Rebecca riots

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(1839; 1842–43)

A series of agrarian riots in south-west Wales. They were a protest against the toll-gates introduced by turnpike trusts. Bands of rioters disguised in women's clothes attacked and broke the gates. Each band was led by a “Rebecca” after the Old Testament story of Rebecca, “be thou the mother of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them”. In 1843 a series of massed meetings took place. Troops and a contingent of the Metropolitan Police were sent from London, while a commission to investigate grievances took evidence. In 1844 an Act to “consolidate and amend the Laws relating to Turnpike Trusts in Wales” ended the protest.

Subjects: History.

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