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Newport Rising g testimonies s go online
About 300 eyewitness accounts of the 1839 Newport Rising are now free to read online.
Digitised images of the documents, held at Gwent Archives, have been published on the website the People’s Collection Wales ( peoples collection.wales/items/1713431), along with transcriptions created by volunteers.
The site is funded by the Welsh government. The images were published on 27 November to coincide with Explore Your Archive Week, a celebration of the hidden gems held in archives in the UK and Ireland.
The Newport Rising occurred on 4 November 1839. Roughly 5,000 members of the prodemocracy Chartist movement marched on the Westgate Inn in Newport, where a group of Chartists were held prisoner. Special constables and soldiers who were guarding the building opened fire, killing 22 protesters. The tragedy was the biggest loss of civilian life inflicted by the British Army on home soil in the 19th century.
The transcribed documents consist of testimonies by approximately 100 Chartists and 200 eyewitnesses. Together they paint a vivid picture of the uprising.
In one account, John Lewis, a tin-plate manufacturer from Ty Du in the parish of Bassaleg, about three-and-a-half miles from Newport, testifies against a man named Wright Beatty. He says that five or six men entered his kitchen: “I asked those in the Kitchen – what they wanted, they said they wanted arms – The Prisoner Wright Beatty was amongst those – in the Kitchen – I told them I had no arms for them. One of them said ‘I dare say you have Arms in the House’ I then said if I had – I had none to spare them. They said if I had arms they would have them. I told them they should not – and that before they should have my arms I would part with my life or words to that e ect.”
Lewis also testifies that after the uprising, “I saw nine dead bodies lying in the Stables belonging to and – adjoining the Westgate Inn – I saw the Mayor on a bed in the Westgate Inn, he had been wounded and when I saw him his linen was – covered with blood.”