Morgan, William (1712–32), methodist, was born perhaps in Dublin, elder son of Richard Morgan of Kevin St., Dublin, who was later second remembrancer of the court of exchequer and register of the dean and chapter of Christ Church (c.1751). Nothing is known of his mother. At Christ Church, Oxford, the junior Morgan studied the Greek Testament and began a regular programme of study with John Wesley (qv) and Robert Kirkham of Merton College. The three adopted strict rules for the study and observance of their religious duties, eventually meeting nightly for devotion. They were reproached for their scripturalism, being called ‘Bible bigots’ or ‘Bible moths’, for feeding on the work as moths might. This was the beginning of the university's ‘Holy Club’ and ultimately of methodism. Morgan seems to have been particularly influential in the movement's emphasis on philanthropy and good works. He visited prisoners and the sick and convinced the others to do likewise. While they had many critics, the bishop of Oxford approved the piety and practice of the young men. Morgan received his BA at Oxford (1731) and the movement was slowly growing when he became ill and returned home to Dublin in March–April 1732. Though he attempted to return to Oxford, he was too weak to travel and died in Dublin of consumption (26 August 1732). Critics of the methodists blamed their visits to prisoners and the sick for Morgan's death. The senior Morgan was also initially critical before Wesley wrote a long letter to him relating his son's spiritual development. Richard Morgan replied, satisfied, noting that he almost wished to be at Oxford himself, and subsequently sending another son, Richard Morgan, to Oxford to be placed under Wesley's care.
C. H. Crookshank, History of methodism in Ireland (1885–8), i, 12; Joseph Foster, Alumni Oxonienses (1888), 982; R. Lee Cole, A history of methodism in Dublin (1932), 15–16; R. D. Eric Gallagher, ‘Methodism in Ireland’, A history of the methodist church in Great Britain (1983), iii, 233; Robin Roddie, ‘John Wesley's political sensibilities in Ireland, 1747–1789’, Kevin Herlihy (ed.), The politics of Irish dissent 1650–1800 (1997), 98; Dudley Levistone Cooney, A short history of the methodists in Ireland (2001), 18