Crucial transcripts of the witness testimonies from the Chartist Trials, which reported on the 1839 Newport Rising, the last large-scale armed protest in Great Britain, have been shared by Archives Wales as part of Explore Your Archive week (Saturday 20th – Sunday 28th November 2021)
Held online at the People’s Collection Wales for anyone to take a look, these digitised and transcribed witness statements provide a unique insight into Welsh valley communities and the Chartist campaign for democratic reform.
The Newport Rising witness testimonies have been shared as part of Explore Your Archive week, organised by the UK Archives and Records Association, and supported in Wales by Archives and Records Council Wales. The annual week-long campaign encourages people across Wales to discover something new and exciting within the nation’s archives, whether that’s delving into your own family history or finding out the stories about the people and places at the heart of Welsh communities.
Rhiannon Phillips, who works at the Gwent Archives, said: “Explore Your Archive Week is something we look forward to every year, as it’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of our collections with the public. This year, we will be highlighting these extensive witness testimonies from the Chartist Uprising of 1839 – which can now be found on People’s Collection Wales. Having the opportunity to see these up close is an opportunity to get up close and personal with the story of our nation. Other items highlighter this year include the Survey of the Barony of Abergavenny from 1821 and a message in a bottle found in the foundations of the Penallt War Memorial.”
Extracts from the witness testimonies, held on the People’s Collection Wales: https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/1713431
Thomas Hawkins Esquire, Tin Plate manufacturer from the parish of Bassaleg:
In my opinion about 1500 persons were there standing on the Tram Road near my House – they were on their way towards Newport – a great number of those on the Tram Road were armed – Calling themselves Chartists. I visited the Town – of Newport on that day and found that the Westgate Inn in that Town had been attacked. I witnessed the effect of the attack on the Westgate Inn, 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.