A Glamorgan Family History
|Elizabeth (Howell) Morgan cont.|
|Petty Sessions: 3rd August 1843
One week later, on Wednesday 3rd August, the numbers of people attempting to attend the public sitting of the magistrates in the Town hall were so great that they caused an adjournment to a larger room. The proceedings that day were concerned with the charges against Daniel Lewis, David Jones, William Morgan and Griffith Vaughan and the destruction of the Bolgoed gate on 6th July, but included evidence from the informant, John Jones that was relevant to the charges against Henry and Mathew. Giving his evidence in Welsh, John Jones described himself as a labourer from Cwmsciach (sic), Llangyfelach. He outlined in great detail the events he had claimed to have witnessed on the night the Bolgoed tollgate was destroyed and described separate sightings of all the participants he had reported to the police.
In their responses to Jones' evidence, much was made by the defence counsel of his own role as an apparent accomplice at Bolgoed. There was also the suggestion that his motivation in acting as an informer was driven by the reward of £100. Even so, the magistrates remained of the opinion that being an accomplice did not invalidate his evidence so long as he was a reliable witness. The defence then called several witnesses who knew Jones well and testified that they would not believe his word - even under oath. His own brother, Richard, refused to confirm the alibi he had given for his whereabouts prior to the Bolgoed attack. However, the magistrates' authority to take account of these statements was challenged by the prosecution counsel and they were obliged to commit the defendants for trial at the next assizes.
|Petty Sessions: Thursday, 4th August
The charges against the Morgan brothers regarding the destruction of the Rhydypandy gate on 20th July were examined on the following day. John Jones was sworn in again and the Cambrian newspaper gave this report of his deposition:
"I know Henry and Mathew Morgan, and see them now in court. Henry Morgan resides with his father at Cwmcillau bach and Mathew Morgan resides at Tymawr. Tymawr is 3 or 4 fields distant from Cwmcillau. I know the Rhydypandy turnpike gate in the parish of Llangyfelach. I know the night on which the Rhydypandy gate was broken down - it was on the 20th of July. I saw both Mathew and Henry Morgan on that night; I saw Henry first; that was at half past eleven. I spoke to him. I asked him if he was going to break the gate - and I did not name the gate. It was reported that Rhydypandy gate was going to be broken. On my asking him the question, he (Henry) replied that "he was going to do like the rest." I had my coat turned up on that occasion. I had turned my coat just before I spoke to him. Henry was dressed in a bedgown and he had a kind of cap on his head and a pickaxe in his hand. We went together across 3 or 4 fields and arrived on the high road. I then stood on the road and Henry went to the house of his brother, Mathew. He came out of the house in 3 to 5 minutes accompanied by Mathew. The latter was dressed in a bedgown. He also had a cap on his head and had a hatchet in his hand."
This time, the defence counsel focused on the existence of a feud between the Morgan family and Jones as a test of his credibility. Welsh tradition held that if a house could be built unobserved overnight on common land (Ty Un Nos), it became the freehold property of it's builder. Jones was said to have done this on land belonging to the Duke of Beaufort for which Morgan Morgan and a Mr. Jenkins of Cynghordy had right of pastorage. Morgan and Jenkins had apparently responded by demolishing the house, assisted by Mathew and Henry. John Jones had then been understood to have made threats against the Morgan family - which he denied under cross-examination. He also denied that he had completed a house - insisting he had only dug the foundations before his work was destroyed.
Testimony was also heard from a witness who challenged Jones' assertion that he had been present at the Rhydypandy assembly. This evidence apparently confirmed a statement - attributed to Jones' wife by the Cambrian newspaper on July 29th - that he had been in bed that night and that she had feared for his sanity since he had fallen into debt. As with the other defendents, the day ended with Mathew and Henry being committed for trial. They were granted bail on the previous terms.
|Special Commission, Thursday, 26th October 1843, Cardiff
On Thursday 26th October a Special Commission was convened at Cardiff townhall for the "trial of parties charged with Rebeccaism". After a spate of such incidents, there were now 17 people facing these charges and the government seemed determined to address the issue. Although the charges against Mathew and Henry and the Bolgoed rioters were included in this calendar of this commission, it was decided on the first day not to proceed with them in Cardiff. The case against the Morgan family was however still on the calendar.
2 very "eminent counsel" had been retained to represent the prisoners in the form of Mr. M. D. Hill (formerly M.P. for Hull) and Mr. Montagu Chambers. Even so, the Morgan family's counsel contemplated urging an objection to their trial proceeding on the ground that they had entered into a recognisance to appear at Swansea. They were however all in attendance and ready to appear if required.
Also in attendance were 2 judges, 30 magistrates - including the Marquess of Bute in his role as Lord-lieutenant of the county, the mayors of Cardiff and Swansea, 2 coroners, a grand jury that included 5 M.P.s and a common jury of 12. The Prosecution was to be conducted by the Attorney-General, Sir Frederick Pollock and the Solicitor General, Sir William Follet.
|Special Commission, Monday 30th October 1843:
The Morgan family was not called until Monday 30th October when they faced the original charges, together with one of common assault. The Attorney-General begged to enter a "nolle prosequi" (i.e. we shall not prosecute) with regard to the felony of "preventing the lawful apprehension of one Henry Morgan" as it was felt, after consideration, that some procedural irregularities had occurred. With regards to the charge of common assault he "would not pray for sentence" for Morgan and Esther but felt that the remaining 3 members of the family should receive "some sentence commensurate with the offence." Morgan and Esther were then discharged and the court was reminded by defence counsel, Mr. Hill of the physical injury John Morgan had already suffered. On passing sentence the judge observed:
"You have been convicted on your own confession of having assaulted the constables in the execution of their duty. It is most important that officers should be protected in the execution of their duty and any determination to oppose or assault them constitutes a great offence and it does appear that this assault was of an aggravated description, so much so as to put the life of the officer in peril and had he not, in his own defence, discharged a pistol, his life might have been sacrificed and you should have to answer for the crime of murder and end your life suddenly and ignominously. The Attorney-General does not pray for a heavy sentence but some punishment must be inflicted."
Consequently, Margaret (25) received a sentence of 6 months imprisonment while Rees (23) and John (21) received 12 months. Because of their previous good character there was no request for hard labour.
|Spring Assizes, Saturday, 2nd March 1844, Swansea:
Mathew and Henry's case was re-scheduled to be heard at the Spring Assizes in Swansea. On the 2nd day of the Assizes (Saturday March 2nd), in reply to a question from the judge, the Clerk of Arraigns said:
"It was not intended to send before the Grand Jury the indictments preferred against Griffith Vaughan, William Morgan, David Jones and Daniel Lewis charged with having maliciously thrown down and levelled Bolgoed gate nor that against Mathew Morgan and Henry Morgan charged with having destroyed Rhydypandy gate."
They were apparently all discharged due to the unreliability of John Jones' evidence.
The whole period must have been a time of great upheaval and anxiety for Elizabeth who had been pregnant at the time of the attack and gave birth to a 3rd child, Jonathan Griffith on 2nd February 1844. To make matters worse, her father, Roger had died just months before these events and her mother, Sarah died soon after the trial in 1844. Just a year later, in 1845, Elizabeth's oldest sister, Ann also died at the age of only 40.
There are no more official records of the family until the 1851 census when Elizabeth and Mathew are enumerated at Penwaunfach in the Llangyfelach hamlet of Clase (south-west of Rhyndwyclydach). There have apparently been no further additions to the family since the birth of Jonathan, but Elizabeth had suffered the loss of another of her sisters, Sarah on 20th February, from consumption. Despite moving (which may have been necessary after the toll gate incident) the family don't appear to have suffered financially as a result of their experiences and Mathew is described as a farmer of 70 acres. Mathew's family, remain at Cwmcille in this census.
|1860s & 1870s:
By 1861, the family are back in Mawr. Their actual address is not recorded, but Mathew is now described as a labourer in the copperworks. Youngest son, Jonathan does not appear to have an occupation, while his older sister, Esther is described as a labourer. These new circumstances suggest that the family may now have fallen on harder times. Eldest son, John, a blacksmith, has married and is enumerated with his 19 year old wife, Elizabeth and their 3 day old son, Morgan in the household of Elizabeth's parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Morgan on their farm in Cocket, Swansea.
By 1871, Mathew's occupation has changed again to agricultural labourer. He and Elizabeth are living with their unmarried daughter, Esther at Pentre Bedw, which is the next schedule to their old home at Tymawr in Mawr. Youngest son, Jonathan has also married and lives with his wife, Elizabeth (nee Rice) and 2 infant children, Mathew and Ann, also in Mawr.
In 1881, Mathew is described as a widower. He is still living at Pentre Bedw and is now farming 10 acres. Keeping house for him is his 19 year old, married, grand-daughter, Elizabeth Jones (daughter of eldest son, John). Also in the household is Elizabeth Jones's 3 month old baby daughter, Hannah. After being contacted by Jonathan Sanger, a 3x great grandson of Mathew and Elizabeth, I now know that Elizabeth died on 26th November 1876, aged 63 and is buried at Nebo Chapel, Velindre.
The census also indicates that Mathew and Elizabeth's daughter, Esther has married a widower, Thomas Rees (a carpenter, 16 years her senior, from Llanguicke) and lives 2 schedules away from Mathew at Blaencile. As well as 2 children from Thomas' first marriage, he and Esther have 3 children of their own: Jane (age 7), Mathew (age 3) and Catherine (age 1).
Mathew died on 5th February 1889, aged 75 and was buried with Elizabeth at Nebo.
Soon after the census of 1881 Esther's husband, Thomas must have died, because by 1891, she has married again and possibly has a 10 year old son by her new husband (? this is actually her step-child). She is now married to Thomas J. Thomas, an engine driver from Llangyfelach. They live at Taironen, Mawr with 2 of Thomas' sons, her children Jane and Mathew from her first marriage (Catherine appears to have died) and 10 year old William - who may or may not be her son. A possible marriage reference for Esther and Thomas in the September Quarter of 1886 at Pontardawe suggests that William is not her son.
By 1901, Esther is a widow living alone at Pentre Bedw cottage in Mawr. Her daughter, Jane is now married and living next door at an address also known as Pentre Bedw with her husband, Thomas Evans, a collier from Cilycwm, Carmarthen. They have 3 children: Esther Anne (age 3), Mary Jane (age 2) and Thomas Rees (age 3 months). Esther died on 12th April 1915, aged 75 and was buried at Nebo alongside her parents and her brother Jonathan and his wife, Elizabeth who had died in 1905 and 1904 respectively. Also buried at Nebo is Jonathan and Elizabeth's daughter, Ann who died tragically, aged 23 on 26th April 1893.