Morgan, Thomas (1804-1848)
Transcription of Sketch in the Christian Messenger by Robert Moss
(The Rev. T. Morgan was buried in front of our Bethel Chapel in Sheffield. We are indebted to Mr. Moss for this account of his life and ministry. We feel sure that our readers will be interested in it, especially in view of the Conference of this year – EDITOR)
The Rev. T. Morgan arrived in Sheffield on July 16th, 1845, and recorded in his journal on the same date is the following brief prayer: “Oh God, let me be Thine, body, soul, and spirit. Amen.”
On the 18th, he attended a prayer meeting in the vestry of the Coal-pit Lane Chapel, and he names the fact that he had liberty in calling upon God.
“July 27th. At a prayer meeting at 6 o’clock in the morning, very few were pre-sent. Processioned to the Camp meeting at half-past nine. Driven from the ground by heavy rain. A powerful Love Feast in the evening, and many souls were brought to God. Thank God for the converting power. Amen.”
“August 24th. Spoke out of doors at Sugar House to a large congregation, with power: the opposition of an infidel quite elevated me.”
“September 7th. Sheffield School Anniversary. Preached morning and night to good congregations. Collections about £25 Thank God.”
One writer refers to the Rev. T. Morgan as one of the giants of the Connexion. A man who himself had broken through the restraints in his early life; brought into his ministry all the force and energy of a formidable frame and intellect. His sermons displayed great knowledge of human nature and of gospel truth and were generally mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. No one could listen to his fervour and confidence in prayer without perceiving that he had power with God. Whenever he opened his lips to the Lord he seemed to feel the full force of those beautiful words of Wesley:
” Faith, mighty faith the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, it shall be done.”
On our Preachers’ Plan for December, 1846, we find the following announcement:
“Salvation Meeting at Sheffield, November 29th, to commence at the Chapel at half-past one. To shoot sinners flying through the streets.”
October 19th. Protracted meetings to commence at 6 o’clock on Monday morning. Services each day at 6 am, half-past 12 noon, and at 7 p.m.
In the month of October, 1846, soon after the seven men of Preston had resolved upon the formation of a Society in opposition to the drinking habits of the Nation, and by accident fixed upon the word “Teetotal” as its title, a number of working men in Sheffield banded themselves together for the formation of a similar organisation, but “Teetotalism” not being acceptable to the people of the churches at that time, those few men had much difficulty in obtaining premises in which to hold their meetings and advocate their principles. And whilst our own church authorities passed a Minute, February 8th, 1837, in favour of the “Real Juice of the Grape” for Sacrament, yet towards out and out teetotalism the officials showed much prejudice, yea, opposition, as the following resolutions will show. Committee Meeting, July 21st, 1843, Minute No.4, “That Mr. Travis be not allowed to let the School for Temperance Meetings.” Minute No. 5, “ That Brothers Hunter and Marsh be deputed to inform Mr. Travis of the opinion of this meeting, and, if he still persist, he will have notice to quit the room.”
For what purpose this Mr. Travis was in occupation I have not yet discovered, but probably a day-school.
This band of advanced thinkers and workers having been refused a meeting-place by other churches, and probably ignorant of the course adopted by our own officials in opposition as previously shown, applied for the use of a schoolroom. The Committee, who, on being made fully acquainted with the nature and purpose of their work, with the three years’ additional enlightenment on the subject, readily placed the old chapel premises at their service for Sunday nights after 7.30; therefore the Society or Church at Bethel was the first religious organisation in the town to open its doors for the advocacy of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks.
The Association thus formed was designated “The Little Sheffield Temperance Society.” Our Superintendent Minister, the Rev. T. Morgan, willingly and efficiently did all he could to help forward this infant cause, addressing their meetings and delivering lectures when possible.
These working men whose whole souls were thrown into this work, though not connected with our church, were not faddists. Most of them had passed through bitter experiences consequent upon their past weakness for the drink, but now, having proved the benefits derived from total abstinence, were genuine earnest in the advocacy of its principles and triumphs. Having tested the good things of this reformed and better life, they were resolved to do or die in spreading its truths to their fellow men. It was at these meetings where one of our Municipal Mayors, Mr. J. Clegg, father of one of our Lord Mayors, as a public speaker, made his maiden speech, sang his temperance ditties, and prepared himself so efficiently for the platform of the future, on which oft times at great personal risk he was so pronounced a personality.
While in occupation of this room, this organisation undertook to establish a “Branch Temperance Friendly Society,” and, as a distinguishing title by which to be known, selected the word “Ebenezer,” and which is now known as the Ebenezer Tent of Rechabites, of which the Rev. T. Morgan, as also officials and members of Bethel Church, became members.
In 1847, the Rev. T. Morgan wrote and issued a tract entitled “Present Salvation,” which went through three editions, in all, 22,000 copies. The Rev. Hugh Bourne, in a letter referring to the Rev. T. Morgan as a Minister, said: “Brother Morgan presses the converting work forward so nobly, that I cannot say whether, in this respect, he was not one of the first men in England, if not in the world.” On the June Plan for 1847, there is a poetical effusion, giving Mr. Morgan’s view of what a sermon should be. (See below)
This year Sheffield reported one hundred increase to the May District Meeting.
January, 1848. Mr. Morgan reports: “We have a grand and glorious work on here in Sheffield. Evening service. I preached from Psalm xl., 1. Numbers were broken to pieces, eleven or twelve professed to find the Lord. Seat rents this quarter will touch £28. We are going before the wind in gallant trim. All Hail.”
February 16th, 1848. Having received an invite from some other circuit, in his reply to same, he says: “Through God’s mercy we have done well, very well in this circuit lately. A great work; notwithstanding our heavy loss, we shall, I believe, report a respectable increase. I shall feel very sorry to leave the Sheffielders, for I shall not mend them, go where I may in our Zion.” (He writes the above while in bed suffering from influenza)
On March 13th, answering a letter inviting him for special services, he replied: “I have been ill of diabetes five weeks to-morrow. If God should restore me, though I cannot promise in my present circumstances, you can put me on for your Missionary services; if l am better, I will do what I can. Thank you for your kindness, and may God bless you.” Instead of his hopes being realised, his condition became worse. Two or three days before his death, viz.: March 20th, 1848, he wrote the following letter to his brethren at Quarter Day.
“Very Dear Brethren,
Grace, Mercy and Peace be with you, with your Societies and with your Souls. From eighty-eight to ninety times I have been with you or with other brethren on such like occasions; and now I am with you in spirit, and I hope I shall be all eternity. Your manner of worship, your straightforwardness, your kindness, &c., have made a deep impression on my heart. You know I am not apt to ?atter. Meet me in Heaven.
Doctor talks favourably of a recovery; and says, if one or two of you will wait upon him (Mr. Wild, Norfolk Street), he will tell you his view of my case now. I have suffered much. Very much, but God has upheld me, and perhaps I am something better, but with hot baths, medicine, &c., I am very weak, and I write these few lines to express my great love to you everyone, and to pray God’s blessing on you everyone, and to say how I am present in my heart with you in the business. And, oh, that God’s great love and peace may fill you – fill you all now, aye, and keep you full all day. Those great truths we were used to teach and to hear, will do to die and be sick on – will do to sing on at last. ‘There all the ship’s company meet, who sail with their Saviour beneath.’ or ‘We will praise Him again as when we pass over Jordan.’
I do not know whether I shall sing with you on this side, but here is my hand and heart to join with you on the other side. ‘On the banks of the river, to sing of Salvation for ever and ever.’ Will you all meet me there? Yes, I believe. God bless you everyone, for ever and for ever. So prays your poor, unworthy and unpro?table servant. T. MORGAN.”
“But whose foundation is Jesus Christ, the advocate, whose blood through earth and skies, free boundless mercy cries.” I am nothing, but Jesus died for me. Yes, yes, true is the stone, “Jesus died for me.”
His death took place on March 23rd, 1848.
The following is from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent:
“At his residence in Broomspring Lane, the Rev. Thomas Morgan, Primitive Methodist Minister, died on March 23rd. He had been a minister upwards of twenty years. His talents and fidelity secured him the esteem of the people among whom he laboured. Every circuit in which he was stationed prospered under his labours. He had been in Sheffield nearly three years, during which time the circuit had received an additional three hundred members. He had superintended the erection of many chapels, and was much esteemed for his prudence in the exercise of ecclesiastical discipline. He was well acquainted with the plan of salvation, and made it so plain to others that many of his hearers found “Redemption in the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of their sins.” His faith in the atonement was great, and his words were: “I believe, I believe.” He was interred in front of Bethel Chapel, on Sunday, the 26th, when the Rev. S. Antliff gave an address, and the Rev. W. Cutts read the burial service to about 2,500 persons who attended to testify their regard for this great and good man.”
Prominently in the procession in all their Regalia were his brother members of the Ebenezer Tent of Rechabites.
WHAT A SERMON SHOULD BE.
By REV. T. MORGAN.
It should be warm; a living altar coal,
To melt the icy heart, and warm the soul;
A sapless, dull harangue, however read,
Will never rouse the soul or raise the dead,
It should salvation freely tender unto all,
To Jew and Gentile, unto great and small;
Salvation purchased upon Calvary’s brow,
Perfect in Nature, and is offered now!
It should be simple, practical and clear.
No fine spun theory to please the ear;
No curious lay to tickle lettered pride,
And leave the poor and plain unedified,
It should be mixed with many an ardent prayer,
To reach the heart, and fix and fasten there:
When God and man are mutually addressed,
God grants a blessing – Man is truly blessed.
It should be manly, just and rational,
Wisely conceived and well-expressed withal;
Not stuffed with silly notions, apt to stain
A sacred desk, and show a muddy brain.
It should be closely well-applied at last,
To make the moral nail securely fast;
“Thou art the man!” and that alone will make
A Felix tremble, and a David quake.”
Thomas was born on 16 June 1804 at Leamoor Common, Shropshire. He was baptised on 24 June 1804 at Wistanstow, Shropshire. His parents were Francis and Jane.
His obituary records that Thomas had a wife and six children.
Thomas died on 23 March 1848 at Sheffield, Yorkshire.
- 1828 Presteign
- 1829 Haverfordwest
- 1831 Prees (6mths)
- 1831 Tunstall (2yrs 6mths)
- 1834 Ilkeston
- 1836 Leicester
- 1840 Nottingham
- 1842 Derby
- 1845 Sheffield
Christian Messenger 1921/217
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1832/469; 1833/105; 1834/195; 1835/132; 1848/449
J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p381
H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 1, p333
William Antliff, Life of Thomas Morgan, 1954
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers