Vandals Hide Under Rebecca’s Skirts

To the Editor of The Cambrian.

Sir, — You may not have heard that the neighbourhood of Neath has lately been the arena in which “Rebecca and her Children” have committed their midnight depredations. The destruction of property has been really considerable, scarcely a field or garden-gate has been left untouched, and many have been carried away to a great distance from their own proper homes, and placed against the doors and windows of the sleeping part of the community. Nor have these mischievous young women confined themselves to gates alone: balustrades, water-barrels, and every species of out-of-door movables appeared to be considered general property, and appropriated accordingly. It is extraordinary that, although these devastations have been perpetrated for several successive nights, the offenders have hitherin entirely baffled the vigilance of the police; in fact, these “guardians of property” are now the laugh of all the neighbourhood, and looked upon as so many supernumeraries.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Thomas L. Smith.
Britonferry, .

This certainly paints a different picture of what was going on, if it can be relied on. This letter-writer makes out the Rebeccaites to have been indiscriminate vandals. One of the weaknesses of the Rebeccaite movement was that its anonymity and lack of authoritative spokespersons or leaders made it easy for other people to impersonate “Rebecca” and easy also for people to misattribute to “Rebecca” things that had other causes. This might just be an example of that.

Here’s another article from The Cambrian:

Rebecca and Her Daughters.

Apprehension of Two of the Rioters.

On , in consequence of information conveyed to the London policemen on duty in the neighbourhood of St. Clears, three of their force went in search of and apprehended two parties, on the ground of their being concerned in the late daring outrages. The prisoners were taken before the Magistrates, and on were fully committed to Haverfordwest gaol, for trial at the ensuing Assizes. They are said to be persons both of the name of Howell, one of them a respectable farmer residing at Llwyndrissy, near Whitland, the other, the son of a miller in the same neighbourhood. The particulars of the evidence against them, taken before the justices, are not known; but it is reported that one of the witnesses (a man named Lewis Griffiths, of Penty-park Mill, in the county of Pembroke), swore that he saw the prisoners in the act of demolishing the toll-house and gate at Trevaughan.

Thomas Howells and David Howells were later acquitted.