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Newport Rising, Wales, 1839

Christopher Frank


An unsuccessful Chartist revolt, the Newport rising of 1839 was the last large-scale armed action of citizens against the state in mainland Britain. It occurred during the evening and morning of November 3–4, 1839, when approximately 5,000 miners and ironworkers from communities throughout southwest Wales descended upon the town of Newport. On arrival, the rebels, many of whom were armed, surrounded 30 soldiers who had positioned themselves and their Chartist prisoners inside the Westgate hotel. A brief gun battle ensued, killing 22 Chartists, wounding 50, and dispersing the rest. After the rising, over 200 participants were arrested. Most were soon released or convicted on minor charges, but 21 were charged with treason. The three principal leaders, John Frost, Zephania Williams, and William Jones, were convicted and sentenced to death. The sentences were later commuted to transportation. The nature and intent of the Newport rising are shrouded in mystery and have been the subject of debate, but the current historical consensus suggests that the rising was not a protest or demonstration, but a planned insurrection, and one that might have had loose ties with similar plots for rebellion that were developing in other parts of the country. The Newport rising has both a national and a local context. On July 12, 1839 the Chartist National Convention presented its first petition to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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