'TO THE PERSON CALLING HIMSELF REBECCA...'
Though there was a place for reconciliation in efforts to quell the riots, so too was there place for authoritative, sometimes aggressive proclamations which often made appeals to religious scripture such as this one. This letter from a landowner responding to threats from the Rebeccaites largely speaks for itself, so a full transcript is below:
I have just received a Notice, threatening that if I do not give back to my tenants, at the next rent day, five shillings in the pound, you will injure my Stock, and my Farm, and my Premises. Probably some of my neighbours have had similar notices.
Now, I am willing to believe that you had nothing to do with such an act, and that it is in no part of your intention to meddle with the private affairs of others ; but that some cowardly rascal has ventured to send Notices of that sort, thinking to frighten us.
I recommend to all persons carefully to preserve them, for most certainly the writers of Law, and the guilty parties will pass the rest of their days in disgraceful servitude in a foreign land. Transportation for life, is the penalty awarded by law, for writing or causing to be sent, a threatening letter of that nature. And if you have sent me such a Notice, I tell you no that I will not comply with it ; and further, had I not send, a month ago, unasked, to my farm tenants, to inform them, that at the ensuing rent day I would return them 10 per cent. of their rents, I would not now do that- so much for your interference.
Whatever injury you might do to my property, would ultimately fall upon many of those you pretend to serve. By a statute of the 7th and 8th Geo. IV., it is declared "that in every such case, the inhabitants of the Hundred in which such offence shall be committed, shall be liable to yield full compensation to the person so injured, not only for the damage so done, but also for any damage which may, at the same time be done, by any such offenders, to any fixture, furniture, or goods whatever."
The Act of Parliament would entitle me to immediate payment for the damage, from all the inhabitants of this, and many surrounding parishes, comprising the extensive Hundred of Troedyraur: and I would take care never to spend one shilling of it in this country : so that instead of serving my tenants, you would throw a heavy additional burden upon them. You may also rely upon it, that if you make the attempt, you will meet with a very warm reception, and the statute declares, that any one committing such offence, "shall be judged guilty of felony, and, being convicted thereof, shall suffer death as a felon.
Any attempt to injure me in the manner threatened, would destroy the confidence I have had in the character of Welshmen, and would induce me not to live amongst my tenants, but to employ an attorney to collect my rents, to be spent elsewhere, instead of giving daily employment, as I have heretofore done, sufficient to maintain some 30 or 40 persons in honest industry, in all seasons.
The Rates and other Taxes which I now pay, as some of the principal occupiers and charge bearers in the parish, would fall upon others, with encreased force, from the numbers that would be thrown out of employ, by my non-residence here ; thus, my tenants would again by injured by your acts, they would cease to have a friend whom they have never resorted in vain for advice and assistance.
By continuing your lawless acts, you will induce the Gentry of this country, to become absentees, and in that respect make this country like Ireland. You will bring the working classes to your misery and want, whereas it is notorious they are now better off than they have been for many years, being able to buy bread and butter at nearly half the prices of 1832, and many preceding years, cheese at 2d. per lb., and all other necessaries of life in the same reduced proportion.
Several small occupiers & cottagers have been threatened by your people, to have their houses burnt, if they do not join in your unlawful practices. They and you may now know that for any such injuries, two Justices can order them full compensation, to be levied from all the inhabitants of the Hundred ; so that they have nothing to fear for refusing to join you, but if they do join you, they render themselves liable to transportation for life. Now, they will understand how to act rightly, and may God guide them to do so : they may rely on the Magistrates with full confidence for support.
It is said that you have imposed upon many ignorant persons, by pretending to have scripture authority for your acts, and that you rely on the 60th verse of the xxiv. chapter of Genesis, which is in these words : "And they blessed Rebecca, and said unto her," (her brother Laban speaking for his mother and self,) "be thou the mother of thousands and millions, and let thy seed possess the gates of those which hate them." What an abuse of the Holy Scriptures ! ! All learned Divines are agreed, that the meaning of those words is, that the mother and brother of Rebecca prayed God to make her fruitful , that her posterity might be victorious over their enemies. Rebecca was really a woman, a good and pious woman, having the fear of God before her eyes, observing all his holy commandments, and carefully avoiding such a gross violation of them as "to do evil unto others." But, if you will adhere to the literal words of the text, and put your own interpretation on them, the next verse must be taken in the same meaning, "And the servant took Rebecca and went his way," which would signify that Rebecca was taken, and the servant that took her was not interrupted in so doing. And this will be your case : you will be captured, and the misguided persons whom you have drawn in, will not help you, but return to their peaceful homes. They ought not to trust strangers whom they do not know, who dare not show their faces, to go against those amongst whom they have passed their lives ; they may have looked upon the breaking of gates as a piece of mere mischief, and never intended to commit felony, as many have done.
It is to be hoped, that the Clergy and Ministers of all denominations, will feel it their sacred and bounden duty, to exhort their congregations and friends to resist the influence of such wicked examples, to the utmost of their power : that they will point out the evil consequences which must follow such practices : and the necessity of joining together to put down that which has brought such disgrace upon the country. It is to be hoped that you and your followers will depart from your wicked ways, before the Law overtakes you, which otherwise it most assuredly will do, and your lives will be ended in misery and disgrace.
ED. LLOYD WILLIAMS
Gwernant, near Newcastle-Emelyn
July 9th, 1843.
WILLIAM JONES, PRINTER, BRIDGE-STREET, NEWCASTLE-EMLYN:'