Timothy Morgan (1723-1795)
When I think about the Welsh Morgan family on my maternal line, I generally am thinking of the flashiest subject for stories, Jesse Morgan, the Forty-Niner. However, the Morgan family had been in American for several generations before black sheep Jesse. After my previous posts on Jesse Morgan, the elder, I decided to dig further back in that Morgan family to Timothy Morgan.
The Life of Timothy Morgan
Timothy Morgan, my 4th great-grandfather, and his wife Deborah Leeds spent their lives in Groton, New London County, Connecticut.
The grandfather of the younger Jesse, Timothy Morgan seems to have been a typical hard-working New England family man. Timothy and Deborah had a whopping eleven children, which guarantees that Deborah was also a hard-working New England woman.
Unfortunately, I have found few clues about Timothy’s life. I will be able to get a better feeling for how he lived when I read a detailed history of the town of Groton, the county of New London and/or the state of Connecticut. The larger events of the 18th century will shed life on the daily lives of my ancestors. But I am saving that history for earlier members of the family, since the Morgans spent many generations in Groton and the area.
Meanwhile, the good news: We have Timothy’s probate papers. Even better, they contain not only his will but an inventory and receipts signed by his children for the portions they received.
Timothy Morgan’s Parents and Family
But to begin at the beginning, Timothy was born to Samuel Morgan and Hannah Avery in 1723 in the seaport town of Groton Connecticut. When Timothy was born in 1723, he had three brothers, Samuel (1710), Elijah, born (1712), and Abijah/Obijah. Two girls balanced the family–Hannah, (1714) and Lucy (1717). Some records indicate two more children, Experience and Theophilus, however a search for them comes up blank.
Further, a book called “The Groton Avery Clan” (1912) lists land transactions between the siblings, and heophilus and Experience are not mentioned. “January 12 1744, Timothy Morgan of Groton deeded to Bros. Samuel and Elijah land that had belonged to his father Sam’l.” Other transactions name Abijah, Hannah and Lucy, for a total of six children of Samuel.
Because the Morgans, like many families in that age liked to repeat names from generation to generation, it is possible these two do not exist, and Timothy was Samuel and Hannah’s youngest child.
Timothy and Deborah’s Family
Timothy and Deborah Leeds married about 1747 or 1748. I have found no record, but assume the marriage took place in Groton. Timothy mentions nine of his descendants in the will. In the list below, you will find the two deaths that happened before he wrote the will. However, the couple turned out to be very fortunate in that they seem to have had no infant deaths.
- 22 July 1749, Experience (M. Peleg Brown)
- 1 Mar 1751, Deborah (M. Nathaniel Brown) [Note: I have not determined if Peleg is a brother to Nathaniel, whose parents have the interesting names Temperance and Comfort Brown!]
- 8 Feb 1753, Timothy [Jr.] [Per James Morgan History. Moved West, probably died unmarried.]
- 8 Sep 1754, Elizabeth (M. ____ Williams)
- 2 Aug 1756, Daniel, [Died before father wrote will in January 1794, so Daniel died before he was 38 years old.]
- 27 Jan 1758, Twins, Jesse [my 3x great-grandfather] and
- David, [“removed west N.Y., no child probably” according to the James Morgan Family History. However, I have evidence that David had children, and we now know he was in touch with the family–at least to receive his inheritance.]
- 12 Oct. 1759, Theophilus, (M. Mary Hinckly)
- 12 May, 1763, Samuel,( m. Mary Holmes)
- 27 May 1765, Aaron, d. Apr. 1786, at the age of twenty.
- 26 July 1767, Hannah, (m. Daniel Parker.) [The James Morgan Family History hints at a tragic story of Hannah’s young death at a young age. However, we know that she lived long enough to sign the receipt for a distribution from her father’s will on 16 Dec 1796.]
As we later see from his will and inventory at death, Timothy seemed to be a small farmer, rather than having a profession that related to the sea. Since there are many coopers in the family, it would not surprise me to see that might have been his profession, but I see no solid evidence.
However he earned his living, his life centered around the first church of Groton that had been built in 1703. The Averys, a family name entwined with the Morgans, established the First Church, Congregational.
The Revolutionary War
The War of Revolution affected everything touching the lives of the Morgans. Economically, the seaport saw tough times both before and during the war because of disruptions of shipping. To some extent sailors compensated for the lag in trade by turning into privateers.
The city suffered personal losses, partially caused by the privateering. Groton included Fort Griswold, and in 1781, Benedict Arnold led British forces in what some called a massacre, killing or injuring a large percentage of the males in town. The battle would go down in history as the Battle of Groton Heights.
Personally, the family worried about Timothy’s twin sons, Jesse and David were nineteen, a prime age for service in the military. (See Jesse’s story). The older daughter’s husbands no doubt served in the militia, if not the official army. Supplies were short and Deborah would have to do a lot of making do.
The Morgan family lived through frightening times.
Time to Make a Last Will and Testament
By September, 1794, Timothy felt the weight of age and drew up a will. His brother Obijah had died in 1778 and his young son Aaron departed in 1786. Some time in 1793, twenty-year-old Aaron died. On January 6, 1794, Timothy Morgan signed his last will and testament and appointed two sons as executors.
And then in the worst blow of all, his wife, Deborah passed away nearly eight months after Timothy had written his will. Deborah’s tombstone bears the death date of August 22, 1794, and says she was 65 years old. If the complete record is in the probate file, Timothy did not update his will or enter codicils in the record. It was left to his son Theophilus to resolve the conflicts created in distribution of Timothy’s property.
After dispensing with the boiler plate language found in most 18th century wills about his present condition, committing his soul to God and paying all just debts, he proceeds to say,
Then I do give and bequeath unto my loving wife Deborah Morgan the improvement of one half of all my Real Estate During her Natural Life and Eight Cows, one yoak (sic) of oxen and one horse, twenty sheep and three hoggs (sic) and all my household Furniture to be at her Disposal forever.
The Children’s Shares
Timothy then proceeds to name his children and in each case indicate they are to be paid by his two sons Theophilus and Samuel. In a separate paper, Timothy designates these two sons as his executors. We learn from a separate entry that in November, after his father died, Samuel turned down the responsibility of being an executor. Although Samuel signed some papers as witness, Theophilus is left as sole administrator.
The papers in the probate packet include receipts from some, but not all of the children, and an interesting departure from son Jesse (my 4th great-grandfather). I have listed the named children and their bequests below. The second number indicates the amount contained in the receipt. Each child received an increase on distribution, presumably because their mother had died and Theophilus decided to divide her belongs rather than keep that amount for himself.
Timothy (Jr.), £26; Received £40, Signed receipt “D. 1796”
Jesse, £32 *See next section.
David, £32; Received £40, Signed “23 D. 1795”
Experience, 15 shillings, Received ?? [No receipt in file for Experience and her husband Peleg Brown.
Deborah, 15 shillings, Received £13,8 s., She and her husband Nathaniel Brown signed “26 D. 1796”
Elizabeth, £2, Received £13, 8s., She and husband Samuel Williams signed “Sept. 26 1796.” [Unlike the others who lived in Groton, the Williams’ lived in Colchester.]
Hannah Parker, 10 shillings, Received £9. “Sept. 16, 1795.”
In addition to these seven children, Timothy gives to Theophilus and Samuel “all my Estate both real and Personal heretofore Not mentioned to be Equally Divided between them, to them their heirs and assigns forever.”
I find it interesting that there is no specific description of real property and buildings, which leaves us wondering how TImothy made a living. The inventory shows that he owned 71 acres with buildings and appurtenances, which could be a small farm. It also mentions two acres of Salt ____. The number of animals he owned do not point to a very productive farm–eight cows, a yoke of oxen, twenty or perhaps thirty sheep, one hors and 4 hogs.
His personal property indicates he was well dressed–8 linen shirts, one great coat and also two “close-bodied thick cloth coats” and a fur hat, as well as thick jackets.
I have puzzled over an entry for funds due that relate to each of his sons-in-law. The four each owed him an identical £13, 11 s., 1p. (13 Pounds, 11 shillings and one pence).
The Jesse Morgan Acquittance
On the twenty-fifth of April, 1795, my 4x great-grandfather, gave back his bequest to his brother Theophilus. Apparently he borrowed £200 from Theophilus, to be secured by his share of their father’s estate. Note this is after the will was made, but before his father died, so there must have been some question about what the final amount of bequest would be.
The first paragraph says that Jesse is bound unto Theophilus Morgan …in the sum of two hundred pounds. However, the second paragraph says that Theophilus has paid Jesse forty pounds to be his full payment for relinquishing his rights. If I am translating the legal language correctly, it says that Jesse, immediately upon his father’s death, will give Theophilus all that he (Jesse) inherits, and that will end the obligation. Otherwise he will owe Theophilus £200.
If you read about Jesse’s attempt to get a government pension for service in the Revolution, you may remember that his lawyer pleaded that the poor old man needed the help of the government. Apparently, Jesse was already having financial difficulties.
Timothy’s Life Ends
Timothy lived another year after he signed his will with a rather feeble scrawl, dying on 13 October, 1795.
How much wealth had Timothy Morgan accumulated to share with his nine surviving children? While there are many complex factors that make equivalents between Colonial money and today’s dollars shaky at best, most measures would say that the £40 pounds mentioned here is worth several thousand dollars. Timothy’s total worth (according to inventory) added up to £364–not shabby at all.
How Am I Related?
- Vera Marie (Kaser) Badertscher is the daughter of
- Harriette (Anderson) Kaser, who is the daughter of
- Vera (Stout) Anderson, who is the daughter of
- Harriette (Morgan) Stout, who is the daughter of
- Jesse Morgan (1805), who is the son of
- Jesse Morgan ( 1758), who is the son of
- Timothy Morgan (1723).
Notes on Research
The bulk of the research for this article came from the probate packet for Timothy Morgan, Groton Connecticut.
Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999, Connecticut State Library (Hartford, Connecticut); Probate Place: Hartford, Connecticut, (1795), Case #2266, Timothy Morgan. Accessed through Ancestry.com
United States Federal Census, 1790, New London, Connecticut,Timothy Morgan, Census Place: New London, Connecticut; Series: M637; Roll: 1; Page: 76; Image: 53; Family History Library Film: 0568141. Accessed through Ancestry.com
Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934,FHL Film Number3336, Timothy Morgan, 13 Oct. 1795. Accessed through Ancestry.com
James Morgan and his Descendants, accessed through Ancestry.com and archives.org.
Find a Grave, Deborah Leeds Morgan https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/59052372/deborah-morgan,