Newport Past

Chartist Trial
16th January 1840
Sentence pronounced by Lord Chief Justice Tindal
on John Frost, Zephaniah Williams, William Jones.

"After the most anxious and careful investigation of your respective cases, before juries of great intelligence and almost unexampled patience, you stand at the bar of this court to receive the last sentence of the law for the commission of a crime, which, beyond all others, is the most pernicious in example, and the most injurious in its consequences, to the peace and happiness of human society - the crime of High Treason against your Sovereign. You can have no just ground for complaint that your several cases have not met with the most full consideration, both from the jury and from the court. I should be wanting in justice if I did not openly declare, that the Verdicts which they have found meet with the entire concurrence of my learned brethren and myself.

And now nothing more remains than the duty imposed upon the Court - to all of us a most painful duty - to declare the last sentence of the law, which is that you, John Frost, and you Zephaniah Williams, and you, William Jones, be taken hence to the place from whence you came, and be thence drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, and that each of you he there hanged by the neck until you be dead, and that afterwards the head of each of you shall be severed from his body and the body of each, divided into four quarters, shall be disposed of as Her Majesty shall think fit, and may Almighty Cod have mercy upon your souls."
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19th October, 1840
Letter from Mr. John Frost

We have been passed a letter from Mr. John Frost who writes from Port Arthur last July:

"I am at Port Arthur, a place to which the very worst of men are sent, and where human misery may be seen. I was not, however, sent here for what is called punishment; the Governor told us repeatedly that we were not sent to Port Arthur as a punishment, but to fill certain offices. Williams is a superintendent at the coal mines, Jones fills a situation at the juvenile establishment, and I am in the office of the commandant, that is the Governor of Port Arthur. I am acting as a clerk, and hitherto the labour has not been heavy. I am in excellent health - I never was better, and my spirits are very good, considering all things - much better than I could possibly have anticipated."
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29th April, 1853
The Late Thomas Prothero, Esq.

Although the state of this gentleman's health for a considerable time scarcely warranted a hope of his recovery - the unexpected announcement of his death (which was sudden) by means of the electric telegraph on Monday last, caused considerable sensation in the town and neighbourhood with the political and commercial associations with which he has been influentially connected for so great a number of years. The shipping in the dock immediately hoisted their colours half-mast high. The corpse was brought from London on Thursday (yesterday), and will be interred at Malpas on Saturday next. We regret to learn that the state of Mrs. Prothero's health is such as to cause some uneasiness among her family and friends.
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14th April, 1854
John Frost

Before going to press, we made every inquiry respecting the result of the memorial to be presented by our respected Mayor and the members for the Boroughs to Her Most Gracious Majesty, praying that Mr. Frost might be permitted to return to Newport; but we are sorry to state that no intelligence has yet been received on the subject.
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1st June, 1867
Death of Sir Thomas Phillips

We this week record with deep regret the death of Sir Thomas Phillips while engaged before a Committee of the House of Commons on a Railway Bill. Sir Thomas as a young man was articled to the late Thomas Prothero, solicitor of this town. He was afterwards a partner in the same firm in which he had commenced his career. He was Mayor of Newport in the year 1839 at the time of the Chartist Riot. On that occasion his prompt and judicious efforts on behalf of the peaceably-disposed inhabitants, his firmness in the hour of trial and his resolute resistance of lawless aggression won him the esteem and admiration of the people of Newport. Sir Thomas was born in Llanelly and was 66 years of age at the time of his death.
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Star of Gwent
18th January, 1873
Lecture by Mr. Henry Vincent

On Tuesday evening, under the auspices of the Young Men's Religious Society, a lecture was delivered at the Town Hall, by Mr. Henry Vincent, the former Chartist. The accomplished and veteran orator, his energy being unabated, but his grey, nay white, and flowing beard betokening how many years had passed since first we saw him, more than fulfilled the heightened anticipations of his audience.

Mr. Vincent, who, after the outburst of cheering with which he was welcomed, said in his happiest way, it gave him great pleasure once more to meet an audience in the town of Newport and begged respectfully to wish them all a very happy New Year.
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Star of Gwent
17th March, 1877
Frost the Chartist

Sir Edward Watkin is engaged in promoting a subscription on behalf of Mr. John Frost; the well known Welsh Chartist, who was sentenced to death in 1839 through his participation in the rising at Newport. Mr. Frost is 93 years of age and still lives in the neighbourhood of Bristol. It is somewhat singular that the jury, judge, and counsel engaged in his prosecution, thirty eight years ago, are all dead. His sentence was commuted to one of transportation for life, and he was sent to Van Diemen's Land. He lived through it all, and when the amnesty was granted to political prisoners at the close of the Crimean War, he was able to return to his native country.

Mr. Frost was a Justice of the Peace, had been Mayor, and was a successful tradesman in Newport at the time of the Chartist Rising. He very ardently, but not very wisely, espoused their cause and lost both property and liberty for what he conceived to be his patriotic duty.

He is in fair health now, but his memory at times somewhat wanders. He lives with his daughter who has attended his declining years with affectionate care and solicitude. Sir Edward Watkin hearing of his position, voluntarily sent his family £20 a few days ago, and he is now engaged in the benevolent work of trying to raise £200 or £300 to solace the old Chartist's exile in the days of proper forgetfulness.
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Star of Gwent
29th July 1877
Death of John Frost

We understand that Mr. John Frost, the old Chartist, died at his daughter's home in Stapleton, Bristol on 27th inst. at the ripe old age of 93.

Mr. John Frost, prior to the lamentable outbreak in which he was the prime leader, commenced business in Newport as a tailor and draper in 1811, in a house belonging to his step-father, near the Royal Oak, Mill Street. Shortly after this he married a widow named Geach, who, with her two children, resided with her uncle, Mr. William Foster, a member of the old Corporation and Mayor of the Borough in the years 1804, 1812 and 1817. At Mr. Foster's demise Mrs. Frost and her children derived a handsome property. By Mr. Frost, she became the mother of two sons and five daughters. About the year 1822 Mr. Frost first displayed aspirations to rank as a public writer, and pamphleteering was a favourite mode of showing his hostility.

Mr. Frost was an early convert to the cause of the Chartists. His earnest advocacy and strong expression of language soon got him into trouble. His prosecution for libel and committal to prison tended to increase his popularity and brought him more into public favour. He was elected one of the Council of the Borough at the close of 1835 and was recommended to the King, by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for appointment as one of the Justices of the Peace for the Borough. He is said to have performed the duties with diligence, zeal, independence and impartiality. In 1837 he was elected to fill the civic chair, and during his year of office as Mayor, acted with becoming dignity. He subsequently became so extreme in his political views, and so violent in his language that the attention of the authorities was called to the matter, the result being that Mr. Frost's name was obliterated from the list of Justices of the Peace. From thereon his life is a matter of history, made poignant by the utter futility of the enterprise in which he participated.
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