Site of anti-tithe riot, Mochdre

button-theme-crimeSite of anti-tithe riot, Mochdre

After four local farmers refused to pay tithes in 1887, soldiers and police arrived by special train at Mochdre station (which was where Station Road crosses the railway). Protestors and police were injured in clashes before the Riot Act was read.

For centuries, Welsh farmers paid a tenth of their produce (the tithe) to support churches and clergy. With the spread of Nonconformism in the 19th century, many farmers had no connection with the Anglican church and resented paying tithes. The Welsh “tithe war” broke out after livestock prices dropped in 1885 and 1886. Some farmers claimed the tithe was a quarter of their income.

On 16 June 1887, a magistrate, church commissioner, solicitor, auctioneer and six cattle drovers arrived at Mochdre, accompanied by bailiffs, more than 100 police and a company of the Cheshire Regiment (c.200 soldiers). Cannons were fired on a nearby hill, where local residents had kept the station under observation for a week, dawn till dusk. Soon flags were waved from houses and horns were blown.

Locals sympathetic to the farmers were soon joined by others from Conwy, Colwyn Bay and other towns. The village pub closed and shutters were put up at the local shop. Eventually the crowd blocked the road. The police used batons to force their way through. Later the crowd pelted the police with stones. Each farmer paid the tithe promptly. Tanrallt Uchaf Farm’s tithe was c.£625 in today’s money.

The magistrate urged the crowd to disperse, saying that neither he nor the police sympathised with tithes. Before the enforcers reached the fourth farm, the Riot Act was read, in English and Welsh, and the crowd dispersed. (Anyone protesting after the Act’s reading could receive the death penalty.) The riot left 50 civilians and 34 policemen injured.

The Government ordered an inquiry, which reported that Welsh anti-tithe protestors did not advocate violence and recommended compensation for the injured, including Elias Hughes, who had attended as a newspaper correspondent. He sustained a broken arm and a head injury which was said to have made him depressed. He died by causing an apparently suicidal explosion in a railway carriage in 1892.

Postcode: LL28 5DS    View Location Map