A selection of letters by George Rice Talbot, the future 4th Lord Dynevor, concerning the Rebecca Riots in Carmarthenshire 1843 - 1844

Introduction to the Letters

The website Tlysau contains images of over 20,000 objects and manuscripts kept in various museums, galleries and archives of Wales. Hidden among the various paintings and artefacts is a collection of forty-two letters written between 1843 and 1844 by George Rice Trevor (1795 - 1869), who became 4th Lord Dynevor in 1852. George Rice Trevor's significance to Welsh history is that he was the Member of Parliament and Vice-Lieutenant of the County of Carmarthen during the Rebecca Riots and was responsible for the policing of the disturbances in that County. The full collection can be seen on the Tlysau website at: http://www.tlysau.org.uk ('Tlysau' means 'Jewels'). In the meantime we reproduce twenty of these letters below, transcribed, with explanatory notes by George Eyre Evans. These were initially published in: 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII. Even this small selection is enough to give a vivid picture of events in and around Pontardulais and the Gwendraeth valley in 1843 - 1844.

The 'Rebecca Riots' is the name commonly given to a series of disturbances and popular protests which took place in parts of south-west Wales during the 1830s and 1840s. At that time the inhabitants of this rural area were living in considerable poverty as a result of a serious economic depression. Between 1837 and 1841, local farmers endured a series of extremely poor harvests and the prices of their produce fell sharply. At the same time, the farmers faced considerable increases in their outgoings: rents were increased, as well as tithe payments, poor rates and turnpike tolls. The population had also increased sharply since the beginning of the nineteenth century, placing an even greater strain on this rural society.

The 'Daughters of Rebecca' made their first appearance in Pembrokeshire in May 1839, when a group of men, disguised in women's clothes, attacked the tollgate at Efail Wen. 'Rebecca' disappeared for a period before reappearing in June 1842 when the gate at Llandilo Rwnws bridge, Carmarthenshire, was destroyed. The attacks reached their peak during the summer of 1843, when the authorities decided to send for the troops. By the end of that year the riots had come to an end, and many of the leaders of the movement were under lock and key. 'Rebecca's main targets to begin with were the tollgates - powerful visual symbols of the economic oppression which many farmers faced. However, the focus of their protests soon shifted to target landlords, unpopular magistrates and those individuals who were responsible for collecting tithe payments. Attacks were also made against a number of workhouses in the area as the protesters expressed their hatred of the New Poor Law of 1834 and the means by which paupers were being treated. The disturbances

"reached their peak with the first and only pitched battle between the Rebeccaites and the civil forces at the Pontardulais gate on September 6th 1843. where an unknown number of the rioters were wounded and three of the leaders captured.
.....What caused these riots? How did a normally peaceful and God fearing people, so accustomed to hardship and injustice, suddenly resort to violence to try to right their wrongs...and why the name 'Rebecca'? It was first heard during an attack on the Efail Wen tollgate in 1839 led by a huge man dressed in a woman's nightgown and wearing a wig of ringlets. This formidable figure was Thomas Rees (Twm Camabwth), a devout member of Bethel Chapel, when sober and also a well known prize fighter. The story goes that only one woman - a tall and stout old maid named Rebecca could provide him with a suitable garment, and during the raid, Twm was laughingly addressed as Rebecca by his followers. But the biblical quotation from Genesis, chapter 24, verse 60, was continually on people's lips during the disturbances:

'And they blessed Rebecca and said unto her, be thou the mother of thousands and let thy seed possess the gate of they that hate them.'

This verse was shouted out from the pulpits and repeated by the God-fearing country folk who believed that by destroying the gates they were doing God's work."
('Rebecca in Pontardulais' by Ivor Griffiths, from

Or, if you want to be really clever, you can watch a short video movie depicting the history of the riots on: http://www.worldwidewales.tv/index2.php?mid=187

Alternatively, here is the script of this movie, 'Rebecca Riots' -

"By the mid-C18th Britain's already bad roads were being used by ever-increasing wheeled vehicles: In Wales the problem had always been severe. Valentine Morris, Monmouthshire's MP, informed Parliament - "We have no roads - we travel in ditches!"
..... Smaller parishes could not afford proper repair and so the 1835 Highway Act was passed, permitting tolls for road maintenance. Road Trusts were established and toll gates built both for repairs and profit but, sold to the highest bidder, with gate-keepers often paid on commission, this was a system open to abuse.
..... In Wales Trusts were too small and numerous, their charges confused and varied: Carmarthen, Pembroke and Cardiganshire agricultural areas were especially hard-hit by tollgates on roads to markets, while the transportation of lime, essential for sweetening acid soils, became almost prohibitive. Wet summers of 1838 and 39 increased grievances at a time when Chartists emissaries were already urging political reform through direct action.
..... In January 1839, with national revolution in the air, Narberth's new workhouse was attacked and burned. In May several hundred men with blackened faces and wearing female dress, their leader mounted on a white horse, destroyed Efailwen's tollgate. Using a biblical prophecy that Rebecca's seed would possess the gates of those who hated her, their leader was named "Rebecca", his followers "Rebecca's Daughters". But probably because November 1839's Chartist Uprising would fail ignominiously, other than one further attack nothing more happened until 1842.
.....That year large gangs of rioters gates attacked gates at Whitland and St.Clears and although most county tollgates would be destroyed, attention now turned to clergy, gentry and wealthier farmers whose plantations and hay-ricks were burned and their families terrorised. On June 19th some 400 mounted men entered Carmarthen and, aided by a local rabble, ransacked its workhouse until driven off by dragoons: Later that summer an elderly woman gate-keeper at Pontardulais would be shot and killed.
..... Undoubtedly the Rebecca movement now contained a thuggish and dangerous element attracted by violence - one leading figure was John Jones "Shoni ysgubor fawr"- formerly Merthyr's criminal "Emperor of China" and, incidentally, "Champion Prize-Fighter of All Wales". During 1843 terror attacks continued against any one in authority, particularly English: The wife of Gwendraeth Iron Work's manager, alone in her house, was threatened he would be killed if he returned, Shoni shouting "No Englishman would manage in Wales anymore!"
..... But Shoni's deliberate attempt to shoot Walter Rees and others in Pontyberem, caused one of "Rebecca's Daughters'" to turn informer. Shoni, together with his accomplice David Davies - "Dai Cantwr", was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to transportation while others convicted were given lesser sentences
..... In a sense this marked "Rebecca's" end. The government, perhaps influenced by sympathies expressed by a "Times" correspondent, reacted fairly. Tolls on lime were reduced by half with others standardised to cover seven mile lengths: County Road Boards were also established. The "Rebecca Riots" had achieved their purpose."

The selection of letters written by George Rice Trevor, the local Member of Parliament at the time, relate mainly to the activities of 'Rebecca' in south-east Carmarthenshire and west Glamorgan between 1843 and 1844. A number of new industries had been established in this area and coal miners and metal workers joined with the farmers in their protest. Most of the letters are addressed to William Chambers junior, who was regarded as a liberal, and was present at a number of the early public meetings held by 'Rebecca'. However, as a magistrate at Llanelli, he also had a close relationship with the authorities, and did his best to stamp out the violent, night-time activities of the 'Daughters of Rebecca'. One of the letters includes an offer of rewards and pardons for the violent attack on Hendy tollgate, Glamorgan, in June 1843, which left Sarah Williams, the gatekeeper, dead.

[1] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], Carmarthen, 1 July, 1843.
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"This letter was written within a few hours of a visit being paid by 'Rebecca and her children' to the village of Llanddarog, near Carmarthen, where the toll-gate had been destroyed by a mob of some 500 persons armed with guns, swords and pick-axes. Having demolished this gate, they then proceeded to Troed-y-rhiw gate, which met with a similar fate."


Carmarthen, 1 July, 1843.

My dear Sir,
I have received your letter, and I regret exceedingly these outrages continue in your neighbourhood. I am much obliged to you for the information you have given me, and I hope you will be enabled to ascertain the part of the country from which these people come. I shall be here all Tuesday till 5 in the afternoon, unless I am called away suddenly. I go to St. Clears on Wednesday.

I am, very truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor.

After the receipt of your letter tonight, I shall not expect you on Tuesday. This was written earlier. I am glad you have got a clue, which I hope you will succeed in following up.

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 60] (Repository ref: MUS 368, Carmarthenshire Archive Services)

[2] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], Carmarthen, 3 July, 1843.
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"On the date of this letter, Frances Evans, the girl who led the Rebeccaites through the Carmarthen Workhouse on Monday, 19th June, was apprehended at Kilgwyn uchaf [Cilgwyn uchaf] near Llan-newydd. She was brought up at 12 o'clock, and bail was taken for her appearance at the Assizes to answer any bill of indictment which might be preferred against her. A reward of £300 was issued, signed by Colonel Trevor, for the apprehension and conviction of the chief ring-leader of the riot at Talog, with his four accomplices, on 12 June, the reward to be paid by Her Majesty's Government."


Carmarthen, 3 July, 1843.
To W. Chambers, Esq.,
Llanelly House.

In the present disturbed state of this county, I think it requisite that the Petty Session over which you preside shall be assembled as frequently as possible, and that although the disturbances should not have reached your neighbourhood, that Special Constables for the preservation of the peace should be forthwith sworn in.
......I have also to request that yourself and those Gentlemen who act with you, would use every effort in your power to maintain order by going frequently amongst your neighbours, or by calling them together at convenient places and explaining to them the necessity of obedience to the Laws, and of avoiding all connection with those who disturb the peace of the county.
......Copies of an address which I have issued to the county shall, as soon as possible be forwarded to you for distribution, and which I have to request you to circulate as widely as possible.
......I wish also that in those parts which have been or are still disturbed, and more particularly where Troops, are placed a copy of this letter may be sent to all such Magistrates as are from home, with my earnest request, which I hearby convey to them, to return to their respective districts with as little delay as possible unless they are unavoidably prevented.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Geo. Rice Trevor,
Vice Lt.,
Coy. of Carmarthen.

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, pp. 60-1] (Repository ref: MUS 368, CAS)

[3] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor), 6 July, 1843
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"On 5 July, Colonel Love, Commandant of the district, formed a military cordon round the disturbed areas; a detachment consisting of 120 of the Royal Marines, under Major Whylock, coming from Pembroke Arsenal in the Confiance steamer for Cardigan, were to be placed under Love's command. Between 6 July and 10 August, the date of the next letter, no less than 38 gates, bars, and houses, were demolished, including those at Aberayron [Aberaeron] (two gates), Abergwili, Alltfawr (and house), Bolgoed (bar and house), Gwarallt, Llandeilo Rhwnws (toll-house), Llannon (gate and house), Minke, New Inn, Penygarn, Pompren, Pontarllechan, Pontyberem, Porthyrhyd (and house), Pumfry, Pumpsaint, Red Lion, Sandy Limekiln (and house), Ty-coch, Tyllwyd (and house), and Ystrad-feiris."


Penycoed, St. Clears,
6 July, 1843.

My dear Sir,
N.B.- I return to Carmarthen tomorrow. Having been writing a great deal lately I unfortunately have neglected (not, however, willingly, but from forgetfulness) to reply to your letter of the 10th inst., which I have this moment looked over again with some others.
......You are quite at liberty to offer a reward for the detection of the parties concerned in the gate breaking near you. This is the Government has authorised, and perhaps the Trust would add something also. The Government reward would be fifty pounds. If you can catch the parties I should certainly recommend they should be committed for the offence of breking down the House, but you must be careful to comply most strictly with the terms of the Statute; as it will not do to let them have a loophole to creep at you.
......I am sorry to find that two gates were broken on Tuesday night last near Mr. Saunder's, Maencae and Pontyates.
......Your plan of circulating handbills is very good.
......Mr Chambers will have received, I hope, by this time, some copies of my address to the county. I sent them to him as I understood from the Petty Sessions Clerk that he was the Chairman.
I return to Carmarthen to-morrow.

Yours very truly
Geo. Rice Trevor.

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, pp. 61-2] (Repository ref: MUS 368, CAS)

[4] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 10 August 1843
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"This day must have taxed Colonel Trevor's energies and strength with its many happenings; a troop of the 4th Dragoons was marching from Llandovery to Lampeter, and another troop of the same regiment from Llandeilo to Llandovery, whilst the Carmarthenshire adjourned Quarter Sessions was held in the Guild Hall, Carmarthen, at which he proposed that Captain Richard Andrew Scott be appointed Chief Constable of the rural police of the county of Carmarthen, which was, as he writes 'unanimously agreed to.' On the following morning, a company of the 75th Regiment marched into Carmarthen from Llanelly."


"Carmarthen, 10 August, 1843.

My Dear Sir,

I have received your letters sent me respecting the rural Police. I do not expect we shall require to engange their services, but I will let him know if we do. I have been so fully occupied I have not yet had time to write about Dr. Cowell's gazette, but I have just this moment written to Captain Davis, the Adjutant of the Regiment to know why the delay has occurred, the Queen's approval is dated 15 June, and the Commission has, I believe been a long time since returned to Capt. Davis. I believe it is the duty of the Clerk of the Peace to have the names inserted to the Gazette, but I will write to you again soon.

We appointed Capt. Scott to-day as the Chief Constable, unanimously.
I am sorry to say I see no sort of improvement anywhere.

Yours ever truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor."

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 62] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[5] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 22 August 1843
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"The gathering [mentioned in this letter] was held on the summit of Mynydd Selen, a mountain in the parish of Llanelli, on 25 August. Upwards of 3,000 people attended the meeting and William Chambers, junior, was elected chairman."


"Carmarthen, 22 Augt., 1843.

My dear Sir,

I will speak to Col. Love as soon as he returns about the payment for the bedding provided at Llanelly for the Troops; he will be here, I think, before the end of the week. I do not know what the Poor Law Commissioners may decide as regards the putting up of Troops in their Union Houses; but it will prove most inconvenient, if not worse, should they order them out. Our Poor Law Commissioner here, Mr. Day, has had a bad accident at Golden Grove; he got a fall and has strained his knee most severly. I think I shall write to the Home Office about their question of lodging Troops in the Unions. Pray let me know what is this meeting I hear about as likely to take place at or near Mynydd Selen on Friday. I am told notices have been put on to the Chapel doors to the people to attend at 10 or 11 that morning. Pray have you any people on whom you can at all depend for information as to the exact spot of meeting, etc., etc., and what passed at any of them that may have been held? I wish to have also, if you please, some idea of what is felt by the magistrates as to allowing the meeting to take place or not. I think if it is to petition, that they must, and it is attended by the Farmers and there are no arms, I would allow it, but I would also have persons there to find out the feelings shewn, and to report their observations for our future guidance. I also think it is a good thing to encourage meetings by day, so that the night meetings may cease. You have saved yourself one difficulty by bailing your prisoners, as I am going to have my prisoners apply for bail before a Judge in Chambers.

Believe me,
Yours truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor."

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 64] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[6] Carmarthen, 13 Sept., 1843.
Description by George Eyre Evans:

About 2 o'clock, on 9 September, a party of men disguised in white dresses, went to Hendy Gate, about half a mile from Pontarddulais. They carried out the furniture from the toll-house, and told the old woman, whose name was Sarah Williams, to go away and not return. She went to the house of John Thomas, a labourer, and called him to assist in extinguishing the fire at the toll-house, which had been ignited by the Rebeccaites. The old woman then re-entered the toll-house. The report of a gun or pistol was soon afterwards heard. The old woman ran back to John Thomas's house, fell down at the threshold, and expired within two minutes. She had received several cautions to collect no more tolls.
......On 11 September an inquest was held before William Bonville, Coroner. Two surgeons, Ben Thomas, Llanelli, and John Kirkhouse Cooke, Llanelli, gave evidence that on the body were marks of shot, some penetrating the nipple of left breast, on in the armpit of the same side, and several shot marks on both arms. Two shots were found in the left lung. In spite of all this evidence the jury found 'that the deceased died from effusion of blood into the chest, occasioned, suffocation, but from what cause is to this jury unknown'".


Carmarthen, 13 Sept., 1843.

My dear Sir,
As I understand Mr. Chambers is absent I must address my letters now to you, and I have to inform you that the Secretary of State will authorise the offer by you of Her Majesty's most gracious pardon to any person concerned in the murder of the woman at Ponthendy gate, who shall give information and evidence so as to convict the offenders, excepting such persons as actually fired the shot which deprived her of life. And also that he will recommend of the payment of a further reward of £200 in addition to that sum offered by Mr. Chambers for the detection of the persons who set her property on fire, excepting always anyone who actually set fire to the premises and stacks, and so that no principal offender shall receive any part of the award in question. He will advise in this case the grant of Her Majesty's most gracious pardon to an accomplice under the same restriction, namely, that it is not to be extended to any one who actually set fire to any of the property consumed.
.....I shall be glad to be accurately informed as to the circumstances attending the threats used to Mr. Chambers if he did not release his prisoner. Can you send me a copy of the verdict?
Bonville [the coroner] is not here.

I am, dear Sir,
Geo. Rice Trevor.

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, pp. 65-6] (Repository ref: MUS 368, CAS)

[7] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], Carmarthen, 17 September, 1843.


Carmarthen,17 September, 1843.

My dear Sir,

I would have written to you last night, but thought as you could do nothing to-day I might delay it. Whenever I have the official letter you say is to be sent to me, I will mention the subject of some rent to be paid by Government to the Poor Law Guardians for the use of the house. I almost doubt what Sir James will say, but I will try my best. If you will take care to exceptions I made as regards the murder at Hendy bridge, namely that no principal offender should have a share of the reward, and that no accomplice who actually fired the shot at the poor woman should derive any benefit from the pardon, you can draw the handbill yourself, and have my name put to it, and the same as to Chambers' fires - No principal offender is to have any part of the award and one who actually in any of the cases set the property on fire. I am rejoiced to hear of any thing like a scism amongst the Rebeccas. I believe with you some of the Farmers would wish now to get out of the scrape they are in. Has any information been sent to Govt[?] about the wounded men? As I am writing quite late, pray let me have a copy of this as a memorandum in a day or two.

Yours very truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor.

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 66] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[George Trevor took matters so seriously that at the height of the disturbances he ordered a detachment of Metropolitan Police into Carmarthenshire from London, a practice which would be repeated almost a 150 years later during the 1984/85 miners strike. In addition large detachments of troops, including militia, infantry and cavalry were brought in the quell the disturbances.]

[8] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 22 September, 1843
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"The London police [mentioned in this letter], was a body of the A Division of the Metropolitan Police under Inspector Tierney. They numbered eighteen at least. They were not many days in the county before they had captured David Davies, 'Dai y Cantwr', about midnight, 29 September, one of 'Rebecca's' ringleaders, who was immediately placed in the custody of the military in Llanelli Workhouse. On the following day, another leader, John Jones, 'Shoni Scuborfawr', was captured at Tumble."


22 September, 1843.

My dear Sir,
The printers will send you 100 bills in Welsh and 100 in English. If you want any more, pray send for them as he will keep the press standing for a day or two.
......As regards your answer to the people of Llanon, I think you cannot hold out any hopes of any interference on your part. I should think it is a good opportunity to endeavour to impress on those people's minds the folly and wickedness of their acts, but to say that the crime these men had committed was of so serious a nature that it was not possible they should be bailed, or that at all events you did not feel justified in your own mind in making such an application.
......I shall hope to hear confirmed the improved account of your neighbourhood Mr Prytherch says he has received from you.
......As you have not mentioned in your letter to me of this day that you are prepared with lodgings for the London police, they must be again delayed, nor shall I send them till I know you are ready to receive them.
......Their duty will be pointed out to them by the Magistrates and yourself. I have sworn them in as Special Constable for the county to-day, and I consider they may be employed, if necessary, in watching gates, or in patrols, or in keeping the peace generally; and you may make use of them, if you should have occasion, to disperse any meeting, or in arrests.
......It will be in you discretion whether they are to carry arms or not, as also whether you support them by Troops, both of which I should recommend in any question of doubt.

Yours very truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor.

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, pp. 67-8] (Repository ref: MUS 368, CAS)

[9] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 25 September 1843


25 September, 1843.

My dear Sir,

My letter sent by messenger will have informed you all my Police are at Pontyberem, and must remain there for the present.
......I have written to-day to Lord Cawdor about the House at Forest. I hope your accounts of Llanelly may be correct. I cannot but hope some day such will be the feeling amongst our people who must sooner or later, get convinced how fruitless their present course must prove in the end.
......If we can put Troops at Forest House nothing will touch the Pontardulais Gate, as it will be Lanon people who attack it - therefore Troops there, Police at Lanon and Pontyberem, at which last place if possible, a detachment should also be stationed, would make all snug I think.
......We hear to-day "Scuborfawr" - a great rascal we sent our Police after, is off into the district of Llanelly; he is the ringleader, they say in Lanon district and a Merthyr Chartist. I wish you could pick him up; there is an assault warrant out against him, and he can be held on another,as I hear, for poaching.

Yours very truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor.

11 p.m. My messenger is just come in from Llanelly, and I find Capt. Fane, to whom the letter was addressed which was sent, and in which mine was enclosed, was away, but that the Magistrates had sent after him: pray let me know on what acount?"

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 68] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[10] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?Richard Janion], 4 October 1843

This letter was probably addressed to Richard Janion Nevill who lived at Llangennech.


4 October, 1843,

My dear Sir,
I have been too much occupied Monday and yesterday from writing to you as I should have done, so soon as I thought you were returned to Llangennech. I do not see any means whatever of bringing your Magistrates to Llanelly from any other part of the County, but yet some means must be found, if you can devise them, for a Magistrate to go to Pontyberem if his presence there should be requisite.
I hope we shall be able to put some Troops there, but it cannot, I fear, be just yet; in the meantime I should have the Police there.
We will go and see the buildings.
We were yesterday at Forest, it is a perfect ruin and useless entirely, which I am sorry for.
...... I wish you would kindly ascertain the amount of accomodation there is at Pontardulais either for the Cavalry or Infantry, or for Police. Would the people of the public-house we were in with you be able to give it up for our use in that way? For the Infantry must be together in one house or in two adjoining ones, and not less in number than from 30 to 40.
Will you see Stevens the Policeman we have at Llanelly, but who was sent privately, with a comrade - Francis Chambers' man knows where he is - and tell him to come here with the other man as they are found out. The man has written to tell me so.
I am glad to know the gate at Tir-fran has been put up again by some of the farmers.
We are getting plenty of information against "Scuborfawr"; anything against "Dai" will be use.

Yours very truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor."

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 68] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[11] A circular letter sent by Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to William Chambers, 21 October 1843

Description by George Eyre Evans:

"On 11th October, about fifty of the A division of London police, under Inspector Martin, had arrived at Carmarthen, and also several Companies of the 76th Regiment. On 12th October a most wanton act of incendiarism was committed on the farm of Penllwynys, near Llanddarog, occupied by a Mr Thomas. A large quantity of corn was fired, and had not the inhabitants of the neighbourhood exerted themselves in extinguishing the fire, the whole of the premises would have been consumed. That same night an attack was made on the house of Mr R. P. Beynon, St. Clears, one of the magistrates of the county..On Sunday, 15th October, twenty-one London Police arrived in Camarthen, and were divided into sections among the Military throughout the county. On the 16th October four of the Metropolitan Police, led by Jones, a Llandovery police officer, arrested a leader of the Rebeccaites, named John Jones, a farmer living at Danygarn, near Llangadoch. On the 19th October, two days before this circular letter was sent round to the Magistrates, the haggard of Mr. Henry Thomas, of the White Lion Inn, in the village of Llanddarog, was wantonly fired by the Rebeccaites."


21 October, 1843.


I request you assemble the Gentlemen who act as Magistrates in the Petty Sessions over which you preside, with as little delay as possible, and to inform them that Police Constables and Military are now distributed over the County, so as to give them every facility towards restoring peace and order.
.....I wish you to inform the Magistrates of your district that the Police stationed in it are placed at their disposal, and have orders to obtain every information in their power as to what may be going on in it; and that if they are in want of any assistance from a Magistrate they are to apply at the Cross Hands, Pontardulais, Lanon, and Gellywednen, to Mr. Nevill at Pontyberem, to yourself or some one at Llanlley, and Llanelly the same, and at Kidwelly and Trimsaran, Mr. Hugh Rees.
.....The troops are placed in their present position to afford assistance and support to the civil power, and whenever it becomes necessary to call on them to act they must be attended by a Magistrate, excepting when the Constables are placed in a situation of danger in the excution of their duty, which on such an emergency occuring or on any attack being made upon them, the Military will afford them the aid without waiting for the order or presence of a Magistrate.
.....These means of restoring peace and preventing outrage having been placed at the disposal of the Magistrates, I venture to express a confident hope that by their zeal and personal exertions on all necessary occasions they will controul and put down the spirit of insubordination and resistance to the Law which have so long prevailed in the County.
.....I have received the express order of the Secretary of State to impress as strongly as I am able upon the minds of the Magistracy of the County the necessity of their using every means in their power towards the attainment of that and

I am, Sir, yours obediently,
Geo. Rice Trevor,

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, pp. 70-71] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[12] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to William Chambers, 26 October 1843


26 October, 1843.

Dear Sir,
Having received directions from the Secretary of State for the Home Department to cause Special Constables to be sworn in throughout the County, with as little delay as possible, I have to request that you, as Chairman of the Llanelly Bench of Magistrates, will take steps to carry that direction into effect as soon as you are able.
...... I hope this object may now be more easily attained than heretofore because the presence of so large a body of Polica and Military stationed in different parts of the County ought to give confidence to the well-disposed and encourage them to come forward and take that office upon them.
...... I should propose, therefore, that the necessary notice should be given to those liable to serve in the Llanelly Petty Sessional District, to attend for that purpse on an early day; but I think it will be best to take some means to summon only a part of them at one time, and those about Pontyberem and thereabouts should be in the first instance, called upon.
...... I will attend the Petty Sessions if you will let me know the day, and my view would be to get the farmers amongst themselves to choose out a small number for that duty for a time, with the understanding that others should take it up a week about, or after a fortnight or a month, if that was thought better, and to shew them that by this means they will be likely the more readily to get rid expence of the London Police.
...... I am positively directed such a refuse to be sworn or neglect to serve, having been [gone], and to enforce the fines an extremity, I hope the good sense of all the parties interested, will spare me the necessity of resorting to.

I am, Sir, Your obedient servant,
Geo. Rice Trevor,

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 71] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[13] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to R. J. Nevill, 28 October 1843
[The building of Barracks in Carmarthen.]


28 October, 1843
My dear Sir,

The contract for building the Barracks at Carmarthen is now about to be drawn, and the work will be immediately commenced. I have therefore to request that your subscription be paid into the hands of Messrs. Morris or the Messrs. Wilkins with the least possible delay.

I am, my dear Sir,
Your most obedient Servant
Geo. Rice-Trevor,

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 72] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[14] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to a Llanelli magistrate [?], 3 November 1843
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"'Mr. Rees': possibly Walter Rees who had been maliciously fired at by "Shoni Scuborfawr," at Pontyberem, on 25 August. Sir James Graham was the Home Secretary"


"My dear Sir,

I saw Mr. Rees yesterday, and had some conversation with him respecting the appointing of Special Constables. The fact is that in July last there was found great difficulty in getting people to be sworn in, and to serve in that Capacity. I therefore asked Sir James Graham's advice as to the expediency of fining those who refused. He then thought it better not to do so, but since that time he has altered his opinion, and on the 25th September he wrote to me to say so, and he desired that until the County Police have been efficiently organised, the Special Constables should be sworn in, particularly in those districts where the most serious outrages have been committed.
...... I have delayed until now acting on these instructions in order to get all our different parties out, which has now been effected, in order that the presence of the Military and London Police might produce a feeling of confidence.
...... I told Mr. Rees I wished a selection should be made from the whole of those liable to serve in your district, excepting those exempt. I would chuse the most responsible parties to the amount from your district of 30; such a number would, I think, be sufficient, and the organisation adopted would be as follows:-
...... To name 40 to serve at each post, of which you have seven in your district, viz., Cross Hands, Llannon, Gellywernen, Pontardulais, Llanelly, Trimsaran, and Pontyberem; this would require leaving 20 for the present unemployed, and I would divide those 40 into four bodies, A B C D. A should take the first week after the appointments are made; B the next, and so on, taking their chance of being called on to go out with the Police to patrol the roads, and the whole to be liable to come out on the orders of the Magistrates. If you think it is better to have a larger body, then you can do so, and have, if you care, a larger body to serve weekly at Pontyberem, if it is thought advisable, and fewer at other places, but so that no one serves more than a week at a time, or you can, if you like, make those wh are to serve patrol regularly for the week during the night; or you may make the change daily [gone] on every day at each part or vary the plan if you see fit; but this is the ground work I propose for your adoption, and that of the Magistrates.
...... Pray send me a copy of my letter to Mr Chambers, as I have mislaid my own. Pray let me know as soon as you can the day on which your meeting is to be held for the swearing in of the parties, and I will attend it.
...... The Circulars I sent to Llanelly will answer your query respecting the Commissioners, their wish is to know how many there are to be examined, and where they live, so as to arrange accordingly, and where they themselves are to go to, and the time to be occupied in each place.
...... I beg that this may be considered as confidential between the Magisrates of Llanelly and myself, and it is meant to be read or shewn to them alone.

Believe me, truly yours,
Geo. Rice Trevor."

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, pp. 72-73] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[15] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 23 November 1843


"Dynevor Castle,
23 Nov., 1843.

Dear Sir,
I have been told there is general laxity as regards to shutting up of public-houses and beer shops. Will you therefore have the goodness to consult with your brethren of the Llanelly bench so as to have that evil remedied so far as you are able.
...... I am going for a fortnight to-morrow to Bedfordshire, if therefore you are in any difficulty, or want assistance, pray report to Colonel Love, who goes back to Carmarthenshire to-morrow.

Yours very truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 73] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[16] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 14 January 1844


14 January, 1844.

My dear Sir,

I am sorry I cannot accept your invitation to Langenech as I go tomorrow to Saunders-Davies and Goring Thomas's and return on Tuesday, after which I go to Dynevor Castle till after the adjourned Quarter Sessions on the 24th, and on the 26th to London.
......I am sorry you do not get on with the Ponthenry case.
..... It is well known there is £500 reward under Queen's Proclomation for the conviction of any one of the offenders and a pardon for any accomplice not being the person who actually set fire to the premises, who shall give such information and evidence shall lead to the same result.
..... Pray have you got any forwarder with the Ponthenry case?

Yours very truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor."

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 74] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[17] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 19th February 1844

Colonel George Rice Trevor writes to William Chambers enclosing a list of the persons whom he considers are entitled to a reward in return for their assistance in convicting those involved in the Rebecca riots.


Memorandum, 19th Feb 1844
The persons who appear to me to be those who will be entitled in each case, & participate in the rewards offered, both on the part of the Government under the Queens Proclamation, and by myself under their authority, are all such who gave to the authorities any information in secret, or openly, by which they were enabled to take steps for arresting such of the parties as were convicted or pleaded guilty at the late Assizes & whose names are in a list annexed. All Prosecutors & such witnesses whose testimony was either given in Court or would have been tendered there had not the parties accused pleaded guilty, and any persons ...
(Repository ref: NLW MS 22699E, NLW)

[18] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 29th April 1844

[A list of the rewards to be paid to individuals who provided evidence which enabled the authorities to convict prisoners for crimes relating to the Rebecca riots (This list is 14 pages long.) The rewards offered were as much as £500 for a conviction at a time when wages for the demonstrators were just a few shillings a week so the incentive to turn someone in was great indeed. According to Bank of England figures, the pound in 1843 had a present day purchasing value of £52.40, so £500 represents £26,200 at 2003 prices.] (Repository ref: NLW MS 22699E, NLW)

[19] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 13 July 1844


13 July, 1844.

My dear Sir,
I have received your letter and the suggestions you have made with respect to he new Road Bill for S. Wales and will communicate them to Mr. Saunders Davies.
..... There is one amongst them, however, I think, we are not likely to adopt namely in respect to the election of the district Boards, as I cannot think it advisable to revert to the principle of a popular election in that matter.
..... The ratepayers are no wise interested excepting as Toll-payers, and they are prohibited by the power of the County board being restricted to the imposition of a maximum, as shewn in the Schedule, at the end of the Bill, and which if exercised even to its fullest extent is but a reasonable amount of Toll.
..... I think, and have before thought, it a good suggestion that the County Bridges should be brought under the same management, and will see what can be done in that respect. I hope we shall meet on Monday.

Believe me, very truly yours,
Geo. Rice Trevor.

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, p. 76] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

[20] Letter from Colonel Trevor (Lord Dynevor) to [?William Chambers], 19 July 1844
Description by George Eyre Evans:

"A Rebecca leader." [mentioned in this letter] was David Evans, who at the Summer Assizes, opened before Sir Robert Monsy Rolfe, at Carmarthen on 13 July, 1844, was tried for being concerned in pulling down and destroying Llanfihangel-ar-Arth Gate on 16 July, and found "guilty of being in the company, but not guilty of demolishing." On Wednesday, 17 July, he was again tried for destroying Gwarallt Gate. The jury, having been locked up all night not agreeing, the Judge ordered the prisoner to be discharged, but told him that he might be called again at the next or any Assizes to be tried for the same offence before another jury."


"Hyde Park Gardens,
19 July, 1844.
My dear Sir,

The account is correct you send me as to 10s. being due for the conveyance of the Troop carriage from Swansea to Llanelly. Will you be kind enough to pay the money and remind me to pay it you again.
..... I am sorry to have missed seeing you at Carmarthen, though we had but little business. I am sorry to say our Petty Jury disgraced themselves most terribly in acquitting a Rebecca leader, in spite of his own acknowledgment of having been present at the time a Toll-house was destroyed, on which occasion two witnesses swore he was actively engaged. He said "I did no more that the others" who, however, pulled the house down amongst them.

Yours truly,
Geo. Rice Trevor."

[Source: George Eyre Evans, 'Rebecca Riots: Unpublished letters, 1843-44', The Transcations of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, vol. XXIII, pp. 76-77] (Repository ref: MUS 368)

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