george Morgan

Subject Name :  George Morgan (ca1812 – d1883)

Researchers : Carol Thompson and Mike Brock

Winston Churchill once said of Russia that it was a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” – he might just as well have been speaking about George Morgan.

According to the 1881 Census, George Morgan was a 68-year-old unmarried dock labourer born in Cardiff 1.  But how did he come to be in the Guildford Union Workhouse and who, in fact, was he?

The only other certainties are that George died on 16th May 1883 at the Workhouse, age 71;  his death certificate says that he was a labourer of Godalming, with death due to ‘abscess of foot’ 2, and that he was buried three days later in consecrated ground at the Godalming Nightingale Cemetery in a service conducted by the assistant curate of Farncombe Church 3, 4.

George’s death was also noted in the local
West Surrey Times, which was unusual for someone who was in the Workhouse 5.

With no existing admission records for the Guildford Union Workhouse, it is not possible to know how long George had been there, but it is clear from the 1871 Census that he was not in the Workhouse then.  Unfortunately, no one with his name, age, place of birth and occupation match up on this Census, nor indeed on any of the previous three Censuses or any other available records which could have given clues to George’s life.   

There are several possibilities regarding George’s past that could have meant him not being recorded in the Censuses – living overseas, military service, or even just giving a false name when he entered the Workhouse.  Whatever the truth behind George, it remains hidden for the time being.

November 2020, updated June 2024


  1. George Morgan 1881 England Census, Guildford Union Workhouse, Guildford, Surrey. Reference RG11; Piece: 778; Folio: 91; Page: 4.
  2. George Morgan Death June Quarter 1883, Guildford Vol 2a Page 54, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915.
    Full death certificate available from
  3. George Morgan Burial 19 May 1883, Nightingale Cemetery record book entry N3/2196, page 8.
  4. George Morgan Burial 19 May 1883, age 71. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Burials, St John, Farncombe 1882-1904, Reference: FNC/4/2, page 4.
  5. George Morgan “Deaths”. West Surrey Times, 19 May 1883, page 5.  British Newspaper Archive /