Monday, October 20, 2008

Rebeccaism in Radnorshire

The anti-toll gate campaign of the 1840s was not the last Radnorshire saw of Rebecca and her daughters. Whenever the community felt a sense of injustice she seemed to reappear from the shadows, whether the concern were the game laws, the price of food or some other issue troubling the locality.

Rebeccaism flourished because Radnorians did not feel that they could get justice in the courts. The Rebeccaites openly challenged English law by breaking it in public and in such large numbers that the authorities could do nothing. They wore disguises so that individuals could not be prosecuted when the established order had been reasserted.

The photograph shows a party of Rebeccaites taking salmon on the Edw as late as December 1932. The fishery laws were a particular bone of contention in Radnorshire whose populace had long ago paid the English Crown for the right to fish and hunt in perpetuity, it was a bargain that the Crown had decided to forget. The picture was not grabbed by some intrepid photojournalist, it was posed deliberately and was later displayed in public and sent to the newspapers. It was an open challenge to the authority of the state, which infact failed to convict any of those involved.

It is a pity that the Assembly sponsored Gathering the Jewels website tries to diminish this political act with some half cocked story that attempts to portray these men as dim-wits.

No comments: