Rebeccaites Use Fireworks as Long-Range Signaling Devices

This comes from the Monmouthshire Merlin. It is amusingly written (and considerably more yellow than the Cambrian’s more matter-of-fact coverage), and is also noteworthy for its description of how the Rebeccaites used fireworks as signaling devices when coordinating their raids.

Capture of Rebecca — Conflict Between the Rebeccaites & the Civil Authorities, near Swansea.

On going to press our active correspondent at Swansea, reached our office, having posted from Cowbridge, in order to furnish us with particulars of a most important and startling event, which took, place, on , at Pontardulais, near Swansea, and which is calculated to have a most salutary moral effect on the misguided men, who tire all endurance, outrage all common sense and legal forbearance, by their now wanton and atrocious nocturnal outrages against peace, law, and order, in the counties of Carmarthen and Glamorgan. As long as the Rebeccaites had oppressions to complain of, grievances to be redressed, and had been driven to the ultima ratio rerum, from despair, in the hope-deferred of an invocation to justice, we were to their faults a little blind; but the moment we found that the government had determined to right their wrongs, in the abatement of toll exactions, and that the local authorities had unequivocally evinced their honest determination to shield the poor from the plunder and the impositions of fraudulent lessees, we trusted that the proverbial steadiness and rationality of the Welsh character would have led back the people to pursuits of peace and industry. Such, however, unfortunately has not been the case; emboldened by former triumphs, “Rebecca and her Children,” have not ceased their midnight outrages, even after the casus belli had been withdrawn, and in the reckless exultation of physical force, they have continued their depredations. But not having an instant for comment, we hasten to give the intelligence of our correspondent:—

Private information was received of a contemplated attack on the Pontardulais turnpike gate, within nine miles of Swansea, and about four miles from Penllergare, the residence of Mr. John Dillwyn Llewellyn, a magistrate of the county, possessed of considerable landed property, and a gentleman who has taken a very active part, not only in the suppression of the outrages, but who is admitted to be one of the foremost in the proceedings recently instituted for the punishment of those unprincipled persons, who, by their plunder of the poor traffickers on the road, had brought themselves under the inflictive operation of the law.

Mr. Llewellyn and Mr. Llewellyn Dillwyn, in conjunction with Mr. Matthew Moggridge, (magistrate of this county,) adopted such means as were deemed best to prevent the success of the intended attack. These three gentlemen immediately put themselves in communication with Capt. Napier, chief constable of the county of Glamorgan, and Mr. Superintendent Peake, aided by six of the county police, and the whole party, only eleven in number, by extreme caution, much adroitness, and tact, succeeded in placing themselves in ambush without exciting the suspicions of the Rebeccaites and in accomplishing this, there was considerable difficulty. Previously to the march of the toll-house destroyers, three rockets were discharged, one from Penllergare, one from near Swansea, and one from the neighbourhood of Llanelly; the first indicating that all appeared safe at the squire’s, the second, that the dragoons were not stirring from the town, and the third, that all was right at Llanelly.

Becca and family, thinking from these bright signs in the sky, that there was a clear stage, rushed from the hills, and swept like a torrent over the plains, little dreaming that the Philistines were out, or that, as they say, the “wolf was on the walk.”

At about , (our informant is precise) the staff of the Carmarthenshire Cossacks appeared before the door of the Red Lion Inn, Pontardulais, and invited out Mr. Griffith Vaughan, the young landlord, who was reckoned a sympathiser “in the cause,” with the most loud and the most discordant noises, but the Boniface was not to be thus charmed, and he remained at home in allegiance to her Majesty, and in affection to his family. Shortly after this, the Pontardulais gate submitted to the levelling system, and the Rebeccaites, flushed with success, then commenced to pull down and to destroy the toll-house, which being a felonious act, out rushed the little band of heroes, armed to the teeth, headed by the magistrates before mentioned, and a serious battle ensued. Mr. Lewis Llewellyn Dillwyn having discharged his pistols, sought a leading captive, and at once singled out Rebecca. The struggle between the combatants was extremely violent, but he that was armed with the law, overcame his opponent, and the magistrate having wrenched a heavy club from the strong hand of the Guerrilla chief, laid him prostrate, and on his arising, one of the policemen who came up during the rencontre, shot and wounded him by a pistol, and secured him as a prisoner.

This is said to be the man who led the disgraceful attack on the house of the agent of Mr. Reece, Goring Thomas, at Llanon, and for whose capture the government offered a reward of five hundred pounds,

The mele then became general, and severe punishment was mutually inflicted; the belligerents fighting foot to foot, and dealing out wounds which will long give marked evidence of the event. At the hottest period of the strife, the two eldest sons of Col. Cameron, of Danygraig came up in gallant style and took an intrepid part in the affray. The Rebeccaites, finding their opponents reinforced and acting with determination, commenced a retreat, carrying their wounded with them, and leaving three of their number, (one of whom is severely handled) prisoners in the hands of the victors. The soldiers, from Llanelly, were by this time approaching Pontardulais and met the fugitive Rebeccaites on their way, and in order to ascertain who they were, they took a sample of four or five of the fugitives. The military, from Swansea, were also soon in the neighbourhood of Pontardulais, and escorted the civil power back to town.

Mr. Lewis Ll. Dillwyn hastened to Sketty Hall, to announce the result of the movement to Mr. Dillwyn, senior.

The neighbourhood of Swansea was excited in the highest degree when our reporter left.