The Rebecca riots 5
"a famous night in Rhayader"

By the time of the attack on the Newbridge gates local excitement was high and around Rhayader many were refusing to pay the tolls. The authorities were in touch with the Secretary of State and detatchments of General Brown's men were active across the area.

 The East Gate at Rhayader around 1860

Photograph by kind permission of Mr Lewis Lloyd

East gate, Rhayader 
  2nd November
Perhaps the best recorded of the attacks in the area was that of the above night which is described in a manuscript of T.P. Davies. This first hand account describes the attempts of the Metropolitan Police Sergeant and his small band of Special Constables to thwart the determined attacks of large groups of local Rebeccaites.
"Between 2 and 3 am when the moon had disappeared he [Sergeant Shaw] heard that men were levelling the North Gate on the Llanidloes Road. By the time he got there the place had been razed and the men had gone."


The keeper had been awoken by a voice saying "lie still or death will be your doom" and had wisely stayed indoors while the gates were wrecked.

The Eastern tollgates at the time of the riots

Image based on the Rhayader parish tithe map

plan of East gate
"From here they proceeded across the fields to the East gate on the Penybont Road. The Sergeant followed but all was demolished by the time he reached there. The toll keeper here was an old woman called Sarah Rees who had received the same warning as the Keeper at the North gate. The Sergeant caught up with the rioters near the Bear Inn. They had warned the specials not to come too near and one who did so was hit with a musket. They marched four deep around the Lion and Castle...The front and rear ranks carried muskets loaded with ball and the centre rank had blank. They demonstrated in North Street before Mr John Harvey's mill. Two constables had been stationed at the Wye Bridge gate. They were drawn off by two women who told them that the New Gate was being attacked. Immediately they had gone the Rebeccas demolished the gate and house."
  Thomas describes the rioters as wearing the typical Rebecca outfit of bonnets and petticoats over their working clothing. 
There are 6 pages on the Rebecca riots. Use the box links below to view the other pages.