The examination of William Davies, at the trial of the Chartist leaders, following the Rising at Newport, November 1839.
William Davies was a shopkeeper's son from Blackwood. He had been a member of the local Chartist lodge since May 1839, and had therefore been present at a number of secret meetings when arrangements for the Chartist attack on Newport were discussed. Under cross-examination, Davies talked about the organisational structure of the Chartist movement and explained how each of the various lodges were to play a particular role in the rising. Despite his involvement in the movement, Davies did not take part in the uprising himself and on Monday, 4 November 1839, the day of the Chartist assault on Newport, he decided to stay at home in Blackwood until mid-day - it was said that he was later ridiculed by the local women for his cowardice. Davies's decision to give evidence at the Chartist Trials was regarded as an important turning-point in the investigation, as he had been privy to a great deal of confidential information in the secret meetings. However, he later decided to jump bail.
Source: David J. V. Jones, 'The Last Rising: The Newport Insurrection of 1839' (Oxford, 1985).
© Newport Library and Information Service 1970
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