• 1740 Armed miners riot in Rhuddlan over low wages. Troops called in.

  • 1758 Two deaths when Cilgwyn quarrymen marched to Caernarfon to seize corn.

  • 1783 Lead miners rioted in Aberystwyth over high corn prices.

    "General" Period of the French Revolution

  • 1793-1801 Despite starvation and malnutrition, food was still being exported. Food riots resulted throughout rural Wales, e.g. Machynlleth, Llanbrynmair, Denbigh, Bangor, Aberystwyth, Bridgend and Fishguard ( as well as in Swansea). Bala saw much coming and going of troops. (the years 1795/6 (Barmouth, Machynlleth) and 1799/1801 particulary were famine years).

    • 1795 As magistrates met to raise men for the armed forces, 500 men lead by John Jones, marched into Denbigh and imprisoned the magistates. From there, they marched thruout the North East, stopping the export of corn.
    • 1800 Corn riots in Caernarfon, also Pembrokeshire and West Wales.
    • 1801 Towards the end of the campaign, two miners (Samuel Hill and Aaron Williams) hanged after a disturbance in Merthyr Tydfil.

  • 1797 The farcical attempted invasion at Fishguard provides the excuse for a strong clampdown on radicals.

  • 1809 Llandeiniolen, over enclosures of common land and waste land. This followed by similar protests in 1812 at Mynydd Bach, Ceredigion.

  • 1816 Riot in Merthyr Tydfil and Tredegar during miners strike. In Merthyr, JJ Guest barricaded himself into his home, Dowlais House and William Crawshay took refuge in a farmhouse. Troops were brought in to disperse about 8.000 workers. In Tredegar, roops were sent in and one worker was killed - but the threat of wage reductions was withdrawn. Troops fire warning shots in Aberystwyth as protests take place over enclosures.

  • 1817 Four weeks of unrest in Amlwch caused by high food prices. This followed on from the run-down of the copper works at Parys Mountain. When the copper works were in full production, Amlwch had a population of about 10.000.

  • 1818 Troops used against crowd in Carmarthen who were trying to stop the export of food. This was a sympton of distress in the countryside and further protests stemming from this cause occured at Abermiwl (1819), Maenclochog (1820), Mynydd Bach, Ceredigion (1820-27 , War of the Little Englishman), Dryslwyn (1826) and Llanwnda (1827). During the 'War of the Little Englishman', about 600 men under Dai Smith oppose an Englishman seeking to enclose the land.

  • 1822 Army opened fire in Gwent during miners strike (starting the Scotch Cattle movement).

  • 1830 Battle of Chirk Bridge

  • 1831 Riots in Mold and Carmarthen, after the defeat of Gray's bill to reform the franchise.

    Merthyr Uprising

    The government had originally decided against a seat for Merthyr. In Spring 1831, Crawshay lowered wages.

    31st May Rising of the Red Flag on Hirwaun Common

    On 30th and 31st May 1831 respectively at Twyn y Waun and Hirwaun Common. With Thomas Llywelyn’s march on Aberdar And Lewis’s march on the court of request we witness discontent brewing into wide spread disturbances that would by 1 June 1831 burst forth as the first major Welsh Insurrection since the time of Owain Glyndwr.

    The Church of St Cynog and The Red Lion on hill above Penderyn.

    Lewis Lewis led a march against the debtors court to regain goods confiscated from the poor. The Courthouse was destroyed.

    Mathew John presented the rebels' terms to Penydarren House.

    Magistrates became under siege at the Castle Hotel. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were sent to Merthyr, from Brecon. and on 3. June, they defended the Castle Inn firing on a crowd who were storming the inn - 24-26 were killed and 70 wounded. Unfortunately we know few of their names as fear of retribution meant bodies were removed by sympathisers and secretly buried but we do have two names of those who were killed that day John Hughes a miner and ex - soldier. An inquest carried out on John Hughes returned the verdict of ''Excusable Homicide'' .

    Studio Bar, Merthyr Tydfil, general location of the Castle Inn>

    On the 8 June a further 1.000 soldiers were sent in, and 12.000 supporters from Monmouth were headed off by about 500 soldiers.

    The uprising was followed by a lockout lead by J.J. Guest, supported by Lord Melbourne (Home Secretary, later PM).

    4.000 unionists

    Nov 31 unionists cease to exist

    Lewis Lewis was held prisoner in the cellar of The Lamb Inn, Pentre Penderyn, after his capture in area of Ystrad Fellte.

    Lamb Hotel, Hirwaun

    Dic Penderyn (Richard Lewis) was hanged in Cardiff for his role in the disturbances - allegedly for stabbing a soldier. A plaque outside the library in Merthyr Tydfil refers to him as a martyr of the working class. Lewis Lewis was transported for life.

    Memorial to Dic Penderyn outside Merthyr Tydfil Library>

  • 1832-34 The Scotch Cattle protest is at its peak. In 1834, Edward Morgan is hanged in Monmouth Prison.

    In the late 1830s/early 1840s, there are two main protest movements operating - the Chartists and Rebecca. Some sources attempt to show that these two movements were different threads of the same overall protest. In this simple expose, I will just assume that Chartism was concerned with promoting Democracy, and Rebecca was operating against turnpike trusts and workhouses.


  • 1839 As a result of the charter of 1838

  • In April 1839, Chartists take over Llanidloes for a week, shortly after Henry Hetherington, the Chartists' Trasurer, had visited the area. The town was a center of the wool and flannel trade.

    On 20. April, three London policeman had been sent to Llanidloes. On the following day. a crowd attacked the Trewythen Hotel, releasing the man that the policemen were holding and ransacking the hotel. The Montgomery Yeomanry were called upon to re-take the town. Three Chartists were transported and the rest were sentenced to hard labor.

  • Chartist leader, Henry Vincent, had been imprisoned in August. Vincent was followed around by government spies and in May 1838 he was arrested for making inflammatory speeches. On 2nd August he was tried at Monmouth Assizes and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment. He was denied writing materials and only allowed to read books on religion.
  • On November 4 1839, Chartists from the valleys converge on Newport. They marched down Stow Hill, and at least 22 were shot dead by the army during a disturbance at the Westgate Hotel.

    The eight leaders were sentenced to death, which was commuted to imprisonment or transportation. Queen Victoria knighted Thomas Phillips, the mayor who had ordered the random execution.

    South East of Chepstow along the Wye, there is the Willow Tea Room, where there is an plaque commemorating the fact that three leaders were transported from here to Tasmania.

    The museum where you can see exhibits from this event is situated in John Frost Square, named after the leader.

  • In 1841, William Edwards stood as a Chartist candidate in Monmouth, receiving no votes - the only time this has happened in Welsh elections.


  • 1838 Militia have to defend Carmarthen Workhouse


    • Jan  There was an attempt to burn down the new Narberth Workhouse.

    • 13. May First gate to be attacked was Efailwen, nr. St. Clears. This had only been opened about a week beforehand. The trust re-erected the gate, but on 6th June, protestors returned and, despite the presence of several policemen, they destroyed the gate and the house.

    • Within a week of the destruction of the efail-wen gate, the Maes-gwyn gate was also destroyed.

  • 1842 Carmarthen Workhouse ransacked

  • 1856 Troops are sent to Talargoch, Flintshire during a lead miners strike.

  • 1857 Troops are sent to Aberdare during the 7 week miners strike.

  • 1869 Four striking miners shot dead by troops.

  • 1875 A bitter coal strike leads to the bankruptcy of the Amalgamated Association of Miners.

  • 1880s Riots in Denbighshire against payment of tithes. Llangwm, Mochdre, Denbigh.

  • 1893 Hauliers went on strike.

  • 1896 One year stoppage in the North Wales slate quarries.

  • 1898 Six-month lock-out (March-September) in the coalfields of South Wales. Miners forced back and Mabon's Day is lost. Afterwards the South Wales Miners Federation is formed.

  • 1900-03 Three-year dispute in the North Wales slate quarries. In 1902 Riot Act read in Bethesda during the 3-year long lock-out from the Penrhyn Quarry. This becomes the longest lasting industrial dispute in history. Troops brought in.

  • 1900/01 The Taff Vale strike. The courts decided to companies were allowed to sue for damages against the Union, thus severely curtailing the power of strikes. The Liberal governemnt of 1906 introduced the Trade Disputes Act, nullifying this decision Some sources claim the Taff Vale decision created the Labour Party (The Trade Disputes Act was repealed in the 1970s by the Conservative Government).

  • 1910 A dispute at the Cambrian Collieries descends into rioting from 1. November as management tries to bring in blacklegs to cover for the 30.000 strikers. In November, Churchill orders the cavalry in, followed later by infantry. One man dies in the ensuing troubles. On November 22, the infantry had used bayonets. Apart from the Army, police reinforcements from Bristol and London had been brought into the Rhondda and Aberdare. The problems lasted until January.

  • 1911 The Army shot dead two men during a strike in Llanelli - this strike leading to a national rail strike in 1912. Several days of rioting in Swansea.

  • 1915 Coal strike in July. The government made striking a criminal offence, but the strike went ahead from the 15-21 July. Lloyd George traveled to South Wales on 19. July and the government made concessions.

  • 1919 Mutiny aboard HMS Kilbride at Milford Haven over delays in demobilization. There were five army mutinies in Britain during this period. One of the worst was a mutiny at Kinmel Camp, Rhyl by Canadian soldiers wanting to go home, which ended with 5 dead.

  • 1925 The attitudes of the coal-owners in the anthracite areas, lead to a riot in Ammanford during strike by coal miners who controlled the town 10 days. 58 sent to prison.

  • 1926 General strike, leading to a ten month coal strike. Serious clashes during the last 8 weeks of the miners strike.

  • 1931 Riot at Maerdy, Rhondda. 33 people sent to prison.

  • 1933 Riot at Bedwas. 11 received prison sentences.

  • 1934 Bedlinog sack members of the Fed. Police are sent in.

  • 1935 On the 3. February, a reduction in unemployment benefit is announced, leading to protests. About 300.000 people take to the street. On February 4., the National Assistance Board Offices in Merthyr Tydfil were attacked and records damaged. The government refrained from carrying out its measures until November 1936,when it was introduced in a modified form (the parliamentary opposition to these measures was lead by Aneurin Bevan). Riots at Blaina, Gwent ended in 10 people being sent to prison. Disturbances concerning the Taff Merthyr Colliery in Bedlinog ended with 32 people being sent to prison. The trail was the largest mass trial to have ever taken place in Britain. In Abertillery, twelve people were acquitted for singing anti-royalist songs.

  • 1936 Anti-fascist demonstrations against Moseley in Tonypandy

  • 1991 Four nights of rioting in Ely, Cardiff.