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Welsh History Review

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Vol. 14, nos. 1-4 1988-89

Nathan Rogers and the Wentwood Case : a continuing issue in Monmouthshire politics from Charles I to the Chartists /

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government. But most lords lieutenant were tender to local susceptibilities,
and found it wiser to add political allies to obtain a desired majority than to
remove political opponents. Not so Worcester: between 1674 and 1677 he
purged no less than twelve J.Ps. from the benches he controlled in Brecon,
Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. As with most things in the area, religious
differences lay behind many of the dismissals."
Two of those removed were notorious anti-Catholics. John Arnold of
Llanvihangel Crucorney and Henry Probert of Penallt had spent much of
1677 attempting to make the Monmouthshire bench enforce the laws against
recusants. They had no success. There were several Catholic J.Ps. to thwart
them, most notably Henry Milborne of Clytha. Milborne's uncle, also a
Catholic and a J.P., was Rowland Prichard of Llanrothal. He was sheriff that
year, and supposed to collect fines from recusants and dissenters alike. Of
the £ 40 he was due to raise from nine offenders, he produced only
£ 4 13s. 4d. from five dissenters. The Catholics were untouched.35
It may seem surprising that there were Catholics on the bench at all in
1677, but the north of the county, particularly the area between Raglan and
the Monnow, had always been Catholic, and remained staunchly so under the
Somersets' protection. John Arnold, who lived on the edge of this area, and
was said by his many enemies to be a republican and to consort with extreme
dissenters, was no doubt particularly irked by the number of recusant
neighbours. His behaviour over the next few years was so violent that some
historians regard him as having carried religious fanaticism to the point of
madness.36 Yet it seems to have come upon him rather abruptly. He had
known David Lewis, a Jesuit, for seven or eight years before he arrested him,
as he admitted himself, and Lewis described him as once a very good friend
and acquaintance. Political ambition seems to have been at least partly
responsible for the change of mood.37 Ambition may have lain behind
Probert's activities, too. His father, Sir George, was M.P. for the borough
of Monmouth until his death in 1677. In the subsequent bye-election it was
not his son but Worcester's who succeeded him, and Arnold and Probert both
made themselves obnoxious to the marquess.38 Worcester may have been
34 K. J. Glassey, Politics and the Appointment ofJPs, 1675-1720 (Oxford, 1979), passim, but especially
pp. 37-38.
35 The most comprehensive accounts of the struggles between local J.Ps. are J. H. Canning, 'The Titus
Oates Plot in South Wales and the Marches', St Peter's Magazine (January 1923 et seq.); and M.M.C.
O'Keefe, 'The Popish Plot in South Wales' (University College, Galway, unpublished M.A. thesis, 1969).
36 John Kenyon, The Popish Plot (London, 1972), pp. 191 and 214.
37 Lewis's own account of his arrest and trial can be found in Canning, op. cit. For Arnold, see D. W.B.
and Henning, op. cit., pp. 545-47.
38 Henning, op. cit., p. 292.
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