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Uncommon Doings on Glascoed Common


PONTYPOOL FREE PRESS                SATURDAY FEBRUARY 16th 1861

UNCOMMON DOINGS ON GLASCOED COMMON.—

That Britons won’t be slaves is a principle which in moments of conviviality most of us either assert or endorse with prodigious vehemence – the energy being , however, perhaps not so much proportioned to the intensity of our patriotism, as to the potency of our brandy-and-water. Be that as it may, the sentiment embodies a general resolution not to be “put upon”, and a determination to “stand up for our rights.” It is a commendable sentiment enough, but its practical adoption leads to many a hubbub. Such a commotion arose a few days ago amongst the apple orchards and furze bushes of Glascoed, and it occurred in this wise:

--- In the grey light of early morning, there might have been seen, stern men, with arms in their labour-hardened hands, and with grim defiance stamped upon their weather-beaten countenances, earnestly pursuing their way across the moor, from all parts of the surrounding country, to a common meeting place. Here, grasping each other’s palms, they exchanged assurances of mutual fidelity in the pending contest with the common enemy, and then the band of brave men set forth. To the strains of martial music they marched, and as they progressed on their way, from cottage door and from farm-house porch there greeted them shouts of welcome and encouragement; and the ranks of the patriots were joined by excited women – many with infants at their breasts – by old men and young children. Gray-haired sires poured forth blessings upon their sons – fair maidens smiled upon their rustic lovers – as the devoted men hastened onwards, eager for the fray, resolved to do and dare – yea, and if need were, to die, in the glorious cause. The animating strains of the fifes and drums, combined with the enthusiastic shouts of the patriots as they approached the scene of hostilities, struck terror into the heart of the enemy, and beyond a few feeble words of protest no resistance to the onslaught was offered. With cheers that made the welkin ring, the attacking party rushed on. Spades, mattocks, and billhooks, wielded by stalwart arms and willing hands, soon made a breach in the outworks. Hedge after hedge was uprooted, gate after gate overthrown, and the destruction did not cease until many acres of the Glascoed Common, which were held to have been improperly and illegally enclosed, were again thrown open to the horses and asses, sheep, swine, and cattle of the poor parishioners. Foremost among the alleged aggressors was Mr Daniel Roberts of Hendre, who, owning a farm in the adjoining parish of Llanbaddock, part of which abuts upon the common, sought to extend his property by fencing in and appropriating to his own purposes fifteen or sixteen acres of the waste land. Two other persons had followed his example, by enclosing to a smaller extent and now shared with Mr Roberts the vengeance of the enraged Glascoedians, who held that public rights had been violated for the sake of individual advantage; the chief encroacher not even being an inhabitant or proprietor in the hamlet. The besiegers, daring the progress of their attack, were regaled by sympathising friends with bread and cheese and cider ad libitum; and having achieved a glorious victory, the patriots set themselves to the consumption of the apple-juice with an ardour which, but for the presence of two policement, who had throughout the day been passive spectators of the proceedings, might have brought this “Glascoed fair” to a termination such as might have thrown discredit upon the brilliance of the achievement it was meant to honour. As it was, there occurred nothing less harmless than little dog-fighting by way of relaxation for the men, and some hair-pulling among the women for their mutual delectation; but it is said that when “Glascoed fair” is next heard of, it will be in connexion with certain legal proceedings, which Mr Roberts is stated to contemplate.

THE USK OBSERVER REPORTED THE CASE IN THIS WAY

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1861

REBECCA AGAIN! – The followers and descendants of this renowned heroine mustered in great force on the evening of Monday last, and under the inspiriting strains of tin whistles and drums of a kindred material, and the still more substantial influences of bread and cheese and cider, marched forward to deal destruction to anything in the shape of a fence that enclosed any portion of the land which had been filched from the common. So loud and discordant were the sounds made by the demolitionists, that the Llangibby hounds appeared to have been attracted to the spot, and rendered the scene more diversified and still more imposing. A full detail of the casualties has not reached us, but we understand that Messrs Roberts, Meredith, and others have been compelled to restore every inch of the land which they had unceremoniously appropriated from the common, and from the spirit of opposition created by their conduct, they will be very indiscreet indeed if they ever think of seeking to regain it. The proceedings were productive of a “set to” between two females, one of whom has obtained the cognomen of “Tom Sayers,” in reward for her bravery.

Note: Tom Sayers was a celebrated English bare-knuckle fighter of this period. Read his wikipedia entry if you’re interested.