4 thoughts on “Welsh nineteenth century anti-war politician Henry Richard

  1. Six to salute trade union martyr with Merthyr pilgrimage

    Thursday 01 August 2013

    by Luke James

    Five trade unionists and Welsh Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins will set off on a 70-mile walk today to commemorate working-class martyr Dic Penderyn.

    Penderyn was among hundreds of people who marched under the red flag to confront bosses over wage cuts at nearby mines during the famous Merthyr rising of 1831.

    The rising involved 7,000-10,000 workers, seeing the sacking of the local debtors’ prison and a siege of local employers at the Castle Hotel from June 1-7.

    Sixteen unarmed protesters were shot dead by soldiers protecting employers at the hotel and just one soldier suffered a non-fatal stab wound.

    Authorities subsequently framed Penderyn for the attack on Private Donald Black during one of the flash points of the rising and he was hanged in August of that year.

    The five campaigners have twice trekked over 200 miles from Cardiff to TUC demonstrations in London so they will take the pilgrimage from Merthyr to Penderyn’s grave in Aberavon in their stride.

    But teacher Steffan ap Dafydd said this walk is a hugely important act of remembrance because the rising won working people new rights that we still enjoy.

    “Without them, those of us who have worked would have no pensions, would have no vote, and would have no unemployment benefit,” he said.

    Plaid Cymru AM Ms Jenkins added that the spirit of the rising was also important to today’s politics.

    She said: “During a moment when wages are being suppressed, employment rights degraded and the poorest amongst us find themselves under daily attack, I think that we need to remember that democracy means that all power ultimately emanates from the will of ordinary people.”


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  4. Monday 27th March 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    By John Haylett

    WHO would turn their nose up at the opportunity to celebrate the armed uprising by Welsh working people in 1831 when the symbol of the red flag made its first appearance?

    Certainly not Lyn Williams who went along to the first relatively modest Merthyr Rising event in 2013 and was sufficiently impressed to want to become involved and is now one of the commemoration directors.

    “Merthyr Rising started as a one-venue, one-day event back in 2013, organised by Ian Jenkins, a passionate socialist who set up the event focused on enlightening people with debates on global and local issues,” Williams recalls.

    “It did OK and got a bit of traction that year. I went along, had a look at it and saw its potential as a festival.”

    Williams, who works in the creative industries and his friend Andy Griffiths, with a background in the arts thought that there was an opportunity to make Merthyr Rising a larger annual festival, building on its working-class socialist roots and working with the up-and-coming arts and music scene around the town.

    It was an idea whose time had come, with a lot happening politically and culturally in Merthyr.

    “Merthyr Rising has gone from strength to strength. It has developed from a one-venue, one-day one-off to a week-long event, utilising various venues, attracting thousands of people from all over the UK, some camping and others staying in local hotels and bed and breakfasts,” he says proudly.

    “There was a demand for it, with lots of discussion and online debates on a local basis, providing an echo chamber on left politics.

    “We just felt we needed to open that up and provide a physical platform.”

    The event directors felt it necessary to break through what they perceived as political apathy in working-class communities.

    “We thought that, if we blend the politics in with entertainment and the arts and dress it up a bit differently from what they see in mainstream politics on the TV, that might work. There’s a lot of resentment and resistance to mainstream politics.”

    While there are now events linked to the rising taking place over an entire week, the main focus will be the bank holiday weekend of Friday-Sunday May 26-28.

    The organisers like to hold the commemoration event as closely as possible to the week of the anniversary of the original Merthyr Rising.

    They have also drawn a parallel between discussions on key issues by thousands of workers at Waun Common above Dowlais on May 30 1831 and current controversies by giving discussion sessions the umbrella title of the Waun Common debates.

    “During the original Waun Common debates back in 1831, workers met up to discuss key issues at the workplace and these became a catalyst to the rising,” says Williams.

    This year’s event will begin with an address on Friday afternoon by Cuban ambassador Teresita Vicente Sotolongo, followed by a debate involving the children of Merthyr, giving them a platform to raise issues they are concerned with to a local AM and local MP.

    Negotiations are still ongoing for actor Michael Sheen to give the opening speech at the event’s formal launch, dependent on his busy schedule, and this section will also feature public service union Unison assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie.

    Unison has been a consistent supporter of the Merthyr Rising commemoration. Saturday morning’s session, which will be televised by RT, will feature Ross Ashcroft, who used to run the online YouTube channel The Renegade Communist.

    He’ll be followed by Professor Steve Keen, an unorthodox and provocative economist, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray and Raul Martinez to discuss an alternative approach to economics.

    Fake news comes under the microscope in a debate led by Mike Berry from Cardiff University School of Journalism.

    Peter Stefanovic will lead on a discussion of financial scandals that have affected miners’ pensions before music from David Rovics, who is no stranger to Morning Star audiences, and comedy from Francesca Martinez.

    Sunday morning sees trade unionists march through the town before a rally hosted by Merthyr TUC at which Morning Star editor Ben Chacko will speak alongside Barbara Jackson of Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign, Wayne Thomas of the Wales area of National Union of Mineworkers and National Assembly of Women president Anita Wright.

    Other Sunday afternoon debates still in the process of finalisation will feature former SAS soldier Ben Griffin, Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German and Rock Against Racism founder Roger Huddle.

    A discussion on the Russian Revolution will have contributions by John Rees of Counterfire and Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths. “Rob will be a great addition to that debate,” says Williams, “so it’s a case of enjoying yourself and learning something at the same time. A good mixture, I’d say.”

    While these discussions are taking place, there is non-stop live music in Penderyn Square, headlined by The Alabama 3 and The Stereo MCs and an absolute plethora of young talent.

    There will also be a radical film festival, children’s entertainment, art exhibitions and history talks and tours. The Morning Star is proud to be the media partner for Merthyr Rising 2017.

    A ticket for the entire weekend costs £20 or £12.50 a day. Further details on the Merthyr Rising Facebook page: mstar.link/merthyr-2017

    What was the Merthyr Rising?

    THE 1831 Merthyr Rising was caused by a combination of factors, most particularly the refusal of the ironmasters and the parliamentary elite, elected by a narrow franchise, to treat working people as human beings.

    Welsh workers, like their comrades across Britain, were treated as pawns by the masters, laid off without compensation when trade was depressed and forced to accept pay cuts when in work despite steep price rises.

    Poverty led to many people having their property seized to meet debt and being driven from their homes, giving impetus to demands for parliamentary reform.

    Establishment indifference led to mass resistance that in the first instance overwhelmed the power of troops and militia sent to disperse the protesters, leaving Merthyr in the hands of the people.

    Workers’ representatives met the High Sheriff of Glamorgan, flanked by his ironmaster allies, demanding an end to the Court of Requests, which gave bailiffs the power to seize property to cover debts, higher wages, reduced costs for items necessary for work and immediate parliamentary reform.

    The high sheriff’s response was to unleash troops and yeomanry to drown the people’s demands in blood. Dozens of protesters were killed while a number of soldiers were wounded.

    Retribution followed the restoration of order, with long prison sentences and transportation orders. Lewis Lewis and Richard Lewis, known also as Dic Penderyn, were tried for attempted murder of Scottish soldier Donald Black.

    The former, who was prominent in the rising, had his death sentence commuted to transportation by home secretary Lord Melbourne, but Penderyn was hanged in Cardiff’s St Mary’s Street on August 13 1831.

    Unquestionably innocent of the crime for which he was convicted, his last words were: “O Arglwydd, dyma gamwedd” (Oh, Lord, what an injustice).

    He is immortalised in central Merthyr’s Penderyn Square, which is now a major music venue and is overlooked by Y Dic Penderyn pub.

    Merthyr’s radical tradition continued down the years, electing Labour Party socialist republican Keir Hardie MP for Merthyr Tydfil & Aberdare in 1900 and retaining him until his death in 1915.

    Fellow miner and class warrior SO Davies was elected to represent Merthyr in 1934, holding it for Labour until 1970 when he was deselected, stood as an independent and romped home, dying two years later.



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