Shenkin; James Williams, Prince of Wales; John Wells, Abercarn and many others from personal friends.

David Morgan 1840 - 1900

Bust of David Morgan
Aberdare Library