Henry Rhodes Morgan
Major-General Henry Rhodes Morgan was an early Anglo-Indian member of the Theosophical Society, who had retired from the British Army. He and his wife Ellen were staunch friends of the Founders and defended H. P. Blavatsky during the controversy started by the Coulomb conspiracy. NOTE: The 1938 Theosophical Yearbook lists the general under the name Rhodes E. Morgan, but that is incorrect.
Henry Rhodes Hungerford Morgan II was born November 1, 1822 at Teignrace, Devon, England, as the son of Henry Rhodes Morgan and his wife Elizabeth.
On June 7, 1852, Morgan married Ellen Henrietta Rae (1828-1899), daughter of soldier James Somers Rae (1788-1833). She had been born in Bombay and lived for a few years in Australia, and so was a true child of the British Empire . The wedding took place in Ootacamund, but the couple was stationed in Burma the next year before returning to Ooty for the rest of their lives. They had ten children from 1853 to 1869.
Ellen died in 1899, and he survived her by ten years, dying on May 19,1909.
Morgan was "nominated for the Madras Infantry by E.I.C. [East India Company] Director Joh Petty Muspratt, at the recommendation of his aunt, Mrs. Frances Janorine." The young man passed the selection committee on December 15, 1841, and embarked for Madras the following month. He was posted to duty with the 40th Native Infantry, and then the 13th Native Infantry. He rose steadily in the ranks from Ensign in 1842 to Major-General on January 23, 1875, retaining that rank until his death.
Life at Ootacamund
The Major-General and Mrs. Morgan lived at Ootacamund, a hill station where he was one of the first English settlers in 1845. Their home was called "The Retreat." He worked for the English Government in India as a Forest Officer and Inspector and wrote a book entitled Forestry in Southern India encouraging forest conservation. Mrs. Morgan "studied scientific agriculture and was responsible for introduction into Ooctacamund of Australian Eucalyptus, Assam tea plant, and to a great extent the cinchona." The couple had eight children, of whom only three survived to 1938. The general died in June, 1909.
Theosophical Society involvement
In the summer of 1883 Mme. Blavatsky and Col. Olcott stayed with the Morgans for a short vacation in the benign climate of the Nilgiri Hills. Agriculture was an interest that Col. Olcott held in common with the Morgans. HPB wrote to Alfred Percy Sinnett:
I am at the Morgans. General and Generaless, six daughters and two sons with four sons-in-law constitute the family of the most terrible atheists and the most flapdoodlish or the most kind Spiritualists. Such care, such kindness and regards for my venerable self that I feel ashamed...
The general was the President of the local Todabetta (or Doddabeta) Theosophical Society in Ootacamund.
During the Coulomb controversy, a letter was published in the Madras Christian College Magazine purportedly written by Mme. Blavatsky to Emma Coulomb, mentioning a visit of the General to Madras. Morgan demanded an opportunity to examine the original letter, and then published a letter in the Madras Mail stating in strongest terms that the HPB letter was determined to be a forgery by three experts.
- Forestry in Southern India.
- Reply to a Report of an Examination by J. D. B. Gribble. 2nd ed. Ootacamund: Observer's Press, 1884. 21 pages. The British Library has two copies.
- A. J. Farrington letter to Boris de Zirkoff. May 3, 1968. Farrington worked for the India Office Library and BdeZ had requested information about the service record of Morgan.
- Virginia Hanson, Masters and Men: the Human Story of the Mahatma Letters (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 179.
- "Morgan, Mrs. E. H.," 'The Theosophical Year Book, 1938. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 202.
- 1938 Year Book, 202.
- 1938 Year Book, 202.
- H. P. Blavatsky, The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett and Miscellaneous Letters (London: T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., 1925), ???. A. T. Barker, editor.
- Greeting quoted in The Theosophist Supplement 5 no.51 (January, 1884), 19. See December 1883 PDF.
- Vallah Bulla statement dated September 21, 1884. Adyar Committee Report, 1885, 133-134. As presented in Michael Gomes, "The Coulomb Case" Theosophical History Occasional Papers Volume X (Fullerton, California: Theosophical History, 2005) 47.
- Boris de Zirkoff letter to British Museum Department of Printed Books (predecessor to British Library). July 16, 1955. Boris de Zirkoff Papers. Records Series 22. Theosophical Society in America Archives.