A Glamorgan Family History
|Elizabeth (Howell) Morgan
Elizabeth Howell was the 4th surviving daughter of Rev. Roger Howell and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth (nee Price). According to the family Bible, she was born on 26th April 1814, probably at Nantmoel Uchaf farm, Rhyndwyclydach, where her family had lived since at least the late 17th century. The Bible (which apparently belonged to her great grandfather, Howel Roger) also records that she was "baptised and registered" on 9th May, by Rev. Thomas Edward of Neath. As the daughter of a minister (and local teacher), and a member of a well established family, Elizabeth was raised in the heart of her isolated, local community, in a household known for it's charity and hospitality. Like her sisters, she is likely to have received at least a basic education and would have played her part in supporting her parents in their community role.
Also like her sisters, Elizabeth was married in her late teens, on 4th January 1834, at Llangyfelach parish church to a local farmer, Mathew Morgan. Mathew was the son of freeholder, Morgan Morgan and his wife, Esther of Cwmcille (Cwmkile) fach farm near Felindre in the Mawr parcel (west of Rhyndwyclydach) of Llangyfelach. Elizabeth and Mathew were apparently both able to sign their names on the marriage entry in the parish register and their witnesses were their respective brothers, John Howell, Nantmole (sic) Uchaf and Hendry (sic) Morgan, Cwmcillau fach.
The census of 1841 shows Mathew and Elizabeth living at Tymawr farm, not far from his parents home at Cwmcille, with their 2 children, John (age 4) and Esther (age 2). They were renting Tymawr from local landowner and magistrate, John Dillwyn Llewelyn. The household is completed by a female servant, Hannah Lewis.
This census took place at a time of considerable unrest in Britain. The nation in general was still adjusting to the social, political and financial upheavals of the Industrial Revolution and events such as the Napoleonic War. All sectors of society faced their problems, but farmers like Mathew were suffering in particular from the effects of a series of bad harvests, coupled with poor returns on their produce at market. With an influx of population to the Welsh valleys, they also had to contend with rising rents at the hands of landlords cashing in on the competition for smallholdings. In the face of steadily increasing poverty, great injustice was felt at the obligations to pay tithes to an unrepresentative church and tolls to the new Turnpike trusts - who often failed in their duty to improve the state of roads. With the 1834 reforms of the Poor Law leaving people in dread of the degradations of the Workhouse, the stage was set for rising fears and frustrations to be vented. In South Wales, one response was the intermittant appearances, during the period 1839 to 1844, of the "Daughters of Rebecca" who organised themselves - sometimes disguised as women - to attack structures like the tollgates and workhouses that symbolised their troubles.
In July 1843, 2 such attacks were carried out by groups of up to 200 men on the Bolgoed tollgate near the Fountain Inn, Pontarddulais and the Rhydypandy gate at Llangyfelach. The latter gate was not far from Mathew and Elizabeth's home in Felindre. Responding to the attacks, a small band of county policemen led by Captain Charles Napier, the first Chief Constable of Glamorgan, arrived in Pontardulais to carry out enquiries that might expose the ringleaders. In the event, the constables were voluntarily assisted in their task by a local man, John Jones of Cwmscer, Llangyfelach. Acting on his information, warrents were issued by the Penllegaer magistrates, John Dillwyn Llewelyn and T. Edward Thomas for the arrests of 6 local men, later described by the Cambrian newspaper as:
"...several parties of the highest respectibility"
These men were: Daniel Lewis, a weaver (and writer, known as Petrys Bach) of Gopa; Griffith Vaughan, postman and landlord of the Red Lion hotel, Pontardulais; farmers, William Morgan and David Jones of Llangyfelach and brothers, Henry and Mathew Morgan of Felindre. In the early hours of Sunday 24th July, the constables set about apprehending their suspects and at 9 a.m., Elizabeth's husband, Mathew was arrested near their home at Tymawr.
In a report later presented to the Petty Sessions, Captain Napier described how, after arresting and handcuffing Mathew, he left him in the custody of 2 constables on the main road. He and an Inspector Rees then made their way to Cwmcille (approximately 300 yards away) to apprehend his brother, Henry. At Cwmcille, after an initial discussion in both English and Welsh, they met great resistance from the Morgan family who refused to surrender Henry to the constables. The members of the family present in the house that day were parents, Morgan and Esther, their daughter, Margaret and sons, Henry, Rees and John. The family's actions were apparently motivated by the mistaken impression that it was illegal to arrest an individual on the Sabbath. Consequently, a physical struggle ensued which spilled out of the house and eventually ended with John Morgan being shot in the groin by Captain Napier - who himself sustained several injuries at the hands of the family. In the melee, Henry escaped and the policemen had to content themselves with taking only Mathew and the injured, John into custody in Swansea. Later that afternoon, a party of constables and soldiers returned to Cwmcille and arrested Esther, Margaret and Rhys. Head of the family, Morgan was arrested when he went to Swansea to enquire about his sons Mathew and John. Henry remained at large.
|Petty Sessions, Monday, 25th July 1843, Swansea:
On the following day (Monday 25th July), a private meeting of 17 local magistrates was held in the Petty Sessions of the Town hall in Swansea. This was according to the Cambrian newspaper:
"...the fullest meeting that had taken place for some time."
The press and legal representatives of the 6 defendants were not permitted to attend this meeting despite their protestations and formal written applications. It later transpired that the members of the Morgan family who were in custody had been examined, without benefit of representation, during this meeting, but that their evidence had not been formally recorded and would not be used against them. Again, the Cambrian newspaper sets the scene as to the effect of these events:
"During the whole of Monday the town was in the greatest state of excitement, being filled
with a number of respectable country people, farmers and others whose countenances
betrayed the inward anxiety entertained to know the result of these proceedings."
|Petty Sessions, Tuesday, 26th July:
On Tuesday morning the 17 magistrates commenced a public sitting soon after 9 a.m. with the entire Morgan family apart from John (who was in the infirmary) and Henry (who was still at large) in the dock. They were represented by Mr. William Walters who registered his objections to the management of the previous day's events and succeeded in persuading the magistrates to discard any information that had been obtained and to proceed "de novo" (afresh).
At this sitting, the events that had taken place in the Morgan household on the previous Sunday were described at length by Captain Napier and Inspector Rees who were then cross examined by Mr. Walters. Evidence was also given by the doctor who treated both Captain Napier and John Morgan and by a Sargeant Jenkins who had been guarding Mathew on the road but had gone to assist at Cwmcille on hearing the sounds of gunshots. Sargeant Jenkins also claimed to have been attacked by the Morgan family. Mr. Walters offered no defence on the grounds that the assault had clearly taken place, but that mitigating circumstances should be taken into consideration in determining the severity of the charges against the family. He then made an application for bail which was accepted, although the magistrates required that the family be further remanded overnight. By this time Henry Morgan had surrendered himself on the advice of Mr. Walters and was also present for the latter part of the sitting.
|Petty Sessions, Wednesday, 27th July:
The next day, in the presence of 14 magistrates, the family had the charges read to them:
"Margaret Morgan, the daughter, was charged with having feloniously and maliciously
assaulted and wounded Captain Charles Frederick Napier, with the intention of
preventing Henry Morgan from being lawfully apprehended.
Morgan Morgan and Esther Morgan (the father and mother) and Rees Morgan were
charged with aiding and abetting Margaret Morgan in the commission of the felony."
The nature of the charge was explained to them in Welsh and on the advice of Mr. Walters, the family declined to make any statements. They were then committed to trial at the next Assizes.
Morgan and Esther were bailed for the sum of £200 each and 2 sureties of £100 each were arranged to be produced by Messers. Isaac Jones and Robert Williams at the assizes. Rees and Margaret were also bailed for the sums of £200 each, with sureties of £100 each from Rev. Daniel Davies of Swansea and Mr. William Thomas of Llangyfelach. The magistrates also agreed to the application for bail, until their own appearence on 3rd August, of the 6 men presently in custody for the destruction of the Bolgoed and Rhydypandy tollgates. They were all bound for the sums of £100 each and "2 responsible sureties" of £50 each. Messers Thomas Glasbrook and Joseph Rees provided the sureties for both Henry and Mathew Morgan. After an initial reluctance to allow bail for John Morgan, the magistrates agreed to visit him in the infirmary of the House of Correction. Although John stated in Welsh to the magistrates that he did not attack Captain Napier but had run towards him to prevent him from shooting at him again, Mr. Walters did not translate his statement and advised him to say nothing more. John was then bound for the sum of £200 and sureties of £100 each were arranged from Messers. Jacob Lewis and David Bevan.