1873 Free Press (The Vicar and the Well)

July 19th 1873
Goytre
To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir, – A very worthy and estimable gentleman, the Rev T Evans, rector of Goytre, and Justice of the Peace, came before the public some time ago in the character of a disinterested person and one who was fighting for the good of his parishioners, by opening an old road which was almost forgotten and never used but by an occasional stray donkey.
This same good gentleman has now gone from “opening” to shutting.
A poor woman in the neighbourhood has three children, whom she originally sent to the British School. Mr Evans, who leaves no stone unturned (but in vain) to fill his school, induced this woman, by promises of help and work, to send her children to his school. It seems, however, the promises were not kept, and finding, besides, the children were learning little or nothing, the woman sent them back to the British School.
There happens to be a well near this poor woman’s house, from which, not only she, but all the neighbourhood round, get water. Mr Evans, having the right (?), it seems finding the children were taken away from his school, forbade the woman getting water from the well. Not being able to live without water, however, she disregarded Mr Evans’s word, and went to the well again. On finding this, Mr Evans, with a spirit which deserves high commendation, had the well filled up with stones, so that it was impossible for or anyone else to get at the water, thus robbing not only one who had offended him, but his own tenants and other persons, of the only water within a long distance, and which in a very dry summer, is the only water to be obtained in the neighbourhood.
Some men at work in an adjacent wood, wanting water, removed the stones and helped themselves to the precious liquid. On finding that stones were of no use to guard this treasure, Mr Evans employed his men in the ennobling and gratifying work of emptying cartloads of earth in the water, and making the hollow in which the well is situated as level as the surrounding field, first of all having a mighty stone weighing 8 or 9 hundred weight hauled on the top of the water. The rev gentleman’s feeling then, on finding that the earth had been thrown out and the apparently impossible feat of rolling the stone from the mouth had been accomplished, must have been of a mild and peaceful nature; for not to be daunted, he again set his men to work, and now, after employing them two or three days, he has succeeded in covering the well, and some distance round it, with 130 or 140 cartloads of stones. The men, it appears, like the work very much, and heartily wish someone would open it again, for they are treated by their liberal employer with plenty of gin and sherry.
The glorious work is now supposed to be finished, so as to gratify his kindly feelings to one poor woman, the clergyman of the parish has taken from many families one of God’s free gifts – the blessing of water – and has closed a well from which water has been obtained (as can be proved) for 40 years. Further remark is unnecessary the facts speak for themselves.                 AQUA

BETTER LET WELL ALONE

I’ve heard of Holy Wells, and holy men
Delighting in well-doing to a brother;
But men who choke their neighbour’s well, and then
Prey for his welfare with a feign’d Amen,
Can they be holy men? – No wholly t’other!

WELL! WELL!                           (There is another much longer poem)

Saturday July 26th 1873
THE WELL AT GOYTRE
To The Editor of the Free Press

Sir, – Two persons Henry Matthews, and David Bowen, have the audacity to question the accuracy of my report of the proceeding

August 2nd 1873
THE CLOSING UP OF A WELL AT GOYTRE
To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir, – One tale is true until another is told.. “Aqua” had not the courage to give his real name. His tale is a tissue of misstatements and  presentations.
Who this scribe is, I know not; but if rumour be true, it is a misfortune to him and a nuisance to others that he is not a water drinker or a total abstainer, for, to my certain knowledge, when, not long since, invited by a friend to his tidy apartment one evening, this worthy poured forth on the fire place – to the disgust of the housekeeper – the entire and unsavory contents of what was once called in Chamber’s Journal “the internal genii” overburdened and in distress. Tell it not at Goytre, nor at Penpellenny.
“Aqua” evidently thinks himself promising, really clever, witty and poetical. The rules of Syntax and Prosally are nothing to him.   Probably by next July his mental development through total abstinence will be such as to enable him to rise to the dignity of a lecturer. The first of the series – a rich treat- will, of course, be delivered in the Town Hall at Pontypool,   on “The use and abuse of salads and liquids.”
The first paragraph in his letter speaks of me as “coming before the public, some time ago, in the character of a disinterested person and one who was fighting for the good of his parishioners by opening an old road, etc.”It is not true that I was “disinterested” in that matter; having a freehold farm with a Grist Mill upon it not far from the north end of the highway alluded to. What conexion, however, there is between the opening of this public road and the shutting up of a well on my private property, about the middle of my field at the Walnut Tree farm. I am unable see. This paragraph is full of personal abuse, and betrays as well the pugnacious ness of the writer as the ignorance and bad spirit of those who aided him.
The second paragraph runs thus: “A poor woman had three children, whom she originally sent to the British School. Mr Evans induced the woman by promise of help and work to send her children to his British School.   The promises were not kept. Finding the children were learning little or nothing, the woman sent them back to the British School.”There are here four sentences, and each sustenance contains a gross mis-statement. It is not true that the children were originally sent to the British School. They were sent originally to the Church School. The parents were for a long time church going people.   The father for a long time was one of my workmen, and nearly up to the day of his death. Hence, the children were so clothed by Mrs. Evans in her own children’s black dresses, hats, etc, that they presented a very respectable appearance at their father’s funeral, and our kindness in this and in other ways seemed to be for a time not a little appreciated. Why they left for the British School in the first instance I know not. There they remained until, some time ago, the mother was fined £3 for a violent assault, by one of the upholders of that school, who happened on that occasion, to be on the Bench and in the chair. In consequence of this circumstance the grandmother declared to me that the children should never again go to the British School, but should return to the National School.It is untrue, therefore, that I induced the mother by promises of help and work to send her children to my school. I had, at the time, no conversation with her on the subject, but with the grandmother. It is true that the latter asked me to give her daughter work. If she had come to Nantyderry to seek it, she would have had it. Why she did not come, I know not, unless she thought the guardian of the parish might reduce the pay for her and her children.
In the third paragraph is contained the point of the letter. – “there happens to be a well near this poor woman’s house, from which not only she, but all the neighborhood round, got water.” Mr Evans having the right (?). it seems, finding the children were taken away from his school, forbade the woman getting water from the well. She disregarded Mr Evans’s word and went to the well again. On finding this, Mr Evans (etc) thus robbing not only one who had offended him, but his own tenants and other persons of the only water to be obtained in the neighbourhood.”There are several wells in the neighbourhood – one in my wood over the road, nearer the cottages. I saw this said poor woman’s boy carrying a can of water from this well this week. She has never been forbidden this. She had, I am told, uniformly used it. It is her own fault that my well in the field, farther away from her and others, is now closed. It is not true that because “finding her children were taken away from my school” I had the well closed up. This is maliciously circulated to stir up feelings of sympathy on the part of the British School, and she has succeeded in doing so. But it is true that, when near the well with my workman, she boldly and insultingly disputed my right to meddle with the well at all, that she claimed a right from custom to come there, and expressed her determination to get water there is defiance of me and everybody else. Had I left the well pen after this, I should have abandoned my own right, and sanctioned what is now demanded, for the first time in the history of the property, as a prescriptive right. I am quite prepared with undoubted evidence to show that notwithstanding the occasional use of it for several years, no prescriptive right has ever been acquired. Within the last 20 years the gate opening to the field and consequently to the well, was locked against parties: and once against a person going to the well, and kept locked.The facts given above serve to show what reliance can be placed upon the accuracy and truthfulness of “aqua”.The well has been opened several times in the night; but on the 18th instant through the influence of Mrs Waites and Mr John Williams, who has taken a most active part in Mrs Waite’s cause and also asserts his right as tenant of the Blackbech to go to the well in question. A party of friends assembled in my field about 4 o’clock in the morning, to their shame be it said, to remove my stones and prevent the contemplated improvement of my property. There were present:William Gwatkin, Church Farm;Isaac Wilks, blacksmith, and son;John Williams, Velinycoed;Abram Pain, mason, Longstone, Lower House, LlanvairIt is observable that the master of the British School, with half a dozen members of his “committee”, were engaged in this lawless work. Fine guides for the young of the rising generation!It is also curious that John Williams of Penwern or of The Buildings, should be so anxious to secure water for Mrs Waites who has already made such bad use of it. When Mr Williams was driving his wife home from the market, Mrs Waites watched her opportunity, and threw a quantity of water over her, and was in consequence fined £3, as above stated. The marvel is still greater when we remember that the outrage produced results endangering the life of his wife, as certified by the doctor. – Yours faithfully

Thomas Evans, Rector of Goytrey.
Nantyderry, July 23rd, 1873.

SINGULAR FACT

To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir, – Being in the neighbourhood of the now notorious well at Goytrey, I took advantage of the opportunity to see and judge for myself. I found full evidence of the truth of “Aqua’s” statement that some 150 cartloads of stones had been thrown into and round about the well. A large quantity was piled over the well, to the height of a couple of feet, and an immense mass of stones surrounded this pile, so that the whole resembled some Druidical remains, the water circle apparently denoting the planetary system, and the inner circle representing the sun, as well by its central position as by its effect in drying up streams and ? excessive thirst. As these masses of stones could not be intended to improve the land (for the purposes stones are generally removed from ploughed fields rather than carted onto them). I have the theory that the worthy Rector is about to add astronomy to the other studies pursued at his school, and designs them for a practical lesson for his scholars, similar to the presumed object of the Druidical stones on Salisbury plain. It this is so it is a pity it is a pity that his purpose should be misconceived. I must, however, confess that he should have chosen some other site, as water is exceedingly scarce thereabouts, and a supply of that vital element is more important, in sultry weather than even the elements of astronomy. The stones themselves cry out against the closing of the well: they have actually combined themselves by strange coincidence, into a distinctly legible word in large letters, anything but complimentary to some one. The word is not Rector, but it is of exactly equal length and begins with the same letter. – Yours truly A WATER DRINKER

INSCRIPTION FOR THE REV. T. EVANS’S WELL AT GOYTREY, WHEN RE-OPENED.

O Traveler stay thy weary feet,
Drink of this fountain cool and sweet,
It flows for rich and poor the same,
Then go thy way remembering still,
The wayside well beneath the hill,
The cup of water in His name

August 9 1873
To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir, – Your impression for Thursday, July 19th, contains a letter from a person signing himself “Aqua,” in which an attempt is made to prove that the Rev. T. Evans, rector of Goytrey, closed a well on his property, thus depriving (according to “Aqua”) many persons of water, because a woman, who was in the habit of using the well, removed her three children from the National School, where they were learning nothing, and sent them to the British establishment.    Goytrey National School  To the Editor of the Free Press.Goytrey, August 5th, 1873.Mr Editor, – As you have put a letter in your paper from the rector of Goytrey about me, will you put a few lines from me in answer to it?When I went to get water from the well, Mr Evans was there, and asked me which way I came. I said “over the hedge,” as he had hedged up the gateway. He said, “You shall not have water here.” I asked him “Where shall I get water?” He said “You may go to Halifax for it. You send your children to that opposition school. You fetch your children from that school, and you shall have work from me and water. What more can I say?” I said my children are doing well where they are, and I will never take them from there again. “That’s enough,” said he, and prevented me from going water by standing between me and the well, and called up his men to fill up the well, and they filled it up with big stones. My father and mother have lived in this area for 40 years; and I have fetched water from that well for 30 years myself. It is the only good water about there. And the only spring that stands in dry summer; and it is the people’s right to have water from it. All the neighbours went to it for generations, till it was filled up. Mr Evans sent his man, John Jones, the clerk, round to the neighbours to tell them that if I took my children from the British School, he would open the well and they should all have water. He was to get them – Mrs Bowen, Mrs Collins, my mother and others – to work upon me, but I would not give in; so he keeps the well shut up with stones piled upon it.
LOUISA WAIT    T.G.LEVO (“Aqua”)
[We must now decline any further correspondence on this subject unless paid for at the advertisement rate.] – Ed.

F. P.. TUESDAY

John Preece, William Preece and Alexander Edgar gave evidence to the effect that John Preece was in the Bailey Glas public house, Mamhilad, on Sunday night,; defendants were there with a lot of other men, when Lewis asked John Preece to turn a glass upside down; an altercation ensued, and the defendants got up and struck him. William Preece interfered, and he was struck; John Preece was afterwards dragged out into a field at the back of the house and there he was kicked and beaten shamefully. Walters deposed that he had been seeing his niece home, and was returning when he saw the defendants and another man coming along the road; he heard them say, “The first b—– man we meet we’ll floor him.” When they came up to him they asked him for some tobacco, and Lewis then sat down in the gutter; he said he did not use tobacco, thereupon they struck him from behind and he fell down; Lewis jumped up and struck him, and they all went into him and drove him across the road; he fell down, and they beat him and kicked him.They were sentenced to two months imprisonment each.

Free Press August 23 1873 THE CLOSING UP OF A WELL AT GOYTRE 

The facts with regard to my wells are simple enough. Not content with this, one or two of them, for reasons best known to themselves, covert access to a more distant reservoir, situated in the middle of one of my fields and fed by one of my drains. But when a certain Mrs Waites, backed by her particularly intimate friend, Mr John Williams, boldly trespassed upon my property, and asserted a right to transgress without my permission, no course was left to me but to vindicate my title by closing the well altogether. If my right is really disputed, let it be tried in the usual way; but if the scum of the neighbourhood, led on by those who should know better, attack my property in an unlawful way, punishment will overtake them sooner or later. As to the attacks directed at my kindly dealing in the parish and neighbourhood, nobody knows better that they are unfounded than John Williams himself, except, indeed, those abettors of higher station, who keep themselves prudently in the background.

THOMAS EVANS, Rector of Goytrey.

To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir.- Mr John Williams and others, in writing about the “Well in the wood”, call it a “stagnant pool” and other hard names, and say it contains only surface water. This I should like to answer.To show that I am speaking the truth , I should be glad if you or your reporter could come here by the 3 o’clock train on Wednesday next, September 3rd, and I would undertake to empty the well for inspection. In fact, the more people there are to see it the better, and thus, as one of the first letters of attack says, “let fact speak for themselves.”

Nantyderry August 27th, 1873 – TRUTH OUT OF THE WELL

He thought both the Truth and the Well to bury,And the Well still flows, Ding-dong bell,Who threw it in? Who’ll take it out? “Dare to say we shan’t . The Rector’s a funny Divine: For their well, “Man alive! Turn’d your water, you see, into WHINE!” Also another longer poem.

SATURDAY THE RECTOR OF GOYTRE AND THE CLOSED WELL

Messrs John Williams, Wood Mill, Miller; John Williams, Penwen, farmer ; William Williams, farmer; Benjamin Jeremiah, butcher; Thomas James, farmer; Thomas James, junior, farmer; Isaac Wilks, blacksmith; John Collins, railway foreman; David Jenkins, labourer; and William Wilks, smith, all of the parish of Goytre, appeared in answer to summonses, in which they were charged with that they on the 16th of August, did commit wilful and malicious trespass on the property of the Rev. Thos Evans, contrary to the statute in that case made and provided. This extraordinary case has caused a great scandal in Monmouthshire. The facts are that the Rector has closed a spring of water in a field belonging to him, not far from Nantyderry station. The inhabitants of the parish claim this well as having been used by the public for at least the last 60 years, and there is no other pure water to be obtained within half-a-mile of the place. The cause of this act is that a poor woman, named Louisa Wait, who lives nearest to the well, has given offence to the rector, and she alleged that this is because she refuses to take her children from the British school and send them to his school. The rector, who has had the misfortune to be at variance with his parishioners on other subjects, has by this depravation of pure water greatly irritated the people; and they promptly opened the well again. He again closed it up, and offered instead of it, what he calls “the well in the wood,” which is nearer to Louisa Wait’s cottage, but instead of being a bubbling spring is a hollow, at the present time mainly, if not altogether, filled with dead, surface water, swarming with animalcules, and not fit to drink. The people asserted their right to pure water. And again broke open the closed well. This closing up and breaking up has been repeated about half a dozen times within the last two months. On Monday last, the rector again had it closed up, and covered with a cairn containing nearly 400 tons of stones of very large size. For taking part in one of the openings the defendants were summoned, and looked forward with glee to the prospect of getting the rector into the witness box, as they wished him questioned as to some queer and very filthy circumstances which they allege to be connected with the closing of the well. Mr Gardner said that his clients were 10 of the most respectable of the inhabitants of Goytre, and they had had no notice of withdrawal from the gentleman by whom the summonses were issued. It was true that a letter had been sent to two or three of them,. But he declined to acknowledge that on the part of the rest. They had been brought from their businesses to-day, and he wished to make a few remarks on the reason why. Mr Gardner said he must ask for permission to make a few remarks. Mr Gardner said his clients had been summoned to attend, and here they were; and they wished the matter gone into and to bring forward their evidence. Mr Gardner said his clients had received no such intimation. It was true that one or two had received a letter to the following effect: – Abergavenny 21st August, 1873, Yours truly,  Mr E. B. Edwards thought it was quite clear. Mr Gardner said the summons appeared to have been issued by Mr C. J. Parkes, whom he had the pleasure of seeing on the bench, and there had been no notice of withdrawal from Mr Parkes. He therefore asked the Bench to deal with the case before dismissing it, and grant his clients’ expenses.Mr Phillips observed it was quite within the province of the Bench to permit withdrawal; and he cited the practice in the County Court, and they could not allow the costs.

The Bench: Yes Same account as in the Free Press about the Police Court followed by:- THE BATTLE OF THE WELL AT GOYTRE The rector of Goytre’s letters of alarm sent to the Chairman of the Pontypool Bench and to Superintendent McIntosh, induced Mr McIntosh to visit Goytre on Saturday night last. He found everything quiet, and that there was not the slightest reason to warrant him sending over an additional police force to prevent a breach of the peace. The village inns had but few customers and were closed early, and the aspect of the police was more tranquil than ordinary. Even the usual indignant cry of “Water! Water!” was not to be heard. We are assured by respectable inhabitants of Goytre, that if any breach of the peace occurs, it will be on the part of the rector’s men, for the parishioners themselves, though determined to assert their right to the well to their utmost, will endeavour to do so without any violence. That they intend to undertake the herculean task of removing the huge cairn which the rector has piled at great expense over the spring, they wish distinctly understood; and they propose to do this not in any clandestine manner, but in open daylight and with the greatest publicity, and to that end it is probable that they will give notice of the day on which they will commence operations. As public sympathy seems to be with them throughout the county, there will probably be an immense gathering from all the neighbouring towns; and the parishioners desire that if anything unseemly takes place during the removal of the stones, the rector, and not they, will be responsible for it.

Police Court

Before Colonel Byrde, Mr C.J.Parkes, and F.J.Phillips Mr Gardner, of Usk, appeared for the complainant; and Mr T Watkins, for defendant.Cross-examined: This was about 10 o’clock, but I am not positive, as I did not notice the time, I came down by the 9 o’clock train from Abergavenny. I was not in any other inn at Nantyderry, except the Refreshment Room. I can’t say whether I had more than two glasses there or not; I don’t believe I had. I had drunk two half-pints in Abergavenny. I was quite sober. I refused to shake hands with Pritchard at the Refreshment Rooms because I am not in the habit of shaking hands with drunken people. He said “I suppose you are in a bad way with me about the filling of the well.” I said “Sit down.” I did not say anything about “nuisance.” I was not one of the crowd who were calling out “Water! water!” and throwing stones at the defendant’s house. I had heard that the well had been filled up that day. I was not one of a crowd who went and broke defendant’s door open. His wife came and challenged any two on the road, but I did not threaten to hit her B——- head off. When I received the blow, I did not see any one else present, but John Bevan and George Howard. Cross-examined: I can’t tell what originated this, because before this happened I was good friends with him and never did anything to “defend” him. I thought it was a very strange thing. There were a few people about that evening. I could not take my oath whether Preece went out of the Refreshment Rooms while I was there, but I never missed him. I was not among any people who went to Pritchard’s house that night. I have never heard till now that Pritchard’s lock was burnt off his door that night. I did not hear Preece threaten to strike Pritchard’s wife. Pritchard’s wife and daughter tried to get him into the house. George Howard deposed: I live at Nantyderry and keep an inn there. I remember the night of the 18th instant. I had gone to bed, but my wife heard a row, and I got up and went out, down to the railway bridge. There I saw John Preece and Bevan talking together. I said to John Preece, “What is this row about.” He replied, “I don’t know: there is a row down there.” Directly afterwards, three ran by me like horses, and I believe the blow was struck. I heard a blow, and turned round, and saw Pritchard, but did not see who it was that struck. There was a scuffle after that, and I walked away. Preece appeared to be sober, and so did Bevan. I could not say in what state Pritchard was. This was about 11 o’clock. I had closed my house and gone to bed. To Mr Phillip’s: I live about 100 yards from Pritchard’s house.Elizabeth Pritchard deposed: I am daughter to defendant, and live in his house at Nantyderry. About half-past 10on the night of the 18th, my mother had gone upstairs to bed, and we had taken off our clothes. We left father lying on the sofa downstairs with his clothes on. Mother and I had been in bed about three quarters of an hour, when we heard a great noise like a drum outside, and people hollering “Come out! And we will give you what for,” and the door was burst open. Father said “Wait till I put my boots on.” We then went outside. There were about 15 men there. Preece and the other witness was among them. (She was asked to point who she meant, and failed to recognise Bevan until he spoke to her). My mother took the broom stick and I took another stick. I had a great long, thick stick but it was not the stick that had been produced; nor did my mother have that stick. Father took the broomstick off mother, and hit one or two in the crowd. Preece had invited him to go to him, and he would give him what for; he had also used bad language, and kicked him on the legs. I did not see Howard there.To Mr Phillips: I am sure that neither mother or myself ever had that stick.Mr Parkes seemed to doubt this. To Mr Watkins: Father said “Is it thee, Preece,” just as he went out through the door. The scuffle followed quickly after.Colonel Byrde said that the magistrates considered that the offence proved, and the defendant was fined 40s, including costs, or 21 days. Supt. M’Intosh said he had received a similar letter from Mr Evans.Free Press September 21st 1872.
Colonel Byrde afterwards said that he had received from the Rev Thomas Evans a letter saying that he anticipated a breach of the peace at Goytre that night; he was aware there were such turbulent people at Goytre, and was sorry to hear of it; he handed the letter to Supt. M’Intosh, and requested him to take steps to prevent any breach of the peace.
The money was paid.
In answer to the Bench, P.C. Allen said that defendant was like a wild man when drunk, and four or five people had recently been assaulted by him, but he had not been convicted; and that Preece was a very quiet man, whose name had never been heard in question in any way.
To Mr Parkes: There was quite enough light to see who was there.
Cross-examined: They had my father down when we got to the end of the bridge. I don’t know any of the others who were there. I believe father struck three with the broom-stick, but not with the stick produced. Father said “Is it thee, Preece,” before he struck him. I caught hold of Preece round the middle and pulled him off father. I believe my father went there to protect himself. It is not 50 yards from our house to the place where this occurred. Father had been in the house three-quarters of an hour before this. I had never seen Preece or Bevan before that night. It was pretty dark.
For the defence, Mr Watkins said that something had been going on about the celebrated well at Goytre. Both parties adjourned to the Refreshment Rooms. Preece, by his own admission, arrived there at 9, and he evidently remained there till 11 o’clock, not 10 as he had stated. In the Refreshment Rooms, the blacksmith offered to shake hands with Preece. Preece refused, saying, “I shall not shake hands with a man who puts nuisances into wells.” The blacksmith went home and went to bed, and after 11 o’clock he heard stones thrown on his tiles, his door was burst open, and a crowd was outside calling “Water!, Water!” Pritchard then sallied forth; his wife had one stick and his daughter had another, and he took the stick from his wife and struck among the crowd who were attacking his house. He could not call the wife to prove this, but he could call the daughter.
Cross-examined: I heard a row, but did not know what it was about.
To Mr Phillips: The blow was not struck in the scuffle.
John Bevan deposed: I am a haulier, and live at Goytre. On the 18th of this month, between 10 and 11 at night, I was standing at the end of Nantyderry bridge, about 40 yards from Pritchard’s house. Preece was with me. I had not gone to Pritchard’s house before that, and I do not believe Preece had done so. He and I left the Refreshment Rooms together. While we were standing at the end of the bridge, Pritchard came up and gave me a blow on the side of the head. I believe his wife and daughter took him back. He came up again, gave me a slap on the shoulder and struck Preece, saying “Here is one of the b———.“ He aimed twice, but we caught the staff and prevented the second blow, and got the staff from him. I was sober, and so was Preece. I can’t say whether Pritchard was sober.
Complainant deposed: I live at Goytre. On the 18th of this month, I had been at Abergavenny, and when I returned, I called at the Refreshment Rooms at Nantyderry. After leaving that place, I was talking with John Bevan on the road, when Pritchard came behind us, and, saying “Here is one of the d—- b—–,“ up with a great stake over my head and struck me. I did not see him before I heard him speak. As he spoke, I saw the blow coming, and turned my head, and received the blow on the back of my neck instead of on my head. He struck at me with the stick a second time, but John Bevan and I caught hold of the stick, and got it from him. This is the stick, which I now produce (between 4 and 5 feet long and 6 inches round at the end). I had not touched him before that. When I went into the Refreshment Rooms, he rose and wanted to shake hands, but I refused to do so. I had left the inn about 5 minutes when he struck me.
William Pritchard, blacksmith, Nantyderry, was charged with assaulting John Preece.
THE DISPUTE ABOUT THE WELL AT GOYTRE
THE EXPECTED RIOT ON SATURDAY NIGHT LAST.
Free Press Sept 6 1873 Page 4
THE WELL DISPUTE – The Sanitary Board for the district has issued instruction that the sanitary inspector, Mr William Morgan, shall take cognizance of the well question at Goytre and an analysis will be made of the water of the “Well in the Wood.” In the meantime, the rector continued to have additional loads of stones piled over the ancient well, Ffynon-cae-y-meinon,” the closing of which has caused so much heartburning.
Abergavenny Chronicle August 30 1873
A conversation, however, ensued among the magistrates, and they decided that an entry should be made that the case was withdrawn.
Mr Gardener: Then I understand the summonses are dismissed?
Some conversation on the point ensued, and Col. Byrde observed: The case is withdrawn and dismissed.
Mr Parkes thought so, too.
Now that seemed to him (Mr Gardner) more like an adjournment of the case and a threat than a distinct withdrawal.
WALFORD & GABB Attornies-at-law.

Sir, – The Rev Thomas Evans has consulted us respecting a wilful trespass committed by you and others on his land at Walnut Tree Farm. Now we hereby give you notice on his behalf that in case of any such repetition of such offence, legal proceedings will be taken against you. We have advised Mr Evans to withdraw the summons already issued against you for the present, and to adopt another course.
Mr Phillips said that if they were inconvenienced they had their remedy in another way; but the case was withdrawn.
Mr Phillips replied that the Bench had nothing before them of which to listen to a speech.
Mr Phillips asked if it was not very irregular that an advocate should proceed – with an address when a case was withdrawn..
When the cases were called on, Mr. E. B. Edwards, clerk to the magistrates, said that the summonses had been withdrawn.

Before Col Byrde, C J Parkes, Esq., and E. J. Phillips, Esq.
POLICE COURT

‘Tis a miracle! I’ve
He says, when parishioners pine
A MODERN MIRACLE
Little Tommy Nant!”
“We!” the People shout;
The Rector? What a sin!
Rubbish in the well!
NURSERY RHYME FOR LITTLE RECTORS
And the Rector is mad, and the people are merry.
But Truth arose,
You’ve heard of the Rector of Nantyderry?
We also hear much about the thickness of the water. This I can easily account for, as on the evening of Friday I caught the son of Mrs Wait and the daughter of Collins stirring up the water, after first filling their cans with clear water. I have the stick in my possessions.   Thus again, “Facts speak for themselves.” I am, sir, yours respectfully, JOHN HARDING.
On Friday last I got a bucket and threw out the water that was in the well. Mr Fabian, the master of the National School, and Mr Isaac Lewis, of Glanwysk, farmer, were present. We found there were sufficient springs, to yield two gallons of water in five minutes. We drank of the water, and it was as good as ever I tasted.
GOYTREFree Press August 30 1873 Page 4
Nantyderry, 20th August, 1873.
I am, Mr Editor, yours faithfully,
If anyone is inconvenienced it is not by my wish, but by the unwarrantable encroachments of one or two ill-conditioned individuals.
Even here I was willing to act kindly and grant permission to those who sought it, to make use of these waters.
I have cleared out a well, at my own expense, for the accommodation of my neighbours (for whom by-the-bye. I am by no way compelled to provide,) and here there is an ample supply.
Sir.- I have neither leisure nor inclination for controversy with persons who deal simply in reckless assertions, utterly devoid of truth.
To the Editor of the Free Press

[ADVT]

Herbert Cowles inn-keeper, also gave evidence.

The prisoners were also charged with assaulting Enoch Walters.

Reece Lewis and William Rowlands were charged with assaulting John Preece and Wm. Preece and Alexander Edgar.

BRUTAL ASSAULT

Before Colonel Byrde and C. J. Parkes, Esq.

Police Court

 

Bristol, August 5th, 1873.

I am, yours truly,

Truly, Mr Evans should be able to make a fine lecture on “The Use and Abuse of Strong Drink,” for although the parties who opened the well were not stimulated thereto by such beverages, it must have cost the revd. gentleman some money for the quantity he dispensed to his workmen when they were engaged in their unholy work.

Sir, – The beastly impression against me in the first part of Mr Evans’s letter I pass over with contempt. He is too well known in the neighbourhood for his vile slander and abuse to carry any weight. It no doubt reads well to him, but it is a tissue of falsehood from beginning to end, and worthy of the man who penned it. As for the rest of the letter, although he makes out he has a right to the well, it does not do away with the fact that he has shut it, and thus done one of the meanest actions on record. And although the British teacher and member of his committee were present to aid in the opening of the well, does it look as bad to see a minister of the Gospel doing a thing forty times worse, shutting up the well?

To the Editor of the Free Press.

Your obedient servant,

Though a poor woman, it is hard that I should be deprived of water, when the oldest people in the parish have always had it. And that I should not be left to do my best for my poor children.

The other well Mr Evans writes about has been dry this summer, and the water is bad in dry weather.

 

I had my own reasons for taking my children from Mr Evan’s school. Mr Evans tried all he could to get me to take my children away the second time from the British School. He promised me work, and asked my father to beg and get me to do so. No one asked me to send them there.

 

 

P.S. The above letter was sent for insertion in reply to one which appeared in the PRESS for July 19, 1873, but the Editor refused to publish it otherwise than as an advertisement.

July 21st, 1873.

I am, sir, yours truly, A.C.Fabian.

I am not of course attempting to defend the rector, as that gentleman is far better qualified than I to answer such a puerile attack as that of “Aqua’s.”

Secondly, as to their learning, of course that does not affect me, as they were under my charge but one or two weeks; but from fourteen years experience, I am quite convinced that the work of this school had been carried on under the late master, to say the least, quite as efficiently as at the British. This seems, in my opinion, a cheap way of advertising the last-mentioned establishment.

My reason for wishing to expel them was that their conduct was so bad, that several of the most respectable of parents had informed me that it was simply a question of whether these children left or theirs.

With your permission, I should like to correct the erroneous impression which the above is calculated to convey. In the first place, “Aqua” is not correctly informed, or else he is wilfully mis-representing facts, as the children were removed by their mother to save appearances, as I had applied to the Rector to expel them, and of this I had informed them before the whole school.

 

[ADVT]

 

The wayside well beneath the hill,

It flows for rich and poor the same,

O Traveler stay thy weary feet,

INSCRIPTION FOR THE REV. T. EVANS’S WELL AT GOYTREY, WHEN RE-OPENED.

Sir, – Being in the neighbourhood of the now notorious well at Goytrey, I took advantage of the opportunity to see and judge for myself. I found full evidence of the truth of “Aqua’s” statement that some 150 cartloads of stones had been thrown into and round about the well. A large quantity was piled over the well, to the height of a couple of feet, and an immense mass of stones surrounded this pile, so that the whole resembled some Druidical remains, the water circle apparently denoting the planetary system, and the inner circle representing the sun, as well by its central position as by its effect in drying up streams and ? excessive thirst. As these masses of stones could not be intended to improve the land (for the purposes stones are generally removed from ploughed fields rather than carted onto them). I have the theory that the worthy Rector is about to add astronomy to the other studies pursued at his school, and designs them for a practical lesson for his scholars, similar to the presumed object of the Druidical stones on Salisbury plain. It this is so it is a pity it is a pity that his purpose should be misconceived.   I must, however, confess that he should have chosen some other site, as water is exceedingly scarce thereabouts, and a supply of that vital element is more important, in sultry weather than even the elements of astronomy. The stones themselves cry out against the closing of the well: they have actually combined themselves by strange coincidence, into a distinctly legible word in large letters, anything but complimentary to someone. The word is not Rector, but it is of exactly equal length and begins with the same letter. – Yours truly A WATER DRINKER

 

Nantyderry, July 23rd, 1873.

 

 

Members of the British School Committee

Benjamin Jeremiah, butcher;

Thomas James, jnr, Ty Cooke;

Mr Levo, master of the British School;

Police Court

Before Col. Byrde & C J Parker esq.

Pigs out for a Walk

William Williams was charged with allowing his pigs to stray on the highway, in the parish of Goytre. He said he knew nothing about it, as he was at home only once a week.

Mr Williams, surveyor to the Usk Highways Board, said he found the pigs on the highway near Penplenny, and Mrs Williams admitted they were hers; he had cautioned her about the same sort of thing before: this was the first case of the sort that he had brought forward at this court.

Col. Byrde said it was only right that people should have notice that they are liable to be summoned for this kind of trespass.

Defendant said he had not received such a caution; but he could not say whether his wife had.

Thomas Jenkins also of Goytre was similarly charged. He did not appear, and P C Williams proved service of the summons. The surveyor said this was a much worse case than the other, as Jenkins pigs were continually in the road.

Col. Byrde said that as these were the first cases of the sort, the Bench would require payment of the expenses only; 9s in the first case and 9s 6d in the other.

 

 

Abergavenny Chronicle Saturday, September 6, 1873

DSITRICT INTELLIGENCE.

PONTYPOOL

THE DISPUTED WELL AT GOYTREY – At the police-court on Saturday (before Colonel Byrde, Mr C.J.Parkes, and F.J.Phillips), a case of assault, arising out of the dispute respecting a well which the rector of Goytrey is alleged to have closed on his property, and thus deprived a portion of his parishioners of a supply of pure water. Putting the evidence given on both sides together, the facts seem to be that, on the night of the last closing of the well, a number of exited parishioners gathered around the house of a blacksmith, named William Pritchard, living near the Nantyderry railway-station, and because he had taken part in piling the stones on the well, set up a cry of “Water, water!” threw stones on the tiles and burst open the door. Previous to this Pritchard had visited the Nantyderry refreshment rooms, kept by Mr Williams, and there met with John Preece, and offered to shake hands with him. Preece refused, saying he did not shake hands with a man who put nuisances into wells. Preece and his friends deny that he left the refreshment room, and that he took any part in the demonstration against the blacksmith; and state that when they left to go home, Pritchard suddenly attacked them from behind in the road with a bludgeon about five feet long and six inches round (produced in court), and crying “there is one of the b———!” aimed at Preece’s head, but Preece saved his crown by dodging his head and received the blow on his shoulders. The weapon was raised to give another blow, when Preece and his friend seized it and wrested it from the blacksmith.

The statement on the other side was that Preece and his friend took part in the attack in the house; that Pritchard’s wife sallied forth with the broom handle and his daughter with another large stick, and that Pritchard, on being maltreated on issuing from his premises seized the broom handle from his wife, and laid about him in the crowd. This was flatly contradicted by Preece and his witness. Pritchard was described by Police-constable Allen as being like a mad man when under the influence of liquor and a very quarrelsome fellow, while Preece was described by the same authority as being a very quiet man, against whom nothing has ever been heard. The Bench fined Pritchard 40s, or 21 days hard labour.

After the hearing of the case, colonel Byrde said that he had received a letter from the Rector, stating that expect another row that (Saturday) evening, and that he requested that steps might be taken to prevent a breach of the peace.

Superintendant M’Intosh said that he had received a similar letter from the Rector and he intended to go over in the evening.

 

 

September 13 1873

THE DISPUTE ABOUT THE WELL AT GOYTE

The Rector of Goytre, the Rev Thos Evans, finding that finding that the parishioners who assert their right to the “Well in the Narrow Field” have expressed their determination to get at the spring, notwithstanding the immense cairn which he has piled over it, on Saturday recommenced hauling stones to add to the cairn, and on Monday several carts were busily engaged in their work. On Tuesday, our correspondent again visited the scene of the dispute. He found that within the past fortnight the Rector has gone to considerable trouble in improving the “Well in the Wood.” Indeed, the aspect of this well is altogether changed. The bottom has been cleaned out; the stones have been taken out and builded into a wall on one side; and a good drain has been cut through the field to carry off the water and prevent it from stagnating. By this means the accumulation of dead (or rather too lively) water which existed in the well on August 21st (when our correspondent carried away a sample which afforded a very interesting spectacle under the microscope) has been good rid of: and the water found in the well on Tuesday was of much superior quality, and a sample has been brought away. We are assured, however, by disinterested and important observers, that the springs in this “Well in the Wood” are very weak, and on Tuesday a quantity of green slime had again began to accumulate. The rector, we are told, intends to sink this well deeper, in order to further increase the yield. All this, however, does not appease the parishioners. They adhere to the great point on which they are at issue, the question of their right to the Well in the Narrow Field. On this, they have appealed for the interference of the authorities, and have embodied their complaints in a memorial very numerously signed. They have decided not to attack the cairn in the meantime; and to give public notice of the day on which they will commence operations, if the inquiry which is to be instituted results in their favour. They are the more determined to adhere to this question of right, as they say that Mr Henry Matthews, a farmer living on the other side of Penplenny (and who is one of the rector’s partizan’s) has begun to lock and fence with thorns his gate leading to the Black Well. To which they claim the right of usage, and which they assert is one of the main sources of supply in dry summers, etc. On the other hand, Mrs Jenkins, of Tydoman, has cleaned out for the public a branch of the Black Well (about 20 or 30 yards further) on her property, and thereby won their good word. Of course, these are matters that will cause subjects of inquiry, and we merely chronicle them without expressing any opinion on the rights of any parties. Our correspondent has carefully refrained from repeating the mass of racy information which the folk of Goytre are ready to pour into the ears of any visitor; and he maintains the accuracy of his reports.

 

Police Court

DISPUTED WALNUTS

William Watkins was charged with trespass, by taking walnuts, the property of Margaret Morgan, at Penplenny.

William Williams deposed that he was gathering the walnuts, when defendant came and picked some of them up and got a loader and went to another tree, and helped himself ; he told him he had better leave them alone, and he replied that he did not think that he had; defendant said that he had been working for John Harris , who told him that he could have as many of the walnuts as he liked; these trees formerly stood on the waste, but had been hedged in about 8 years; Harris threw the fence down, about 6 months ago; witness here handed in some documents, to prove his right, and printed notices had been fixed to the trees ; defendant tore on of these notices down and made fun of it.

Defendant denied that he took any of the walnuts.

Henry Jeremiah was called as witness for the defence, but he deposed that he saw Watkins knock the walnuts down.

John Harris deposed that the defendant put the ladder against a bough that overhung the public road; witness had pulled the fence down, by orders of the Earl of Abergavenny’s agent.

The Bench said that the trespass was clearly proved, and the defendant must pay 16s

 

Saturday, October 11th 1873

 

The Well at Goytre

_________________________________

 

THE STONES TO BE REMOVED

_____________________________

 

The parishioner of Goytre whish it to be

Be known that they have determined to re-

open the “Well in the Narrow Field,” on

Thursday next, October 19th. They at the

same time desire it to be understood, that

they wish for no disturbance.

THOMAS JAMES

 

October 11th 1873 – GOYTRE

A treat was given by the rector, the Rev. Thomas Evans, on the 11th ult., to the children of the National School, their parents and many other parishioners. The day was fine and the treats considered by all present a great success. Mr Bigglestone, of Abergavenny, supplied 200lbs of most excellent cake for the occasion. Mr Fabian, the schoolmaster, from Winchester training College, who holds a first-class certificate, and has 14 years of experience in teaching, exerted himself most praiseworthily (assisted by his wife) in amusing the children, and many nice prizes were distributed for races, etc. After which four balloons were sent off, and a very good display of fireworks finished the day’s entertainment. The rector chiefly at his own expense has succeeded, under many discouragements, so far in meeting all Government requirements and keeping a School Board out of the parish.

 

Police Court

DISPUTED WALNUTS

William Watkins was charged with trespass, by taking walnuts, the property of Margaret Morgan, at Penplenny.

William Williams deposed that he was gathering the walnuts, when defendant came and picked some of them up and got a loader and went to another tree, and helped himself ; he told him he had better leave them alone, and he replied that he did not think that he had; defendant said that he had been working for John Harris , who told him that he could have as many of the walnuts as he liked; these trees formerly stood on the waste, but had been hedged in about 8 years; Harris threw the fence down, about 6 months ago; witness here handed in some documents, to prove his right, and printed notices had been fixed to the trees ; defendant tore on of these notices down and made fun of it.

Defendant denied that he took any of the walnuts.

Henry Jeremiah was called as witness for the defence, but he deposed that he saw Watkins knock the walnuts down.

John Harris deposed that the defendant put the ladder against a bough that overhung the public road; witness had pulled the fence down, by orders of the Earl of Abergavenny’s agent.

The Bench said that the trespass was clearly proved, and the defendant must pay 16s.

 

October 4th 1873

Police Court

POT VALIANT

John Rosser was charges with assaulting John Watkins. Complainant said he lived in a house for which he paid rent to William Morgan, and the Rossers laid claim to these premises and attacked him on the road in consequence of the grudge engendered by the claim. Rosser was further charges with assaulting Thomas Watkins, son of James Watkins. The defence was that the Watkinses were the aggressors. James Watkins was charged with assaulting Martha Rosser. Some very foul language was used in describing the affray; and it seemed that some of the parties had been drinking until they were pot-valiant. A Mrs Crockett was called to show that the Watkinses were very violent; but Mrs Watkins who was with her husband and son, denied this.

The bench fined Rosser 20s, or 14 days, for assaulting James Watkins; and 20s, or 14 days, for assaulting Thomas Watkins; and dismissed the charge of assault preferred by Martha Rosser against James Watkins, and ordered her to pay the costs.

 

Saturday, October 18th 1873

THE EXTRAORDINARY PROCEEDINGS AT GOYTRE

The parishioners of Goytrey, yesterday (Thursday) carried out their expressed intention of opening the now renowned “Well in the Narrow Field,” which was closed against them by the rector, the Rev Thomas Evans, in May last. At five o’clock in the morning, some thirty-five farmers assembled at Penplenny, and marched from thence to the well. It was expected that a determined resistance would be made by men in the pay of the rector, and supt. M’Intosh and Supt. Freeman (Abergavenny) drove over to prevent any disturbance. P.c. Allen from Llanover, and P.c. Lawrence, who has for some weeks been stationed at Nantyderry at the rector’s expense was also present. The rector’s men had on the previous day hauled a great addition to the great heap of stones (now estimated to contain upwards of 1000 tons) which he had piled over the well, and had newly fenced the old approach by which the well was reached; and groups of them stood about the road yesterday morning, but they offered no resistance. The farmers were joined by others near the “Narrow Field,” and, without breaking down the fence, got over it and set to work in the most energetic manner. The first stone was removed by Mrs Waite, who has figured as the heroine of the matter. The stones flew rattling on both side and the noise as they rolled down the cairn was heard was heard at a considerable distance. Some idea of the vigour of the workman may be inferred from the fact that in five hours’ time the well was opened. And then the truth of the alleged pollution was then indisputable. After the great stones and the roots of trees had been removed so as to allow an approach to the long-hid spring, the attacking party came to a mass of broken bottles mingled with the filth, the existence of which had been denied.

The stench was abominable. A deputation was sent to get Colonel Byrde, a magistrate who lives near the place, to verify the truth of the discovery, but that gentleman had gone from home. Many inquiries were made for the local sanitary inspector, who was not present. About 1 o’clock, Mr Rogers, an elderly gentleman from Pontypool, expressed his regret at not being able to get over the fence and into the field and immediately the fence was torn away. Colonel Byrde and the Rev S. W. Gardner, rector of Llanfiangel-Gobion, both members of the sanitary committee, shortly afterwards arrived, and inspected the place. Mr Gardiner expressed his gratification that the proceedings had been conducted in orderly a manner, and added, emphatically, “I am a rector, but not a rector of Goytre!”   A ringing cheer from the assembled crowd followed. Mr Gwatkin, of Church Farm, then mounted the cairn, and said “I am about to make a bit of a speech, the well is opened, and we have all seen its imperfections. We will now leave the place with the gentleman, and go quietly to our homes. The rector has his remedy against us if he likes; and if he clears up the well again, we shall have our remedy against him. We will now leave the field, and other can come to see the place if they like.” The people then left the field in an orderly manner.

After leaving the field a crowd continued to hang about the road, and shortly before three o’clock, a man named Charles Llewellin, evidently tipsy, arrived on the scene, and occasioned some commotion. He was hailed as one of the men who put the filth in the well and the yelling and hooting that arose was by no means complimentary. He had the temerity to go down the cairn, and was invited to taste the abomination in the hollow. Some of the women talked of putting him into the well, and they evidently had much to do to restrain themselves. He was allowed to leave, but was followed by a mob, who hooted him along the road, he waving his hat in bravado the while. The police followed, but happily no breach of the peace occurred, if we may except a dog-fight, which was speedily stopped. It was said that Llewellin was sent as a scout to see whether the coast was clear, that the work of refilling the well might commence at once.

In the course of the afternoon, Mrs Edwards, photographer, of Pontypool, visited the scene and took two effective pictures of the cairn, one of them showing the entrance made yesterday.

Saturday, October 25th, 1873

THE EXTRAORDINARY PROCEEDINGS AT GOYTRE

The Rev, Thomas Evans, rector of Goytre, lost no time in having once more re-enclosed the renounced “Well in the Narrow Field,” the public forcible re-opening of which by the parishioners, and the verification of the fact or the revolting pollution of the springs, took place on Thursday last, October 16th. Mr Isaac Lewis of Glan Usk (the farmer in whose house the horrible mutilation of an infant by a servant girl recently occurred), acting on the instructions of the rector (who has for two or three weeks been absent from the parish), set a gang of men to work on Friday, at high wages and with plenty of drink (a feature which has distinguished the previous re-openings of the well), and the spring and the passages to it through the immense cairn which Mr Evans has had piled over it, are again filled up. It is said that instructions have also been given that the work of adding to the cairn (containing upwards of 1000 tons, and the immense size of which is shown in some pictures taken by Mrs Edwards, photographer, Pontypool) will be continued throughout the winter.

 

 

October 25 1873

Police Court

POT VALIANT

John Rosser was charges with assaulting John Watkins. Complainant said he lived in a house for which he paid rent to William Morgan, and the Rossers laid claim to these premises and attacked him on the road in consequence of the grudge engendered by the claim. Rosser was further charges with assaulting Thomas Watkins, son of James Watkins. The defence was that the Watkinses were the aggressors. James Watkins was charged with assaulting Martha Rosser. Some very foul language was used in describing the affray; and it seemed that some of the parties had been drinking until they were pot-valiant. A Mrs Crockett was called to show that the Watkinses were very violent; but Mrs Watkins who was with her husband and son, denied this.

The bench fined Rosser 20s, or 14 days, for assaulting James Watkins; and 20s, or 14 days, for assaulting Thomas Watkins; and dismissed the charge of assault preferred by Martha Rosser against James Watkins, and ordered her to pay the costs.

 

October 18th 1873 – Goytrey in the County Court

The latest phase of the Goytrey dispute took the form of proceedings in Usk County Court on Tuesday, against the rector, the Rev Thomas Evans, who appeared by his attorney, Mr Gabb (Walford and Gabb), Abergavenny.

In the first case, Mr John Williams, of Penwern Farm, sought to recover £2, for damage sustained by the cleaning and deepening of a ditch by defendant’s drainers ……Mr Gardner was for plaintiff ……… Mr David Roberts, of Llanbaddock, and Mr John Thomas, of Mamhilad, gave evidence as the amount of the alleged damage. Mr Roberts said it would take two carts, three horses, and three men a day to remove the soil thrown on the plaintiff’s land, and the cost of so removing would be about £3 3s …. Mr Thomas put the cost of removal: three horses at 8s each a day; three men at 3s each; making £1 13s …… The plaintiff said his witnesses contended that he had sustained further considerable damage, by the flooding of his land, and by risk to his stock through the dangerous ditch made. William Pardoe, examined for the Plaintiff said that he had been employed by defendant to drain the land, and that directions were given him, on defendant’s behalf, by Isaac Lewis and John Harding. The natural outfall was into the ditch in question. The clearing of the ditch was measured with other work, and paid for by the defendant …….. Mr Isaac Lewis said that defendant, when going from home, had asked him to direct Pardoe. Defendant himself knew nothing about the matter now complained of. He (Mr Lewis) could remove the soil from Plaintiff’s land in three cartloads …….. Mr Henry Matthews, farmer, Mamhilad put the cost of removal at 4s ……… Mr Gabb for the defence, contested that the action was brought out of vindictive feeling arising out of the “well” dispute, ….. His Honour: another illustration of the old adage, “Let well alone.” … Mr Gabb further contended that the work complained of was done by the workman without defendant’s knowledge … His Honour said that defendant would be responsible. He had no right to interfere with plaintiff’s ditch without his consent. The ditch might be the natural outfall for surface water from the defendant’s land, but this did not entitle him to under-drain his land, and so increase the flow of water in the ditch. He should give judgement for plaintiff for 15s, but if the Plaintiff was not satisfied with that amount then Mr Graham, the high- bailiff, would visit the place and assess damages. … This latter course was agreed upon … In course of the hearing His Honour characterised the case of the most trumpery ever brought before him.

There were about ten summonses taken out against Rev Thomas Evans by parishioners of Goytrey on which they sought to recover damages for loss on time in attending Petty Sessions at Pontypool, in answer to summonses which were withdraw by the rector … His Honour said they could not recover damages in the County Court; the magistrates might have granted expenses if they thought proper … Mr Gardner said it was hard that people should be drawn away from their businesses on a frivolous charge, and obtain no compensation … One of the magistrates at Pontypool had referred them to the County Court … His Honour: The magistrate at Pontypool cannot give me jurisdiction … The cases were then struck out.

 

September 6th 1873 – The Battle of the Well at Goytrey

The Expected Riot on Saturday Night Last

The rector of Goytre’s letters of alarm sent to the Chairman of the Pontypool Bench and to Superintendent M’Intosh, induced Mr M’Intosh to visit Goytre on Saturday night last. He found everything quiet, and that there was not the slightest reason to warrant him sending over an additional police force to prevent a breach of the peace. The village inns had but few customers and were closed early, and the aspect of the police was more tranquil than ordinary. Even the usual indignant cry of “Water! Water!” was not to be heard. We are assured by respectable inhabitants of Goytre, that if any breach of the peace occurs, it will be on the part of the rector’s men, for the parishioners themselves, though determined to assert their right to the well to their utmost, will endeavour to do so without any violence. That they intend to undertake the herculean task of removing the huge cairn which the rector has piled at great expense over the spring, they wish distinctly understood; and they propose to do this not in any clandestine manner, but in open daylight and with the greatest publicity, and to that end it is probable that they will give notice of the day on which they will commence operations. As public sympathy seems to be with them throughout the county, there will probably be an immense gathering from all the neighbouring towns; and the parishioners desire that if anything unseemly takes place during the removal of the stones, the rector, and not they, will be responsible for it.

 

The Dispute about the Well at Goytrey

Before Colonel Byrde, Mr C.J.Parkes, and F.J.Phillips

William Pritchard, blacksmith, Nantyderry, was charged with assaulting John Preece.

Mr Gardner, of Usk, appeared for the complainant; and Mr T Watkins, for defendant.

Complainant deposed: I live at Goytre. On the 18th of this month, I had been at Abergavenny, and when I returned, I called at the Refreshment Rooms at Nantyderry. After leaving that place, I was talking with John Bevan on the road, when Pritchard came behind us, and, saying “Here is one of the d—- b—–,“ up with a great stake over my head and struck me. I did not see him before I heard him speak. As he spoke, I saw the blow coming, and turned my head, and received the blow on the back of my neck instead of on my head. He struck at me with the stick a second time, but John Bevan and I caught hold of the stick, and got it from him. This is the stick, which I now produce (between 4 and 5 feet long and 6 inches round at the end). I had not touched him before that. When I went into the Refreshment Rooms, he rose and wanted to shake hands, but I refused to do so. I had left the inn about 5 minutes when he struck me.

Cross-examined: This was about 10 o’clock, but I am not positive, as I did not notice the time, I came down by the 9 o’clock train from Abergavenny. I was not in any other inn at Nantyderry, except the Refreshment Room. I can’t say whether I had more than two glasses there or not; I don’t believe I had. I had drunk two half-pints in Abergavenny. I was quite sober. I refused to shake hands with Pritchard at the Refreshment Rooms because I am not in the habit of shaking hands with drunken people. He said “I suppose you are in a bad way with me about the filling of the well.” I said “Sit down.” I did not say anything about “nuisance.” I was not one of the crowd who were calling out “Water! water!” and throwing stones at the defendant’s house. I had heard that the well had been filled up that day. I was not one of a crowd who went and broke defendant’s door open. His wife came and challenged any two on the road, but I did not threaten to hit her B——- head off. When I received the blow, I did not see any one else present, but John Bevan and George Howard.

John Bevan deposed: I am a haulier, and live at Goytre. On the 18th of this month, between 10 and 11 at night, I was standing at the end of Nantyderry bridge, about 40 yards from Pritchard’s house. Preece was with me. I had not gone to Pritchard’s house before that, and I do not believe Preece had done so. He and I left the Refreshment Rooms together. While we were standing at the end of the bridge, Pritchard came up and gave me a blow on the side of the head. I believe his wife and daughter took him back. He came up again, gave me a slap on the shoulder and struck Preece, saying “Here is one of the b———.“ He aimed twice, but we caught the staff and prevented the second blow, and got the staff from him. I was sober, and so was Preece. I can’t say whether Pritchard was sober.

Cross-examined: I can’t tell what originated this, because before this happened I was good friends with him and never did anything to “defend” him. I thought it was a very strange thing. There were a few people about that evening. I could not take my oath whether Preece went out of the Refreshment Rooms while I was there, but I never missed him. I was not among any people who went to Pritchard’s house that night. I have never heard till now that Pritchard’s lock was burnt off his door that night. I did not hear Preece threaten to strike Pritchard’s wife. Pritchard’s wife and daughter tried to get him into the house.

To Mr Phillips: The blow was not struck in the scuffle.

George Howard deposed: I live at Nantyderry and keep an inn there. I remember the night of the 18th instant. I had gone to bed, but my wife heard a row, and I got up and went out, down to the railway bridge. There I saw John Preece and Bevan talking together. I said to John Preece, “What is this row about.” He replied, “I don’t know: there is a row down there.” Directly afterwards, three ran by me like horses, and I believe the blow was struck. I heard a blow, and turned round, and saw Pritchard, but did not see who it was that struck. There was a scuffle after that, and I walked away. Preece appeared to be sober, and so did Bevan. I could not say in what state Pritchard was. This was about 11 o’clock. I had closed my house and gone to bed.

Cross-examined: I heard a row, but did not know what it was about.

To Mr Phillip’s: I live about 100 yards from Pritchard’s house.

For the defence, Mr Watkins said that something had been going on about the celebrated well at Goytre. Both parties adjourned to the Refreshment Rooms. Preece, by his own admission, arrived there at 9, and he evidently remained there till 11 o’clock, not 10 as he had stated. In the Refreshment Rooms, the blacksmith offered to shake hands with Preece. Preece refused, saying, “I shall not shake hands with a man who puts nuisances into wells.” The blacksmith went home and went to bed, and after 11 o’clock he heard stones thrown on his tiles, his door was burst open, and a crowd was outside calling “Water!, Water!” Pritchard then sallied forth; his wife had one stick and his daughter had another, and he took the stick from his wife and struck among the crowd who were attacking his house. He could not call the wife to prove this, but he could call the daughter.

Elizabeth Pritchard deposed: I am daughter to defendant, and live in his house at Nantyderry. About half-past 10on the night of the 18th, my mother had gone upstairs to bed, and we had taken off our clothes. We left father lying on the sofa downstairs with his clothes on. Mother and I had been in bed about three quarters of an hour, when we heard a great noise like a drum outside, and people hollaing “Come out! And we will give you what for,” and the door was burst open. Father said “Wait till I put my boots on.” We then went outside. There were about 15 men there. Preece and the other witness was among them. (She was asked to point who she meant, and failed to recognize Bevan until he spoke to her). My mother took the broom stick and I took another stick. I had a great long, thick stick but it was not the stick that had been produced; nor did my mother have that stick. Father took the broomstick off mother, and hit one or two in the crowd. Preece had invited him to go to him, and he would give him what for; he had also used bad language, and kicked him on the legs. I did not see Howard there.

Cross-examined: They had my father down when we got to the end of the bridge. I don’t know any of the others who were there. I believe father struck three with the broom-stick, but not with the stick produced. Father said “Is it thee, Preece,” before he struck him. I caught hold of Preece round the middle and pulled him off father. I believe my father went there to protect himself. It is not 50 yards from our house to the place where this occurred. Father had been in the house three-quarters of an hour before this. I had never seen Preece or Bevan before that night. It was pretty dark.

To Mr Phillips: I am sure that neither mother or myself ever had that stick.

To Mr Parkes: There was quite enough light to see who was there.

Mr Parkes seemed to doubt this. To Mr Watkins: Father said “Is it thee, Preece,” just as he went out through the door. The scuffle followed quickly after.

In answer to the Bench, P.C. Allen said that defendant was like a wild man when drunk, and four or five people had recently been assaulted by him, but he had not been convicted; and that Preece was a very quiet man, whose name had never been heard in question in any way.

Colonel Byrde said that the magistrates considered that the offence proved, and the defendant was fined 40s, including costs, or 21 days.

The money was paid.

Colonel Byrde afterwards said that he had received from the Rev Thomas Evans a letter saying that he anticipated a breach of the peace at Goytre that night; he was aware there were such turbulent people at Goytre, and was sorry to hear of it; he handed the letter to Supt. M’Intosh, and requested him to take steps to prevent any breach of the peace.

Supt. M’Intosh said he had received a similar letter from Mr Evans.

 

November 8th 1873

 

CHAPEL-ED, – The anniversary services of the above place were held on Sunday and Monday, November 2nd and 3rd, when the Revd W.G.Owen, Abergavenny; George Phillips, Norwich; Robert Thomas, Hanover; and D. Saunders, Abercarne, preached the sermons. The services were well attended throughout both days, and the collections were up to our expectation. We are glad to say that – though the people of this neighbourhood are prevented from partaking of the water of this life, from a certain well, by a certain clergyman, – the water of the Wells of Salvation ran more copiously than ever at Chapel-Ed on Sunday and Monday last. And the voice of invitation to the rev. gentleman who preached the word was like the voice of Him who, on the great day of the feast, stood and cried unto the thousands, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” And if we mistake not, we heard the voice of the “Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” So that many thirsty souls quenched their thirst in drinking from their living streams. We lond to hear such services again. Con.

 

 

 

November 15th 1873 – Hanover

The annual tea-meeting of the Sunday school of the above place was held on Thursday, Nov. 6th. The Hanover Sunday school treat is a well known fact in the county now: the people for many miles around look upon it as something that must take place, as the season of the year comes round. Though it was somewhat later this year than usual, still we are happy to say that the postponement did not affect it in the least. The day proved very favourable. If the sun did not shine, the clouds were scattered, and the moon of the night did us the kindness to light out path homeward. The gathering this year was equal to that of the previous one. We do not know the exact number of those who took tea; but a great number of children and their friends came together to partake of the excellent tea and cake, were served out in a manner that reflected great credit on the ladies who prepared and presided over it. After doing justice to the tea and cake, we retired to the chapel, which was beautifully decorated with flowers, evergreens, and appropriate mottoes. We were at once convinced that those who performed this part of the work are both admirers of both nature and art. At 7 o’clock, a public meeting of recitation and singing was held; Col. H. C. Byrde, Goytre House, in the chair. All who know Col. Byrde know him to be a warm advocate of Sunday school work. He is never more happy than when surrounded by children. His face was an index of the feelings of his heart on this occasion. We must say that the getting up of such a meeting as this incurred a certain amount of labour and perseverance on the part of both students and teachers. The singing was also rendered very effectively, under the leadership of Mr Lewis Jones. After a vote of thanks to the worthy chairman was proposed by the Rev W. F. Jones, Goytre, seconded by the Rev Robert Thomas, (minister), and the Benediction pronounced by the chairman, we returned to our homes, having enjoyed ourselves unto out hearts’ utmost desire.- Cor.

 

December 20th 1873

On Wednesday the 3rd inst., services – morning and evening – were held at the above church, thus keeping the day suggested by the Archbishop of the Province for a special prayer for a blessing on Christian Missions. The annual Harvest Thanksgiving service was included; and a collection was made in aid of the funds of the Church Mission Society, which amounted to £4 9s 3d. There was a fair congregation in the morning, and a very good one in the evening and both congregations were most attentive to the impressive sermons delivered by their rector

 

 

November 1st 1873

THE WELL AT GOYTRE

To The Editor of the Free Press

Sir, – Two persons Henry Matthews, and David Bowen, have the audacity to question the accuracy of my report of the proceedings at the reopening of the well at Goytre. Notice of anything emanating from these men is hardly necessary. They might employ their time to better purpose in seeking to regain the good will of their fellow parishioners than in denying facts of which there were so very many witnesses.

 

Yours faithfully

W H GREENE

 

November 8th 1873

[ADVT]

To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir, – The report which appeared in your paper for Saturday last, October 18th of the proceeding which took place in connection with the re-opening of the “Well at Goytrey” contains so many statements which are not correct, that we the undersigned, on the part of the rector, and of those who hold with him, feel compelled to write to you, requesting permission to say a few words on the matter.

First your report says: “That the parishioners carried out their threats;” and also that “Some thirty-five farmers and others assembled, etc.” It would have been more correct to have said, “The portion of the parishioners who gave notion of their intention to re-open the well carried out their threat on Thursday last, and a party, containing of some 4 or 5 farmers, together with a gang of boys, youths and boys, assembled at Penplenny, etc.” It is true the rector’s people offered no opposition, as they deemed it more prudent to remain at Nantyderry to protect the orchards and other portions of the rector’s property there, as one or two of the leaders of the party who re-opened the well made it a boast the day previous day that from four to five hundred men from all parts were coming to do their work.

Your report also adds that after Mr Gwatkin’s bit of a speech the working party dispersed: and secondly Chas. Llewellin was not tipsy, neither was he sent as a scout.

Your reporter must have but a poor idea of generalship to imagine that we should send a drunken scout. We might just as well imagine that you would send a drunken reporter as we should send a tipsy scout.

We are, sir, yours truly

HENRY MATTHEWS

DAVID BOWEN

 

December 20th 1873

LOCAL AND DISTRICT NEWS

GOYTRE

On Wednesday the 3rd inst., services – morning and evening – were held at the above church, thus keeping the day suggested by the Archbishop of the Province for a special prayer for a blessing on Christian Missions. The annual Harvest Thanksgiving service was included; and a collection was made in aid of the funds of the Church Mission Society, which amounted to £4 9s 3d. There was a fair congregation in the morning, and a very good one in the evening and both congregations were most attentive to the impressive sermons delivered by their rector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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