Cyfrol sy'n adrodd hanes Terfysg Beca yng Nghymru yn ystod yr 1830au a'r 1840au. Argraffiad newydd. Cyhoeddwyd gyntaf yn 1992; ISBN 9780708309339 (070830933X).
The Rebecca Riots in west Wales began in the summer of 1839. They ceased as suddenly as they had started, and for three and a half years the countryside was undisturbed. Then, in the winter of 1842, they broke out again with greater violence. By day the countryside seemed quiet, but at night, many dressed as women. New edition.
The Rebecca Riots are one of the significant landmarks in Welsh history. The vision of men with blackened faces and dressed as women riding through the night to destroy unjust toll-gates has certainly captured our imagination, and the events of the turbulent years of 1839-1843 have entered the realms of folklore. Fiction writers Amy Dillwyn, Alexander Cordell, Iris Gower and more recently Vivien Anne Bailey have popularised the uprising in their historical novels. Pat Molloy provided a policeman's perspective on the events in his And They Blessed Rebecca in 1990,
and in 1948 Dylan Thomas wrote the screenplay for Rebecca's Daughters, which was eventually filmed starring Peter O'Toole in 1992. The radical spirit of the period has also been captured by Welsh folk-singer Tecwyn Ifan in his evocative rendering of 'Ysbryd Rebeca'.
The late Professor David Williams, 'the doyen of Welsh history scholars', first published his The Rebecca Riots in 1955 and this classic textbook remains the standard scholarly work on the subject. This new paperback edition is a welcome addition to our bookshops and libraries.
The book's sub-title, 'a study in agrarian discontent' is in itself significant, and serves to illustrate that what led to the serious civil unrest of the period is attributable to a wide range of factors which
impacted on the dire conditions endured by the Welsh tenant farmers of the period. The sharp growth in population from 1800, which preceded the mass emigration to the industrial areas, placed an enormous strain on the out-dated social, economic and administrative structures of the period. The gentry, with some exceptions, were largely out of touch with their tenants, the legal system was essentially corrupt and grossly unfair, and the established Church had failed to respond to new challenges, leaving a vibrant nonconformist and radical press to fuel the flames of discontent. Because of high dependency on the transportation of lime to improve the potential of poor land, the perceived unfairness of the toll-gates was the last straw for a desperate agrarian class who grasped the opportunity to resurrect the traditional Ceffyl Pren in the new guise of Rebecca before taking direct action against the most visible symbol of oppression, namely the toll-gates. Gradually the movement became more sinister and, with the assistance of the disaffected urban poor (influenced by the Chartists), new targets such as the hated workhouses were attacked by the rioters, most notably in Carmarthen in 1843.
The harsh picture painted by Professor Williams of life in rural west Wales in the 1840s is vivid, and his masterly analysis of the causes, events and effects of the riots is based on a wealth of research in primary and secondary resources, as evidenced by lengthy footnoting. The extent of the role and influence of alleged sympathisers such as Carmarthenshire solicitor Hugh Williams and the Newcastle Emlyn squire Edward Crompton Lloyd Hall remains totally unclear, and serves to add further mystique to the whole episode.
Richard E. Huws
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
The Gentry of West Wales
Local Government and Administration
The Economic Background
The Growth of Opinion
The Roads of West Wales
The Outbreak of Rioting
David Williams died in 1978. He lived and worked in Aberystwyth at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth as well as in Cardiff. He was born in Lan-y-Cefn, Pembrokeshire in 1900. He was the doyen of Welsh historians, publishing numerous classic history books.
The movement has been unusually been represented as the uprising of an oppressed peasantry, particularly against the burden of the toll-gates. Its causes, however, were far more deep-seated than that.
“It is safe to say that Professor Williams’s excellently written and dispassionate account of the riots and their background is likely to remain the final word on the subject.”
Times Literary Supplement