The Bro Beca Project

Have you heard any local stories about the Rebecca Riots?

Do you know the location of the nineteenth century tollgates in your area?

What were conditions like for ordinary people in your area in the 1840’s?

Would you like to join others in your community to find out more about the causes and consequences of the revolt against the establishment that became known as the Rebecca Riots?

The aim of this community based project is to build on the historic and living culture of ‘Rebecca’, which unites communities of Pembrokeshire.

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Plaque to commemorate the destruction of the first toll gate on May 13th 1839 in Efailwen.

Inscription reads:

GYFERBYN AR GARREG
HON AY Y 13EG O FAI
1839 Y DINISTRIWYD
TOLLBORTH AR Y FORDD
DYRPEG AM Y TRO
CYNTAF A THRWY
HYNNY DECHREUWYD
RHYDDHAU FFYRDD
Y WLAD

OPPOSITE THIS STONE
ON THE 13TH MAY
1839 THE TOLLGATE
ON THE TURNPIKE ROAD
WAS DESTROYED FOR
THE FIRST TIME AND
THUS STARTED THE
FREEING OF THE ROADS OF
THE LAND

Communities

The Bro Beca Project aims to work with communities in Pembrokeshire to identify their Rebecca heritage. The project aims to encourage communities to research Rebecca activity in their areas to uncover what life was like in the area at the time of the riots, what drove these usually law abiding men to such aggression and the outcome of their actions. The project is also interested in the turnpike roads themselves and we would like to find out about any remaining milestones or other physical features such as remains of toll houses along those routes.

Historical Research

Your Community’s Beca History

- Were there turnpike roads in your area?
- Is there any evidence of turnpike roads such as milestones?
- Where were the tollhouses/tollgates located along the turnpike roads?
- Is there any documented information about riots at those gates in books or archives?
- Have you ever heard any local tales about the Rebecca Riots?
- Were there any incidents of Rebecca activity at places other than tollgates in the area?
- Is anything known about the local people involved in the revolt?
- What was life like for ordinary people in the area at the time?
- Who lived in the area at the time, what did they do for a living?
- Where were the nearest limekilns these were an important element in the history?
- Are there any physical remains of tollhouses or tollgates in your community?
- Does anyone in the community have any documents from the time period
- e.g. letters, diaries or newspapers which could provide information?
- Does anyone in the community have any artefacts from the time period
- e.g. clothes.

How to begin researching

- Make notes, take photographs, use a camcorder or Dictaphone.
- Ask questions, some families may have lived in the area for generations.
- Look at tithe maps, check census details.
- Look around graveyards.
- Look at the buildings in the area, make note of any dates on the buildings.
- Note how the area has changed over the years.
- Look at previous use of buildings.

Effects of Rebecca Riots

The land of Great Britain was not always as peaceful as we can see it today; in fact, countless riots have disrupted the state of relative stable agreement amongst people. Landlords and masters would more often than not behave as cruel dictators towards their subjects thus tension was being accumulated. Unbearable taxes and tolls that common people had to pay monthly were the main cause for most actions held against higher authorities. The Rebecca Riots are no exception to this case; what happened between 1838 and 1843 was a troubled period for Welshmen – the people just had enough of this.

The protests and how they came to be

What lead to these riots was in the first place the awful poverty that population sank in – the entire country was affected by starvation as a result of atrocious weather and poor harvests. Farmers were forced to buy corn and wheat at an awfully large price in order to have anything to eat at all and at the same time suffered a reduction of their income. Ultimately, the government was chosen as a scapegoat for the unfortunate situation - more precisely, the decision undertaken by Robert Peel which included tax rising was the one that ignited the rebellion. The Rebecca movement took shape in the late 1830’s and gained its name after a verse in the Bible (Genesis 24:60 more exactly) which was shouted in the time of uprising.

The verse was not chosen at random - in it resides a sense of strong lasting connection between people, which is the same solidarity that united the Rebecca rebels. Men dressed as women from Live Sex Chat on http://www.camplace.com used to go out at night and attack the tollgates. Some other times, Rebecca would take the role of an old bling woman who would say in front of a tollgate: “My children, something is in my way”, after which people would tear down the place. Even if authorities replaced the gates, after a Live Sex Chat the rioters would come back and tear them down once again.

The peak of the conflicts was hit in 1843 as major tollgates were being ripped off - Carmarthen, Llanelli, Pontardulais, and Llangyfelach – and a victim fell down as a result of the attacks – Sarah Williams a tollhouse keeper was killed. Because the violence was getting out of control, the following year these incidents were resolved by increasing the number of troops in the affected areas. The aftermath of these unfortunate events did not necessarily include a swift chance in the farmers’ lives, but there were some rent reductions.

These kinds of actions stay strong in history and collective memory as a testimony for the power of people over authorities. Taxes over food, land, Live Sex Chat, and other goods are kept under a certain level due to the common people’s attitude and lead. There is a saying which states that government should be afraid of its subjects and by no means the other way round.