Committee Begins Enquiry into Rebeccaite Grievances

The London Times seems to have had a particularly industrious reporter on the case during the Rebecca Riots. I have yet to delve into the Times archives themselves, but occasionally its work was quoted or referred to in other papers. Here is an example, from the Monmouthshire Merlin:


Commission of Enquiry.

(From the Times reporter.)
Carmarthen, .

On my return from the Special Commission at Cardiff I thought it my duty to wait upon the Commissioners appointed by her Majesty to inquire into the grievances complained of in South Wales, who are now prosecuting that inquiry at the town-hall, in this town, for the purpose of ascertaining how far the investigation would be open to the public. I was politely informed by Mr. Frankland Lewis, the chairman, on the part of the Commissioners, that having no desire whatever to make their inquiry a secret one, but rather to court publicity, the Commissioners yet thought they would best arrive at information and at the truth without the presence of reporters for the public press, as in some cases parties would be deterred by the fear of publicity from giving full information, whilst in others persons would be prompted to make inconsiderate statements in the hope and expectation of seeing them in the newspapers. This was, at present, the opinion of the Commissioners.

The Commissioners sit in a large room in the court-house, and, with their secretary, Mr. Gurney, the short-hand writer, and a clerk, there are usually six persons present at the examinations, which the Commissioners informed me they thought was an audience sufficiently formidable to examine the country people before, without further increasing its numbers by the presence of the representatives of the press. The Commissioners also informed me, that the evidence given before them, and their report, will be printed and laid on the table of the House of Commons, only so far condensed as to be reduced to a readable form. I send you this as the result of my interview, and of the present opinion of the Commissioners.

A deputation of farmers, amongst whom were some relatives and friends of the prisoners [John] Hugh and [David] Lewis, tried at the late Cardiff special commission, last night waited upon Mr. Chambers, jun., of Llanelly, and expressed their anxiety for a restoration of tranquillity to the country, and as an earnest of their feeling, offered to be sworn in as special constables to preserve the peace. I understand Mr. Chambers has appointed to be in attendance on at Llanon, for the purpose of swearing in as special constables those who thus tendered their services.

The Government has sent down a gentleman, Col. Hankey, to act as a police magistrate in those districts where there are now no resident magistrates. Colonel Hankey will, accordingly; as soon as possible, be sworn in of the commission of the peace, to act for the three counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke, and Cardigan.

A rumour is current that another special commission, for the trial of the Carmarthenshire prisoners, will be sent down after term into this county. It appears to have arisen from the fact of the county gaol being quite full of Rebecca prisoners, and from one Mr. Maule, the treasury solicitor’s clerks, being in the town arranging the evidence against the prisoners. [The Monmouthshire Merlin also mentioned this rumor, saying that “There are now nearly fifty prisoners in the county gaol, and several others out on bail, awaiting their trials.”]

In many parts of the county the late verdict against the “Rebecca” prisoner [John] Hughes, at Cardiff, has excited intense animosity against the jury who tried him. I have been told that some farmers from the more disturbed districts have affected even to be incredulous that such a verdict was ever returned by a Welsh jury. So far as an opinion can be formed at present, however, the severity of the sentence appears to have had a salutary effect, whilst it has at the same time excited universal commiseration for the culprit.

Two toll-bars were destroyed on , near Cwm Ammon.

Bristol’s Western Daily Press included a note on about a strike launched by horseracing bookmakers in protest against a new tax:

The Bookmakers’ Ban.

There is something decidedly Gilbertian about the decision of the bookmakers at Windsor to-day to boycott Mr. Churchill and his tax by refusing to name the odds on any of the races. Whether this was intended as a protest against the tax altogether or against the method of its application is uncertain, but if the drastic step taken to-day is an indication of what may be expected in the future the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find himself in a decidedly awkward position. Some of the big bookmakers have expressed the opinion that the action on the part of Tattersall’s ring is unwise and prejudicial to racing generally and bookmakers in particular. If present information is correct there is to be another boycott at Windsor to-morrow, but in the meantime chaos has been caused by the declaration that bets already made at starting prices have been declared void. The situation which has now arisen is largely due to the failure of the bookmakers themselves to come to a uniform agreement as to how the tax should be shared. Further developments will be awaited with interest.