Pennsylvania Women In Mass Grassroots Tax Rebellion
One of the great unsung tax rebellions in America was widespread, grassroots
tax refusal among women in Pennsylvania in .
Because the resisters did not hold rallies or pickets, did not issue petitions
or manifestos, and did not (as far as I can tell) have formal organizations or
hold meetings, they have mostly vanished from the historical record. But their
rebellion was widespread, broadly-adopted, and very disruptive to the
I’ve covered this a bit before, but I’ve since found a few more reports from
the press at that time. First, from the New Castle [Pennsylvania] News:
McKeesport Women Don’t Want To Vote, Refuse To Pay Tax
M’Keesport, . — “Why should we pay taxes in order to vote when we had
nothing to do with suffrage for women and don’t want to vote and will not
Such, in effect, is a [greeting cry?] assessors of McKeesport, August Anderson
and Robert E. Taylor, declare they received from eight out of every [ten?]
women they approached for listing as new taxables. The assessors are not
opposed to the ballot for women. They say it is entirely a matter for women,
but they are certain that between 75 and 80 per cent of the women of voting
age of McKeesport are not interested in the ballot and are opposed to paying
any tax on its account.
The tax assessed is $1 for school purposes and is known as “occupation” tax.
Women say it is [misnamed?] as far as they are concerned, declaring that they
should not be taxed because they happen to be housewives. The assessors’ list
shows about [9,000?] women taxables. The registration in McKeesport
showed 2,489 women enrolled, which
gives color to the statement of the assessors.
Next, from the Greenfield,
A Corry tax collector secured judgment against eleven women who refused or
neglected to pay school tax. The cases will probably get into court, as there
seems to be a difference of opinion about what can be done when a woman who
does not own property refuses to pay tax.
Next, from the Mount Carmel,
Refuse To Pay Tax
Tax Collector Edward Nahf, of Tamaqua, has sent out final warnings to those
who refuse to pay their taxes in that city. Most of the trouble, he states, is
coming from the women who claim they have never voted and they never will and
therefore they will go to jail rather than pay.
Next, from the Harrisburg,
Arrests Women Who Refuse to Pay Tax
New Cumberland, . — Women as well as men of Lower Allen township, Cumberland
county, were notified by J.M.
Witmer, tax collector, Elkwood, that they would be arrested if all taxes are
not paid within the next five days. Fifteen men and women have been summoned
before a justice of the peace and more arrests are promised.
Next, from the issue of the
Man Refuses to Pay Tax; Wife in “Jail”
Sunbury, . — Mrs. H. Norman Byers, of Valley township, Montour county,
spent several hours at the home of Sheriff Gross and family at the jail here
when her husband refused to pay
her taxes or permit her to pay them. The sum was $7.65.
When a constable brought the woman to be jailed the Sheriff would not hear of
it, and the woman spent the time with Mrs. Gross, instead of in the jail.
Neighbor women made up the amount.
The husband is a well-to-do farmer and operates a milk route in Danville.
Next, from the Altoona,
Citizens Resist Tax Collector
Portage Official Refused Entrance Into Home to Make Levy
Cresson, . — William Mickey, tax collector of the borough of Portage,
has been having trouble in collecting taxes in his bailiwick. The trouble came
to a head when he attempted to levy on the goods of Mr. and Mrs. Frank
Stankavitz. He was prevented entering the house. Mr. Mickey made information
before Justice of the Peace Fred W. Veil, here, against Mr. and Mrs.
Stankavitz, charging them with obstructing a process. At a hearing on
both parties were held in
the sum of $300 for their appearance at court.
Information was also made by Tax Collector Mickey against Mrs. Lucy Sura on
the same charge and when Constable Lytle went to serve the warrant, Mrs. Sura
loaded children of the neighborhood in the constable’s car and said she was
ready to go to jail. It was found that but six of the eighteen children were
of her family and when Lytle attempted to eject them from his car, Frank Sura,
husband of the woman interfered. As a result he was arrested on a charge of
interfering with an officer. Both he and his wife gave bail in the sum of $300
for their appearance at the next term of court when brought before Justice
F.W. Veil .
Next, from the Reading,
Woman Refuses to Pay Tax, Arrested
Ephrata, . — Refusing
to pay taxes, Anna Beck, wife of John Beck, of near Hahnstown, was arrested
and lodged in Lancaster county
jail by M.B. Hecker, tax collector of Ephrata township and two deputies,
Benjamin Wissler and Jacob Beck.
Next, from the Mount
Carmel, Pennsylvania, Daily News:
Women of Kulpmont Refuse to Pay Tax; Most of Those Back in Taxes Are Women
Efforts to force women of Kulpmont to pay their taxes are proving rather
discouraging. Constables are not anxious to serve warrants on members of the
The Kulpmont News was told by Paul Azary, borough tax collector,
on whom demand was made recently to clear up the big exoneration list, which
contains the names of hundreds of women voters, that several thousand dollars
is due and it was announced that among the delinquents, at least 90 per cent
are women. Objection of the women is principally to the $2.50 special school
tax, which they consider exorbitant.
Next, from the Reading,
Six Darby Women Refuse to Pay Tax
Most of 300 Who Defied Collector Turn In on Threat of Prison
(AP) — Six
women out of three hundred who defied the local tax collector and refused to
pay a personal tax of $4.05 still were holding out
against the payment of the impost.
Unless they pay the tax, says S. Robert Shaw, the collector, he will be forced
to send them to the Delaware county jail until they meet this obligation to
Despite the resistance of the little band, a majority of housewives of Darby
chose to pay the tax in preference to going to jail.
Bring Babies Along
Many of the women who decided to pay brought their babies along to the tax
collector’s office and at one time there was a string of baby coaches outside
Harry W. Shein, deputy collector, had his troubles in trying to find some of
his delinquents. There was no response to his call at several of the homes and
there was nothing for him to do but pass on to the next delinquent. He found
Mrs. Margaret Lytle at home. She was busy doing an odd job in painting.
“I’m the tax collector,” said Shein.
“So I see,” said Mrs. Lytle.
“You had better pay your taxes,” said Shein.
“What will my husband do if he comes home and finds no supper,” asked Mrs.
Shein had no reply to this and again warned Mrs. Lytle that non-payers of
taxes will go to jail.
Another woman who is reported to have failed to pay her tax claimed she was
laughed at by her friends when she paid her tax in former years, and she would
not be laughed at any longer.
The tax has been imposed to complete the new Darby High school, and is part of
$5,000 that is needed. All the men apparently have paid the tax.
Next, from the issue of the
Recommit Woman to Jail When She Refuses to Pay Tax
(AP) — Mrs.
Lillian Reed, of Milroy, was recommitted to the Mifflin county jail here
by W.H. Prints, Mifflin county
sheriff, when she refused to pay her school tax.
When the woman was faced with the alternative of paying her taxes or going to
jail, she calmly said she preferred jail. Even when offered the opportunity of
giving a security for the tax to be paid in 10 days, she refused.
Exclusive of her attorney fees, Mrs. Reed refused to pay the items of the cost
of her case to the court which include court records $29.20, school tax with
extras added $5.25, and sheriff costs, $4.40.
Z.T. Stine, Lewistown borough tax collector, stated today that since Judge
Bailey delivered his decision against Mrs. Reed many women had come to his
office to pay their taxes.
Next, from the issue of the
Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Daily News is this item that
may or may not be related to the campaign:
Woman Refuses to Pay Tax Bill, Goes to Jail
. — (AP) — Mrs.
Ada Housden, of Bangor, a widowed mother of nine children was brought to the
county jail today on the warrant of Joshua Price, tax collector because of her
inability to pay taxes an penalties assessed against her during the past three
years. The bill is for $17.43. After she had been in jail for several hours
she was released upon orders of the solicitor for the county commissioners.
She admits owing the bill but says she is unable to pay it.
James Thomas and Thomas Thomas, were then placed at the bar, and charged with
having, on , feloniously aided and abetted one John Jones, (Shoni
Scyborfawr,) in discharging a certain loaded fire-arm, called a gun, at one
Margaret Thomas, with intent to murder her, or to do her some grievous bodily
harm. [The Cambrian adds: “In other counts of the indictment the intent was varied, and also the individuals shot at. — This case excited the greatest interest, in consequence of the respectability of the family and connexions of the former prisoner.”]
The prisoners pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Chilton addressed the jury for the prosecution, and stated that the
prisoners were charged with shooting at one Margaret Thomas, with another
person of the name of John Jones, called Shoni Scyborfawr, who had been
convicted of Rebecca riots at the Winter Assizes. Thomas Thomas was a most
respectable man, and he was sorry to see him standing at the bar to answer the
change of taking part in these disgraceful outrages. He begged the jury to
dismiss all prejudice from their minds, and give the matter full
consideration; and observed that he would bring evidence before them, which
would prove the guilt of the prisoners. The prosecutor was one Evan Thomas, a
weaver, at Porthyrhyd, whose house had been frequently attacked by the
Rebeccaites. On , the mob came to the
house, and demanded admittance, put the muzzles of their guns through the
window, and fired them into the room, at the wife and children; and a shot
entered the thigh of one of the children, and it was a mercy the prisoners
were not standing at that bar to be tried on the charge of murder. The
son-in-law would prove the identity of Thomas Thomas, as he knew his person
and voice well, and heard him giving directions to the mob, saying, “Shoot
him, shoot him.” The women also knew his voice. A paper of protection to Evan
Thomas, written by Mrs. Thomas, wife of Thomas Thomas, the prisoner, was read.
It desired protection to him from the further molestations of ’Becca, as he
expressed his contrition for anything he had done against her, and he would
give up the office of constable.
[The Cambrian includes this part of the speech,
which gives more details about the attack: “Were he calling the attention of
the jury to a mere case of the destruction of a turnpike gate, or of a
toll-house, he should feel himself called upon to offer some observations upon
the awful and important responsibility of the oath which they had taken, and
which called upon them to disregard all prejudices — aye, even if they
considered that no very great crime was committed by pulling down a
turnpike-gate or house, and so get rid of tolls… But, however much opinions
might differ respecting gates and tolls, no honest man could, by any
possibility, sympathize with such outrages as he should prove were committed
on the night in question, under the guise of Rebeccaism. The prosecutor in
this case was a weaver and small farmer, who had also acted for a number of
years as constable in the parish of Porthyrhyd, and the only offence with
which he was charged was, that he honestly performed his duties as a
constable, which rendered him very inimical to those who, calling themselves
Rebeccaites, had resolved upon exterminating turnpike-gates. In consequence of
this, his life was in peril; he had received letter after letter containing
all kinds of threats. His house was attacked, night after night, so that it
had become impossible for him longer to continue residing in it. He had
therefore left it on , his wife, son-in-law, two
daughters and children remaining therein. On , in the dead of night, after having retired to rest — they were
aroused by a mob, in which were a great number of persons dressed after the
fashion of Rebecca, armed with guns, pickaxes, bludgeons, and various other
implements. They demanded that Evan Thomas should be given up to them. His
daughter, alarmed as she was, got up, and assured them that Evan Thomas was
not in the house. They replied that they would have him, or destroy all who
were in the house. They then pulled down a temporary shutter — for the window
had been destroyed on a previous night — and pointed three guns, which it
would again appear were loaded with slugs, with their muzzles towards the
half-naked woman. This was repeated, and he should prove to the jury that
some of the guns were loaded with shot; and it was almost a miracle that the
prisoners had not to stand at that bar, and answer to a charge of murder — for
murder it must unquestionably have been were any lives lost on that occasion.
Slugs were afterwards discovered in the furniture, and a shot had been
extracted from the child’s thigh. … He should tell them one circumstance,
which showed that Thomas Thomas took part in the Rebecca disturbances, and had
some influence with those people. Attacks had been made on the house of the
prosecutor, Evan Thomas, in , and he went to the residence of Thomas Thomas, with
the hope of making a friend of him, and asked him for protection from the
depredations of the Rebeccaites. The prisoner promised to write him a kind of
paper or petition, if he called next day. He did so on a subsequent day, when
the prisoner gave him a piece of written paper, and told him if he would get a
few of the neighbours to sign it, the Beccas would leave him alone. The paper
was written in prisoner’s presence, by Mrs. Thomas, who undoubtedly, from the
style of the writing,
&c., was a
person of respectable education. The Learned Counsel then read the document;
it was to the following effect:— ‘The undersigned, Evan Thomas, begs to inform
those who call themselves Beccaites, that he is heartily sorry if he has done
anything to injure any one, and sincerely hopes they will allow his family and
self to rest in peace from henceforth. He sincerely promises never again to
act as constable in this or any other parish, as he is told that is one great
objection you have to him, but will from hence endeavour to become a comfort
to his family, and regain the friendship of the country, which he finds he has
After the examination of the witness, his lordship directed the jury to return
a verdict of “Not guilty” of that charge.
The Cambrian is almost as vague. Apparently the
prosecution presented one witness — George Thomas — who, in the
Cambrian’s words, testified “in nearly the same
words as given in the following charge of misdemeanor against the same
defendants” but apparently didn’t give enough substantiation to the felony
charge. The judge seems to have ruled that if the defendants had actually had
the intent to shoot to kill or wound the unarmed woman trapped like an animal
in a cage, they would have probably actually hit the mark, and so the
prosecutor was going to have too high a bar to meet.
So the prosecutor went with Plan B: misdemeanour charges.
The same persons were again put on their trial, and charged with having, on
, riotously and tumultuously assembled together, at
Porthyrhyd, in the parish of Llanddarog, in this county, and then and there
made a great noise, riot, and disturbance, and then and there divers of her
Majesty’s liege subjects put in bodily fear, against the peace of our
Sovereign Lady the Queen,
The prisoners were acquitted.
Here, again, the Cambrian gives more detail, with
the testimony for the defense and prosecution.
I am the son-in-law of the prosecutor, Evan Thomas, who was a constable in
, and lived at Porthyrhyd, in a
cottage adjoining the road. My wife, self, and child, slept in his house on
. Mary Thomas, Elizabeth Thomas, and Evan Thomas’s wife were
in the house. We had retired about ten o’clock. Soon after retiring, we heard
great noises of blowing of horns,
&c. The mob
were passing in the direction from Llanddarog to Swansea. We heard firing. In
a short time after, when they were returning, I also heard firing. The mob
were calling for Evan Thomas. Witness lighted a candle, when he saw three guns
pointed between a board of the window and the wall. The board was then pulled
down, when witness perceived that it was a fine moonlight night. I saw a large
crowd of disguised persons; there were from thirty to fifty people outside.
After my mother-in-law opened the window, she said, “I know you, old fellow.”
They called his wife to come out, and go on her knees before them. She said
she would not, if she were torn to pieces. Witness then went to the door, and
the mob called on him to bring out Evan Thomas, or he should suffer instead of
him. They then commenced shooting at the house. I saw the defendant, Thomas
Thomas, there — I am sure he was there; had known him for two years, and seen
him often before. I went up to the defendant, about ten days before, to ask a
favour, on part of my father, about Rebecca. Defendant said, if he asked the
favour for himself he would do it, but that all the country was angry to his
father for being a constable.
Cross-examined by Mr. Wilson: Thomas Thomas wore a white gown down to his
knees. He wore a straw hat. I well knew his voice. He told them to shoot my
wife. He spoke English. Witness could not speak English. He spoke English, and
said, “shoot him.” (Laughter). This took place on
. I cannot say when I gave the information. I think it was a
week before the Winter Assizes. I have always been confident that he was
there. I never told Elizabeth Jones that it was impossible to recognize one
of the parties, in consequence of the smoke. I do not remember seeing her, in
company with two others, by a school-room, when I told her, “I die if I knew
one of them. I could not, in consequence of the smoke.” I never told her so. I
know David Jones, Llwynmor. I might have told him that I knew none of them, as
I suspected his servant was there. I never told Margaret Roberts that the
devil would not know them. I never told David Davies, Pontfaen, on the evening
after the disturbance, that “I could not know one of them, as I should answer
judgment, because the house was so full of smoke.” — Witness was
cross-examined at considerable length as to his hiving told several people, in
conversation with them, that he could not recognize them. Reference was made
to conversations with about a dozen, people. I told some people, said witness,
that I knew them, and to others that I did not, because I was afraid of them,
and suspected that either they or their connexions were present.
Mr. Hall cross-examined witness on behalf of James Thomas:– The examination
was principally directed to prove that, in conversation, witness had
contradicted statements given by him in evidence.
Margaret Thomas, the last witness’s wife, next gave evidence:— She positively
identified, first, John Jones, alias Shoni Scyborfawr. She said to James
Thomas, “Ah! old fellow, who gave you permission to come in here?” He then
smiled, and turned round. I have known him, said witness, from a child; have
spoken with him hundreds of times. Could not identify Thomas Thomas’s person,
but was sure of his voice. He was at a distance, and had a white shirt and a
straw hat about him. Witness said, “If I have done anything wrong, send the
law towards me.” One of the mob said, “The law is is now nearly all in the
hands of ’Becca and her daughters.”
Witness was examined at considerable length by Mr. Hall, who put in evidence
the witness’s deposition, taken before the committing Magistrates.
Mary Thomas, sister of the last witness, slept in her father’s house on the
night it was attacked by the mob. Heard a person crying out, “Shoot, shoot
him.” I will swear it was Thomas Thomas’s voice.
Cross-examined:— I will swear I slept in my father’s house that night. I did
not sleep with Martha Vaughan on that night. I had slept with her a week
before. I never told David Rees that I had that night slept with Martha
Elizabeth Thomas, the wife of Evan Thomas, was examined, to prove that the
last witness slept in the house on that night.
Evan Thomas (the celebrated Porthyrhyd lion), was next examined:– is 56 years
of age. Has acted 16 or 17 years as a constable. My house was attacked in
. I met
Thos. Thomas and his wife on
the road. I told his wife that I wished to have quiet with the ’Beccas — that
they destroyed my things. Mrs. Thomas said the only objection the country had
to witness was, that he was a constable, and she added, that he must give that
office up, and they would leave him alone. She also asked him to come to the
house, and she would give him a paper. He said he could not that day, but if
they wished assistance at the hay-harvest, he would give it. He went there,
and worked a day. In the evening, Thomas Thomas told him that he would give
him a paper. His wife called me in, and commenced writing. She gave me a paper
to protect me from ’Becca. I have got the paper. [Witness then produced the
written paper, which is given in the Learned Counsel’s opening statement.]
Mr. Wilson now addressed the jury on behalf of the defendant, Mr. Thomas
Thomas. The jury had heard from his Learned Friend, Mr. Chilton, that his
client, Mr. Thomas, was a man of respectable station in society, had borne an
irreproachable character, and, in addition to being a considerable farmer and
freeholder himself, he was the son of as respectable a freeholder as any in
the county, and, therefore, the most unlikely to be connected with the
outrageous attack which undoubtedly had been committed on the house of the
poor man, Evan Thomas on the night in question. The Learned Counsel read
nearly the whole of the evidence, making comments thereon, and contending that
the witnesses must either have been mistaken, or grossly perjured, in swearing
so positively to the identity of the prisoner.
Mr. Lloyd Hall then addressed the jury for the defendant, James Thomas,
contending that the statements and manners of the witnesses for the
prosecution were not such as to entitle their evidence to the belief of the
jury. He then proceeded to state that James Thomas was a lime-burner, in the
employ of R.M. Philipps, Esq.,
and that, on the night in question, he was engaged at his work at a distance
off at the time of the riot.
Elizabeth Jones, servant to the defendant, Thomas Thomas, was then called. She
remembered the night of the riot at Evan Thomas’s house. Saw the defendant and
his wife shut the bedroom door. She slept next door to Mr. Thomas. No person
could go out of the house without her knowing it. He did not go out that
Cross-examined by Mr. Chilton:— She generally slept so lightly, that she could
hear a cat go out of the room. There was a seamstress and another person in
By the Court:– got up about the same time the morning before and the morning
after the riot. I got up the previous morning at five, and retired at twelve.
The seamstress was called to prove that she slept with the last witness.
Remembers Mr. and Mrs. Thomas going to bed, about twelve o’clock. Heard great
noise of horns and shooting before Mr. and Mrs. Thomas came into the
house — neither did go out afterwards.
Elizabeth Jones, David Jones, Margaret Williams, David Davies, David Jenkins,
Esther Jones, Thomas Davies, John Thomas, John John, and others, were called
as witnesses, to prove that various statements had been made by George Thomas
and other witnesses, contradictory of the evidence given by them in Court,
such as saying, “The devil himself could not know the people there, as they
were so disguised” — “if I was to answer judgment at this moment, I could not
recognize one, as they were so disguised,[”] — and that George Thomas said,
“that he was ready to swear, before God and man, that he knew no person.”
John Thomas, father of the prisoner, James Thomas, was called to prove a
similar statement. Remembered he had a job about
, which required the repairing of some tools, and that his son
brought them to him at such a time, that he must have been engaged in
repairing them on the night of the riot.
Mrs. Evans, wife of the Rev.
Stephen Evans, Curate of some parish in Carmarthenshire, gave evidence
relative to a conversation, during which Evan Thomas declared he did not know
any person at the riot.
Several witnesses were then called to sustain the alibi on behalf of
Margaret Vaughan and David Rees swore — the former that Mary Thomas, one of
the witnesses for the prosecution, had slept with her on the night of the
riot; and the latter, that she informed him that she had slept at the woman
Richard Rees, Esq., County
Treasurer, and Eliezer Wiliams,
Esq., Surgeon, gave the
prisoner Thomas Thomas a good character, but admitted in cross-examination
that latterly he had been a reputed Rebeccaite.
replied to the evidence adduced for the defence, in a very able and energetic
His Lordship then summed up the evidence, observing, that with respect to the
first question for the consideration of the jury — whether any riot had taken
place on the night in question — there could be no kind of doubt. The next
point was, whether the prisoner, or either of them, was present. His Lordship
observed, that there was nothing either in the evidence or manner of the
witnesses for the prosecution, to induce an opinion that they had perjured
themselves; but if the witnesses for the defence were believed, the jury must
come to that conclusion as to some points. With respect to the evidence of the
witness Vaughan, she might have been mistaken as to the night on which Mary
Thomas slept with her; but if it was on the night of the riot, the latter must
have perjured herself. His Lordship then pointed out the various points of
evidence given in defence, rather corroborative than otherwise, of the
prosecution. His Lordship most carefully recapitulated the whole of the
evidence bearing upon the case, and offered some observations relating to
After his Lordship had concluded the jury retired, and returned in less than
ten minutes, with a verdict of Not Guilty for both defendants.
Back to the Pembrokeshire Herald and General
The following prisoners were then placed at the bar to receive the sentence of
John Harries [Harris?], Isaac Charles, Job Evans, John Lewis, David Williams,
and David Thomas, convicted of riot at the Carmarthen Workhouse, on
, the former of whom was sentenced to 12 calendar months’
hard labour, and the others to eight calendar months’ each.
[The Cambrian adds these remarks from the judge:
“The case of the defendant Harris showed, that there were to be found persons
somewhat above the lowest grade in the ranks of the Rebeccaites, though he
thought that there never had arisen a popular agitation produced by such gross
ignorance. As Harries ought, from his station in society, to have known his
duty better than to allow himself to become the ringleader and instigator of
this proceeding, some distinction must be made between the punishment awarded
him and that awarded the other defendants.”]
Jonathan Jones, Howell Lewis, David Lewis, David Davies, and Jonathan Lewis,
convicted of a riot at Talog, were sentenced to 8 calendar months’
imprisonment with hard labour.
The Cambrian adds another case here: of Thomas
Hughes, John Jones, and Benjamin Jones, “convicted of a riot, and the
destruction of Pontileche Gate” The judge said they had been convicted of a
misdemeanor but were probably guilty of a felony, but hadn’t been charged with
a felony because this would mean trying them before a common jury, which might
have led to jury nullification — “It was a shocking thing to think that there
were grounds for imagining that there were some persons of a disposition to
sympathise with such depredations, even of the stations in society of persons
eligible to serve on juries, who were bound by their oaths to support and
vindicate the laws of their country,” he said, perhaps reflecting on the case
decided that day. He sentenced them to twelve months of hard labor apiece.
David Thomas, Thomas Powell, John Thomas, John James, Thomas Thomas, John
Thomas, Evan Davies, and David Evans, convicted of burglary and robbery at
Pantyfen, in the parish of Llanfihangel-ar-arth, were called on, and the first
was sentenced to 20 years’ transportation, for being an accessory before the
fact, and the instigator to this disgraceful outrage; and all the others were
sentenced to 10 years transportation.
His lordship, in addressing the prisoners, observed that they had been found
guilty of an offence of the greatest magnitude; that they had taken advantage
of the disturbances which unhappily prevailed in this and the adjoining
counties, to serve their own private and wicked purposes; but it would be
shewn to them that they would not be allowed to trample upon the laws of the
country with impunity, and he would send them to a country where they would
have no opportunity of committing such a disgraceful & cruel outrage
The scene which took place in the court, after the sentences were delivered on
the latter prisoners, baffles all description. [?!]
Quite the lazy reporter. Here is how the Cambrian
described the scene: “Immediately after the last sentence had been pronounced,
the scene in Court became most affecting — perhaps awful would be more
expressive of the effect produced upon the minds of the spectators. Nearly all
the prisoners — who, though they had before shewn no carelessness or disregard,
yet had manifested no great concern at their situation — now burst into fits of
inconsolable agony, while in different parts of the Court, women were seen in
hysterical fits, and others of both sexes gave vent to their grief in loud
cries, and, in some instances, in terrific yells. The officers had some
difficulty in removing the prisoners. A sentence of such severity was
apparently quite unexpected, both by the prisoners and their friends.”
After the prisoners had been removed, his lordship observed that the persons
charged with destroying a turnpike gate near Llanddarog [Thomas Davies,
Phillip Thomas, and Joseph Clement] would be admitted to bail, until the next
assize; and the civil causes not tried or settled out of court, would be left