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Spirit of Becca by Hefin Wyn

According to the Silurian as many as 4,000 had gathered in Carmarthen on Wednesday, 9 January 1839.

With the aid of lanterns and torches a rally was held around the original Sir Thomas Picton memorial.  It had been organised by the solicitor, Hugh Williams, from Machynlleth, who was the Chartists representative in West Wales. Radicalism had taken hold. The supporters must have travelled from all parts of Dyfed. There was an appetite to change the voting system.

Within four months the first tollgate would be destroyed at Efail-wen, on the borders of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, as a result of the discontentment felt by farmers who faced abject poverty. They were not prepared to pay tolls for travelling on roads they had always travelled on free of charge. 

Hundreds had followed the leadership of Twm Carnabwth – the original Becca.  The tollgate was destroyed on a further two occasions that summer before it was finally abandoned. The inhabitants of the Preselau had secured justice and the right to travel without hindrance.  

And who knows perhaps Thomas Rees and his followers were among the 4,000 in Carmarthen in January. He was certainly familiar with the town as he was a favourite in the boxing booths of the fairs and would usually give a hiding to all-comers. 

Then, on Monday, 19 July 1843, an estimated 3,000 Rebeccaites marched to the town from Cynwyl, Talog, Abernant, Cilrhedyn and the surrounding area, as one noisy multitude from the Plough and Harrow pub in Henfwlch,  - to the west of the town. 

Meic Bowen, Cwmlleinioge Isaf, Tre-lech; John Harries, Y Felin, Talog and the brothers Rees, Rhydymarchog, Newchurch were named among the leaders.  The workhouse was attacked and that in itself was a clear indication there was no means of preventing the Rebeccaites from continuing their campaign for further social justice. 

How many thousands will be present in Carmarthen on Saturday, 22 June 2024, over 180 years later? Will there be an unequivocal declaration there is no means of preventing the campaign for Welsh independence anymore? Will the spirit of the Chartists and the Rebeccaites be present? Who will be the current leaders?

Click here for full info regarding the March for Independence in Carmarthen on 22 June.

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