Rebecca Riots as a Justifiable Expression of Rural Discontent

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Rebecca Riots as a Justifiable Expression of Rural Discontent The Rebecca Riots were a justifiable expression of rural discontent made by the farmers. This included the smashing of tollgates and tollhouses across West Wales by angered farmers between 1839 - 1843. I believe that the riots were a justifiable expression of rural discontent to a large extent due to the status of the farmers and the huge difference between rich and poor at the time. The most important reason that contributed to the Rebecca Riots was the living conditions and working conditions of the farmers. The living conditions are described as terrible. "I entered several farm labourers' cottages…..and found them mud hovels, the floors of mud and full of holes, without chairs or tables, generally half filled with peat packed in every corner. Beds were none. In the most miserable part of St. Giles, in no part of England did I ever witness such abject poverty." T.C Foster, The Times October 1843. This source can be judged as reliable on the grounds that, it is a primary source article, written by and educated Englishman unlikely to be biased towards the Welsh. The Times, who employs T.C Foster is unlikely to support lies or biased opinions in their articles as they are a reputable broadsheet newspaper. We also get a comparison to known poor areas. This implies the extent of the farmers' terrible living conditions. The farmers' diet was malnutricious, consisting mainly of potatoes. "The small farmer here breakfasts on oatmeal and water boiled called 'duffy'….or on a few mashed potatoes. He dines on potatoes and buttermilk, with sometimes a little white Welsh... ... middle of paper ... ...criticised the ignorance of the Welsh language." The commission made "Firm recommendations for reforming the turnpike trusts including the introduction of equal tolls and the setting up of Road Boards to take control of the roads." These recommendations became law in August 1844. Through this essay I have concluded that there are a number of factors that caused the farmers to riot. These included poverty, agricultural depression, the farmers' relationship with the land owners and the tollgates. No one would listen to the farmers' pleas so they were forced to take the law into their own hands. The riots stopped after the Commission when the farmers could voice their opinions. This proves that the "Rebeccaites" were justified in their actions and that the Rebecca Riots were a justifiable expression of rural discontent.

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