TPL · French Farmers Torch Tax Office as Bonnets Rouges Sentenced

In the first major trial of bonnets rouges accused of participating in the destruction of “ecotax” gantries in Brittany, eleven defendents were convicted and sentenced to between four and 18 months imprisonment and fines totaling a little more than €10,000.

, farmers in Brittany invaded the city of Morlaix, dumped their produce in big piles in the streets, set fire to the tax office, and blockaded the area to keep fire trucks from responding.

Here’s a link to a video of the torching in progress.

TPL · The Grieveances Behind the Rebecca Uprising

Mass meetings in Wales aired the grievances that lay behind the Rebeccaite uprising.

Continue reading at The Picket Line …

TPL · Banished Russian Duma Calls for Tax Resistance from Finland

A few more bits from the archives concerning Russia during the Vyborg Manifesto period:

Refuse to Pay Tax.

By Associated Press.

 In consequence of the unanimous and unalterable refusal of the peasants in the Odessa district to pay tax the local zemestvo has been advised by the government that it is impossible to maintain schools and hospitals which must be closed.

Russian Peasants Refuse to Pay Tax.

It is Said Fully 50,000 Have Joined in the Movement.
Trouble is Feared.

 A determined attempt by the peasants of Kutauis province, Transcaucasia, to live up to the programme outlined by the Viborg convention of deputies after the dissolution of the douma, of refusing to pay taxes, has resulted in serious trouble. From all indications the situation is bound to become steadily worse and fears are entertained that a general massacre of peasants by soldiers will be the outcome.

Fully 50,000 peasants have joined in the movement not to give the government a kopec. Notice has been given by the government that if the peasants do not pay within two weeks troops will be sent into the district and they will be mercilessly shot down.

Without waiting for soldiers to put the threat of the government into execution the peasants have inaugurated a campaign of guerrilla warfare against troops. Tax collectors who have insisted upon the payment of money have been severely handled in several instances.

Within the last few days a number of military sentinels have been shot down in ambush or attacked by peasants. These murders have infuriated the troops, who have demanded that they be allowed to attack the peasants.

Already the situation is nearly as grave as it could be. If the government attempts to execute its threat of collecting taxes at the point of the bayonet the soldiers are almost certain to get out of hand and a general massacre will follow.

Replying to a deputation of municipal officials who complained of the violences daily committed by members of the League of Russian People against peaceful citizens, Jews and Christians alike, Governor General Kaulbars said he personally doubted whether it was possible or even desirable to attempt to suppress the exasperation of the loyal elements against the revolutionary students, who were guided exclusively by Jews.

The tone of Governor Kaulbar’s speech, which is regarded as an open expression of approval of the horrors of counter-revolution, has created much alarm.

Douma Members to Base Defense on Technicality

Alleged Traitors to Russia Will Urge That Crime Was Committed Outside Country.

 Trial of those members of the first Russian Douma who signed the Viborg manifesto was continued this morning. It had been expected that today would see the conclusion of the case, but owing to the decision of several of the defendants to plead their own cause the hearing will go over until . The final arguments will be brief and formal. The prosecutor will limit himself to summing up the illegal nature of the manifesto and the grave consequences which might have ensued had the people heeded its appeal to resist tax gatherers. The defense will make its strong point on technicalities, holding that the crime, if any, was committed outside the country, and that the government has failed to establish the individual responsibility of the defendants.

TPL · Tax Resistance News from Italy, the U.S., and India

Some bits and pieces from here and there…

The Cambrian carried brief summaries of the meetings of the Breconshire Turnpike Trust and the upper and lower branches of the Cardiganshire Trust, at which the trustees seemed to be falling all over themselves to remove toll gates and reduce tolls to try to keep Rebecca at bay, for example:

A meeting of this trust, attended by an unusually large concourse of trustees… ordered that Bwlch Llangorse Gate, Senny Bridge Gate, the Side Gate in Llanvaes, the Groesfford Gate, the Side Gate at Tairderwen, Llyswen Side Gate, the Watten Side Gate, Pontcumbeth Side Gate, and the West Side Gate at Builth, be taken down and discontinued… that the Penygenfford Gate be abandoned, and that the Talgarth Gate and the Tretower Gate on that road, clear each other…

TPL · Rebecca Allows Neither Gate nor Bar nor Chain at Pontardulais

From the classified ads of the Cambrian (among others):

Murder — £500 Reward.

Carmarthen, .

Whereas Sarah Williams, when residing at the Hendy Bridge Toll House, in the Parish of Llanedy, in the County of Carmarthen, was, on , Shot by some Person or Persons unknown, — a reward of five hundred pounds is hereby offered, and will be paid to any Person or Persons who shall give such Information or Evidence as shall lead to the Apprehension and Conviction of any of those by whom the Murder was committed; and her Majesty’s most gracious Pardon will be extended to any accomplice, who may give the necessary evidence, so that such accomplice shall not be the person who fired the shot by which Sarah Williams was killed.

Geo. Rice Trevor,
Vice-Lieutenant County Carmarthen.

From the Cambrian:

Rebecca’s Proceedings.

By letters from correspondents residing in various parts of the country, we perceive that Rebecca’s hostility against turnpike-gates is far from ceasing. Indeed, it does not appear that she is in any way inclined to permit of a truce, much less to make a declaration of peace, and a cessation of hostilities. It was stated in our last, that the Pontardulais gate, at which the serious collision between the Rebeccaites and the police took place, had been carried away a few days after that occurrence. Since then, the Trustees caused a bar to be erected there, as a temporary substitute for a gate. In consequence of an intimation received by the authorities of an intended attack upon the bar on , it was sedulously watched on that night, and as a matter of course, Rebecca was not seen; but, on , when the military had quitted their posts, Rebecca removed the bar. Since which, a chain, which had been placed across the road, has also been carried away, and on , another bar was removed. On , a pair of new gates were erected there, but how long they shall stand, remains to be seen. We fear they must share the fate of their predecessors. Since the first destruction of the gate, no tolls have been collected during night, the collector deeming it the best part of valour to retire soon after sunset, and attend early on the following morning. However, it appears that he was not at his post early on , as a number of farmers and others who attend Swansea Market, meeting with no obstruction in the shape of a toll gate or even a toll-collector, passed toll free. In the afternoon, as the farmers were returning, the collector demanded payment from those who had paid no toll in the early part of the day. The latter, like the lawyers, cited their free passage in the morning as a precedent, and contended that, as they had passed free in the morning, the same rule should be adhered to in the evening. The collector decided the “precedent to be bad in law,” and demanded his toll. Some persons paid, but others insisted upon passing toll free. Since then, the collector has received a threatening letter from ’Becca, advising him to quit, or he must take the consequences of incurring her displeasure. — We learn by our Llandovery Correspondent’s letter, that on , a party of Rebecca’s followers passed through the village of Cilycwm, in Carmarthenshire, and proceeded to Porthyrhyd gate, on the road leading form Llandovery to Lampeter, which they speedily levelled. From thence these destructives passed onwards towards Llandovery, demolishing the posts of two bars which have not been in use for some years. About , they halted upon Doldyhirion bridge, a mile distant from Llandovery, where they remained for a short time, awaiting, it is surmised, some signal to inform them that the military had retired to rest. At the signal of command they set to work in right earnest with five or six saws, by which the gates, posts, and rails, near that bridge, were completely cleared away. During the progress of the destruction of the gate, they fired several gun shots into the toll-house, for the purpose of intimidating the collector and his wife, both of whom are advanced in years. When the work of destruction was over, a volley was fired, and all the rioters departed along the road leading to Cilycwm, having left a threatening notice with the collector, who, in consequence, has “resigned office” and removed his goods. — A correspondent writing from Landyssil, Cardiganshire, says — “I believe the general feeling among the people respecting Rebeccaism is much the same as it is about Llanelly, Pontardulais, &c. There is not a single toll gate in this neighbourhood, neither have we had any , when they were destroyed by the Rebeccaites.”

Rebecca and the Oddfellows.

On a large meeting of Oddfellows was held at the town-hall, Llanelly, attended by many of the most respectable and influential inhabitants, for the purpose of taking into consideration the “state of things” and of expressing their opinions upon the various topics which now agitate the public mind, especially in their own county, Carmarthenshire, and the adjoining counties. “What passed during the meeting,” adds our correspondent — “I, of course, had no opportunity of knowing, as none but Oddfellows were admitted, but from the frequent signs of approbation which reached the ears of persons in the street, unanimity seemed to prevail. After the business of the meeting was over, the members walked in procession through the town, their gay dresses producing a pleasing effect by gas light.” It will be perceived by the resolutions agreed to at the meeting, and which are inserted in our advertising columns, that the members of this loyal and patriotic society, while admitting the existence of grievances, “view with feelings of deep regret the nightly outrages and destruction of private property which have taken place in the neighbourhood,” and pledge themselves to exert their influence to counteract such unjustifiable and nefarious proceedings.

TPL · Rebecca Boldly Reseizes Distrained Goods from Bailiffs

From the Cambrian:

Police Movements.

Eleven policemen belonging to the London police force arrived in this town on by steamer from Bristol. We understand that they have since proceeded to Carmarthenshire, with the view of assisting the authorities “to catch Becca.” Though the Metropolitan force may be adepts at thief catching in the various resorts for such characters in London, it is difficult to believe that they will be more successful in breaking the combined and organised forces of Rebecca than the military, who, week after weak have scoured the country in vain.

Attack on Bailiffs.

At Maesgwenllian, near Kidwelly, several bailiffs were put in possession for arrears of rent, to the amount of 150l.; but about , Rebecca and a great number of her followers made their appearance on the premises, and after driving the bailiffs off, conveyed away the whole of the goods distrained upon. As soon as daylight appeared, the bailiffs returned, but found no traces of Rebecca nor of the goods which had been taken away.

Claims on the Hundreds in consequence of Losses by Rebeccaism.

An enquiry was held at the Guildhall, Carmarthen, last week, before a large bench of Magistrates, to assess the amount of damage sustained at certain toll-houses, in consequence of the proceedings of Rebecca and her daughters. A great number of witnesses were examined and cross-examined at great length, the enquiry lasting for five successive hours. At the conclusion an order was made to pay for the damage done at Minke toll-house, amounting to the sum of 15l. and 3l. 7s. 6d. costs of the application; for the damage done at Porthyrhyd toll-house, the sum of 29l., with the sum of 2l. 6s. costs of application, together with 3l. 7s. high constable’s claim — for the damage sustained by Evan Thomas (the Porthyrhyd lion), by the destruction of his furniture, 2l. 1s. 6d., and costs 2l. 4s.; and high constable’s charges, 1l. 1s. 8d. Croesllwyd toll-house was to have been brought forward, but the justices were occupied so long in the foregoing enquiries, that it stood adjourned to a future day. These expenses, of course, fall on the respective hundreds [districts].

TPL · Rebecca Is Every Man Who Earns His Bread by the Sweat of His Brow

Excerpts from an article in the Cambrian:

Great Meeting of Farmers

A grand demonstration among the Farmers of tie several parishes of Llandebie, Llanarthney, Llanfihangel-Aberbythych, Llanedy, and Beltws, in the county of Carmarthen, took place on a hill called Garnfig, between the parishes of Llanarthney and Llanfihangel-Aberbytliych, about a mile distant on the Llandilo road from Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire. The meeting had been announced for eleven o’clock, at which time there were comparatively few persons on the field, but the numbers continued increasing until twelve or one o’clock, when the number present was estimated at three thousand individuals, nearly all of whom were fanners or agricultural labourers…

Mr. [Hugh] Williams then said, that… it had been his lot to have been called upon to state the object for which the meeting had been convened. It was known to all that they had numerous grievances to complain of, which they had long suffered. One was the turnpike-toll grievance, which was well known to them. The great multiplicity of gates had given rise to outrages of the most desperate character, which he hoped would be soon discontinued, and the country return to its former peaceable state. It also appeared that the agriculturalists were reduced to such a state of poverty as scarcely to be able to pay for the conveyance of manure.…

Other complaints on the agenda included:

  • The new Poor Law, which the speaker characterized as having been designed by the upper classes for their financial benefit, and as burdening rural parishes particularly, while at the same time making things worse for the poor.
  • The “Tithe Commutation Act” which had ended up increasing tithes.
  • An increase in the expense of local government.

I’m going to mostly omit the discussion of those and stick to the parts that dealt with the tollgates and with Rebecca’s activities.

He (Mr. W.) regretted to find that, notwithstanding the resolutions agreed to at the Mynydd Sylen meeting [condemning Rebeccaism], great outrages and excesses had been committed, and they had thereby lost the assistance of several gentlemen who would have helped them. They perceived the effect of those outrages that day. He thought it would certainly have been desirable to have the company of those gentlemen. He was exceedingly sorry to find that private pique had been carried so far as to cause the destruction of property. He was not aware that Mr. Adams, of Middleton-Hall, had in any way so stepped beyond the pale of his Magisterial duties, as to give rise to such a feeling of antipathy against him. A man, having any regard for his oath, must perform his Magisterial duties. Another gentleman had been most unjustly accused of turning round — he referred to Mr. Wm. Chambers, jun., than whom a more honourable gentleman did not exist. It had been reported that he took an unworthy part in the suppression of the outrages at Pontardulais. Now he (Mr. W.) attended the examination at Swansea, and took notes of the evidence of the police and others, which proved that Mr. Chambers was entirely free from having attempted to make an onslaught upon the people. Mr. Williams here entered into the details elicited at the examination of the prisoners, to prove that Mr. Chambers was not near the spot when they were fired upon. He (Mr. W.) made those few remarks, to prove that Mr. Chambers was entirely guiltless of the charge brought against him, and he hoped that notion would be dissipated, and that his property would not, in future, be subject to destruction and depredation. With those observations, he would read the petition to the Queen. It was in the power of any one to assent or dissent from its prayer, or any portion of it.

Our space will not permit the insertion of the petition at length — we give the substance. The first part relates to turnpike-tolls, which are complained of as being very heavy, and prays that all turnpike-trusts may be consolidated, and placed under one management, which would regulate the distances at which gates were to be placed from each other.…

Mr. Williams informed the meeting, that when seeking a seconder of the petition, a letter had been given him from Mr. Chambers, jun., stating his reasons for not attending their meeting, which he hoped, with the explanation he had given, would satisfy them. The letter, which was read, repelled the false report that Mr. C. had shot one of the rioters at Pontardulais, a charge probably arising trom his having procured the wounded man some water, after the affray was over. Mr. C. also maintained that he had faithfully kept all the promises made by him. He said he would oppose nightly meetings, and would always do so. He also stated that he was amongst the first landlords who lowered their rents, and recommended others to do the same. He also offered to pay the police-rate for his tenants, and never failed to grant them an extension of time for the payment of rent when asked to do so. He had also kept his promise relative to the Three Commotts Trust. The writer asked the meeting if they thought they would have their grievances redressed by firing people’s property — was not that the method of aggravating the distress? Let the tenants of, and the labourers employed upon, the three farms which had been burnt, bear testimony. He had had written the letter to satisfy himself and not the wretches who had devastated his property. His life had been threatened, but let the miscreant who had done so beware, lest he be paid for his temerity, as he (Mr. C.) was resolved to do his best to defend himself.

A Man in the crowd said, it is Mr. Chambers’s own neighbours who complain of his conduct; they would not have so bad an opinion of him, if he had acted up to his promises.

Mr. Williams did not think so; but were that true, it was no reason that his houses should be burnt down.

Several remarks were made by Persons in the crowd, some of whom treated the letter with levity and jeers.

Mr. Stephen Evens proceeded. He did not know who Rebecca was, and why she always hatched at night; but he would make one remark with refeienee to her. He knew that if old women in making broth did not take it off the fire in time, the potatoes would get “potch.” He thought it time for Rebecca to take off the pot, or she would create a “potch.” Something very much like that had been created at Pontardulais lately. No person who understood what he was about would burn property, as the loss might be recovered from the hundred [district].

Mr. Wm. Evans, of Pontyberem, then addressed the meeting in a very animated Welsh speech. He said that everything was either a cause or an effect. A good deal had been spoken of outrages; but they unfortunately were but effects produced by a cause, and the cause was that the country was oppressed to a greater degree than it could bear. Like a horse greatly overladen, the burden must be lessened or he would break down. Let the cause be removed, the effect would soon cease. The Speaker then entered upon the toll grievance. It was not enough to make the farmer pay for travelling on the parish roads, but they were actually compelled to pay toll on private roads leading to their farms.… Still, he did not like to see ricks of hay burnt. That would not improve their conditions. Letters had been read to the meeting vindicating the conduct of some parties. He remembered rending, that even the devil had endeavoured to defend himself. (Hear.) It had been asked who Rebecca was. He had never seen her; but he thought that Rebecca was every man who earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. (Cheers.) [emphasis mine –♇]

Mr. William Thomas, of Rhosfawr, Llanon, addressed the meeting.… The Turnpike Trustees, where were they? was there one in the meeting? If so, let him come forward and reason upon the subject. They were met to legally discuss their grievances in the middle of day. He knew three gates — he would name them, Rhydyffynon, Fairfach, and Rhydytruscog gates, within a mile-and-a-half of each other, and at all of which toll must be paid. (Cries of “Quarry-fach gate.”) Yes, that was another gate within a very short distance; but thanks to Becca for pulling them down, though he would prefer her having done so during the day. Reference had been made to boiling potatoes. He thought they might take the pot down for Carmarthenshire, and, if necessary, let it boil on for Glamorganshire. The speaker concluded by entering at some length into the details of the turnpike-toll grievance.

One speaker expressed cynicism about petitions (“There had been thousands of petitions sent from the people, until the table actually groaned…”), but the meeting unanimously approved another one anyway.

TPL · Syriza Calls on All Greeks to Refuse to Pay Enfia Tax

The Monmouthshire Merlin noted:

Visitors to Rebecca.

Mr. Turney, a London police officer of preventive and detective skill — who was in Newport, during our memorable troubles — accompanied by several aids, passed through Newport for Rebecca-land on .

TPL · Rebecca, Undaunted, Takes Pontardulais Gate, Flummoxes Authorities

From the Cambrian:


The Rebeccaites are determined to have their revenge and not to show themselves over awed, or their nocturnal sports stopped, by the late occurrence at Pontardulais, for on a great number of them assembled and carried away the Pontardulais gate, at which the police had fired on them a few nights before.

From the Cambrian:

The Mayor and Military Hoaxed.

, at a late hour intimation was given to the Mayor of Haverfordwest that the Rebeccaites had assembled at Windyhill, and were preparing to attack the Prendergast Turnpike Gate and Toll House. No time was lost by the Mayor, who in company with his brother Magistrates, the Military, and the civil forces under his command, repaired thither. After waiting there some long and watchful hours, however, they found that the intimation of Rebecca’s intended visit was a hoax.

I see a few reports from around this time where the Rebeccaites use this tactic of sending the authorities on wild goose chases. The same issue carries a report saying that on the same night, a troop of Marines and another troop of Dragoons dashed off to prevent Rebecca from “destroying Capt. Prichard of Tyllwyd’s house and property.” Rebecca never showed there, and the reporter supposes this was a diversion meant to provide cover for the Rebeccaite destruction of the Llecrhyd weir. Infringements on the commons, whether in fields or fisheries or what have you, were among the secondary grievances that Rebecca and her Daughters sometimes took to remedy. That story adds:

Several large meetings are weekly kept with the Rebeccaites on the mountains, to what purpose God only knows. Some say they want to be strong enough so as to attack the soldiers at Newcastle Workhouse, and to destroy some other property. As soon as the Marines went off last night, an old man who is in the Workhouse commenced to break the windows from inside, and before he could be secured he destroyed 42 panes of glass, and said he would draw the house down if he could. Here is Rebecca’s spirit inside as well as outside.

Another story (from the same issue) on the destruction of the weir has this amusing ending:

We understand that a rear guard of the Marines, on their return from Velingigfran [a different weir they had been sent to guard] fell in with the Rebeccaites, 2 of them were in advance, and the 3rd was a little behind, Becca asked him if he had a musket? Yes! (replied the Marine.) Is it loaded? Yes! Is it capped? Yes! Take off the cap then and come with us. He was then taken to a public house in the neighbourhood, and treated with several glasses of ale, and then discharged. He arrived in Cardigan two hours after his comrades.

As Rebecca started getting bolder and taking on a greater variety of battles, it started to become easier to impersonate her, as it were, for personal grievances or personal gain. Here are two stories from that same Welshman that show this danger:

Rebeccaism at Cardigan.

About five years ago, a number of young men and women returning from a wedding near Cardigan, chanced to meet two venerable ladies, whom the silken bonds of hymen had never entwined — they were within one day of 30 years each, unmarried ladies never grow older. One of the young lads said he would give Miss W–– a kiss; on which another of his party said he would give him half a crown if he would. “Done” said the lad. The ladies advanced, and Davy ran up to one of them, threw his arms round her neck and attempted the tender infliction. It was however most resolutely resisted; Davy however won his half crown but got fined a sovereign for the assault. The story was not forgotten, for last week these maiden ladies were visited by a large party of young Rebeccaites, one of whom tapped at the lady’s chamber window and told her “Rebecca had called for the sovereign paid by Davy for a kiss some years before, and she had better pay it or else.” Wisdom grows with years, and the maiden was wise. She quietly told the party “to call again to-morrow,” and they should have the money. The Rebeccaites being young believed it, and walked away. Many of them no doubt by this time, very much “wish they may get it.”

Sham ’Beccaites.

On , John Francis and John Jones, two sturdy beggars (the latter of whom having a maimed arm) were brought up before the sitting magistrates, John Evans, Esq. (Mayor), and Capt. W. Powell, under the following circumstances:– Mr. Lewis Jones, merchant, stated that the two prisoners a few days before came to his shop to beg — the latter showing him the stump of his arm. Having given them some halfpence, Mr. L. Jones, in scanning them a little more narrowly, saw they were in drink, and charged them with it. They did not deny the charge, but said that they had received 5s. from Mr. Crawshay, the great Merthyr iron master, then at Aberystwith, and they had been drinking rather too freely at his expense, and knowing that Mr. Crawshay was not at Aberystwith, Mr. Jones immediately found they were imposters, and gave information which led to their apprehension, by police constable Jones. The principal other witness against the prisoners was Mrs. Jones, of Penybwlch, a farm a few miles south of Aberystwith. The prisoners a few days before had called at the farm house, and pretended they had been maimed by being blown up in a coal pit — the prisoner Francis baring his breast to show the sores that arose from the pretended accident. Mrs. Jones offered them some food, which they positively refused — they would have money, and nothing else. They talked about “Rebecca,” and said there were 16 of them, but they had been advised by the Rev. Mr. Lewis, of Llanrhystyd, not to go all in a body to the different farm houses, lest they might be taken for Rebecca’s children. This witness found very great difficulty to get rid of the prisoners, and not before they saw her husband was in the house.… The magistrates commented with becoming severity upon the conduct of the prisoners going about pretending to be 16 in number in the present unsettled state of the country, and sentenced Francis to 3 months’ imprisonment with hard labour, and Jones to 2 months with hard labour.

Wed. Sept. 17th at 8pm- Young Hearts Run Free (indie film from England)‏

Young Hearts Run Free
Independent film from England

Wednesday Sept. 17th at 8pm
donations appreciated (notaflof)

Friendship, First Loves, Rebellion! 
Young Hearts Run Free is a coming of age story about a teenager learning to value his community and appreciate collective action. 

1974:  during a violent miner's strike in a quiet Northern village a teenage artist falls for the new girl from London, but their  attempts to escape make him betray his family, community and best friends. 
With political protests and the working class suffering under a crumbling economy, the 1970s setting has parallels with today.  Young Hearts Run Free is an uplifting and soulful mix of 1970s styles, romance, teenage rebellion and gritty social realism.

Debut feature made on a micro-budget has grabbed national press attention (Total Film, The Guardian), won festival awards in Britain, USA and India and has been released in cinemas around the UK. Now being released in the USA

Screenings include Q&A with Writer-Director Andy Mark Simpson

Trailer at