Welsh Magistrates Chuckle as They Dismiss Petitioners

The ruling magistrates in Wales could be arrogant, dismissive, and haughty when responding to petitions from those they tried to govern. From a report on the Swansea Petty Sessions in the Cambrian:

The Late Rebecca Disturbance.

Just as the Magistrates were about leaving the Court, Mr. J.G. Hancorne presented a petition, which was numerously and respectably signed by the parishioners of Pennard, Gower, protesting against an order signed by J.D. Llewelyn, L.Ll. Dillwyn, the Rev. S. Davies, and several other Magistrates, by which the parishioners were saddled with the expenses incurred by watching the gates by the constables during the late outrages on the part of “Rebecca and her daughters,” and expressing a hope that the same would be countermanded. Mr. Hancorne stated, that the parishioners, in public vestry assembled a few days ago, “one and all,” most strenuously protested against paying the expense of watching the gate, as it was well-known that the people of the parish of Pennard were not in the least degree tinctured with Rebeccaism, and that it was perfectly unnecessary, so far as the parishioners were concerned, to watch the gate; but as the Magistrates thought proper to employ the constables, Mr. Hancorne very urgently contended that the expenses incurred should be equally borne by the whole county.

Mr. Attwood stated, that some time ago, in consequence of the Magistrates being divided in opinion upon the subject, some gentlemen, entertaining a doubt whether parishes were legally liable for the expenses incident upon watching the gates, he (Mr. Attwood) was requested to write to the Secretary of State, who was a high authority upon such subjects. The Secretary of State sent an answer to the effect, that the parishes were liable, and that there was no other source out of which the expense could be defrayed. Since then, said Mr. Attwood, there had been a correspondence upon the same subject, between Mr. Penrice, of Kilvrough, and the Secretary of State, and the latter went so far as to state that he had no right to interfere, but that the business ought to be left entirely to the Magistrates, whose duty it was to make an order upon the parishes.

Dr. Hewson stated, that the Magistrates at Quarter Sessions might take the subject into consideration but they (the Magistrates present) had no right to revoke the act of the Magistrates who had signed the order.

Mr. Hancorne thought it to be a very hard case that the parishioners should pay, particularly as there was no “Rebecca” in their neighbourhood. He was not afraid to entrust his crop, stock, and all his property without being watched.

The Rev. S. Davies reminded Mr. Hancorne, that a gate in the neighbourhood had been destroyed, and that many respectable farmers had declined paying toll in passing through Pennard gate.

Mr. Hancorne said, that he was not aware such had been the case in his parish.

A Pennard Parishioner:— You must not talk of Rebecca with we. We be no Rebeccas. (Laughter).

Dr. Hewson again staled, that the order of the Magistrates might be re-considered at the Quarter Sessions, but there was no power given to do so at Petty Sessions.

The Rev. S. Davies thought it would be a useful piece of information to some parishes to know that they would be liable for the outrages committed therein.

The Pennard Parishioner:– We be quiet people — we had no riots since the world began. (A laugh).

After some further conversation with Mr. Haneorne, in which Dr. Hewson, Mr. Grove, and Mr. Berrington, took part, the application was dismissed, Mr. Hancorne expressing his intention of bringing forward the subject at the Quarter Sessions.