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Statement of Sir Thomas Phillips late Mayor of Newport
On Thursday the 31st Octr last it was communicated to me that Mr Samuel
Homfray Managing partner of the Tredegar Iron Works and an acting Magistrate for
the division of Bedwellty in the County of Monmouth felt apprehensive the Chartists
who held frequent meetings in that Neighbourhood meditated violence of some kind.
In the course of the Evening of that day I sent for a Master Carpenter -
living in Newport who I was led to believe could give me some information respecting
the proceedings of the Chartists and was informed by him that the Newport Chartists
assembled twice a week near his house that they appeared to him to have become -
recently more active that he understood they had become more violent in their language
that he had recently observed that persons from the Hills very frequently came down to
Newport and that they appeared to confer with persons in the Town who were known to
be Chartists and that a feeling existed that some desperate proceeding would take
place he promised me to obtain further & more definite information which he said he
might possibly obtain that evening & he promised should he do so to call on me again
but I heard nothing further from him on the subject.
The following day I was occupied in attending the election of Municipal -
Councillors for the Borough but on Saturday morning I called upon Captn Stack the
Officer in command of the Detachment of the 45th stationed here & having informed
him of the suspicions which were entertained that the Chartists meditated some violent
movement requesting him to take such steps as might be necessary to secure his Detachment
from surprise in case any attack should be made upon the quarters in which they
were stationed- I then called upon the Secretary of the Club of Odd Fellows established
in the Town who I was informed could give me information with respect to the intentions
of the Chartists but altho his suspicions had been roused & he had been told that in
the neighbourhood of the Collieries Arms were sought after he could give me no definite
information. At this time I did not anticipate any organized outbreak but as the night of
the 5th November is always the scene of much riot and confusion in Newport I thought
it was possible that mischieviousness either in the Town or introduced into
the Town from a distance might take advantage of that riot & confusion by setting
fire to property or doing other mischief & I accordingly directed the Superintendent
of Police to summon 150 Special Constables to be on duty that evening & I suggested
to Captn Stack the propriety of having the Troops at their quarters at an earlier hour
than usual & to have them in readiness to act if called upon during the night.
In the course of the evening I wrote a letter to the Lord Lieutenant of the
County communicating to him the reports which had reached me.
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Wm Kerslake Junior
March 4 - 1864
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