Sir Henry Morgan

(1635 - 1688)

Henry Morgan was born in Llanrhymni, Wales, around 1635, and was from a well to do family. He was kidnapped when he was a boy, and sent to the English colony of Barbados, where he was sold by his captors as an indentured servant. In 1654 Lord Cromwell, sent a large invasion force to the West Indies for the purpose of capturing Española from the Spanish. The fleet anchored in Barbados, where they recruited hundred of  men anxious to desert their owners and gain freedom and Henry Morgan was one of the recruits.. 

On March 31, 1655 the expedition left Barbados with 35 ships with 8000 soldiers for the Santo Domingo. There, the English force was defeated by the Spanish defenders. Worried about the reception they would receive in England, commanders decided to attack the smaller, Spanish colony of Jamaica which was captured some weeks  later. The English later found itself with a colony it could not defend, and offered letters of marque to all who would prey on Spanish shipping and building a navy to protect Jamaica.

After tying his hand as a farmer on Jamaica, and not being successful at it, he began an apprenticeship to the master of a ship, when he was close to 30 years old. By 1666 he had his own ship and was soon a member of a group of privateers operating out of Port Royal, Jamaica.

Henry Morgan made his first appearance in Panama in 1664, when he was second in command of the expedition led by Edvart Mansvelt of Rotterdam, a notorious buccaneer. 

In 1668, Morgan returned to Panama to capture the Spanish port of Porto Bello, from which the Gold Fleets, loaded up with the gold and silver of Spanish America, for shipment back to Spain.

In December of 1670, Morgan sailed for Panama with a fleet of thirty-five small ships (between 10 and 120 tons in size) and over two thousand English and French privateers, the largest force of privateers ever assembled with the purpose sacking Panama, the wealthiest city in the New World.

When the news of Morgan's sack of Panama reached London, politics were totally different. Some wanted to negotiate and mend fences with Spain, especially since she was about to declare war on England. They wanted to arrest the governor of Jamaica and Morgan. In 1672 Morgan sailed back to England on the Welcome, a leaky naval frigate. He arrived in a country which was very different to the one he had left seventeen years before. Then it had been Puritan, now the monarchy had been restored. Morgan spent three years in London at his own expense but free to meet the people he chose. He became good friends with the second duke of Albermarle was  notice of King Charles II. who made him Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica.

At the age of 45, Sir Henry was acting governor of Jamaica, Vice-Admiral, Commandant of the Port Royal Regiment, Judge of the Admiralty Court and Justice of the Peace. In 1687 the duke of Albermarle arrived in Jamaica to take up his post as the new governor. On the August 25, 1688 he died in Port Royal.

The Spanish Armada Destroyed by Captaine Morgan at Maracaibo

From Alexander Olivier Exquemelin's - "The Buccaneers of America" - 1681


Morgan Puerto Bello 1768 Panamá 1771
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Bruce C. Ruiz
Updated:   September 24, 2002