Rebecca in Pontyberem Carmarthenshire

9th March 2005, 27th April 2005 & 8th June 2005

Community members in Narberth were interested in uncovering further information about the poor law in particular which was the cause of a number of riots by Rebecca. The people of Narberth had strongly rejected the establishment of the workhouse in the town and had attacked the workhouse even before construction was finished. The amended Poor Law stigmatised the poor and the sick and was particularly harsh on unmarried mothers and orphans. Workhouses were established and able bodied people were no longer allowed to receive help from the parish in their own homes. Conditions in the workhouses were deliberately harsh in order to dissuade people from entering them. Families who entered the workhouse were separated. Husband and wife were forced to live apart. Under the old system the parish would have supported those families who were going through bad times. They were then able to get back on their feet when work was available. The new system meant that families going through difficult times had to enter the workhouse. They would lose their home if they did not keep paying their rent. It was then more difficult for them to establish themselves again once they left the workhouse.

16th March 2005 & 4th May 2005

The meetings in Fishguard looked at the fact that the Fishguard Trust had been the most notorious of all the turnpike trusts. The mismanagement and corruption was clearly documented during the ‘Commission of Enquiry’ (copy available in Carmarthen Library). The roads were the worst in the county not a single penny from the toll gates had gone to repair the roads a duty which was still firmly with the Parish. Corruption was rife. One road heading from Fishguard to Cardigan was deliberately taken over a steep hill rather than along the flat ground which would have been easier and cheaper to maintain in the long run. The reason for this was because one of the Trusties wanted the road to go through his land for his own benefit. It was also difficult for the clerk of the trust to handle the finances as no proper records could be found.