Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Rebecca Riots by Christopher Schenk

The Rebecca Riots by Christopher Schenk
Longman 1985 (64pp) ISBN 0582221714

After a short period visiting Regency London it's back to our restless agrarian ancestors again for the latest book!

Longman books are largely written for school students, and as such provide introductory volumes for subjects that can inspire the reader to investigate further. This volume covers a series of riots in rural Wales in the early 1840s, ostensibly over the imposition of Road Tolls - but soon encompassing various rural labouring grievances including the Workhouses - and which tended to feature a ringleader dressed in women's clothing as a form of disguise - usually 'named' as Rebecca.

Using a combination of fictional presentation and original source material, largely drawn from newspaper reoprts and a diary kept by someone close to the events, Schenk provides the reader with an enjoyable outline of what the Rebecca Riots were about, and of the types of people involved or affected by them. And of how the authorities reacted to them.

In short, this book is a useful introduction for anyone with Welsh Rural ancestors who might have been caught up in the riots, and for anyone interested in how the rural poor fought against the national legal developments that they had no input into or vote upon.

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