In Search of Jenkin Morgan
Time & Location
About the Event
The next Newport Chartist Convention video talk is by Ray Stroud. Ray has researched the little known Newport Chartist activist Jenkin Morgan. You are invited to watch Ray's discussion here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6Sy73D07cI
Then join us on April 1st at 7pm for the Q&A.
In Search of Jenkin Morgan: an introduction
Jenkin Morgan has become part of the invisible landscape of Welsh Chartism. This Pill milkman, tallow chandler and soap boiler was initially sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered alongside John Frost, Zephaniah Williams and William Jones at Monmouth in 1840, and yet very few people today even know his name. As the three ‘Welsh Martyrs’ were shipped off to Tasmania on board the Mandarin, Morgan’s sentence was commuted to five years imprisonment in the Millbank Penitentiary. He emerged from his incarceration in 1844 a broken and impoverished man.
Jenkin Morgan's role in the Newport Rising of 1839 is a fascinating one. His power base was located in the closed, working-class community of Pillgwenlly with its beer shops, Chartist lodges and pike-making factories. As a captain of a ‘Section of Ten’ he was tasked with signalling the arrival of the ‘men of the hills’ into Newport on the morning of 4 November. He was also meant to blow up the bridge over the River Usk using large amounts of requisitioned gunpowder. Of course, the Rising failed and the bridge stayed intact. In its immediate aftermath, Jenkin Morgan fled into Glamorgan before attempting to seek sanctuary in London. The manhunt that ensued witnessed his capture in the Bunch of Grapes public house in Bristol, just hours before his coach was to head out of the city on the Great West Road for London.
This is a story of betrayal, retribution and suffering. Pardoned by Queen Victoria on 10 May 1844, he was soon to be described by Feargus O’Connor as a ‘Chartist scarecrow’. Everything he had once owned had been taken from him - and yet he remained a radical, committed to the cause of liberty. The last record of his life is found in the Northern Star on 29 January 1848. It advertised a dinner he was organising in Merthyr in memory of the English radical Thomas Paine, suggesting that he remained a Chartist to the end.