MORGAN, JOHN (1886 - 1957), Archbishop of Wales

Name: John Morgan
Date of birth: 1886
Date of death: 1957
Parent: John Morgan
Gender: Male
Occupation: Archbishop of Wales
Area of activity: Religion
Author: Mary Gwendoline Ellis

Born 6 June 1886 at the rectory, Llandudno, Caernarfonshire, youngest of the five children of John Morgan, Archdeacon of Bangor, 1902-24. Educated at St. George's National School, Llandudno, the Cathedral School, Llandaff, where he was soloist in the choir, Llandovery College and Hertford College, Oxford, (as an Exhibitioner), and Cuddesdon College. He graduated B.A., 1910, M.A., 1914, Honorary D.D. University of Wales 1934. He was ordained deacon in 1910 at St. Asaph, for the Bishop of Bangor, and was curate of Llanaber with Barmouth, 1910-12. He was ordained priest in 1911. From 1912-16 he was resident chaplain to the Bishop of Truro and honorary priest-vicar of Truro Cathedral. During 1916-19 he was temporary chaplain to the Forces, when he served in the Mediterranean, Kinmel and Shoreham. In 1917 he returned to Wales to be vicar-choral of St. Asaph Cathedral and vicar of St. Asaph. In 1919 he was appointed priest-in-charge of Llanbeblig and Caernarfon, and in 1920 on the implementation of the Welsh Church Act, he became vicar of the parish. Whilst he was there he served as chaplain to the prison and was rural dean of Arfon, 1928-31. In 1931 he was appointed canon of Bangor Cathedral and in 1933 he became rector of Llandudno. The following year he was elected Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, succeeding E.L. Bevan, and was consecrated in St. Asaph Cathedral on Whit Tuesday, by the Archbishop of Wales, Alfred George Edwards, who had ordained him deacon. In 1939 he was translated to Llandaff in succession to Timothy Rees and in 1949 he was elected Archbishop of Wales to succeed David Prosser. He died at St. Thomas's Hospital, London, in June 1957 aged 71, and was buried at St. Asaph.

John Morgan was short in stature; a man, thorough in all his doings and meticulous regarding details, he demanded that all things should be seemly and in order, whether it was an ordinary service or a special occasion. He was an excellent administrator and abhorred disorder and slipshod ways in others. He could be a strict disciplinarian, like his father, but he could be gracious and merciful when the occasion arose. He regarded the office of bishop as a charge, and was unwilling to give way on matters of principle. In Brecon he fulfilled the office of dean as well as bishop and he laid sound foundations there for the cathedral ceremonies and music. At Llandaff, the administration of the diocese called for a strong arm and clear vision. War broke out soon after his appointment and the cathedral was ruined by enemy bombing. He was responsible for its re-building and subsequent re-consecration in the spring of 1957.

He was an accomplished musician and could play the organ since his boyhood days in Llandudno. He was chairman of the Bangor Diocesan Music Committee and in 1934 he was elected chairman of the committee which brought out the Welsh hymnbook Emynau'r Eglwys. From 1939 he was also chairman of the Music sub-committee. The words edition was published in 1941 and the music edition in 1951. During his term of office the Liturgical Commission was set up to revise the Book of Common Prayer.

His last public service was to consecrate G.O. Williams Bishop of Bangor at Llandaff on 1 May 1957. He returned to hospital that evening.

A shy man, only his close friends knew that he was a good raconteur, an excellent mimic, with the ability to use the Caernarfon town dialect.


Published date: 2001

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