Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Estimated number qualified to vote:



17 Mar. 1820SIR CHARLES MORGAN, bt.
15 June 1826SIR CHARLES MORGAN, bt.
12 Feb. 1828SOMERSET re-elected after appointment to office
5 Aug. 1830SIR CHARLES MORGAN, bt.

Main Article

Monmouthshire was a maritime county on the south-eastern edge of the South Wales iron and coalfields. Between 1821 and 1831 its population increased from 71,833 to 98,130, reflecting the continued industrialization of the Sirhowy valley and growth of the iron towns of Pontypool and Tredegar. Since the death in 1784 of John Hanbury of Pontypool, the representation, which was last contested in 1771, had been controlled by a coalition of the two largest landowners: the Tory lord lieutenants, the dukes of Beaufort, whose Monmouthshire estates (worth almost £8,000 a year) included Troy House and Raglan Castle; and the old Whig family of Morgan of Tredegar, who dominated the populous hundred of Wentloog and influenced the neighbouring hundreds of Abergavenny, Caldicot and Usk. Initially and partly because of failures in direct male succession to the middle ranking estates of Llangibby Castle, Llanwern, and Pontypool, whose owners had previously shared in the representation, the ‘independent’ squirearchy had been inclined to support the Morgans and acquiesced in the arrangement, which included the neighbouring county of Brecon. Party loyalties, however, persisted and dissatisfaction with the sitting Members was mounting. Sir Charles Morgan, an astute businessman who had put his own succession through the female line behind him, was accused of ‘casting off his Whiggism’ for ‘ministerialism’ and personal gain. His colleague Lord Granville Somerset, the 6th duke of Beaufort’s second son and brother of Lord Worcester, the Member for Monmouth, had yet to prove himself. Furthermore, Morgan’s son Charles Morgan Robinson Morgan* had been defeated in Breconshire in 1818, the anti-Beaufort party were causing problems for the duke in Monmouth, and there was ample evidence of restiveness among squires discomfited by the post-war depression in agriculture and an unstable market for the coal and iron which had increased the profitability of their estates.2

On 19 Oct. 1819 the landowners met at Abergavenny, where the Whig Capel Hanbury Leigh of Pontypool Park, who had threatened opposition in 1805, and the radical Gloucestershire merchant and purchaser of the Woodfield estate, Mynyddislwyn, John Hodder Moggridge, proposed the establishment of a county society for the encouragement and protection of agriculture, and lamented the failure of Beaufort and their Members to represent their needs.3 The meeting’s political implications were not lost on Somerset, a junior treasury lord, or the Tredegar agents, particularly as a second meeting was proposed for petitioning for action to combat distress. Amid speculation that Moggridge would contest the county at the next election, Morgan responded in December 1819 by establishing the annual Tredegar cattle shows. The planned agriculturists’ meeting at the Three Salmons, Usk, 17 Feb. 1820, was postponed when George III’s death precipitated a dissolution, and the threat of opposition in the county was removed by Moggridge’s late decision to stand for Monmouth Boroughs, where he was defeated.4 Responding on 14 Feb. to Morgan’s request for support, Hanbury Leigh observed:

I certainly hope that our political differences may never occasion any alteration in our private feelings of regard and friendship for each other, as it is very far from any desire of mine to arraign those notions which have actuated your political conduct, yet I may be allowed after the deep distress into which the county has been plunged, to feel with greater warmth the necessity of some change in the administration of public affairs. God knows how that can be achieved under the present system and discipline of the House, but I rather hope and think that I am more likely to preserve your friendship by a consistent line of conduct than by any premature promise.5

Morgan, whose addresses stressed his long service and attention to the ‘prosperity of the county and the happiness of the United Kingdom’, risked retaliation for supporting (unlike Beaufort) the sitting Member John Edwards in the contest for Glamorgan.6 In Monmouthshire, he co-operated throughout with Beaufort, whose sons canvassed together, and he heeded his Newport attorney Thomas Jones Phillips’s warning to exercise vigilance and

make a more thorough canvass than you have done on former occasions ... Press every friend in the county of any note and every respectable freeholder in your interest to attend at the election as an exhibition of strength, so that [the] occasion may put a stop to the proceedings of the disaffected.7

At Monmouth, 17 Mar., Morgan’s sponsors were Colonel Charles Lewis of St. Pierre Park and William Addams Williams, the heir to Llangibby Castle, distant relations whose forefathers had represented the county and declared for John Morgan in 1771. The wealthy cloth merchant Sir Samuel Fludyer proposed Somerset and Richard Lewis of Llantilio Crossenny seconded. After the election was declared the Members dined with about 70 of their supporters at the Beaufort Arms. Before the company dispersed a county meeting to adopt the usual addresses of condolence and congratulation to George IV was arranged for 28 Mar. 1820.8

The agriculturists met at the Angel Inn, Abergavenny, 4 Apr., to petition for ‘speedy and effective relief’ from the burdens of high taxation and low (1793) prices. They condemned the 1815 corn laws as ‘wholly inefficacious to protect the property of the agricultural interest or to ensure that reasonable return of profit which they have a right to expect, and which it is the interest of all other classes of the community they should receive’, disclaimed ‘any wish to be relieved by the enactment of any new corn bill’, and called for legislation incorporating recommendations made in the 1817 poor law committee’s report.9 The petition was forwarded to Somerset for presentation. Joseph Price of Llanfoist informed Morgan, whose signature and endorsement were sought:

You are very correct in your observations that the agricultural petition, in fact sheets of parchment without any heading, has been sent out into different parts of the county for signatures in order that they may, when filled, be tacked, sewn or otherwise put together to form one petition, which is, however, a very harmless or rather moderate one; and you cannot please your constituents (many of whom you will recollect are farmers) more than by supporting it in Parliament ... There will most assuredly be a regularly organized opposition in this county at no distant period, when many who appear to be friends will turn out enemies or snakes in the grass, and on that account I would recommend you making as many freeholders as you well and safely could in this county while there is plenty of time for the purpose. There is no man more equal to the task or better adapted to effect it than your agent Mr. Prothero.10

Neither Member would endorse the petition in the Commons, 20 June 1820.11 Meanwhile at the sessions the magistrates had turned their attention to alleged irregularities in the land tax assessments and procuring an exchequer loan for a new house of correction at Usk.12

Popular interest in Queen Caroline’s case was channelled into addresses of outright support for her from the disaffected Boroughs, while loyal addresses were forthcoming from the less militant towns of Abergavenny and Pontypool. The abandonment of her prosecution in November 1820 was celebrated in Abergavenny, Chespstow, Monmouth, Newport, Raglan and settlements throughout the iron and coalfields, but only Chepstow is known to have joined the ‘men of Monmouth’ in petitioning for the restoration of the queen’s name to the liturgy in 1821, when the Members backed the government’s handling of the affair.13 Somerset presented another distress petition form the agriculturists, 26 Feb., but neither Member endorsed it or voted for the tax reductions it advocated. At the October 1821 quarter sessions Moggridge alleged that funds for the county gaol were being misapplied and incorporated the issue in his campaign for lower rates at subsequent sessions and in newspaper articles.14 ‘Scotch cattle’ riots spread from the Sirhowy valley near Tredegar to put Monmouthshire ‘in a ferment’ early in 1822, and John Calcraft and Sir Thomas Lethbridge interpreted Somerset’s decision to present the agriculturists’ distress petition, with which he did not concur, 25 Mar., as a sign that ministers would pay more heed to the landed interest.15 When rioting spread to the unemployed colliers, Beaufort met his deputy lieutenants at Usk, 24 Apr., and summoned military assistance, and the magistrates at Pontypool sessions offered a £50 reward for information leading to convictions.16 The county distress meeting at Usk, 10 May, was a predominantly Whig affair requested and addressed by Moggridge, the Joneses of Llanarth, John Leyson of Basaleg, Thomas Jones Phillips, the Rev. William Powell of Abergavenny, the Salusburys, Thomas Swinnerton of Wonastow and Benjamin Waddington of Llanofer and their allies.17 Moggridge, whose speech was highly critical of Somerset and the treasury, moved a petition incorporating resolutions for tax cuts and the abolition of unnecessary places and pensions, which Beaufort’s ‘friends’ failed to amend by a majority ratio of four to one, and the signatories included Sir Henry Protheroe, Lewis of Llantilio Crossenny, Lewis of St. Pierre, Jones of Clytha, Addams Williams junior of Llangibby Castle, and Phillips of Whitston. The Lords received it in the name of the sheriff James Jenkins, 13 May 1822, and the Commons two days later, when both Members confirmed the extent of the petitioners’ distress but dissociated themselves from the remedies they proposed.18

The merchants, shopkeepers and traders petitioned for repeal of the Insolvent Debtors Act in March 1823, and petitions for repeal of the combination laws and the abolition of West Indian slavery were also received that session and in 1824 from Aberystruth, Bedwellty, Caerleon, Llangattock, Llangunnider (Llangendeirne) and the county.19 Bedwellty and Mynyddislwyn petitioned the Commons for repeal of the assessed taxes, 22 Feb. 1825.20 The Members and the clergy of the Hereford and Llandaff diocese opposed Catholic relief in 1825, and the county’s Catholics, who included the Joneses of Clytha and Llanarth, petitioned the Commons in its favour, 19 Apr. 1825.21 Legislation for urban improvements was sought that Parliament and changes to the Brecon and Abergavenny canal, the Monmouthshire canal, the Rhumney railroad and turnpikes linking them to Abergavenny, Caerleon, Chepstow, Gloucester, Hereford, Monmouth and Newport were also enacted.22 The Monmouth bank of Bromage and Company failed during the 1825-6 crisis and in April 1826, just in time to be effective at the general election, Beaufort’s Monmouth ‘friends’ secured a crucial favourable verdict in quo warranto proceedings at Gloucestershire assizes.23 Morgan and Somerset made no reference to politics in their election addresses, canvassed personally and were unopposed.24 Afterwards Morgan leased his Bedwas coalfield to Hanbury Leigh, and attended to Caerleon charity and assize business.25

The landowners of the Caldicot and Newport districts sent petitions to both Houses for agricultural protection in February and May 1827, and the ironworkers of Ebbw Vale and Tredegar and the inhabitants of Mynyddislwyn contributed to the Dissenters’ petitioning campaign for repeal of the Test Acts.26 Somerset resigned from office in May 1827 when the pro-Catholic Canning became prime minister, but was reappointed by the duke of Wellington in January 1828 and re-elected without incident, 12 Feb.27 Monmouthshire petitions for repeal of the Test Acts in 1828, which the cabinet initially opposed, were presented to the Commons by Morgan, who, like the Somersets, voted against it, 26 Feb. Most originated from Dissenters’ congregations in the Abergavenny, Pontypool and Mynyddislwyn areas, but Chepstow also petitioned, as did the Roman Catholics of Abergavenny.28 The town’s Protestant Dissenters reciprocated by petitioning with the Catholics for their relief, 6 May, 16 May, 9 June, and Chepstow petitioned the Lords for ‘the removal of all religious disabilities’ 16 Apr. 1828.29 Anti-Catholic petitioning, in which the influence of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists and Tredegar is readily detectable, was organized around the iron works and chapels of Blaenavon, Beaufort, Ebbw Vale, Goitre, Nant-y-glo, Pontypool, Tredegar and Varteg.30 Benefit clubs and self-help societies had flourished in the aftermath of the 1822 riots and several petitioned the Commons against the 1828 friendly societies bill and dissolved themselves rather than comply with similar provisions in December 1831.31 The maltsters of Caldicot and the hundreds of Abergavenny and Chepstow petitioned the Commons against the 1827 Malt Act, 4, 7 Mar. 1828. Meanwhile Beaufort and the magistracy were encountering legal problems over the proposed use of public funds (as permitted under the 1826 Act) to repair and improve the ‘county hall’ erected by the Somersets at Monmouth for joint borough and county use. On 23 June 1828 the barrister William Oldnall Russell as counsel judged that the Act could not be applied as the building belonged to the corporation of Monmouth. On his advice the Monmouth county hall bill was introduced by Somerset, 19 Feb., and enacted, 13 Apr. 1829.32

Beaufort and his relations backed Wellington and Peel’s decision to concede Catholic emancipation in 1829 and voted for it, but Morgan, though ready to present favourable and hostile petitions, opposed it to the last. The gentry, clergy, churchwardens, freeholders, copyholders and inhabitants of Chepstow (3, 10 Mar.), Llanhileth (13 Mar.), Llanwern, Mynyddislwyn (16, 23 Mar.), and the clergy of the Monmouth archdeaconry (16, 17 Mar.) petitioned against concessions, but controversy surrounded the means by which signatures were obtained.33 On 21 Apr. the Bristol Mercury reported that

several petitions against Catholic relief having been sent to Parliament from different parts of Monmouthshire without meetings being held, or other public notices given, and in some cases means used to obtain signatures which at another time perhaps, those who used them would scorn, it was thought right to ascertain before the grand jury at the late assizes at Monmouth, separated ... what was really the sentiment of the intellect and property of the county ... The grand jury was a full one, 23 in number, of these 17 were avowedly and decidedly in favour of the measures passing through Parliament, one probably so, and five against.

Moggridge, whose personal petition was received by the Commons, 4 Mar., encouraged the local anti-truck campaign supported in petitions from Bedwellty and Llanofer, 15 Mar., the county’s working collieries and the inhabitants of Trefeithin and Mynyddislwyn, 26 Apr. 1830. Tithe reform, another contentious local issue, was advocated in petitions from the freeholders and landowners of the parishes of Bryngwyn, Goitre Fawr, Llanelen, Llanofer, Llangattock-Lingoed Llanarth, Llantillio-Pertholey, Llanvapley, Llanvetherine, Llanvihangel Crucorney, Llanthewy Rytherch, Llanthewy Skirrid and Pen-rhos, received by the Commons, 12 Mar., and the Lords, 17 Mar. 1830. The same parishes were also affected by the proposed Abergavenny turnpike.34 The ‘regular traders and dealers’ petitioned for the imposition of an annual £25 license fee for hawkers, 23 Mar.35 Led by Pontypool, and fearing monopoly, the Monmouthshire ‘ironmasters and holders of mineral property’ contributed to the petitioning campaign against the East India Company’s trading monopoly, 26 Apr., 18 May.36 The inhabitants of Pontypool and Abergavenny petitioned for abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 24 May.37 Hostile petitions from the industrialist Richard Blakemore† of the Leys and the Monmouthshire Canal Company, 2, 27 Apr., served only to delay the enactment of the 1830 Bute (Cardiff) canal bill, which was perceived as a threat to the prosperity of the port of Newport.38 At the general election in August Morgan projected himself as a defender of the king, church and constitution, eager to promote Monmouthshire’s agriculture and commerce, and Somerset appealed to his record of the past 14 years.39 They were not opposed. Morgan, proposed by Lewis of St. Pierre and seconded by the manager of the Pont-hir iron works, Thomas Fothergill, referred to recent political differences and promised to try to represent all parties. Lewis of Llantilio Cressenny and Addams Williams of Llangibby Castle sponsored Somerset, who acknowledged in speeches on the hustings and at the election dinner at the Beaufort Arms that the county sought ‘more exertion, more ability and more attention’ from its Members.40 Both were counted among the Wellington ministry’s ‘friends’, and Somerset voted and went out of office with them, 15 Nov. 1830.

Wesleyan Methodist congregations countywide, the Dissenters of Abergavenny, Caerleon, Pontypool and Trosnant, the inhabitants of Argoed, Llanhileth, Mynyddislwyn and Tredegar and the county magistrates sent petitions to both Houses backing the 1830-1 anti-slavery campaign.41 Depression extended to all sectors of the economy, and by the time Bedwellty and Mynyddislwyn’s petitions against the truck system were received by the Commons, 14 Dec. 1830, layoffs, lockouts and prolonged strikes in the collieries and ironworks had produced a fresh outbreak of ‘Scotch cattle’ riots, in which William Cobbett’s† visit to the county in June 1830 was said to be a factor.42 Amid the disturbance and urban clamour for reform the Newport radical and future Chartist John Frost took up his pen against Morgan and urged him join the reformers, as he had everything to gain and nothing to lose.43 The sheriff, Iltyd Nicholl of Llanmaes (Glamorgan) and Court Blethin, swore in 26 special constables at Newport, 6 Dec. 1830, but resisted pressure to call a magistrates’ meeting before consulting Beaufort, who summoned the lieutenancy to Usk, 2 Jan. 1831, when they annulled the current militia arrangements, enrolled 280 recruits, and summoned military assistance.44

Moggridge was abroad in late January 1831, when a correspondent to the Monmouthshire Merlin called on the county gentlemen to establish a reform committee and join the Boroughs in petitioning, which hitherto they had refrained from doing on account of the unrest.45 The Grey ministry’s reform bill proposed no change in the representation of the county or its Boroughs, and the county reform meeting at Usk, 17 Mar., was a hurriedly convened affair, requested by Sir Thomas Salusbury, Hanbury Leigh, Addams Williams of Llangibby Castle and others. As at Monmouth earlier that day, Hanbury Leigh proposed six resolutions on which the address and petitions endorsing the bill were based, and the Rev. William Powell seconded. Addams Williams, who, with his seconder, Lewis of Llantilio Crossenny, implored landlords to listen to their tenants, proposed the address to the king. Lewis of St. Pierre and the Rev. Charles Salusbury proposed the petition to the Lords, forwarded for presentation by Lord Grey, and the Commons petition was entrusted to Lord John Russell. Its proposer, Benjamin Hall* of Llanofer, called for an end to Beaufort-Tredegar domination in Monmouthshire. The Members had declined attendance but were asked to support it and, ‘to save time’, the sheriff signed it on the meeting’s behalf.46 Citing the statue of Edward I, the petition maintained that Members should

no longer be the representatives of a small class or of a particular interest, but form a body, who, representing the people and sympathizing with the people, shall have a right to call upon the people for implicit obedience to the laws and for cheerful submission to the necessary burdens to which they shall have given their free consent by the voice of their representatives in Parliament.47

The meeting also resolved to put forward a reformer at the next election and requisitioned Hanbury Leigh. The Commons received their petition, 26 Mar. A favourable one from the freeholders and householders of Abergavenny, presented to the Commons, 21 Mar., and the Lords on the 23rd, expressed regret at the bill’s failure to add Abergavenny, Chepstow and Pontypool, with their combined population of over 12,000, to the Boroughs constituency.48 The Somersets and their relations divided against the bill, 22 Mar., and Morgan and his heir Charles Morgan Robinson Morgan* won popular acclaim for voting for it.49 Morgan, however, was hampered by his well-publicized disagreement with Prothero, a ‘convert’ to reform, who was anxious to undermine Tredegar’s influence over the Monmouthshire Canal Company.50 Furthermore, Morgan’s son Charles Augustus, who defended his conduct through the correspondence columns of the Monmouthshire Merlin, had clashed openly with Hall, a family friend and the declared reform candidate for Monmouth Boroughs. After Hanbury Leigh had declined nomination, Hall chaired a meeting of the pro-reform gentry at Usk, 11 Apr., which had adopted Addams Williams as their candidate for the county, and applied to the reform committee in London for finance.51 Once it emerged that Morgan, like Somerset, had voted for Gascoyne’s amendment, which wrecked the bill, 19 Apr., precipitating a dissolution, he was denounced as ‘a false friend of reform’.52 Mindful of ‘the active exertions that are now being made in favour of a new representative’, Morgan had already issued a canvassing address, 18 Apr., in which he made ‘no threats or promises’, but appealed to his 40 years’ service as an independent Member attentive to local interests.53 The county was in uproar, and with Addams Williams’ return assured, Morgan decided after discussions with his heir not to risk his family’s prestige in a contest with Somerset, who was chairman of the quarter sessions and had the stronger interest. On 20 Apr. he announced his retirement on grounds of health and age (he was 71).54 The land agent Anthony M. Hawkins wrote, 24 Apr.:

I have just seen Sir Charles M. and he seems very much mortified at what he calls the ingratitude of the county gentlemen, and that when he saw them all against him he gave up, and never would again attempt to represent the county. I told him he might thank his agent for his unpopularity, and that I congratulated him on his dismissal. He said it was high time, when he was writing such papers. I told him that if he did not again support him, he would soon fall to his original insignificance. Sir Charles answered, ‘You may depend I never will’ ... I was really sorry to see what Sir Charles felt about the county. He said his son, Mr. [Charles Morgan Robinson] Morgan, was quite disgusted with the whole thing, and wished he lived out of the county.55

An editorial in the Monmouthshire Merlin, 23 Apr., expressed support for Somerset and Addams Williams, who, a donation from the Reform Club being suspected, was charged by the ‘Blues’ with being tied to both a party and his requisitionists. The Baptist Missionary Society meeting at Llanwenarth, 3-4 May 1831, pledged to vote and canvass for liberal candidates.56 Interest now focused on the Boroughs, where Hall outpolled Worcester after a violent campaign, but was later unseated on petition.57

The military were withdrawn before Somerset arrived at Monmouth for the election with a cavalcade of 200 and carriages. He was ‘kindly, but not warmly received’. Addams Williams entered the town to great acclaim, ‘preceded by 500 gentlemen on horseback, flags, banners, and musical bands’, and followed by ‘at least 50 carriages’. Lewis of Llantilio Cressenny and Richard Bailey of Nant-y-glo sponsored Somerset, and Salusbury and Jones of Llanarth proposed Addams Williams, whose candidature was also endorsed in an open letter read out from Hanbury Leigh. In a speech which was drowned out by shouting, but subsequently printed, Somerset acknowledged the strong tide of support for reform among the freeholders and maintained that he had hoped to secure amendments to the bill rather than see it defeated. He also claimed that his anti-reform votes were ones of conscience, cast as a representative of the country as a whole rather than Monmouthshire, and upbraided the libellous pamphleteer who had alleged that his family received £48,000 annually from public funds. Thanking his supporters, Addams Williams expressed regret at Hanbury Leigh’s indisposition and confirmed his wholehearted support for the reform bill. Heeding the severe economic downturn, he added that

when people had a Parliament returned fairly and freely by themselves, their confidence would be restored, and they would have sufficient loyalty and fortitude to submit to all unavoidable privations. The expectation of being able to serve his fellow countrymen by giving a constant and decided vote in favour of reform was his principal reason for consenting to come forward ... Another consideration ... [was that] although a large number of the gentlemen and freeholders of the county approved of the ministerial measure of reform ... not one of their three representatives in the last Parliament had supported it ... They had now returned two ... pledged ... to support the measure ... [and establish] the independence of the county ... which he hoped would long continue to flourish.58

Morgan’s ‘retirement’, the subject of a satirical ode in the Gloucester Journal, was marked by a dinner, speeches and presentation at Tredegar, 5 July 1831.59 On 10 Aug. Lewis of St. Pierre chaired a dinner for Somerset and his supporters at Raglan Castle, where they established a subscription fund and election committee in his interest headed by Sir Samuel Fludyer, Sir Robert Brownrigg of Helston House, Monmouth, the sheriff William Hollis, Kingsmill Evans of Hill Court, Joseph Bailey of Nant-y-glo and Richard Blakemore.60 Addams Williams voted for and Somerset against the reintroduced reform bill, but, like most of their constituents, both supported Merthyr’s case for separate enfranchisement, and they co-operated to seek amendments to the truck bill and on local legislation. After Hall lost his seat most Boroughs’ petitions were entrusted to Addams Williams, who made a point of informing the newspapers whenever one of his votes, like that against Lord Chandos’s clause to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, which Somerset supported, 18 Aug., was misreported.61 As announced by the Monmouthshire Merlin of 6 Aug., Somerset attempted to obtain a second borough constituency for Monmouthshire. Drawing on population and taxation statistics, 7 Sept., he first proposed dividing Monmouth Boroughs, adding Abergavenny and Pontypool to Newport, and Chepstow to Monmouth and Usk. When this failed, he sought unsuccessfully to have Abergavenny, Chepstow and Pontypool added to the existing Boroughs constituency. Both proposals would have assisted the Conservatives by reducing the urban ‘liberal’ vote in the county constituency. Addams Williams remained silent and, rejecting the suggestions, the bill’s architect Lord John Russell took Somerset to task for failing to explain whether he based Monmouthshire’s claims on ‘the Welsh or the English system of representation’.62 After the Commons passed the reform bill, 21 Sept., Abergavenny resolved to petition the Lords in its favour, 29 Sept., and Hanbury Leigh, Salusbury, Philip Jones, Digby Mackworth of Glenusk and the Lewises of St. Pierre headed a requisition for a county reform meeting at Usk, 3 Oct., which did the same.63 According to The Times, 6 Oct., members of all the leading families ‘except Beaufort and Tredegar’ attended. Resolutions were proposed and seconded by Hanbury Leigh, Lewis of St. Pierre, Moggridge, Hall, William Powell, Salusbury and J.H. Pritchard of Caerleon, Mackworth, Richard Fothergill of Caerleon, and Phillips junior of Whitston. Moggridge expressed regret that the Morgans of Tredegar no longer led the reformers and said he hoped that ‘in due course one of them would detach himself from the baneful connection to which every political object of that family had been sacrificed to take his stand where he ought to be, at the head of the freemen’. This prompted cries of ‘but not to the exclusion of Williams’, and Addams Williams thanked the freeholders for their confidence and sought to reassure waverers that the bill was moderate. He refused to comment on Monmouthshire’s future representation. The petition was sent to Basaleg, Caerleon, Newport, Pontypool, Usk and Whitston for signature, and forwarded to Lord Dacre for presentation.64 Incendiarism resumed following the bill’s rejection by the Lords, 8 Oct. Reform meetings were called in Abergavenny, Bedwellty and Mynyddislwyn, and Hanbury Leigh and Sir Thomas Salusbury dominated the ‘subdued’ county meeting at Usk, 3 Nov. 1831, that addressed the king, thanking him for supporting the last reform bill and expressing confidence in the next and in ministers.65 The address continued:

We had looked with hopeful anticipation for the redress of the grievances too long endured by your Majesty’s faithful people from the usurpation of an overbearing oligarchy, by the intrusion of whose nominees into the seats of our representatives the balance of our happy constitution has been well nigh overturned.66

The sheriff charged the requisitionists £100 7s. 9d. for the three reform meetings, of which £84 was defrayed by public subscription.67

Monmouthshire’s population was slightly below the 100,000 threshold above which second Members were conceded to Welsh counties, and the decision to award it a third county Member under the revised reform bill rather than additional borough representation caused surprise. Somerset decided against voting at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and correctly surmised that the additional seat would materialize only if the campaign for separate representation for Merthyr was abandoned.68 Amendments requesting this were defeated, 5, 9 Mar. 1832, but its advocates had the better of the debate, and the decision to award Monmouthshire’s intended third seat to Merthyr was announced on the 14th and carried by 191-146. Leading the opposition to the proposal, Somerset and his fellow anti-reformer, the Breconshire Member Thomas Wood, who had championed Merthyr’s cause, argued against exchanging a county for a borough seat.69 Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot, the pro-reform Member for Glamorgan, observed:

The resolution of ministers to take a Member from Monmouthshire excited great surprise and I consider it as very unwise in them, because everyone knows that if the duke of Beaufort had not been supposed to have great influence, the thing would not have been done. It is a job, and will tend to throw great discredit on ministers.70

Addams Williams made no comment on the matter before the change was enacted. Abergavenny and the West Monmouthshire Political Union petitioned to withhold supplies in May 1832 when the bill’s defeat in the Lords put a ministry headed by Wellington in contemplation; but further petitions and a planned county meeting were cancelled directly Grey returned to office, as the bill was secure.71 Popular support for the anti-slavery campaign and opposition to the Maynooth grant was revived at the county’s Baptist congregations’ two-day meeting at Beulah, Mynyddislwyn, 29, 30 May, and at reform celebrations at Abergavenny, Chepstow and Pontypool in June and July 1832. With the poor law, tithe reform and monopolies they became major issues at the general election in December.72 Reports that Morgan might stand and that Addams Williams would make way for another reformer were quickly denied, and to the regret of ‘A Mynyddislwyn Freeholder’, the Conservative Somerset and the Liberal Addams Williams were unopposed.73 Many who had supported reform declared for Somerset in the autumn of 1832, and both candidates had strong local committees, who attended assiduously to the registration of 3,738 voters (an increase mainly in the leaseholder vote) in the new polling places of Monmouth, Abergavenny, Bedwellty, Newport, and Usk, at a cost of £175 12s. 10d.74 The representation remained unchanged until Addams Williams’s retirement in January 1841, when a plan to bring in another Liberal, Hanbury Leigh’s nephew Thomas Charles Hanbury Tracy*, failed. The Morgan-Beaufort hegemony was then restored and the county returned two Conservatives until it was reorganized into three single Member constituencies in 1885.75

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. D.A. Wager, ‘Welsh Politics and Parl. Reform, 1780-1835’ (Univ. of Wales Ph.D. thesis, 1972), 367.
  • 2. F. O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons, and Parties, 274, 287-9, 334; W.T. Morgan, ‘Co. Elections Mon. 1705-1847’, NLWJ, x (1957-8), 167; E.M. Havill, ‘Parl. Rep. Mon. and Monmouth Boroughs, 1536-1832’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1949), 111-20; D. Howell, Land and People in 19th Cent. Wales, 21-23; NLW, Tredegar mss 121/852-4; NLW, Badminton mss II/9855, 9856, 11644, 14849.
  • 3. Cambrian, 23 Oct.; Seren Gomer, ii (1819), 348.
  • 4. Cambrian, 30 Oct. 1819; Keene’s Bath Jnl. 14 Feb.; Bristol Mercury, 27 Mar. 1820.
  • 5. Tredegar mss 135/773. Mar. 1820.
  • 6. Bristol Mercury, 21 Feb. Cambrian, 26 Feb. 1820; Tredegar mss 135/803.
  • 7. Tredegar mss 45/1478, 1507; 135/778; NLW, Baker Gabb mss 683.
  • 8. Cambrian, 25 Mar. 1820.
  • 9. Bristol Mercury, 27 Mar., 10 Apr.; Cambrian, 15 Apr. 1820; Tredegar mss 45/1516-1517.
  • 10. Tredegar mss 135/795.
  • 11. CJ, lxxv. 280.
  • 12. Tredegar mss 45/1497.
  • 13. The Times, 21 Oct., 15 Nov. 1820, 3 Jan. 1821; Bristol Mercury, 6, 20, 27 Nov. 1820, 27 Jan.; Courier, 31 Jan.; Seren Gomer, iv (1821), 61, 92-93; CJ, lxxvi. 22; Havill, 128-9.
  • 14. Bristol Mercury, 20 Oct. 1821, 19 Jan., 23 Mar., 20 Apr. 1822.
  • 15. D.J.V. Jones, Before Rebecca, 89; Bristol Mercury, 1, 8 Dec. 1821, 6 Apr.; The Times, 24 Apr., 1, 7, 15, 22, 28 May 1822; N. Gash, Secretary Peel, 346.
  • 16. Bristol Mercury, 27 Apr., 4, 11, 25 May, 1, 22 June; Cambrian, 4, 11 May; Seren Gomer, v (1822), 190-1.
  • 17. Bristol Mercury, 4 May; Cambrian, 11 May 1822.
  • 18. The Times, 16 May; Bristol Mercury, 18 May; Cambrian, 18 May 1822; LJ, lvi. 169; CJ, lxxvii. 268.
  • 19. CJ, lxxviii. 102, 304, 348, 429; lxxix. 319-20; lxxxi. 60; The Times, 11, 24 May 1823.
  • 20. Ibid. lxxx. 110.
  • 21. CJ, lxxx. 319.
  • 22. The Times, 5 Feb. 1825; Tredegar mss 57/44-47; C. Barber, ‘Canals and Economic Development of S. Wales’, in Modern S. Wales ed. C. Barber and L.J. Williams, 24-42.
  • 23. I.W.R. David, ‘Political and Electioneering Activity in S.E. Wales, 1820-52’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1959), 34; Cambrian, 15 Apr.; Bristol Mercury, 9 May 1826; Tredegar mss 57/44-46.
  • 24. Cambrian, 3, 10, 17 June; The Times, 10, 15 June 1826.
  • 25. Tredegar mss 57/47.
  • 26. CJ, lxxxii. 444, 521, 528, 594; LJ, lxix, 71, 81, 287.
  • 27. The Cambrian, 16 Feb. 1828.
  • 28. CJ, lxxxiii. 35, 87, 105, 165, 181, 271; LJ, lx. 47, 48, 71, 74, 79-81, 172, 176, 181; Cambrian, 1 Mar. 1828.
  • 29. CJ, lxxxiii. 268, 271, 319, 356; The Times, 17 Apr. 1828; LJ, lx. 172, 521.
  • 30. CJ, lxxxiii. 277, 282, 319, 332-3, 382; LJ, lx. 181.
  • 31. Jones, 91; CJ, lxxxiii. 242, 254, 271.
  • 32. Badminton mss II/9877-9878; CJ, lxxxiv. 55, 119, 131, 145, 181, 186, 220.
  • 33. CJ, lxxxiv. 132, 142; LJ, lxi. 153, 212, 257; Bristol Mercury, 17, 24 Mar. 1829.
  • 34. CJ, lxxxv. 172; LJ, lxii. 127.
  • 35. CJ, lxxxv. 132, 178, 220, 332.
  • 36. Ibid. 330, 443; LJ, lxii. 215.
  • 37. CJ, lxxxv. 463; LJ, lxii. 215.
  • 38. E. Ball, ‘Glamorgan: A Study of the Co. and the Work of its Members in the Commons, 1825-1835’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1965), 126-30; CJ, lxxxv. 328, 335, 380, 429, 471, 478, 646.
  • 39. Mon. Merlin, 10, 17 July 1830.
  • 40. NLW ms 18541 B [Llanmaes mss], jnl. of Iltyd Nicholl, 5 Aug.; Mon. Merlin, 7 Aug.; Cambrian, 14 Aug. 1830.
  • 41. CJ, lxxxvi. 132, 157, 172, 254, 444, 454; LJ, lxiii. 34, 54, 62, 63, 65, 68, 70, 72, 73, 81, 85-87, 92, 94, 125, 148, 152, 279, 485-8.
  • 42. Jones, 93-98; Gash, 618; CJ, lxxxvi. 172.
  • 43. J. Frost, A Christmas Box to Sir Charles Morgan; Williams, 59-62; PP (1830-1), iii. 425-6.
  • 44. Jnl. of Iltyd Nicholl, 6-12 Dec. 1830; Mon. Merlin, 1, 8 Jan. 1831.
  • 45. Mon. Merlin, 29 Jan., 12 Feb. 1831.
  • 46. Gwent RO, Llewellin and Co. (Usk) mss D.749.213-25; Mon. Merlin, 19, 26 Mar. 1831.
  • 47. Llewellin and Co. (Usk) mss D.749.226.
  • 48. Mon. Merlin, 26 Mar., 2 Apr.; Cambrian, 2 Apr. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 309, 415; LJ, lxiii. 363.
  • 49. Mon. Merlin, 26 Mar. 1831.
  • 50. Ibid. 5, 12 Feb.; Cambrian, 19 Feb. 1831.
  • 51. Mon. Merlin, 2, 9, 16 Apr. 1831.
  • 52. Ibid. 23 Apr.; Three Diaries, 91; Harrowby mss, Ryder to Harrowby, 6 May 1831.
  • 53. The Times, 21 Apr. 1831.
  • 54. Cardiff Pub. Lib. Bute Estate letterbks. ii. 273-5; Mon. Merlin, 23 Apr.; Cambrian, 30 Apr. 1831; Morgan, 176-7; David, 43-44.
  • 55. Llangibby Castle mss A161.
  • 56. D. Williams, 67-68; Seren Gomer, June 1831.
  • 57. K. Kissack, Monmouth, 104-5; CJ, lxxxvi. 537, 643, 645, 665; Mon. Merlin, 16, 23 July 1831.
  • 58. Llewellin and Co. (Usk) mss D.749.256, 300; Gwent RO, Evans and Evill mss D.25.1401; Mon. Merlin, 7 May; The Times, 10 May 1831.
  • 59. NLW, Tredegar Park mun. I/204-7; Gloucester Jnl. 21 May; Cambrian, 9 July 1831.
  • 60. Mon. Merlin, 6, 13 Aug. 1831.
  • 61. D. Williams, 68-72; NLW, Sir Leonard Twiston Davies mss (Twiston Davies mss) 4241; The Times, 3, 20 Aug., Mon. Merlin, 27 Aug. 1831.
  • 62. Mon. Merlin, 10 Sept. 1831.
  • 63. Llewellin and Co. (Usk) mss D.749.229-33; LJ, lxiii. 1061.
  • 64. Mon. Merlin, 1, 8 Oct.; Cambrian, 8 Oct. 1831.
  • 65. Llewellin and Co. (Usk) mss D.749.220; Evans and Evill mss 0627; The Times, 1 Nov., 8, 9 Dec. Cambrian, 5, 12 Nov. 1831.
  • 66. Llewellin and Co. (Usk) mss D.749.214.
  • 67. Ibid. D.749.215, 224, 227, 229.
  • 68. D. Wager, ‘Welsh Politics and Parl. Reform, 1780-1832’, WHR, vii (1974-5), 447-8; Mon. Merlin, 17, 24 Dec. 1831; Llangibby Castle mss A162.
  • 69. NLW, Maybery mss 6590; NLW, Bute mss L75/34; CJ, lxxxvii. 193; Mon. Merlin, 17 Mar. 1832.
  • 70. NLW, Penrice and Margam mss 9239, Talbot to G. Llewellyn, 20 Mar. 1832.
  • 71. Mon. Merlin, 21 Apr., 19, 26 May 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 332.
  • 72. Twiston Davies mss 5993; Mon. Merlin, 16, 23, 30 June, 7, 14 July, 20 Oct., 8 Dec. 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 461.
  • 73. Cambrian, 8 Sept.; Welshman, 21 Dec.; Mon. Merlin, 22 Dec. 1832.
  • 74. Twiston Davies mss 4277-90, 4294-8, 4301-19, 4321-4, 4357, 4374-4375, 4386-4411, 5985-5986, 6001-5, 6027-6028; PP (1833), xxvii. 107; (1834), ix. 591, 640-1.
  • 75. Morgan, 176-84; Tredegar mss 71/90-93; The Times, 12 Jan., 3, 5, 8, 11 Feb. 1841.