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Tithe riots in Penbryn

Source: Cardigan Observer 23/03/1889       Date: 1889
Copyright:       Type: Newspaper

OPENING OF THE TITHE CAMPAIGN IN SOUTH CARDIGANSHIRE. DESPERATE FIGHTS. MEN AND WOMEN BATTONED. POLICEMEN INJURED. The opening of the tithe campaign was signalised in this neighbourhood by the arrival in Cardigan, on Monday evening, of a posse of police from Carmarthenshire, and members of the Cardiganshire police, the whole under the command of Chief Constable Bassett Lewis and Supts. Williams (Cardiganshire) and Phillips (Carmarthenshire)- the force in all numbering 47 men. A good deal of excitement prevailed on the arrival of the train, and the police had anything but an enthusiastic reception. It has been alleged that stones were thrown at them on their alighting, but there is little support for this statement, and the stone throwing is believed to be imaginary. The same evenng the Carmarthenshire police were mustered at the Shire-hall, and sworn in before Messrs. D. G. Davies and Savile Miles. At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the whole force embarked- with Mr. Stevens and the bailiffs- in several brakes, and proceed to distrain in the parish of Penbryn. The first few farms were distrained on without incident; but a policeman having battoned a person who was beating a tin-pot, the indignation of the crowd was excited, and some sanginary fights afterwards occurred. The police are asserted to have remorselessly battoned inoffensive men and women, and to have shown great ferocity during the day, especially after the visit to Brynhoffnant Inn. Almost every one of the policemen who participated in Tuesday's proceedings was more or less injured. Police-constable Morgan, of the Carmarthenshire force, stationed at CothyBridge, was seriously wounded in the head. Though still very weak from loss of blood, he was on Wednesday morning in a fit state to be removed home. The following statement of facts by an eye-witness, relative to the operations at Penbryn will be read with interest:- After leaving Cardigan, the police stopped at Gogerddan Arms for some minutes on the way to the scene, and then proceeded to Blaensaithisaf, where distraints were levied on hay and corn. Here everything was quiet. From thence the emissaries of the law went on to Wauntrefalau, where there were not many people, but they were increasing in number. Pwmtanmawr and Esgereithin were next reached. At the latter place the constables found a person beating a tin pot, and for so doing he was clubbed by the police. Up to this time not a stone had been thrown, and there was no attempt at rioting. The company then proceeded to Pantygenau and Penddol. At Cwmrhaffe the bell was rung, and several people were clubbed by the police without any provocation whatever. From thence to Trevaughan, where no one was at home, and the house was securely locked up. At Treddafydd the farmyard was barricaded, and there was a bonfire in the gateway. A few stones were thrown, whereupon a rush was made into the farmyard and hay-yard, the police clubbing men and women promiscuously, and blood flowing in streams. At this place two persons went to Major Bassett Lewis (chief constable) and asked him to read the Riot Act, as he was allowing his men to club the public unmercifully. He replied that he had read the Riot Act. They then asked him what authority he had, and for what cause he had read the Riot Act, and also where were the magistrates, but he refused to give them any satisfaction. The two men-Mr. George Williams, Bryneurin, and Mr. Jones, schoolmaster, Penmorfa-offered to give a guarantee, if Major Lewis would remove the police from the locality, that the levies would be allowed to go on peacefully. This he said he would agree to, but when asked to sign an agreement to that effect, he refused. Mr. Hughes, Cefngranod, also appealed to the chief constable to take the police away, but with no effect. The police and bailiffs then proceeded to Cefngranod, where Mr. Hughes made a settlement for two years' tithes. At Maesglas the tenant also settled. The procession went to Ffynonfadog, Morfa-uchaf, and Pen'rallt. At the two former places they distrained, and at the latter place they found no one at home. They then proceeded on to Pantlleonen and Bryneurin, but finding that the last-named place was not on the tithe map, they found they could do nothing- although the usual notice had been sent. They distrained at Pwllglas, and then at Sarnau Park, where they found the farmyard barricaded, but lifted the gate off the hinges and threw it on one side. As for the crowd, which was here rapidly increasing, it was now evident that its blood was up. From Sarnau Park the police and bailiffs went to Brynhoffnant Inn, where they remained for some time lunching and refreshing themselves. From there they made an attempt to reach Blaendyffryn. Some stones were thrown, and then there was a pitched battle. At this place several staffs were broken by the police in their furious onslaught on the people. Many persons were seriously wounded, and blood was flowing in all directions. Much is being said by the police about pitchforks being used by the people against them at Treddafydd, but this is not true. Two pitchforks certainly were used by women at that place, but it was solely for the purpose of throwing wet straw on the bonfire with a view of creating a smoke. At Blaendyffryn the public held their ground, and the police were eventually forced to retreat, and were marched back to Cardigan. WEDNESDAY. Twenty more distraints for tithes were levied in Cardiganshire on Wednesday, but all passed off quietly, and the tithes at two additional places were paid during the day. Almost the whole of the distraints were levied in the parish of Brongwyn. Instead of resuming operations in Penbryn parish, where they had such a terrible reception on Tuesday, the bailiffs, with their large escort of police, proceeded unexpectedly to Brongwyn, which is about four miles distant from Newcastle-Emlyn. Crowds had congregated at Penbryn in anticipation of the renewal of the campaign there, and the commence- ment of operations in Brongwyn was not looked for. In consequence of the rebuff received by the police at Penbryn on Tuesday, a reinforcement was telegraphed for, and a strong force of Glamorganshire police arrived in town by the last train on Wednesday. This brought the total force at the command of the Chief Constable up to 71, exclusive of officers. THURSDAY. Early on Thursday morning the police and bailiffs proceeded to Penbryn to complete the distraints interrupted on Tuesday. A somewhat suggestive incident was the serving out of new batons to several of the police before starting from Cardigan. The party occupied eleven brakes, some of which had been requisitioned from neighbouring towns. A number of distraints were made in the parish of Penbryn, but no opposition was met with, and the police and bailiffs returned to town about 6 p.m. FRIDAY. This morning the emergency detachment again proceeded to Penbryn to complete the distraints, but no opposition is anticipated, as the farmers consider that a sufficiently vigorous protest had been made for the present.
Linked to
Brynhoffnant Inn , Brynhoffnant
Gogerddan Arms , Tan-y-Groes, , Tan-y-Groes

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