Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History



First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey R. Bibbee

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew G. Schoenbachler

Third Advisor

Dr. Danny Burton


Between the years of 1839 and 1843, numerous riots occurred throughout southwest Wales which were aimed predominantly at tollgates and tollbooths. These gates and booths were built on private roads and were used to collect a toll from travelers for the use of the road. Times were already difficult in south Wales, and the extra tolls were a strain on the poor workers of the area. The first tollgate was destroyed in May of 1839, and three more were destroyed within the next two months. However, after these events, there were no further attacks until December of 1842, when the riots began again and spread throughout all of southwest Wales.

The cause of this lull is rarely discussed by authors and scholars of the Riots. The unexplained break between the first wave of riots and the second is simply ignored by almost all authors. Throughout this thesis, the reasons for the three years of silence will be discussed, divided into three sections: the reasons that the first riots ended after only four events, why no riots broke out between June of 1839 and December of 1842, and why the riots returned when they did, in the winter of 1842.

Ultimately, this paper will show that the main causes of the break involved the outcome of the first riots, economic conditions, general location, and the locations of specific tollgates. Of these factors, economic conditions would play the largest role. However, without each of these factors, the Rebecca Riots would have occurred quite differently. The absence of a single one of these factors would have drastically changed many of the events between 1839 and 1842.