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THE MERTHYR RISING 1831



Graphic depicts the MERTHYR RISING in Wales in 1831
In 1829 depression set in in the iron industry which was to last for three years. As a result Merthyr Tydfil Ironmasters made many workers redundant and cut the wages of those in work. Against a background of rising prices this caused severe hardship for many of the working people of the area and, in order to survive, many people were forced into debt. Often they were unable to pay off their debts and their creditirs would then turn to the Court of Requests which had been set up in 1809 to allow the bailiffs to seize the property of debtors. As a result the Court was hated by many people who saw it as the reason for their losing their property.

Against this background the Radicals of Merthyr, as part of the National movement for political reform, organised themselves into a Political Union in 1830 to lead the local campaign for reform. In November 1830 they called for demonstrations in Merthyr to protest against the Truck System and the Corn Laws. The campaign was actually supported by some local Ironmasters. William Crawshay of Cyfarthfa Ironworks and Josiah John Guest of Dowlais Ironworks, for example, both supported the campaign. By the end of the year 1830 the campaign had broadened to embrace the Reform of Parliament, and the election of a Liberal Government in Great Britain led to a bill being brought before Parliament to reform the House of Commons. The Bill was welcomed by the Merthyr Radicals as a step in the right direction, although it did not give Merthyr a Parliamentary Constituency and only extended the right to vote to the Middle Classes rather than the workers. In April 1831, however, the Bill was defeated in a House of Commons vote, the Government resigned and a new General Election was called to fight on the issue of Parliamentary Reform.

In May 1831 a huge demonstration in favour of Reform was held at Merthyr Tydfil. William Crawshay, the Ironmaster, who supported Reform, describing the demonstration, reported that a local shopkeeper, Mr. Stephens, would not support Reform and around 5000 demonstrators massed outside his house and threatened to hang him and threw stones and other missiles at his windows. Thomas Llewellin and another of the ringleaders, were arrested the next day, but a mob of around 3000 threatened to rescue them, burn down Mr Stephens' house and murder him. As a result Mr Stephens dropped charges against them and they were released. (William Crawshay: The Late Riots at Merthyr Tydfil, 1831).

Despite Crawshay's support for the Reforms he was forced , in March 1831, to announce cuts in the wages of his workers and redundancies. In May the wage cuts took effect and he made 84 of his puddlers redundant. It was this, combined with similar situations in other ironworks, the hatred of the activities of the Court of Requests, and some stirring up by political agitators which led to the Merthyr Rising. On 30 May 1831 at the Waun Common above Dowlais a mass meeting of over 2000 workers from Merthyr & Monmouthshire discussed :-

•   Petitioning the King for Reform
•   Abolition of the Court of Requests
•   State of wages in the iron industry

One person, a stranger, advocated strike action. This strager was probably a represetative of the National Association of the Protection of Labour, a trade union which had been formed in the North of England in 1830, and which had already set up Colliers Union branches in North Wales and was attempting to do so in South Wales.


THE RISING
On 31 May 1831 bailiffs from the Court of Requests attempted to seize goods from the home of Lewis Lewis (Lewsyn yr Heliwr) at Penderyn, near Merthyr. However Lewis refused to let the take his property and, supported by neighbours, prevented them from entering his home. The Magistrate, J.B.Bruce, was called and he arranged a compromise between Lewis and the bailiffs which allowed the latter to remove a trunk belonging to Lewis. The next day a march was held by workers from Merthyr to the Ironworks of Richard Fothergill at Aberdare where they demanded bread & cheese and created a disturbance. At the same time, at Hirwaun, a crowd led by Lewis Lewis marched to the home of a shopkeeper who was now in posession of his trunk, took the trunk back by force, and prepared to march to Merthyr. On the march to Merthyr the crowd went from house to house, seizing any goods which the Court of Requests had taken, and returning them to their original owners. They ransacked the house of one of the bailiffs (Thomas Williams) and took away many articles. By this time the crowd had been swollen by the addition of men from the Cyfarthfa & Hirwaun Ironworks. They marched to the area behind the Castle Inn where many of the tradespeople of the town lived and in particular the home of Thomas Lewis, a hated moneylender and forced him to sign a promise to return goods to a woman whose goods he had seized for debt. The Magistrate J.B.Bruce arrived at the scene and realized that this was a widespread revolt against the Court of Requests. As a result he and other magistrates enrolled about 70 Sopecial Constables, mainly from the tradespeople, to help keep the peace, and advised the Military Authorities at Brecon that he might need troops. Bruce, with Anthony Hill, the Ironmaster of the Plymouth Works, tried to pursuade the crowd to disperse, but to no avail. He the had the Riot Act read in English and Welsh. Again this had little effect and the crowd drove the magistrates away and attacked Thomas Lewis' house. That evening (2 June) the crowd assembled outside the home of Joseph Coffin, President of the Court of Requests, demanded the books of the Court and other books in the house, which they burned in the street along with his furniture. On hearing of this attack Bruce decided that he would have to call in the troops and as a result 52 soldiers of the Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry were despatched from Cardiff to Merthyr by coach and a detachment of the 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders were sent from Brecon. Meanwhile the crowd had marched to the various ironworks and pursuaded the workers to join them.

On their march from Brecon the Highlanders were mocked and jeered but evetually arrived at the Castle Inn where they were met by the High Sheriff of Glamorgan, the Merthyr Magistrates and Ironmasters and the Special Constables. The crowd outside the Inn, now some 10000 strong again refused to disperse mwhen the Riot Act was read for a second time and pressed closer toward the Inn and the soldiers drawn up outside. Anthony Hill then asked the crowd to select a deputation to put forward their demands. The deputation demanded:-

•   Suppression of the Court of Requests
•   Higher wages
•   Reduction in the cost of items they used in their work
•   Immediate reform

The Ironmasters refused to consider these demands and the deputation returned to the crowd. The High Sheriff then told the crowd that if they did not disperse the soldiers would be used. William Crawshay and Josiah John Guest (known reformers) also tried to get the crowd to disperse but they became even angrier and the front ranks of the crowd tried to surround the soldiers. Lewis Lewis was hoisted onto the shoulders of some of the crowd and called for the soldiers to be disarmed by the rioters. The front ranks of the crowd surged forward and threw clubs and stones at them and managed to disarm some. A great fight ensued in which soldiers were bludgeoned and stabbed and evetually the soldiers within the Inn opened fire killing three of the rioters with their first shots; the fighting continued for about 15 minutes and then the rioters were put to flight by the soldiers.(Crawshay).

The street outside the Inn was dreadfully covered in blood, women were screaming and looking for their husbands and sons and the soldiers, too, were in a sorry state, injured and some seemed near death. Altogether 16 soldiers were wounded, 6 of them severely, and up to 24 of the rioters had been killed (their bodies were removed secretly by the crowd and buried and the injured also were treated secretly).

The authorities were certain that this was not the end of the rioting and they moved their headquarters to a safer position at Penydarren House. That night the rioters searched for weapons ready for an attack the next day. They also sent word to the Monmouthshire ironworks in an attempt to obtain furher support.

By 4th June more troops including the Eastern Glamorgan Corps of Yeomanry Cavalry and the Royal Glamorgan Militia arrived in Merthyr. A troop of the Swansea Yeomanry Cavalry (under Major Penrice) on arrival at Hirwaun were ambushed when they stopped, being greeted in an apparently friendly manner, and were surrounded, their weapons seized and they were forced to retreat to Swansea, where they re-armed and joined the Fairwood Troop for the march back to Merthyr. A similar ambush was laid at Cefn Coed y Cymmer to stop ammunition being delivered from Brecon. The Cardiff Troop of Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry (under Captain Moggridge) sent out to assist in the passage of the ammunition was forced to retreat, being fired upon by the rioters and having rocks hurled at them from the hills above, A troop of 100 Central Glamorgan Yeomanry (under Major Rickards) was sent to assist but were unable to break through the mob. Fortunately though Moggridge and the Cardiff Troop did manage to bring the wagons safely to Merthyr by a different route with only one man injured and one disarmed.

The authorities at Penydarren House were now prepared for an expected attack by the crowd. Despite meeting various deputations from the rioters the ironmasters had not managed to pursuade them to disperse. Just as the crowd were leavibng Cefn Coed to attack Penydarren House a final deputation was leaving the house. At this point the advance party of the rioters arrived brandishing the sabres they had taken from the Swansea Cavalry, shouting and firing muskets. The soldiers at the house now prepared to repulse the forthcoming attack, with the Cavalry formed up at the front and rear of the house. (Crawshay).

Near the entrance to Cyfarthfa Castle the deputation which had just left Penydarren met the crowd. What exactly happened at that meeting is not known but after discussion the march broke up. The attack on Penydarren never took place, although there were some incidents in the town and some shooting.

On Sunday 5th June delegations were sent to the Monmouthshire Iron Towns to raise further support for the riots and on 6th June a crowd of around 12000 or more marched along the heads of the valleys from Monmouthshire to meet the Merthyr Rioters at the Waun Common. The authorities decided that rather than wait for this mob to attack them they would take the initiative, and 110 Highlanders, 53 Royal Glamorgan Light Infantry Militia and 300 Glamorgan Yeomanry Cavalry were despatched to stop the marchers at Cefn Coed. Josiah John Guest addressed the crowd but to no avail, the Riot Act was read but had no effect, and then the Highlanders and Militia were ordered to level their muskets at the mob and the Yeomanry to draw their sabres. Words of command were given clearly and slowly so that the mob could hear them. With this the crowd gradually dispersed, only the diehards remaining. Eventually they too gave way. No bloodshed was involved. (For details of the disarming of the Swansea Troop and its repercussions see my page on the History of the Glamorgan Yeomanry).

After the riot was over panic spread through the town and arms were hidden and the leaders fled. On the evening of 6th June the authorities raided houses and arrested 18 of the rebel leaders. Workers reurned en mass to their jobs. Eventually Lewis Lewis was found hiding in a wood near Hirwaun and a large force of soldiers escorted him in irons to Cardiff Prison to await trial.

THE TRIAL
The rising at Merthyr cause great alarm to the British Government, who feared that the Colliers Union was behind it. The setting up of lodges of the Union at Merthyr immediately afterward seemed to support this view. Events at Merthyr were used both by opponents of Reform and by its supporters to further their aims. What was seen as most important was that swift, strong action must be taken against the ringleaders.

The trials began on 13 July 1831 at Cardiff Assizes. 28 men and women were tried, 23 of them ironworkers (12 colliers , 2 women, 2 shoemakers and one blacksmith). John Phelps, David Hughes, Thomas Vaughan and David Thomas were all found guilty of attacks on the houses of Thomas Wiliams and/or Thomas Lewis. Phelps was sentenced to transportation for 14 years, the others were sentenced to death (but with a recommendation for transportation for life instead). Lewis Lewis and Richard Lewis (Dic Penderyn) were charged with attempting to murder a soldier, Donald Black of the 93rd Highkland Regiment, by stabbibg him with a bayonet attached to a gun outside the Castle Inn on 3rd June. The main evidence against the two Lewis' was from Black himself, James Abbott, a hairdresser and Special Constable and James Drew, also a hairdresser and Special Constable. On the evidence it was adjudged that Richard Lewis (Dic Penderyn) was guilty but that Lewis Lewis was not guilty ( though he was already under sentence of death for attack on Thomas Lewis' house). Dic Penderyn was sentenced to death.

Joseph Tregelles Price, A quaker Ironmaster from Neath, took up the case of Dic Penderyn and Lewis Lewis and presented a petition to have them transported. Evidence was produced that Abbott had threatened Penderyn prior to the 3rd June and people saidthat Penderyn was not there when Black was attacked and that they knew who had carried out the attack but it was not Dic Penderyn. Strangely Lord Melbourn, the Home Secretary, reprieved Lewis Lewis, who was certainly one of those most responsible for the riots, and transported him to Australia, but would not reprieve Penderyn, who seems to have been much less involved. Richard Lewis (Dic Penderyn) was taken from his cell at Cardiff Prison on 13 August 1831 to the gallows at St.Mary Street, Cardiff and there he was executed protesting his innocence. His body was transported across the Vale of Glamorgan to be buried at Margam.

In 1874 the Western Mail reported that a man named Ieuan Parker had confessed to a Minister on his death bed in Pennsylvania, USA that he was the man who attacked Donald Black.

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Documentary smashes myth of 'hero' Dic
Merthyr Express Aug 10 2006

A new television programme could become one of the most controversial documentaries on Merthyr history - as it concludes Dic Penderyn died a guilty man. Crimesolver: Dic Penderyn - Hero or Villain, which airs later this month, is a retired police chief's defiance of the legend of the martyr to the majority in Merthyr Tydfil.

In the 175th anniversary year of Penderyn's execution, former South Wales police chief superintendent Gerry Toms has investigated his last moments, and finds, to the anger of the hero's supporters, that he WAS guilty of wounding a soldier in the Merthyr Uprising of 1831.

Penderyn is still revered by the people of Merthyr, and is widely regarded as the Welsh Labour movement's first martyr.

The only insurgent to die in the Uprising, Merthyr was convinced of his innocence, and more than 11,000 petitioned against the guilty verdict.

But the historian astonishingly dashes the story of his demise, thanks to factual evidence from the time.

Mystery still surrounds the events of the day Penderyn (aka Richard Lewis) joined more than 1,000 angry working class protesters against their paymasters' headquarters in the Castle Hotel, where the Studio Bar now stands.

Several were killed and Penderyn was arrested for stabbing Private Donald Black with a bayonet in the thigh.

After a two-day trial he was sentenced to hang and died at the gallows on St Mary Street in Cardiff on August 13, 1831.

The programme contains interviews with experts in law and myth-making in a project researched and filmed over six weeks.

'Dic Penderyn's story has been clouded over the years,' Gerry, who has 30 years of experience in the police, told the Express.

'People's understanding is not factually correct. A common myth is that he didn't have a fair trial. He had a barrister [paid for by the Crawshays] which was very unusual at the time.'

Gerry also said he found, by examining the hand-written transcript of the original court case, that the judge brought in a new jury after Penderyn's barrister said they had heard too much about the Uprising.

But his controversial views contrast those of the politicians who are campaigning for him to be pardoned.

'Those who argue for a pardon say Penderyn wasn't there,' said Gerry, who is filmed discovering fresh flowers at his grave. But at no time in the trial did his barrister say he was not there.'

Another argument for Penderyn's innocence is the deathbed confession of Welshman Ieuan Parker. 'It's not unusual for people to confess to other people's crimes,' said Gerry. 'There's no evidence Ieuan Parker was even in Merthyr at the time.'

The programme does reserve sympathy for Penderyn.

Gerry said: 'He was a victim of circumstance, a young man who became caught up in the social and political turmoil of that time and he became the unlikely hero of that turmoil. People will disagree with me, but on the balance of evidence, it was clear Richard Lewis was guilty of stabbing a soldier. But I don't think he deserved to hang.'



The Merthyr Rising 1831
Insurrection of the men of iron
socialistparty.org.uk

A protest march attacked by the military turns into a generalised insurrection. Armed workers take over the town, and besiege the authorities in their headquarters. Barricades are set up on the roads into town and a military 'relief force' is surrounded and disarmed.

Internationalist slogans are chanted and attempts are made to spread the uprising. The town is only recaptured a week later by military force. That was Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales in June 1831. Geoff Jones writes on one of the most explosive struggles in British working-class history.

The Industrial Revolution in Britain at the beginning of the nineteenth century, fuelled to some extent by profits from the slave trade, was based on iron. The explosive growth of the iron industry in South Wales became the engine of the development of English industry.

The northern edge of the South Wales coalfield from Aberdare to Brynmawr and Blaenafon (on the map of Wales, the present A465 'Heads of the Valleys' road) provided iron ore, coal, limestone, and timber. The area became the world crucible of iron production.

Entrepreneurs like Josiah Guest from Shropshire and William Crawshay from Yorkshire moved in to set up the world's largest and most advanced iron works in Dowlais and Cyfarthfa.

Around the works, communities mushroomed, sucking in workers from the whole of rural Wales but also from Ireland and England. By 1801 the population of this industrial belt had topped 100,000.

At the beginning of the 19th century Merthyr was a sleepy village on the edge of high moorland. By 1830 it had quadrupled in size to become the largest town in Wales, its population mainly workers in the iron and coal industries and their families.

With no member of parliament, town council or police force, it was a lawless frontier town, but one where skilled iron workers and craftsmen had a high level of literacy and political sophistication, with radical groups and clubs poring over the latest pamphlets and newspapers shipped down from London.

Merthyr was a centre of industrial unrest and a crucible of radical ideas, centred on a newly formed working class, described by contemporary Tory newspapers as "revolutionary forgemen, Jacobin moulders, democratic colliers and demagogic furnacemen".

Right to vote
The birth of the rising was in early May 1831. Ironically it started when Cyfarthfa iron-master William Crawshay called out his workforce to demonstrate support for the 1830 Parliamentary Reform Bill and the right to vote. On 9-10 May, thousands of workers roamed the town haranguing and physically attacking anyone believed to oppose reform.

The following day, two 'ringleaders' were brought before magistrates sitting in the Bush Inn. A crowd of thousands surrounded the inn and forced the magistrates to free the prisoners. From that point working people felt their own power. In the words of the Marquess of Bute - Lord Lieutenant and the major landowner in the area - "From that moment the people thought they were irresistible and could act with impunity."

The final detonation came on 1 June following Crawshay's announcement that wages at Cyfarthfa would be cut due to a slump in iron prices. Gangs of workers took over the town and picketed out the other works in the area.

A huge meeting addressed by speakers of all political persuasions on 30 May was followed over the next two days by mass attacks on shops and offices, burning down the hated Court of Requests (a bailiffs' office which took away debtors' goods and furniture). A sheet was dipped in a calf's blood and carried at the front of the march.

Eyewitnesses reported the crowd shouting radical slogans, particularly "Remember Paris" (where workers had risen to depose the monarchy the previous year) and "Remember Poland" (the 1830 Polish war of independence against Tsarism, only finally crushed in September 1831). The workers were no mindless mob. Many had an instinctive internationalism.

In the town they met soldiers from the 93rd Highlanders and drove them back to the Castle Inn where they besieged the magistrates, ironmasters and their soldiers. A deputation was sent into the inn demanding concessions, which the ironmasters refused to discuss until the 'mob' disbanded.

The delegation knew that only the presence of the workers, massed round the inn, would force the masters to talk to them. Soon after, at Crawshay's order, the soldiers fired, killing twenty and injuring many more. This did not end things. Workers kept the inn under siege, returning fire from cover.

Workers' control
The next day the town was under workers' control. They set up roadblocks on the roads from Brecon (the nearest garrison town) and Aberdare, manned by armed pickets supported by "a strong body of Irish labourers carrying bludgeons". Meanwhile the troops had withdrawn to Pendarren House, a strategically placed and defensible mansion.

Magistrates fled the town in a desperate race to Cardiff, Newport and London for more soldiers. The next morning a detachment of the Swansea Cavalry on the road from Aberdare was ambushed and disarmed. Workers' delegates travelled as far as Blaenafon, Llanelli and Pontypool to try to spread the rising. A march of thousands to join the rising was only stopped east of Merthyr by the ironmaster Guest with four hundred and fifty soldiers at his back.

But by the fourth day, the rising was losing momentum. The ironmasters offered to reverse the wage cuts. A split occurred - some wanted to accept the terms while others wanted to attack Pendarren House. By Tuesday over a thousand troops had arrived to grab back control.

Eighteen leaders were arrested including Lewsyn yr Helwr (Lewis the Hunter) and Dai Llaw-Haearn (Dai Iron Hand) who had led the deputation to the Castle Inn. Among others arrested was a young miner Dic Penderyn, charged with stabbing a Scottish soldier.

Most were transported but Dic Penderyn was hanged, despite a huge campaign for his release. The charge against him was certainly trumped up. The authorities seemed to want to make an example of an unimportant figure rather than make martyrs of the workers' leaders.

But they were so afraid of a further uprising that they refused to allow his body to be buried in Merthyr, instead forcing the burial to be fifty miles away in Port Talbot. Dic Penderyn has been accepted as the first working-class Welsh martyr.

Many Labour and trade union leaders who know any history prefer to see workers' history in terms of 'the long march of labour' to electoral respectability. Workers are seen as mere extras or spear-carriers on the electoral stage, expected to give loyal support to the leadership, but not to think or speak for themselves.

'Labour history' for them and for capitalist historians means events like the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 in Manchester where an unarmed crowd was dispersed by soldiers. The Merthyr Rising has been airbrushed out of history, apart from amongst socialists and labour movement activists in Wales.

But that rising, like the establishment of the Paris Commune 40 years later, showed ordinary workers' willingness to fight, to set up their own organisations and to 'storm heaven'.


Merthyr Rising 1831 - the beginning
January 05, 2006

The Reformist Road to Twyn y Waun 30 May 1831.
The Radical Road to Hirwaun Common 31st May 1831.
 
There are two traditional views of the Merthyr Rising of 1831. They are not necessarily totally separate views re the history and conditions that caused this workers' revolt to break out into an armed uprising.

Suffice to say for a very simple overview just read the account headed Merthyr Rising p396 of the Oxford Companion to the Literature of Wales, Ed Meic Stephens. Oxford University Press. You will of course not leave it at that but go on to books that will deal with the subject in greater depth, some of which I will mention below. What I wish to focus on is those two separate views, which point out the two separate paths that converged on Merthyr 1831 and at the end of May beginning of June causing this most major of Welsh insurrections since the time of Owain Glyndwr.
 
It's generally accepted that the Merthyr Rising of 1831 was in many ways part of the general British struggle for political reform, which would be the basis of a later much stronger Chartist Movement and also part of the struggle to establish Trade Unionism. There is another aspect of the Revolt that may be seen to have more national Welsh connotations’ and that is in the more radical nature the Merthyr Rising took as a particularly Welsh insurrection.

This is the view presented by Welsh Republicans such as historian Ivor Wilks and more romantically by Harri Webb. This is presented in the ‘natural justice’ protest on Hirwaun common, such radicalism prior and since is seen as representing a long history of Welsh radicalism. (also see writings on this by professor Gwyn Alf Williams).
 
Merthyr Tudful had been in discontent for a long time, particularly since the depression of 1829 with subsequent reform agitation following, not least in the early months of 1831.  Merthyr Tudful was in a ferment of discontent and disturbance culminating in a great Reform Rally at Twyn y Waun on 30 May 1831.

This reform rally was a political affair led by dissident radicals such as Cyfartha coal miner Thomas Llywelyn and issues raised at this rally were reformist and relating to trade union rights under banners which declared ‘Reform in Parliament' but also ‘God Save William IV’.

It seems the following day 31 May 1831, Thomas Llywelyn attempted to hold another reform rally at Hirwaun Common. Here however ‘Reformism’ met with the more militant men of Hirwaun who seemed more hell bent on radical measures. Their purpose was to put right more immediate wrongs and had more to do with a long tradition of struggle for ‘natural justice’.

Thus Thomas Llywelyn led his trade unionists off on a march to Aberdare to seek workers' justice in term of labour rights; improved conditions and wages. Back on Hirwaun Common other more militant matters were being considered, which would come to an head.
         
I do not want to dwell much more on repeating the history of the Merthyr Rising as there are a number of books you should read on the subject which will more than inform you of the history but also the differing views as to its nature, form & purpose.

Suffice for me to conclude that after the Reformists had left Hirwaun Common, the radicals killed a calf and dipped in its blood the white cloth of a reform flag, which they raised on a pole as possibly the first ever Red Flag of Popular Rebellion along with another banner that stated ‘Bara neu Waed’ (Bread or Blood).

There can be no doubt that the following seven days in June changed Welsh history immensely and of course in these terms the commemoration of 1831–2006 should be not only an entertaining experience but also be most informative & educational purpose to remind us who we are and where we come from.

The Merthyr Rising 1831   Time line of key events
1st June 
Workers march on Merthyr
2nd June The town is seized by workers, the Riot Act is read and troops sent for
3rd June The Battle of Castle Inn” (see Dic Penderyn below). 26 “rioters” killed
4th June Troops arrive from Brecon -
but one column is ambushed and disarmed by workers
5th June Gwent workers rise and march to support Merthyr workers
6th June Great workers' gathering at Twyn y Waun, troops arrive and level guns
7th June Troops regain control of Merthyr, mass arrests and imprisonment follow

Epilogue: During the days that followed the troops searched particularly for those seen as leaders of the revolt, many were arrested and imprisoned amongst them Dic Penderyn and shortly after Lewis Lewis was captured.

All were put on trial, found guilty and sentence to death or transportation to Australia. Some question the mysterious way Lewis Lewis was reprieved but not Dic Penderyn. Dic Penderyn was executed on 13 August 1831, thus was created a “Welsh Working Class Martyr” long remembered as a popular  "Hero of Welsh History", whilst Lewsyn yr Heliwr - no doubt instigator and leader of the revolt - has been largely forgotten.

Whilst it remained politically or culturally correct to remember Dic Penderyn as a martyr, later "respectable" Victorian Wales chose to forget the Merthyr Rising 1831. So too Welsh Labour – Unionist Tradition, which came to remember more about the Tolpuddle martyrs & English Labour history rather than their own Welsh labour history. Ironically the resurrection and restoration of this radical History was left to be more popularised by a Welsh Republican Movement 1946 – 56 via the writings of socialist republican historian Ivor Wilks and socialist republican bard Harri Webb. (2006 also marks the 60th anniversary of founding the Welsh Republican Movement).
 
Historical Note: Twyn y waun had been the location of the Waun fair since the Middle Ages and possibly further back it may have been a traditional ancient gathering point for people. During the 16th Century Waun Fair was recorded in official records as being associated with outlaws & thieves particularly horse stealers & cattle rustlers who brought their four-legged stolen goods to dispose of at Waun fair. So well known was this that even suppliers of the English army came to Waun fair to buy cattle on the cheap and of course make huge profits.

Reading Matter for you yourselves to determine much.
Any material on the making of modern Wales post-Act of Union 1536.
18th Century Welsh Cultural Renaissance, Religious Revival & Political dissent.
18th Century popular protest, disturbances & discontent, focus 1798 – 1831.
The Merthyr Rising 1831
Post-1831 Scotch Cattle & the Newport Insurrection 1839.
The 1839 Rebecca Rebellion of the western counties.
1848 - the Year of European Revolutions and in Wales the Blue Books.
1848-1880s Rise of Liberal Wales to Cymru Rydd & beyond.
Rise of Labour Party & trade unionism in Wales.
Welsh Nationalism inc anything on republicanism.
 
For the chief reading material regards much of above & Merthyr 1831 plus it’s aftermath to 1831 & beyond you may focus on three particular historians:
 
D. J. V. Jones: Before Rebecca Popular Protest in Wales 1793 – 1835. 
David Smith: For traditional “Unionist British Labour history’’.
Gwyn A. Williams: For a communist and republican viewpoint. 
Ivor Wilks: Protagonist of a “Welsh Republican” view.
 
Further to above there are a great number of other books & essays in a number of journals, as ‘Llafur’ all of which may be searched out via the web & bibliographies. Further, two essays that touch on the above, are available on request via email only; they are:
 
· Aftermath. A radical interpretation of Welsh History from conclusion of Glyndwr war to the Merthyr Rising of 1831.
 
· Dic Penderyn. An interpretation of the Welsh Martyr Complex & why”.
 
Obtainable from gethingruffydd@ntlworld.com


Dic Penderyn was executed 13 Awst 1831: Outside the market on St Mary Street, Cardiff near the spot where he was executed, you will find a plaque in commemoration of his execution. To the last he protested his innocence, and his final words in Welsh were an anguished cry at injustice. "O Arglwydd, dyma gamwedd" "O Lord what an iniquity" he shouted, as the hangman's noose was tightened. Dic Penderyn’s coffin was then carried by cart to Port Talbot, where he was buried in cemetery of St Mary’s Church.
 
See also
2006 and Labour still isn’t working
John Reid - UK Politician
George Orwell
Fabian Society may2006
Socialism and democracy needed to reshape the world

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