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The Picket Line — 28 July 2014

An editorial dated from the Monmouthshire Merlin tells us a bit about the Rebecca movement (and a lot about the opinions of the editor):

South Wales.

Since our last publication, we have been at the “seat of war” against toll gates and toll exactions, and regret to find that an extensively organised and formidable system of Agrarian intimidation, violence, and outrage, is rapidly spreading.

The Government are adopting prompt and vigorous means to repress and punish those engaged in violence and outrages, and to enforce obedience to the laws.

Official persons of intelligence have been sent down from head quarters to the Principality, and a considerable military force, under active officers, are at hand, to carry out the measures deemed necessary to be adopted by the civil authorities.

We trust, however, that the just and prudent course of investigating the causes of this deep and general dissatisfaction in Carmarthenshire and the neighbouring counties, will be forthwith adopted, with a view of an immediate and searching redress of those grievances, which every unprejudiced person, conversant with the state of large portions of South Wales, admit, are oppressive and unjust to the poor. Confidence in being able to crush with the strong arm of military power, should not induce an apathy to the complaints of the people. Whilst riotous farmers are hunted down, the unjust farmers of tolls and trustees of roads, should not be suffered to plunder the poor with impunity.

Wherever you turn, with whomsoever of the rural classes you converse, in the disturbed districts, sad complaints of the inflictions upon the struggling poverty and honest industry, reach your ear; whilst the outcries against road trustees, charged with illegal toll exactions, and the “unfeeling plunderers” of the small farmers (a class exceedingly needy in Carmarthenshire) by side bars, are so general as to induce a conviction on the mind that a great wrong has made Rebeccaites of the great bulk of the population.

With the existence of such a feeling and such sympathies over the length and breadth of whole counties, it is easy to assign good cause for the Government declining to send Rebecca rioters for trial by Carmarthenshire juries. It is easy to account for the extreme difficult of obtaining evidence against the nocturnal Guerillas. It is easy to account for the effectiveness of spies on the movements of the military, and the vigilance which protects what is deemed the popular cause, against the surprize of a preventive force. An intelligent correspondent writes thus:–

Although the dragoons are on the saddle every night, scouring the country, they happen to be always in the wrong place, and the work of outrage continues not only undiminished, but with increased and increasing audacity. On Thursday, for instance, the dragoons started with Captain Edwards, of Rhydygorse, a magistrate at their head, and proceeded to Llangewilly; but while they were thus engaged the Rebeccaites entered the ancient town of Kidwelly, eight miles from Carmarthen, where they had previously pulled down the gate, and at which a temporary one with iron bars had been erected; they broke down the iron posts, destroyed the gate, and then proceeded to demolish the toll-house. Having finished the work of destruction, they piled up the timber which had been used in the building of the toll-house, and placed the broken gate upon it, set fire to it and burned it to ashes. This was done in the precints of the town containing hundreds of inhabitants. The outrage was perpetrated by comparatively a very small number of persons, and yet not a single inhabitant interfered to prevent the work of destruction. While this was going on at Kidwelly, Prendergast-gate, situate at Haversfordwest, was destroyed in the most daring manner, while the military were in the town, but not a single person gave them the slightest hint of what was going on.

And again,

Intelligence having been received (says the writer) that it was intended to make attacks on several gates during the night, and that the village of Porthrhyd had been threatened to be set on fire, Colonel Love immediately issued orders for the Dragoons to patrol the whole of the roads leading to the places threatened, and for this purpose they were divided into six section, who at once scoured the roads from Llandovery, Llandillo, and around Carmarthen. The troop had not, however, traversed more than three miles on the road from Carmarthen, before it became evident that they were watched from the hill tops, and shortly after two signal guns were heard. Within an hour after the troop of Dragoons had passed through the Bethania-gate, which is almost immediately above the hill called Pumble, on the road leading to Llanon, a sky-rocket was sent up from one of the hills in the neighbourhood, and in a few minutes several large bonfires were lit on the various hills around, as answers to the signal given by the firing of the rocket. The consequences of these signals soon manifested themselves to the inhabitants of the surrounding country by the almost instantaneous appearance of about 1000 men, colliers and others, who appeared to be in a well-organised condition.

It will be seen that the followers of Rebecca have commenced the levelling system in Glamorganshire, and that in the execution of a warrant for the capture of a person charged with a particpation in the pulling down of Bwlgoed and other toll-gates in the neighbourhood of Swansea, a violent and savage assault was committed on a most meritorious office and his assistants, in the discharge of their duty. As we have given details of the event in this paper, we shall not dwell further, at present on the nature of popular discontents in Wales, but proceed to one of the great causes of our adversity…

Here, the editorialist returns to a favorite topic: decrying the government’s stubborn tariff policy, which has made it impossible for local Iron to compete on the international market.

The Picket Line — 27 July 2014

Some bits and pieces from here and there:

  • Irish protesters are continuing their campaign to block the installation of water meters, including recently at the Ardmore Estate neighborhood in Cork.
  • While homebrewing is legal in the United States, home distilling is not. Distillation of drinkable alcohol is highly regulated (and taxed). But nonetheless, home distilling has become a popular hobby, and the federales have been largely looking the other way and not harrassing hobbyist-level distillers (as opposed to commercial moonshiners). That sadly appears to be changing.
  • The Other Eye, a Catalan journal, recently published Carles Valentí’s essay on tax resistance, which is another example of the Spanish tax resistance movement expanding beyond war tax resistance to a broader critique of corrupt, wasteful, and harmful government spending.
  • Italy’s “Northern League” likes to talk about tax resistance a whole bunch, but I don’t see as much evidence of them moving from talk to action as I’d like. The latest example of this big talk comes from party Secretary Matteo Salvini, who called for a tax strike to begin on . We shall see.

The Picket Line — 26 July 2014

From the Cambrian comes this account of the examination of Rebeccaite prisoners. This part of the examination mostly concerns attempts to bail out the prisoners, but also touches on the national publicity and local concern about the proceedings.


, the hall was as densely crowded as on the preceding day. The following Magistrates were present:– Sir John Morris, Bart., in the chair; J.D. Berrington, Esq., Colonel Cameron, Rev. S. Davies, Rev. John Collins, L.Ll. Dillwyn, Esq., John Grove, Esq., W.I. Jones, Esq., H. Lucas, Esq., J.N. Lucas, Esq., J.D. Llewelyn, Esq., C.H. Smith, Esq., and J.H. Vivian, Esq., M.P..

The prisoners were placed at the bar, and the charge read over to them.

Margaret Morgan, the daughter, was charged with having feloniously and maliciously assaulted and wounded Captain Charles Frederick Napier, with the intention of preventing Henry Morgan from being lawfully apprehended. [The coverage of this hearing in the Monmouthshire Merlin says that this charge was against Esther Morgan.]

Morgan Morgan and Esther Morgan (the father and mother), and Rees Morgan, were charged with aiding and abetting Margaret Morgan, in the commission of the felony.

The nature of the charge was explained to the prisoners in Welsh, and the usual questions put, whether they intended making any statements — at the same time they were cautioned by being told that whatever they said would be used in evidence against them if necessary.

The prisoners, by the advice of Mr. Walters, declined making any statements. They were then committed to take their trial at the next Assizes.

Morgan Morgan, and Esther, his wife, then bound themselves in the sum of 200l. each, and the two surities, Messrs. Isaac Jones and Robert Williams, in the sum of 100l. each, to produce the two former at the next Assizes.

Rees Morgan and Margaret Morgan, also bound themselfes in the sum of 200l. and the two surities, the Rev. Daniel Davies, of Swansea, and Mr. Wm. Thomas, of Llangafelach, in 100l. each, to produce the prisoners at the next Assizes. — The parties were then liberated.

[The Merlin adds: “The whole family were then discharged out of custody, and left the hall accompanied by large numbers, who pressed to shake hands and congratulate them.”]

Captain Napier was then bound over to prosecute, and Inspector Rees and Sergeant Jenkins to give evidence against the prisoners.

The Chairman then announced, that the Magistrates had come to a decision to liberate the parties who were in custody on a charge of destroying Rhydypandy and Bolgoed toll-bars, on their binding themselves respectively in the sum of 100l., and two responsible surities in 50l. each, to appear on

Mr. Walters applied to the Bench, for the liberation of John Morgan, the young man who had been wounded, and who was then in the Infirmary of the House of Correction, on his finding surities to the same amount as the others.

Mr. Attwood observed, that he was charged with a more serious offence than those who were in custody at the station-house, and who were charged with misdemeanor only.

The Chairman observed that as far as his own opinion went, unless there was a technical objection, the young man might be discharged on entering into the same recognizances as the rest of the family who were charged with a similar offence.

Mr. Attwood suggested that the only objection to the adoption of that course would be, because the rest of the family had been committed, whereas the case of John Morgan had not been heard.

Mr. Walters then stated that the medical men were of opinion that the young man was in a fit state to be brought forward, and that the investigation of the case should be proceeded with. He (Mr. W.) would certainly prefer the adoption of that course, if bail could not be taken for his appearance whenever required.

The Chairman expressed his readiness to accede to Mr. Walters’s proposition of proceeding with the examination. He would have admitted him to bail before examination were not that course informal. The Government and the whole kingdom watched their proceedings, and it was necessary they should avoid any technical informality in their proceedings. The Chairman then expressed his readiness to proceed to the Infirmary, and take the examination on .

After a lengthened conversation, the Chairman’s suggestion was agreed to.

The Chairman, and several of the other Magistrates, then proceeded to the Station-house, for the purpose of receiving bail for the appearance, on , of the parties charged with the destruction of the toll-bars. Should the investigation be then proceeded with, we shall give a full account of the proceedings in our next publication. — Each of the principals then entered into recognition in the sum of 100l. each, and the following surities in the sum of 50l. each:–

For Henry Morgan, Messrs. Thomas Glasbrook and Joseph Rees; the same persons were surities for Matthew Morgan. For Mr. William Morgan, of Bolgoed, Messrs. Morgan Jones (Courtycarne), and Griffith Griffiths. For Mr. David Jones, Messrs. Isaac Thomas and Jacob Lewis, draper, Swansea. For Mr. Griffith Vaughan, Messrs. John Cadwallader and Wm. Sayer, of the Bush Inn; and for Mr. David Lewis, Messrs. John Alexander and Edward Williams.

The Chairman, and several of the Magistrates, then proceeded to the House of Correction, to take the examination of John Morgan, the young man who had been wounded. After remaining for some time in the Committee-room, it was suggested that the Magistrates had better proceed to the bedroom, to avoid disturbing the invalid; to that suggestion the Chairman readily assented. On our entering the room, the young man, who is fast returning to a state of convalescence, and did not appear very ill, though he was much paler than when in health, was preparing to meet the Magistrates, who desired him to return to his bed, when the depositions made on were read over to him, and explained in Welsh, by his attorney, Mr. Walters. When asked if he wished to put any questions to Captain Napier, he stated in Welsh, that he did not attack Capt. Napier, but merely ran towards him, after having been wounded, to prevent his shooting him the second time. That being a mere statement, Mr. Walters did not give it in English, but advised his client to say nothing at that time — His father, Mr. Morgan Morgan, then entered into recognizances in the sum of 200l., and Messrs. Jacob Lewis and David Bevan, in 100l. each, for his appearance at the Assizes. — The Magistrates then left.

And here’s another example of tollgate destruction, in Cardiff, Wales, that doesn’t fit into the Rebecca Riot timeline: from the Weekly Mail:

Another Gate Demolished.

The hostile action of the inhabitants of Lower Grangetown on had not the effect upon the managers of the Taff Vale Railway Company which many persons anticipated. It was evidently the opinion of the indignant workmen who demolished the gate on that the company would refrain from putting further obstacles in the way of those persons who daily used the bridge connecting the Docks with the district of Lower Grange, and that an amicable settlement would be arrived at. So far from this being the case, the action taken by the company on would imply that they are determined to stand on their legal rights. The gate that was so ruthlessly destroyed on was re-placed by the workmen of the Taff Vale Company during , and a sentry-box was also erected for the convenience of the toll-gatherer. This structure met the eyes of the workmen who proceeded to their employment at an early hour, and though the begrudged penny was paid by the majority, a tacit understanding to repeat the performance of was quickly come to. No incident of special interest transpired during , but an attempt to convey passengers over by a speculative milkman in an ordinary milk cart proved a failure, as the vehicle was unlicensed to carry passengers. The occupants had, therefore, to descend and pay the toll. Shortly after small groups of workmen congregated round the gate and hut of the toll-collector, till over a hundred had assembled. The men were in the utmost good humour, and jokes and witticisms were launched at the expense of the collector before hostilities were commenced. The gate was kept closed, but, a break with passengers desiring to pass, the gate-keeper was obliged to open it. The plan of procedure had been well-arranged by the men, for immediately a body of ship carpenters placed themselves behind the gate, their companions putting their backs to it, and thus preventing the gate from being closed. The Boycotted gate-keeper, imagining that lively proceedings were about to commence, at once proceeded to pack up, and quickly took his departure. The ship carpenters in the meanwhile had produced their tools, and in the space of a few minutes the gate was taken off its hinges, and, by the combined efforts of many willing volunteers, was, like its predecessor, thrown over the bridge into the river, its disappearance under the water being the signal for a hearty cheer. The number of persons present at this time was about a thousand. Whilst the demolition of the gate was being proceeded with another party had commenced operations on the wooden structure that had been erected for the convenience of the toll-keeper. This house gave much trouble to the destroyers. It had evidently been built to stand rough usage, and it was a long time before it fell before the heavy onslaught made upon it. Four huge gateposts still remained before the structure was completely destroyed, and the attention of the volunteers was quickly turned to them. The first post was with difficulty taken down, but the others quickly followed, for the first was utilised as a battering-ram, and in a short time the four posts were in the river floating with the tide. It may be asked. Where were the police during the course of these lively proceedings? But it might be stated that an arrangement had been come to between the Taff Vale Company and the Head-Constable that the police should not be any party to the collection of tolls. The police were only to be present for the purpose of preventing a breach of the peace. Inspector Lewis and a small body of constables remained on duty until late in the afternoon. At about , however, a large crowd congregating, assistance was sent for to the central station, and Superintendent Price, with Inspectors Harris and Tamblyn and a number of constables, proceeded to the bridge. By the time they arrived on the scene the damage had been committed, and, as the crowd was orderly and good-tempered, they shortly afterwards withdrew. It is expected that the Taff Vale Company will erect another gate , and that the toll will be again demanded . A meeting was held by the malcontents after the work of demolition had been completed, when it was arranged that they should meet in force at .

Other articles on the same page of the same issue go into the background of the toll and of the construction of the bridge, and why the toll seemed to sneak up on people and surprise and exasperate them, and why the Cardiff town authorities seemed to be so hapless in dealing with the problem.

The Picket Line — 25 July 2014

A transcript (more-or-less) of the second examination of witnesses in the alleged Rebeccaite case (and the first one the public, or even the prisoners’ attorneys, were allowed to attend).

Continue reading at The Picket Line …

The Picket Line — 24 July 2014

From the Cambrian:

Becca for Ever.

On , a party of workmen in returning from hay-making in a field above Mount Pleasant, amused themselves in pushing before them one of the party, a mason, named Williams, who covered his face with his apron, at the same time crying out “Becca for ever.” The Mayor, who was accidentally passing at the time, immediately seized him by the collar, and gave him in custody to two soldiers. Mr. Morris, joiner, meeting them, told the Mayor that he would answer for Williams’s appearance on . He was then liberated. On , he entered into recognizances to appear before the Magistrates on .

The Monmouthshire Merlin rushed to print on with early reports of the Cwmcillau (or “Cwm Cille” in this account) brawl:

Serious Collision with Rebeccaites.

On a gentleman whose family are at present stopping in Glamorganshire, conveyed to us the intelligence that serious outrages had been committed by the followers of the Amazonian Great Unknown in the neighbourhood of Swansea; that the police had been violently handled; and that Captain Napier, the chief constable of the county, had been dangerously wounded.

We deemed it well to proceed to Swansea, and on our arrival found the town a scene of great excitement, and on seeking information from sources likely to prove authentic, learned that a conflict had certainly taken place, but fortunately on a small scale; that several Rebeccaites had been captured, and were then prisoners in the town; and that Captain Napier had been injured, after manifesting the humanity and forbearance which become a brave soldier.

It appeared that the anti-toll-gate campaign having widened the circle of operations, and frightened some of the good and peaceable people of Swansea, the active and intelligent head of the constabulary force of the county was vigilantly on the look-out. On , a considerable force of the gate levellers marched to Bwlgoed toll house, near Pontardulais, about seven miles from Swansea, on the Carmarthen road, forced the keeper out without making his toilet, and placing an implement in his hand, compelled him, under certain threats of death, to aid in the work of demolition, and lest he should take the liberty of tracing any of the Guerillas home, they locked him in an adjoining stable, where he was shivering, en chemise, “till daylight did appear.” Disorganization was increasing with impunity, and as toll-gate keepers looked upon each coming night with fear and trembling, as probably the last of their road-side reign, the authorities of Swansea were not wanting in efforts for prevention and detection. Heretofore the seal of secresy has been upon the lips of all sympathisers with the Rebeccaites, and none were found to give a trace to the homes of the termagant, or any of her myrmidons. On , however, according to public report, a person named John Jones, or Lletty Fulbert, not having the love or fear of “Becca” before his eyes, but being moved and instigated by John Barleycorn, or the genius of cwrw dha, met a policeman at a beerhouse, and there showed symptoms that he would a tale unfold of the wicked lady’s visits to the glimpses of the moon.

Inspector William Rees, of Swansea, was duly acquainted with the circumstance, and deemed this a favourable opportunity of obtaining information touching the names and whereabouts of the persons who razed the toll house and bar of Bwlgoed. Pursuing this intent, Rees had the informer conveyed to a place of safety, where no person was allowed to interfere with his expressed intention of rendering the State some service, and where, the wicked Rebeccaites insinuated, his public spirit was kept effervescent. Be that as it may, whether such report arose from malevolence or otherwise, we know not. Inspector Rees applied to the county magistrates, who, having minutely scanned Jones’s story, issued warrants against persons charged with the commission of Rebeccaite outrage at the Bwlgoed gate. Four warrants were confided to Captain Napier for the apprehension of William Morgan and Henry Morgan, farmers, of the parish of Llandilo, Talybont, and Matthew Morgan and David Jones, of the parish of Llangerelock. At the gallant chief constable, accompanied by Inspector Rees, and William Jenkins and H. Lewis, policemen, proceeded well armed to execute the warrants.

Matthew Morgan was taken at home, about . — David Jones was a prisoner soon after, and both were brought to the lock-up house at Swansea. After the performance of this duty, they again set out to take Wm. Morgan and Henry Morgan. William was found in a field, captured, and left handcuffed in the custody of Jenkins, the policeman; and the remainder of the party proceeded to Cwm Cille, near Velindra, the house of Morgan Morgan, farmer, in order to take Henry Morgan.

Inspector Rees first entered the house, and told who was outside. He then sent for Captain Napier, who, on entering, was handed a seat by Esther Morgan, mother of Henry Morgan. The object of the visit was then told, the warrant produced, and the signatures of the magistrates — Dillwyn Llewellyn and T.E. Thomas, Esquires — were pointed out. Morgan Morgan, the father, said Henry was lame, and could not come then, but would do so at some more convenient time. Morgan, the father, said he would lose his life before his son should go out of his house. On this, Captain Napier ordered Rees to lay hold of Henry Morgan, and a scene of the utmost violence ensued, which will minutely appear in the evidence which we give below.

Old Morgan, his wife, his sons, Rees and John, the latter of whom was shot, and Morgan’s daughter Margaret, fell upon Captain Napier and Inspector Rees like tigers and tiget cats. An iron bar, a reaping hook, a hatchet, a crutch, a hammer, scalding water, and a saucepan, were actively used against Mr. Napier and the policemen; one would almost suppose that the gallant captain must have a charmed life to survive the affray. As it was, he escaped with a severe cut on the head, and other injuries; and no doubt he would have fallen a victim in the discharge of his duty, had he not, when the power of enduring forbearance could go no further, and when they had endeavoured to discharge a pistol, which he had, against himk, he fired, by which one of his assailants, named John Morgan, was wounded in the abdomen. Rees was sadly pummelled, and Jenkins, who came to their assistance, rescued both from further violence, by some dexterous passes of his sword against some neighbours of the Morgans, whom the cry of “Lladderch Nwynt,” — kill them! — had brought to the scene of action. Henry Morgan and John Morgan, the wounded man, were then brought to Swansea, where the eminent Doctor Bird skilfully extracted the ball from John; and, be it observed, to the credit of Captain Napier, that though covered with blood, and suffering severely, he declined the medical relief of Dr. Bird, until that gentleman had first performed the offices of humanity for John Morgan, and assured him that Morgan’s life was not in danger.

The news of the capture of Rebeccaites, and of the affray — magnified into a pitched battle, with reports of the killed and wounded — spread like wildfire over the town and neighbourhood — the streets became densely crowded — hundreds assembled at the station house, and the most feverish excitement prevailed; but we did not hear of any breach of the peace.

Doctor Bird and Surgeon Rogers paid close attention to the wounded man, and succeeded in extracting the ball, which had entered the abdomen, passed up, struck the edge of the ilium, and glanced up til it lodged backwards between the second and third ribs, the abdomenal cavity not having been entered in any part.

On a detachment of the Seventy-third Regiment, accompanied by several very well armed policemen, marched to the neighbourhood of Pontardulais, for the purpose of apprehending the parties who had offended against the law in the morning, and the Morgan family, and others, were conveyed to prison without resistance.

On two additional prisoners were brought in, and the rush of anxious crowds to catch a glimpse of the new-comers — for whom we heard repeated expressions of sympathy by the people — rendered the streets through which they came almost impassable.

Mr. Griffith Vaughan, a man of some property, and landlord of the Pontardulais Inn, and Mr. David Lewis, of, we believe, the same locality, are the two persons in question.

The current of the population flowed to the Town Hall, where a numerous bench of magistrates, Sir John Morris, chairman, assembled. The court was filled in every part, immediately after the doors were opened; and several members of the Press — London and provincial — were ready to take the proceedings; but after the lapse of a considerable period, the Rev. Samuel Davies entered the court, and addressed the meeting to the following effect:–

“I suppose you have assembled here for the purpose of hearing the examination of witnesses in the case which now occupies the attention of the magistrates. I have to inform you it will be a private hearing, and therefore you may all depart; but before the investigation is brought to a close, when the prisoners are brought up for their final hearing, the public will be admitted.”

This announcement was received with marks of disapprobation. Mr. Powell, of the Times, applied for permission to be present. The solicitors who had been engaged to defend the prisoners, made a similar application, and in reply received the following:–

Resolved unanimously — That all meetings with a view to the investigation of charges relating to the demolition of turnpike gates in this neighbourhood be strictly private, till the parties are brought up for final hearing.

John Morris, Chairman.

The people dispersed from the hall slowly and complainingly, but the rumours of fresh arrests, and the current of reports prejudicial to the character of Jones, the informer, gave food for gossip and speculation.

It was said that a rev. gentleman met Jones’s wife in Castle-street, when she assured him “That her husband could know nothing of the occurrences at Bwlgoed and Rhyd-y-pandy, having been at home every night for the last two months. She added that his conduct of late had been very singular, so as to induce her to believe him insane. About twelve months since his effects were seized by the officers of the law for debt, which circumstance, she added, had a most powerful effect upon his mind. Some time ago, he build a house upon the mountain, in the neighbourhood of his former residence, in a bleak and barren spot, where it was scarcely possible for a human being to reside, more especially in such a house as he erected. The country people have a notion that if they can erect a house in one night upon a common, that house becomes their freehold property. One of those houses Jones attempted to erect for himself, his wife, and five children; but Mr. Morgan, of Cwm Cille, and Mr. Jenkins, of Cynhordy, conceiving their rights to a sheep-walk invaded by this building, took steps for having it demolished. Jones’s wife fancies that this act of Mr. Morgan’s so irritated her husband’s mind, already weakened by previous misfortune, that it must have caused him to have sought his revenge, by stating that Morgan’s sons were engaged in the destruction of the Bwlgoed bar. However, this is mere conjecture on her part. One thing she seems certain of, that her husband has not been from home during any one night for the last two months.”

Consequently, if her statement be true, her husband’s story must be untrue, as we believe he states he was present at the demolition of the Bwlgoed bar, which occurred a considerable distance from his residence, and during the night. Jones was in town early on , and called at Mr. Davies’ house. Having sat there a considerable time, he beckoned to Mrs. D., and begged her to as Mr. Davies to lend him five shillings; but Mr. Davies having some knowledge of his character, refused to lend him any money. This circumstance plainly shows he was considered unworthy of being trusted with five shillings by persons who knew him.

It is well known that the magistrates have offered a reward of one hundred pounds to any one who will give such information as will lead to the conviction of any person engaged in the destruction of Bwlgoed bar and toll house.

The statement of Jones’s wife is given as being much relied upon by the friends of the Morgans, who are very numerous.

A couple of interesting details show up in this version: one, that among the weapons the Morgan family used was a “crutch.” No crutch is mentioned during the initial presentation of the prosecution’s case against the Morgan family (though some of the other weapons are brought out for display to the Magistrates), and this may perhaps be because it would bolster the idea that Henry Morgan was injured and that the father had offered to bring him to town to face charges once he’d healed up. Another detail is that neighbors of the Morgans came to their aid and joined in their vigorous defense of their household.

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The Picket Line — 23 July 2014

The trial of the accused Rebeccaites fingered by the sketchy informant John Jones begins. From the Cambrian:

Anti-Toll Gate Agitation.

In our last publication we announced the destruction of the Rhydypandy and Bolgoed toll-bars, the latter of which had been re-erected but a short time before. On , information was communicated to the Magistrates, relative to the parties implicated in the destruction of the toll-bars, in consequence of which, they issued warrants for the apprehension of several parties of the highest respectability. This circumstance created the greatest excitement in this town and neighbourhood — so much so, that many old residents of Swansea have declared that, on no former occasion, have they seen the town in such a state of effervescence. Early on , Captain Napier, accompanied by Inspector Rees, of the Borough Police force, Sergeant Jenkins and Henry Lewis, of the Rural Police, proceeded to the neighbourhood of Pontardulais, with warrants for the apprehension of Mr. David Jones, son of Mr. Morgan Jones, of Tymawr (formerly of Court-y-Carne), who is a most respectable freeholder, and Mr. Wm. Morgan, farmer, of Bolgoed. After having brought these two persons to town and placed them in custody at the station-house, the same officers proceeded to execute a warrant, signed by J.D. Llewellyn and T. Edw. Thomas, Esqrs., for the apprehension of Matthew and Henry Morgan, the sons of Mr. Morgan Morgan, a freeholder, residing at Cwmcillau, near Velindre, in the parish of Llangyfeiach. The former resides on his own farm, which he rents from J.D. Llewelyn, Esq., and the latter, being a single man, in his father’s house. The officers arrived in the neighbourhood of Cwmcillau about , and apprehended Matthew Morgan at his own house, two or three fields distant from his father’s house. He was left in the custody of Sergeant Jenkins and Lewis, while Capt. Napier and Mr. Rees proceeded to Cwmcillau farm-house, for the purpose of executing the warrant against Henry Morgan. The nature of the warrant was fully explained in Welsh, by Mr. Rees, to the family, who positively declined allowing Henry to be taken by the officers. At last, Capt. Napier and Mr. Rees found it necessary to take him by force, when the whole family assisted in his rescue, and committed a serious assault upon Capt. Napier. As all particulars relating to the attack are detailed in the evidence given before the Magistrates on , a report of which is subjoined, it is quite unnecessary to enter upon them here, and refer our readers to the evidence adduced. However, the family succeeded in rescuing the person against whom the warrant had been issued, but not until one of them (John Morgan) had been seriously wounded by a pistol shot, which Capt. Napier was compelled to discharge in self-defence. With the assistance of Sergeant Jenkins and Policeman Lewis, who had been left with Matthew Morgan, at a distance of three fields from the house, they succeeded in bringing the young man who was wounded, with his brother, to Swansea. In , three vehicles, with a party of the 73d Regiment, and several policemen, proceeded to Cwmcillau, for the purpose of apprehending the rest of the family, who had joined in the attack on the officers. They succeeded in apprehending Esther Morgan, the mother, Margaret Morgan, the daugher, and Rees Morgan, one of the sons. Morgan Morgan was apprehended in town, having come to enquire after his son. All the family were now in custody, with the exception of Henry Morgan. Dr. Bird and Mr. Rogers, surgeon, extracted the ball from John Morgan’s body, and have done everything that was necessary for his recovery. The ball had entered the left side, below the navel, and was extracted from over the third lower rib, but the medical men were of opinion that it had not entered the abdominal cavity. On , Mr. Griffith Vaughan, formerly a draper in this town, but now landlord of the Red Lion Inn, Pontardulais, and postmaster of that place, and Mr. Daniel Lewis, known as a writer in the Welsh periodicals, under the name of Petris Bach, were taken into custody, on a charge of having been concerned in the destruction of the Bolgoed bar. During the whole of the town was in the greatest state of excitement, being filled with a number of respectable country people, farmers, and others, whose countenances betrayed the inward anxiety entertained to know the result of these proceedings. A private meeting of the Magistrates was held during the whole of , in the Petty Sessions-room, in the Townhall. It was the fullest meeting that had taken place for some time. The following Magistrates were present:– Sir John Morris, Bart. (in the Chair), John Grove, Esq., Rev. S. Davies, W.I. Jones, Esq., J.D. Llewelyn, Esq., L.W. Dillwyn, Esq., L.Ll. Dillwyn, Esq., C.H. Smith, Esq., H. Lucas, Esq., J.N. Lucas, Esq., Rev. John Collins, Thomas Penrice, Esq., Robert Lindsay, Esq., T. Edw. Thomas, Esq., J.H. Vivian, Esq., M.P., J.D. Berrington, Esq., and F. Fredericks, Esq. — Several Reporters made an application for admittance, but were told that the meeting was strictly a private one, to which Magistrates and the necessary officers only were to be admitted, but that reporters should be admitted at the proper time. Soon afterwards, all the prisoners were brought to the Town-hall and were taken to the Magistrates’ room. The large hall, was immediately filled, in the expectation that the examination would take place there. In a short time the Rev. S. Davies appeared, and announced that the examination would be a strictly private one, but when the parties were brought up for final hearing, the public would be admitted. Mr. Powell, the reporter for the Times, who had come that morning from Carmarthen expressly for the purpose of being present, applied for the admission of reporters. Messrs. W. Walters, J.G. Jeffreys, and J.R. Tripp, solicitors, who were respectively engaged to defend the prisoners, made a similar application in writing, and in reply, received the following resolution of the Magistrates — “That all meetings, with a view to the investigation of charges relating to the demolition of turnpike gates in this neighbourhood, be strictly private until the parties are brought up for final hearing.” — From enquiries made, we understand that the information relative to the destruction of the gates was given by a man named John Jones, who has stated that he was present at the destruction of the Rhydypandy gate. On , this man told Mr. Rees, the Inspector of police, that he knew all the parties concerned in the destruction of the gates, and could give their names and residences. This induced Mr. Rees to communicate the circumstance to the authorities, who subsequently issued warrants for the apprehension of the parties. It would be unsafe to offer any opinion as to the correctness of the information until the case is brought forward, but we deem it right to state, that the public place no confidence whatever in his testimony. His wife declares that he was in bed on the night of the destruction of the Rhydypandy gate, at which it is said that he was present. She also stated that, ever since a seizure of his effects for debt, his conduct has been such as to lead her to suspect that he is not altogether sane. It also appears that some of the Welsh have a notion, that if they can erect what they call Ty un nos — that is, if they can build a house on a common in one night unobserved until the following morning — that the house so erected becomes their property. Jones erected a house of this description on a common, belonging to the Duke of Beaufort, over which Messrs. Jenkins, of Cenhordy, and Morgan, of Cwmcillau, had a right of pasturage, and which house they demolished. This, coupled with the fact that the sum of 100l. has been offered for the apprehension of the destroyers of Bolgoed bar, tend to throw considerable suspicion on his evidence; for we understand that he is the informer respecting the destruction of both bars. Various rumours were afloat on , respecting the conduct of Capt. Napier and the police, towards the Morgan family, for which, as it appeared by uncontradicted evidence on , there were not the slightest grounds. Had the assault case been publicly investigated on , those injurious reports would not have been circulated.

Rebecca in North Wales

We find that pulling down toll-gates has become the fashion of the day, and that North Wales is imitating the South. On the turnpike gate of Brynefal, near Tre’ Madoc, was destroyed. It appears that there were from twenty to thirty of the Rebeccaites, some speaking with the South accent, and others in English. They told the toll-keeper that, unless he was silent, they would make him so, and tried to effect an entrance into the house, but he had the presence of mind to place four sacks of salt against the door, which prevented their effecting an entrance. Having pulled off the post, &c., they carried the gate about a mile, and then cut it in pieces, and left the fragments by the river side. We are given to understand that no clue has been obtained as to the perpetrators. We trust that the proper authorities will be on the alert. — Carnarvon Herald.

The Picket Line — 22 July 2014

On the 108th anniversary of the signing of the Vyborg Manifesto, some contemporary accounts of that event and its aftermath. Also: Rebecca gets her revenge on an opponent, and the toll gates continue to fall.

Continue reading at The Picket Line …

The Picket Line — 21 July 2014

From a column titled “Merthyr Police. — .” in the Monmouthshire Merlin:


Edward Bagnall, carman, in the employ of the Rhymney Iron Company, was brought before the Bench at the instance of Mr. Superintendent Davies for giving false information to the toll collector at the turnpike gate called the Werfa gate, situate between Hirwain and Pontwally, of the approach of a number of armed men for the purpose of destroying the gate.

It appeared that the alarmist had stopped at the gate, and informed the collector that a large number of the daughters of Rebecca were galloping thither with terrific haste, to smash and level the house and ages. This news reached the ears of the vigilant police before it had spread far, and the lying varlet was taken into custody.

The prisoner informed the Bench that he told the collector “only for a lark.”

The Bench said such larks were very reprehensible; and giving the fellow a caution to leave off such practices, he was discharged.

A Merlin editorial, dated compared the Rebeccaite uprising to the Reform Act agitation . Excerpt:

…never was the country in a more open and general state of Agrarian insurrection than it is at present. Armed and disguised parties roam about the country at night, appearing and disappearing with the celerity of Arab robbers, or Spanish guerillas, harassing and wearing out soldiers, by keeping them constantly on the alert, levelling toll-bars and gates, with a stern end [sic] fixed determination, which betokens their settled plan, and everywhere meeting with the sympathy and hearty co-operation of the bulk of the Agricultural population.

That same issue also included this report:


Mr. Edward Lloyd Williams, of Gwernant, near Newcastle Emlyn, having recently received a letter from Rebecca, ordering him, under serious injury to his property, to remit 25 per cent. of his approaching rents, has published a very spirited letter, refusing to comply with the unjust demand, and warning the deluded people of the penalty of transportation to which they made themselves liable by being connected with such lawless and unjustifiable proceedings.

The Picket Line — 20 July 2014

On a group of Rebeccaites met and passed a set of resolutions, which were obtained by the press and reprinted. From the Monmouthshire Merlin:

We much regret to learn that the war against the gates still progresses in Carmarthenshire, notwithstanding the utmost vigilance of the military under Colonel Love and the local authorities.

The following Resolutions have been adopted at some of the Rebeccaite Meetings.

To the conductors of the Convention appointed to be held at Cwm Ivor, in the parish of Llandi, in the county of Carmarthen, on .

To concur and inquire into the grievances complained of by the people, and to adopt the best method of avoiding the surprising deprivations that exist, and the eternal vigilance of our superintendents, which is the price of our liberty.

We wish to reduce the price (taxes) and secure our blessings. An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.

Power usurped is weak when opposed. The public interest depends upon our compliance to examine the cause of the calamity, and unveil the corruptions to Rebecca, &c.

The following resolutions agreed, and intend to recommend to your future aspect by us whose names are here subscribed at foot, being householders within the above heretofore mentioned parish:–

  1. To levelling all petty gates and gate-posts connected with by-ways and bridle-roads or any roads repaired by the parishioners.
    Also that coals, lime, and grain, taken to market, be exempted from tolls.
  2. The motive is the abolition of heavy tithe and rent charge in lieu of tithe.
  3. The abolition of church-rates.
  4. A total alteration of the present poor-law.
  5. An equitable adjustment of landlord’s rent.
  6. Not to allow or grant any Englishman to have the privilege of a steward or governor in South Wales.
  7. If any man rents his neighbour’s farm treacherously, we must acquaint the lady, and endeavour to encourage her exertions wherever she wishes for us to execute our phenomena and combat.
  8. To request the farmers not to borrow any money on purpose to pay unlawful demands; and if the result be that some person or persons will annoy any one by plundering and sacrificing their goods in respect to such charge, we must protect them and diminish their exploits of agonism.

That a committee of privy council must be held when necessary, and all persons under the age of 18 years are not admitted into it. Neither women or any of the female sex shall be introduced into this selected assembly, except Rebecca and Miss Cromwell.

It was agreed that a committee should be formed, and that no farmer in the country should be allowed to take the farm which had been vacated by another, without the sanction of the committee, and that if any did so, he must take the consequences. Four persons have been appointed to make rules to carry out these objects, to be agreed to at a future meetings.

Following the newspaper coverage of Rebecca chronologically, as I have been, I was surprised at how casually the reporter used the sentence “The following Resolutions have been adopted at some of the Rebeccaite Meetings.” They have meetings? They pass resolutions? So far, the papers have been describing Rebecca and Her Daughters as a mob of ignorant country folk transformed into midnight raiders animated by simple grievances and inflamed by mob passion.

The Picket Line — 19 July 2014

The government finally got a break in the Rebecca investigations when an informer came forward to finger some of Rebecca’s daughters… but it may have been less of a breakthrough than it seemed. From the Monmouthshire Merlin:

On , a considerable force of the gate levellers marched to Bwlgoed toll house, near Pontardulais, about seven miles from Swansea, on the Carmarthen road, forced the keeper out without making his toilet, and placing an implement in his hand, compelled him, under certain threats of death, to aid in the work of demolition, and lest he should take the liberty of tracing any of the Guerillas home, they locked him in an adjoining stable, where he was shivering, en chemise, “till daylight did appear.”

Heretofore the seal of secresy has been upon the lips of all sympathisers with the Rebeccaites, and none were found to give a trace to the homes of the termagant, or any of her myrmidons. On night, however, according to public report, a person named John Jones, or Lletty Fulbert, not having the love or fear of “Becca” before his eyes, but being moved and instigated by John Barleycorn, or the genius of cwrw dha, met a policeman at a beerhouse, and there showed symptoms that he would a tale unfold of the wicked lady’s visits to the glimpses of the moon.

Jones was whisked off to a safe place (and, so “the wicked Rebeccaites insinuated, his public spirit was kept effervescent”) and interrogated, whereafter warrants were issued against William, Henry, and Matthew Morgan, and David Jones, and the constable set out with three others to make arrests. All but Henry were arrested without much incident, but when they attempted to arrest Henry at home, his family attacked the officers and one of the family was badly wounded.

Later, Griffith Vaughan and Daniel Lewis were also arrested and charged with involvement in the Bwlgoed attack.

As news spread, huge crowds assembled, and attempted to get admission to the hearings, which were then closed to the public. Meanwhile, Jones’s wife was heard saying that her husband had gone a bit around the bend, had not been a witness to the gate destruction, and had fingered the Morgan family in order to satisfy a personal grievance and to collect the government’s reward.