This article has been extracted by Gareth Hicks (July 2004) with the permission of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society from original material provided by Deric John.
A FILE OF " REBECCA " PAPERS.
BY EVAN D. JONES, B.A.
This is Page 2 of 4 (contains pages 31-40 of the journal)
18. A STATEMENT of " Rebecca's demands and complaints in the form of draft resolutions at a public meeting. Undated.
The meeting wished to ascertain when the tolls at the Water Street Gate were increased from 11/2 for a horse load of lime and coal to 41/2 for coal and 21/2 for lime. The proper charge was 21/4. It was unjust that the parishes should contribute to the repairs of the road and pay the gates. It was the conviction of the meeting that the abuse of the Trust's money and the increase of the tolls had been the sole cause of the disturbances. If the toll was reduced and a proper account rendered, every farmer in Conwill, Abernant, Newchurch, Treleach, and Kilrhedin, would join as one man to put doen disturbances. The meeting considered that great abuses existed in the appropriation of the county stock and that the expenditure was extravagant; that the conduct of the magistrates at petty sessions was quite unbearable,--- " that we are treated like dogs, we are told to hold our tongues or go out of the room, that the law that is dealt out to us is the law of the magistrates' clerk, and not the law of the Queen, and the magistrates' clerks charge us what they please."
19. A LETTER from William Chambers, junior, to R. Goring Thomas, 2 September, 1843, with a copy of the resolution of 31 August mentioned in No. 17 above.
He sends him another resolution. He must see as a matter of common justice that the shilling should not be charged in future; it having been so charged had been a primary cause of discontent in the parish on that question, feeling also how much the people had been imposed upon by his agents. The elements of combustion wanted only the conduct of such a man as his agent, Mr. Edwards, to set the country in a flame, who added insult to unnecessary severity. His friend Morris had given the coup de grace. A Postcript: He had just heard that Edwards said on the night that he (Chambers) went up to protect, with soldiers, his life and Thomas's property, that the soldiers made so much noise that they prevented the people from attacking the place. There was no noise, they took every precaution and it was a shameful misrepresentation of his man, who wished for some excuse for his ungrounded fears. He will on no other occasion go there on Edwards's information. With two double barrelled guns he, if he had not the belly ache, might have defended his house. The only noise was a little dog let out from Gellywernen when the soldiers arrived, which was left out during the whole of the winter's stay though he had particularly requested it to be taken in. Draft.
20. A LETTER from George Rice Trevor to [William Chambers, junior], 6 September, 1893.
The recipient was mistaken as to there having been any complaint made about the soldiers during the time they were at the Edwards's. There was only a passing observation made as to their talking while Col. Love and the writer were at Lanon but not in his hearing. He was satisfied that no blame could attach to Capt. Scott or Chambers.
Some difference of opinion might exist as to his taking the chair at Mynydd Sulen and he thought he had been imprudent in having done so. Though the meeting was one he would not have wished to have interfered with, yet as a magistrate Chambers might have found himself seriously compromised. At the same time, he acquitted him of any blame as regards intention for he was of the opinion that his motives were good, and that if, by that meeting having been held undisturbed, night meetings should be less frequent a great good would have been effected.
21. A " REBECCA " LETTER addressed to " Mr. Luckraff, Sea Side, Llanelly," 6 September, 1843.
" Mr. Luckraff,
This is to give you further notice that if you don't quit these Premises in a fortnight's time we must come and remove you & I am sure it is Better you went yourself than to Be removed By force.
22. A LETTER from H. Manners Sutton to the Clerk to the Magistrates at Llanelly, 7 September, 1843.
He was directed by the Secretary [of state], Sir James Graham, to acknowledge the receipt of his letter of 31 August relative to Jenkin Hugh, a witness in the case of the destruction of a toll gate at Llanelly. Sir James Graham relied on proper steps being taken to secure the attendance of the witness at the proper period and for protecting him from being either intimidated or tampered with. Upon the termination of the proceedings the Secretary would consider whether he would not recommend to the Treasury the payment of expenses in prosecuting the case as might appear reasonable.
23. A LETTER from H. R. Edwards of Gellywernen to [William Chambers, junior] dated Wednesday morning.
Mr. Davies Cefenybryn had told the writer's father that the Rebeccaites had been at John Evans Gellyglyd's the previous night and had destroyed all he had besides what they took away. They had also heard that they were to break down Hendy and Pontardulais gates that night. They thought it best to let him know as he could then do as he pleased. The previous night the writer was obliged to go down to let a dog out when he saw a man all in black run out of the yard and over the gate into the field. They had every reason to believe there were more about.
24. A LETTER from R. Goring Thomas of Llysnewydd to William Chambers, junior, 9 September, 1843, in reply to No. 19.
He must have misunderstood what he had said. He stated that he would return Chambers's tenants the shilling for the previous year, and that he would not require any tithe payer to pay it this year or in future. Had that been explained to the meeting such a resolution would not have been passed. What was said at Mynydd Sylen was no answer to the fact that the parishioners through their Tithe Committee had fixed the amount with him twelve years previously at £2100. The statement about his agent's observation as to the tithe being fixed at 1/3 in the pound might be correct, but he had never heard of the circumstance before he saw it in the resolution. He understood the rent charge had been unequally assessed but the appointment of the apportioner did not rest with him. The mistake about the shilling had been made not by his agent but by Mr. Geo. Goode who was duly appointed by the Chairman of the Quarter Sessions under the provisions of an Act of Parliament
25. A LETTER from R. Goring Thomas to [William Chambers, junior], 9 September, 1843.
He regretted that any annoyance should have been caused to him in reference to his visit to Gellywernen with the soldiers. He would not have asked him to undertake that duty but would have done it himself had not Col. Trevor requested him to remain at Llysnewydd and advised him not to order soldiers to act in defence of his own property. He never heard Edwards make any complaint against the recipient. He spoke very gratefully of what he had done for him. He said the soldiers talked more than they should but no censure could attach to him or to Capt. Scott. A Postscript: He had done good service at Hendy and Pontardulais.
26. A LETTER from George Rice Trevor to [William Chambers, junior]. Undated.
He has just heard from Mr. Nevill of the part he took in the occurrences of the past night at Hendy and between there and Pontardulais. The arrangement made by him reflected great credit on him, and the writer was much pleased with as well as obliged to him for his zeal and activity on that occasion.
27. A MEMORANDUM relating to persons at Ty yn y wern, 9 September.
Thos. Morris---35---marr'd & 3 children---next door to Mary Edmund. Collier at Simons occasionally.
Jno. Daniel---35---marr'd & children---Collier---Mr. Morris opposite to him, short, & dark complexion, rather thin.
Wm. James --- 25 to 30 --- marr'd next door to Jno. Daniel---was brought up by Chs. Edmund of Cressant---middling size.
Evan Hugh---son of the tenant of Cilferry issa---28---unmarried.
Dd. Thomas---son of the tenant of Cilferry ucha---25---unmarried.
Chas. Edmund---Cressant aged 50.
Servant boy at Pant y gwenith (Dd. Bowen, aged bet: 18 & 20---a healthy boy, good size---now at Penywern or Penygraig.
Evan Jenkins---30-unmarr'd young---thin & unhealthy looking.
28. A LETTER from Colonel . . . Love from Carmarthen to [William] Chambers [junior], 10 September, 1843.
In reply to the recipient's requisition for a force of cavalry it had to be understood that there would not be less than ten horses in the same billet and that the men would be quartered in the same house with their horses. It was only on those conditions that he could allow a force of cavalry to remain at Llanelly. It was also desirable that the dragoon horses should be in a stable by themselves.
29. A LETTER from George Rice Trevor to [William Chambers, junior], 11 September, 1843.
He had received the recipient's letter and had shown it to Colonel Love who believed that the force which Chambers had, judiciously employed, was sufficient to protect Llanelly from attack but the mob must not be allowed to enter the town. They had the authority of the Secretary of State to use armed force to stop the people coming in. If he should anticipate the want of more cavalry he would have to send to Carmarthen sufficiently early for them to reach him in a good state of service without tiring the horses in the march. He should send word to Colonel Love at what hour the demonstration was expected to take place.
30. THE DEPOSITION of Benjamin Thomas of Llanelly, surgeon, touching the death of Sarah Williams, at the house of Mrs. Martha Philpots called The Black Horse at Pontardulais, in the lordship of Kidwelly, 11September, 1843, before William Bonville, coroner, on an inquisition taken on view of the body of Sarah Williams then and there lying dead.
With John Kirkhouse Cooke he had made a postmortem examination of the body externally and internally. Marks of shots were seen penetrating the nipple of the left breast, one in the arm pit of the same side, several on both arms, one on the left side of the wind pipe, three in the forehead, one on the external angle of the eye. There was blood on the clothes covering the breast. In moving the body to a sitting posture a considerable quantity of fluid blood escaped from the mouth. The back of the corpse showed no marks of violence. On removing the integuments of the scalp shot marks were found in the bony structure of the skull but not penetrating throught it. Upon removing the bone covering the brain the external covering of the brain was exposed entire and appeared slightly vascular as did the entire structure of the brain both cerebrum and cerebellum. The latent ventricles contained no more fluid than usual. The left lung pressed lighter on the chest than natural and was darker in colour, and in cutting into it the substance was considerably congested with marks of shots on the surface two of which were found in the substance. The right lung was adherent to the side and there was an effusion of dark coloured blood into its substance. In the cavity of the left pleura there were about three pints of blood a considerable quantity of which was in a coagulated state. The heart was natural and they did not examine further and were satisfied that the cause of death was loss of blood and the state of the lungs and pleura arising from the shot found in the lungs which caused the extravasation. Copy.
31. THE DEPOSITION of John Kirkhouse Cooke of Llanelly, surgeon, taken at the same inquest.
His evidence provides little additional information. The shot extracted from the lung were of the ordinary size used for shooting partridges. Death would have been produced by the large quantity of blood which was effused into the chest which impeded the motion of the lungs as well as by the large quantity of blood which was lost destroying vitality. There was no cause to attribute the effusion of blood but the shot penetrating the lungs and injuring its vessels. Copy.
32. THE DEPOSITION of Margaret Thomas, wife of JohnThomas of Llanedy, carpenter, at the same same inquest.
Sarah Williams between 12 and 1 o'clock the previous Saturday night [9 Sept.] came to deponent's house and asked her and her husband to get up as someone had put fire to her house---the toll house. Deponent went to the door and asked her to carry her things to deponent's house. She went back to her own house and took her things out to the road. Deponent asked her several times to come to her house but she did not come. Deponent heard the report of four or five guns and in about three quarters of an hour after she had spoken to the deceased she came towards deponent's house. She sank down at deponent's door on the outside. Her husband came out and they took her in but she did not speak a word. Deceased died in about two minutes. Deponent did not see any blood on her but a little on her forehead and she thought she was frighted to death. Deponent saw no persons or horses and heard no horns blowing or shouting. Her husband was in the house all the time.
By the foreman --- Deponent did not think from the blood that she might have had a blow which killed her. She saw the toll house and gate both standing when she went to bed about 11 o'clock, the toll house burning when deceased called for assistance, and burnt down with only the walls standing in the morning. It was a thatched house of two rooms. The toll board had fallen down some time and was in the house in pieces.
33. NOTES of the evidence of William Chambers, junior, taken on oath in the presence of William Hugh, Thomas Williams, and Henry Rogers, and Lewis Davies, charged with being taken in the parish of Llanedy on the seventh of September disguised and on suspicion of being concerned in the felonious destruction of a toll house, (being a dwelling house) at Pontardulais gate, before William Chambers, J. H[ughes] R[hys] and R. J. N[evill].
[? 8 September, 1843]
William Chambers, a magistrate, deposed that having been informed of a contemplated attack on the Hendy Bridge gate in Llanedy he called on Captain Scott then commanding at Llanelly to go with him with a sufficient force to that place. On the way up they observed a rocket fired between Mynydd Sylen and Llanedy. On arriving near Gwilly Bridge deponent heard the blowing of horns, one particular note was repeated several times. In the course of a few seconds after the last note he heard the firing of fire arms in the direction of Pontardulais Gate. The soldiers were lying under a hedge alongside the railway and W. was about 100 yards in advance. He returned to the men and brought them to the field where he was and requested Captain Scott to lead. They proceeded with all haste to near the railway wooden bridge over the Gwilly. He divided the soldiers into two parties, one going with Captain Scott, and the other with himself, and the other [ six] was put under the charge of Mr. Payne with directions to cut off the retreat of the people from Hendy bridge towards Llanelly. The firing continued from 7 to 10 minutes, during which 60 or 70 shots were fired. Not being aware that the Police were near Pontardulais Gate, W. though the firing was only upon the destruction of the Gate as was usual and thought the attack would then be made on Hendy Bridge Gate.
Being at this Bridge W. saw a man coming down the Llanelly and Llandilo Railway walking fast. The soldiers were not visible to him. W. went up to the man with Capt. Scott and collared him and the man so taken was the prisoner Lewis Davies. The upper part of his face was blacked and the lower part coloured red when taken. Upon being taken, he put down his head and his hand to it to conceal his face probably and put something under the tail of his coat. W. followed his hand and got the cap produced. He had a straw hat on his head. The prisoner was left in charge of the sergeant and two men, and W. ran towards the Turnpike Road east of Hendy Gate. The soldiers were brought up to this position and placed under the hedge of a field adjoining the road. W. moved on to observe as they appeared to be going from Hendy Bridge towards Pontardulais, but the party, probably seeing W's hat, whispered and turned back. At that moment prisoner William Hugh was getting from the road over the Gate of the field in which the soldiers were, upon which the soldiers followed him, and he ran off along the road towards Hendy Bridge. He was caught at the bottom of the hill. W. saw several persons running at this time and went back towards the prisoner who was crying out. W. asked him who he was and what doing. He was dressed, as he then was, in girl's clothes and had his face black'd. He said in English that his name was Hugh and that his father and a servant boy whose names he mentioned (W. thought it was Thomas) had gone back. W. thought he was a girl.
Just before this occurrence, W. hearing a noise of horsemen in the Pontardulais direction moved off with Capt. Scott and the soldiers towards Pontardulais along the turnpike road. Sergeant Gibbs had been left a little behind with the two prisoners and upon his joining W. it was found that he had two other prisoners. On arriving at Pontardulais the Dragoons gallop'd up, and, as the soldiers were advancing, appeared about to charge, taking them for Rebeccaites. On getting up to Pontardulais Gate in Glamorganshire W. found the gate entirely destroyed and the windows of the Toll house and the whole of the inside of it, partitions, &c., destroyed, and three men lying handcuffed on the floor. This toll house was used to be dwelled in by the Toll Collector. W. recognised there several of the Glamorganshire magistrates, Captain Napier of the Police, &c. On the way back the Prisoner Hugh said he had thrown away his horn in the hedge and it was found there by the soldiers.
Henry Gibbs, sergeant in the 76th Regiment of Foot deposed that he was out the previous night with the soldiers. Chambers left one prisoner with him and whilst so employed he heard shrieking in a field close by. W. had three soldiers with him on the Railway near the Bridge over the Gwilly and they were placed on the Railway. Whilst there he heard men coming along the Railway. He stopped them and found they were the prisoners Thomas Williams and Henry Rogers. W. asked them whether they had been to pull the house down and they said they had only been to see. They were not disguised or armed and seemed much frightened at the soldiers. After that a file of men brought prisoner William Hugh to W's charge.
James McCarten, a private in the 76th deposed that he heard prisoner William Hugh say " that he was a little girl."
Lewis Davies, asked what he had to say, said that he lived at Skybor-ucha in Llanon, a farmer and tenant of the Reverend Samuel Davies at the rent of £35, and aged 32. He was pressed to go with the people by 10 or 12 men who came to his house on Monday night between 12 and 1 and fired off 4 or 5 guns in front of it. They said that unless he joined them they would burn his house, kill him, &c. He did not know who they were.
Henry Rogers said that he was a servant at Penllwyngwyn in Llangennech parish. He had heard of the account of the people coming and only went out to see them.
Thomas Williams said that he was servant to John Thomas of Llangennech Mill. He heard the horns, &c., blowing, and went out with Henry Rogers to see the matter.
William Hugh said that he was the son of John Hugh of Llandafen. Last night he was at Talyclyn in bed and heard persons hollowing at the door. On going down he saw a number of men, one of them stayed, dressed him, and made him go with him. When they got to Hendy Bridge the man gave him the horn. He got over the Gate when the soldiers came against him.
Initialled by J. H. R.
34. A LETTER from William Chambers, junior, to ___
" Llanelly house. Sept 13th, 1843.
I think it right to inform you why I do not attend your meeting today. Having taken the chair at Mynydd Sylen, I should again have attended but the manner in which I have been treated by parties whose cause I have always done my best to support fills me with surprize and disgust. The lie of my having shot the man round the corner of the Inn at Pontardulais arises probably from my having performed the only act of kindness I could to the unfortunate men whom I first saw wounded in the gate house by getting them water. Once established this lie was, I have no doubt, sedulously retailed by persons who were anxious to sever the good understanding that had existed always between me, and the Farmers of this neighbourhood. How well they succeeded I need not tell you. All the Pontardulais firing was over before I left the Gwilly wooden bridge, there I took the first person, then went across to the Turnpike road, staid there some time, took another, waited again and then went on to Pontardulais, all this on foot, and meeting the Dragoons by the Inn, so that it is impossible I could have shot the man. These must be convincing proofs to you, and must be to all reasonable men. You know that as a magistrate my duty is imperative. I deny a report circulated that I have acted contrary to my declaration on Mynydd Sylen I said then, I would oppose night meetings. The Mynydd Sylen meeting passed an unanimous resolution to that effect, how well did they keep to that ! I repeat what I said in my address to the inhabitants of Llanelly, that neither I nor any one with me have as yet fired a shot. I was one of the first to lower the rents to, and to pay the police rate for, my tenants. I deny that they have anything to complain of, or that I ever refused them an extension of time when they asked for it. Ask them as a body, they will, I am sure, acknowledge it. Ask them, if there are any from the town of Llanelly, whether I have not lent many a poor man money to carry on his buildings or to carry on his business, they can acknowledge this. I have kept my word with regard to the gates and bars. At the Kidwelly meeting called specially by the magistrates of this district that time might not be lost no agreement was come to by the Lessee, and it was only after the meeting broke up and everybody but Mr. Adams and myself were gone that we made him write a letter to the Clerk, who still remained, binding himself to a certain fixed sum in consideration of the gate, and bars to be removed previous to the expiration of his contract. The other objects could not be proposed till the regular meeting some days hence. I wrote to the Tithe man at Llanelly, and if the people wished me to write to the Landlords, why did they not, after the meeting, put themselves in communication with me for that purpose.
I think I have answered every lying report. I have gone thus far into explanation, as it is a duty I owe to myself, not to the cowardly miscreants who fired my houses, my corn., my hay, and shot an unoffending animal. Is depriving the poor of employment, and depriving cattle of food the way to redress grievances, and better the condition of the Poor, or of the Farmer ? If there is any doubt upon this, ask my poor farm men and women at Ty ynywern, Mansant, and Gellygylwnog, how their situation is improved ? I have very little more in my own hands for them to finish, so that is not likely to influence me in writing this. I have my life (devoted for these twelve years to the expenditure of my Father's ample fortune in this County) threatened, but the coward who did this had better mind that the sacrifice of his own is not the reward of his temerity when he thinks proper to attempt mine.
I will not advert to the horrid crime perpetuated at Hendy Gate, as I profess to be writing for my own satisfaction alone, but I cannot refrain from saying that I trust the Almighty God will let the death shriek of that poor old women haunt the soul of the guilty sinner to his dying hour.
May I request you to read my letter to the meeting
and am Sir
your obed't Servant
Wm. Chambers, jn."
35. THE DEPOSITION of David Lewis of Trimsaran, collier, sworn before R. J. Nevill at Llanelly, 26 September, 1843.
Deponent, on the previous Saturday night, went to bed about 9 o'clock, and in about an hour afterwards he heard a man calling him out of bed, and Jack Scibbor fawr came into the room, and desired him to go with him. He was certain it was the man by his face, voice, and carriage, and by his having lost a portion of one of his fingers, though he was dressed in a gown and bonnet on his head. He had a single barrelled gun in his hand. From fear, deponent was induced to go with Jack Scibbor vawr and his party, who appeared to fill the road, and of which he was the leader. They went together to the mountain and there they met another party headed by Dai y Cantwr, whom he saw dress himself at the Stag and Pheasant in a shawl and bonnet. The two parties proceeded towards Pontyberem, and went to Mr. Newman's house, where they made a great noise, and fired several shots. They then demanded that Mr. Slocombe, a clerk in the employ of Mr. Newman, should come out to them, but a woman who spoke to them declared he should not, and John said he would have to see him. The woman then called on Mr. Gibson and Johnny then fired and said " I give Gibson to your head till it is off." He also said that Slocombe must leave in a week for no Englishman should manage in Wales any more. If he did not he would be killed and his house pulled down. David Cantwr commanded the men to come on and he had a piece of stick on his shoulder. Deponent would know him again as he saw him again the following day on the road opposite the Star Public house near Trimsaran. After the threats the parties separated and deponent went home. It was between 5 and 6 on Sunday morning before he returned to his lodgings and went to bed.
Signed by mark.
36. A LETTER from C. Newman of Gwendraeth to [Richard Janion Nevill], 27 September, 1843
He had great reason to expect an attack upon the works that night. He begged the recipient to send the Dragoons there on their round. They would be of great use to the constables on the works who felt very anxious for help all the week.
37. A LETTER from R. J. Nevill from Llangennech to ___ , Wednesday night 1/2 past 12 [27 September, 1843]
Wednesday night 1/2 past 12 [27 September, 1843].
He had received a note from Mr. Newman. He asked the recipient to show it to W. Chambers, and send the answer which might to them appear expedient. Should they determine to comply with Newman's request he should accompany them. The writer was leaving for Bristol.
38. A LETTER from Henry S. Lane of Llanelly to [William] Chambers, junior.
It was two o'clock, Newman's application seemed founded on somewhat uncertain information, and the writer could not possibly be there before near daylight, so he thought it totally absurd to attempt the assistance asked for.
39. A CIRCULAR from J. J. Stacey to W. Chambers, junior, 29 September, 1843.
The trustees of the Kidwelly District of Turnpike Roads with a view to remove, if possible, the complaints which had been made as to the number of Toll Bars on the Trust, had ordered most of them, together with one Toll Gate, to be discontinued. They had it in contemplation to reduce or to abolish the Toll on Lime carried for manure; and that on Culm used for burning lime. To meet the diminution of income it was proposed to reduce the interest on tallies five per cent to four. The recipient's consent was solicited to an abatement on his tallies on a bridge (£150). His consent to the reduction or abolition of toll on Lime for manure and on Culm for burning lime was also requested.
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