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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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indemnified and sav'd harmless for their so doing', a very necessary
precaution, as we shall see.
While all this was going on, John Arnold and John Scudamore were
presenting their evidence of Monmouthshire Popery to the committee of the
House of Commons. They named priests and their protectors, and reported
regular large gatherings of Catholics at the ruined chapel on Skirrid, and the
presence of a Jesuit College at the Cwm. The sheer number of practising
Catholics is impressive. At Dingestow, for instance, only sixteen or twenty
Anglicans attended Sunday service, while sixty or more Catholics passed and
repassed through the churchyard on their way to mass at Lady Jones's at
Treowen. The vicar of Llanarth reported more than eighty Catholics in his
parish, not counting children and servants. Arnold's row with Henry
Milborne and Rowland Prichard was gone into at length. Prichard claimed
to pay an extra  10 a year rent to be allowed to have mass said at his house
at Llanrothal, which is extremely revealing of local tolerance. When Arnold
and Henry Probert had one of Milborne's servants arrested, Milborne laid
violent hands on the chief constable so that the servant could escape. The fine
for recusancy was supposed to be a shilling per Sunday, but Milborne flatly
refused to levy it. North-east Monmouthshire was, it would seem, a Catholic
area under Catholic administration. The crowd was so great at mass one day,
a woman reported, 'that the loft was forced to be propt least it should fall
down under the weight'. John Arnold groaned under a similar Catholic
burden.46
Milborne now appears in the Wentwood case. Worcester had no intention
of trying his right at law, probably because he knew he had none. Instead he
copied his grandfather and tried might over right, using his packed bench of
J.Ps. to enforce his will. He
order'd his Deputy-governor of Chepstow not only by a Military Power to enter
the said Forest or Chase, and to invade the Rights of the Tenants by keeping
Guard with Guns, and other Hostile Weapons in and about the Wood, but call'd
a Privy-Sessions under the Forester's Oak there, where appear'd his Mercenary
Justices, viz. Mr Henry Milburne, Mr Thomas Herbert, his Deputy-Governor of
Chepstow, with the County Jailor, several Bailiffs, Catchpoles, and other
dissolute Fellows from Monmouth, who were made and appointed by the said
Justices as special Constables, in Conjunction with the Soldiers to terrifie and
take up the Tenants and their Servants, that had lately cut or carry'd any Wood
for their necessary Occasions.
46 An Abstract, passim.
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