Another Wolf in Gwent 1866


Not the first legend whose foundation lies in the sand of romance, rather than on the rock of fact, is that which gave Mr C.H. Williams the ground-work for his clever ballad. But the wolf which went scraping his paws, grinding his jaws, through brake and flood to Goytrey wood, where he got that ugly lick from Mr Herbert’s staff, was not the last of his race. Another wolf remains to be slain in Goytrey – so we are credibly informed – but no descendant of the brave Earl of Pembroke appears to give him chase.

Rides Stretton from Bryn derwen,

Rides Relph from hill of beech.

But then, ‘tis smaller vermin that you hunt nowadays, unless you go to France with His Grace of Beaufort.

The wolf of this our new Legend of Gwent

stated to ravage the country by force of law.

Created by Act of Parliament, brought into the district by Barons and Justices, held in charge by its own Wardens, our wolf notwithstanding all these accessories of respectability, works much mischief, spreads wide discontent, and evokes stern maledictions from the farmers and cottagers of Goytrey.

“Ho! bring the wolf-staves from the wall,

See that your knives are keen;

Come, men of hearts and sinews strong,

No child’s-play this, I ween.”

Certainly not- no child’s-play at all; but then wolf-staves and knives wont do the business. Our wolf is proof against edged tools, or there are pikes and bill-hooks which would have stopped his depredations before now.

But – to throw off our wolf’s clothing – what our neighbours complain of is the too vigorous measures (as they consider) which the Usk and Pontypool Highway Board is taking to improve their roads. The Goytrey people admit that their ways needed mending, and they may have been contumacious in not obeying certain Justices’ Orders for their improvement; but Nemesis has overtaken them, and the ratepayers begin to think that Goytrey is being “improved” too much entirely. Nearly £300 called for by the Highway Board, for the reconstruction of less than half-a-mile of road at one extremity of the parish, they think is pretty well to begin with, and seeing that there are nearly twenty miles of road, the repair of which lies either wholly or in part upon them, there seems good scope for further operations. “But” say the Board, “you needn’t make rates to amount we require at once. A beneficent Legislature has provided facilities for your borrowing the money, to be re-paid by instalments in twenty years.” Goytrey replies, “We can’t see it. Once let us begin borrowing, and when will you let us stop? If we borrow “500 for making this road to Pontypool, you may next call upon us, with equal reason, to make a new road to Blaenafon.” Our only chance for economy is to keep a tight grip upon our purse-strings, and we mean to do so.”

The road now under “repair” is near Kemeys Suspension Bridge, and while it is important only to one or two farms in Goytrey, it forms the shortest route to Pontypool from the parishes of Llanvair Kilgeddin, Bettws Newydd, and Kemeys Commander. Consequently, the Goytrey people argue that it is unfair that they should have to bear so great an expense for providing their neighbours a good road to market, while many of their own parishioners can hardly get a cart to their doors. They ask that the parishes receiving the benefit shall contribute towards the outlay, and the Board is said by some persons to have the power so to apportion it. The Board either cannot or has not done so, and an appeal for voluntary contributions is therefore contemplated by Goytrey, to which we cannot doubt there will be a liberal response.

To complete the road now in hand as far as Penpellenny – near Col Byrde’s residence – a distance of a mile and three-quarters, it is expected that a total cost of £500 will be incurred, which will represent more that 3s. 6d. in the pound on the rateable value of the parish. The calls already made amount to about 2s. in the pound: and the pressure upon the ratepayers being found to be very great, a vestry meeting was held on the 5th inst., the Rev Thos. Evans, rector, presiding, for the purpose of protesting against the proceedings of the Highway Board. Resolutions were passed, denouncing, as gross injustice, the borrowing of money, and the alleged excessive and unnecessary outlay on the road to |Pontypool; and a proposition for appointing a deputation to wait upon the Board was adjourned to another meeting to be held in a fortnight, in order that the Waywarden might be able to give information as to the call last made.

“Your money or your life,” was a challenge to which our ancestors sometimes had to respond. Goytrey seems to think it doesn’t even get the chance of the grim alternative but reads the demand, “Your money and your life.”

“ _________ You take my life

When you take the means by which I live.”


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