A meeting was called
on 1st inst. of the inhabitants of the Borough of Newport, by the Mayor
to take into consideration the distressed state of the poor, and the
necessity of giving them some relief at this season of the year, when
a subscription was entered into, and upwards of £80 collected,
which is to be laid out in bread and potatoes and distributed among
We have been informed that it is the usual practice of the lower orders in this neighbourhood to bury their new born children in the churchyard, without the knowledge of sexton or clerk, and that an instance of this occurred some weeks ago at Newport when a body was found and examined by the Coroner, and bore no marks of violence. It had evidently been brought into the world by surgical means. There was no suspicion, therefore, of its having been murdered. Poor people however ought to he cautious how they adopt this plan, economical as it may seem, for if discovered they may incur a suspicion of having made away with their infants and be exposed to the most serious consequences.
Our correspondent in Newport informs us that the condition of the labouring people is worse than it has been for some years; which he attributed to the numbers of Irish immigrants that come daily by the steam packets from Bristol. Day after day, says he, groups of men, women and children, for the most part without shoes or stockings, are seen parading our streets, begging at tradesmen's shops and houses, and then applying for relief. We trust that perfect tranquillity will soon be restored to our unhappy sister island and in that case the labouring peasantry will, we doubt not, he able to find sufficient employment at home.
Lamentable accounts of the destruction of property in almost every part of the country appears to me to call loudly upon everyone to take the most efficient steps to check the further progress in order to avoid some greater calamity. To reason with the populace so infatuated, so as to destroy the very means by which they exist, is hopeless, but I can see much may yet be done to prevent further mischief; if farmers and others employing machinery, were to lay them aside for the present, until the condition of the labouring classes be ameliorated again. Advantage should not be taken of the distressed state of the people, to wring from them their daily labour, at wages that will not suffice to support themselves and families. In many places the poor are not relieved to the extent they are entitled by their Parishes, one shilling and one shilling and sixpence per week being all the relief afforded to adult persons, who, from age or sickness, are totally incapacitated from earning an additional farthing. The approaching inclement season demands, in such cases as these, further relief.
It has often struck me as anomalous, that in almost every town in the Kingdom, persons busy themselves getting up "Anti-Slavery Petitions" while they are regardless of the wants of their own population.
I am Sir
On Wednesday last being Old Christmas Day, Thomas Powell Esq. of the Gaer House, Newport, with the liberality and charitable feeling he has always evinced in the alleviation of distress, distributed, to the poor of the Borough and Parish of St. Woolos, one ton four hundred weight of bread, affording a liberal supply to a great many poor families. As the worthy donor has been elected one of the council and has since been chosen one of the Aldermen of the Borough, it may be a good inducement for other members of the Corporation to do likewise.
One of the poor fellows who was recently discharged from the Dock Works, and who has since been unable to obtain employment, is now suffering the most terrible destitution at Pillgwenlly, having a wife and four helpless children almost starving, who have subsisted entirely on boiled turnips and a four penny loaf during the last seven days, and numerous other families are in the same condition. The unfortunate husband went yesterday in quest of employment, but from the severity of the weather, there can be little hope of speedy relief being obtained from his endeavours for his destitute and starving family.
On Tuesday night last, about nine o'clock, a labouring man in the employ of Charles Morgan M.P., of Ruperra Castle, was sitting in his cottage when he was disturbed by the cry of an infant, he arose without delay and went out into the open air, when he observed a basket lying under his window from which he soon ascertained that the cries proceeded. On examining the basket he found its contents to be a very fine male infant, well dressed, together with two good changes of apparel and three remarkably neat caps. The poor cottager and his family treated the little foundling with kindness, and he is so well pleased with the helpless stranger that he has expressed his determination to rear it up as his own - thus furnishing a pleasing instance of the generous feeling which characterizes the peasantry of our country, and a very striking contrast to the heartless conduct of the cruel parents, who abandoned their tender offspring to perish or be supported by public charity. The infant remains under the care of the kind cottager.
A poor Irish woman was this week begging from door to door with the corpse of an infant in her arms. Several cargoes of Irish people have been sent back to Ireland from this port during the week. Hundreds yet remain in a starving condition; and Hill Street, in which the Relieving Officer resides, is daily crowded by whole families, who present the appearance in general, of famished and diseased men, women and children.
Large quantities of soup have been supplied to the poor, by Mr. Southall, of the Hare and Greyhound, Commercial Street, according to his usual custom in the winter. This year, in consequence of the extreme severity of the weather, and the necessities of the unemployed, Mr. Southall's liberality was considerably extended.
William Roberts an inmate of the Union Workhouse was charged with refusing to work when required by the master, and also with inciting others to follow his example. He had been previously convicted for disorderly conduct and vagrancy, and was sentenced to 28 days hard labour at Usk.
The recent inclement weather has rendered all the more seasonable and welcome, the laudable efforts of H. Phillips Esq., to provide a supply of excellent soup for gratuitous distribution among the poor.
The most uncompromising advocate for things as they used to be must have been content with the weather, which was intensely cold, while snow lay on every side. People, however, a large proportion of whom were evidently from the country, thronged the streets on Christmas Day and probably enjoyed their cosy fireside in the evening all the better. The various places of worship were well filled. On the Mill Pond and elsewhere, skaters and sliders have had ample opportunity for displaying their agility, indulging in a healthful agreeable and exhilarating pastime.
On Christmas Day at the Workhouse, the poor of the Union were regaled with roast beef and plum pudding, the result of a subscription raised for the purpose. The Master and the Matron did all within their power towards the comfort of the inmates on the occasion. In the evening a very nicely decorated Christmas tree was introduced, from the branches of which were suspended little articles of use and interest, which were distributed to the poor inmates, who were much pleased with the manner in which the Master and Matron had endeavoured to amuse them.
A valuable institution in connection with the Catholic Church in Newport - a Burial Society for the poor who for a halfpenny contribution per week secure for their dead a wood coffin, a shroud, a private grave, a Gothic headstone, a pall and the use of 24 funeral dresses; the pall being beautifully decorated with crimson and having the inscription in deep Gothic lettering "Eternal Rest grant to them Oh Lord and let Perpetual Light shine upon them". The family of the deceased are thus relieved from all expense, and the Catholic poor are held to be without excuse, if they get into pecuniary difficulties on account of death.
On Tuesday afternoon we observed the funeral procession of a young girl. The male and female mourners were all becomingly dressed in mourning cloaks, hat bands, bonnets and veils (very nun-like) etc.; and a striking feature in the procession was a dozen young girls, all arrayed in white, with white veils covering their heads and falling nearly to the ground. The public were naturally surprised at the spectacle, the cause of which we have thus explained.
We are requested to State that persons having old clothing at their disposal might beneficially place the same at the command of the managers of the Girls Ragged School in Queen Street, instead of indiscriminately giving articles to recipients, who in many cases are not really deserving or in want.
A Newport resident, who some years ago had a considerable practice in the town as a solicitor, has now become so reduced that it is feared an attack of illness, from which he is suffering will lead to his removal to the Union House.
Mr. Burchan (the Board of Guardians' Inspector) visiting the Union on Saturday, was glad to see that the few cases of Relief for able bodied persons in this Union, had been dealt with, without the applicants having to undergo "Pauperising". He was glad to see the men (with families) getting wages from the Corporation for breaking stones. That was a far better course than pauperising them. It answered the purpose very well.
A movement has been set on foot for providing, during the winter, a free breakfast on Sunday morning, for a number of poor children of the town. The first of the series will be given tomorrow at the Old Albert Hall, Ebenezer Terrace. Lord Tredegar, the Mayor, and other gentlemen have subscribed to the fund being raised for the purpose.
At Saturday's meeting of the Newport Board of Guardians the clerk reported the receipt of a letter from Mr. Michael O'Shaughnessy, a married inmate of the House. The clerk read the letter which was written by O'Shaughnessy on behalf of himself and three other married inmates, asking for married quarters to be provided.
O'Shaughnessy was the only person able to sign his name, the other signatures were attested by crosses. In answer to Mr. Brown, the Master stated O'Shaughnessy had been several times before the Magistrates. The last time he was on leave he came home drunk, with a black eye, and he should on that occasion have been locked up. The letter was referred to the Visiting Committee.
As is well known to our readers, the first Monday of each month, or Mabon's Day, as it is now known by, is given as a holiday to those inmates of the Newport Workhouse who care to leave the institutions for a few hours for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives. Unfortunately the day very rarely arrives without witnessing the return of many of these inmates in a state of intoxication. It is therefore, a frequent sight to see them reeling back to the Workhouse intoxicated. For this they are of course reprimanded and punished by being deprived of the holiday for a certain period of time. It will thus be seen, that it is mistaken kindness to ply those unfortunates with drink.
It has been said that to give the lower classes better dwellings, they would be benefitted both morally and physically. That is a consummation devoutly to be wished, but it seems very questionable whether it will have that effect in general. Unless the advantages of the use of water and soap are inculcated into the minds of the lower classes, all the nice clean houses ever built hardly will eradicate their inherent love of dirt and squalor, at least in this or the next generation.
To one who walks about the town with an observant eye, it is pitiable in the extreme to see the neglected, filthy, squalid condition of the children. Go in any part of the town one will, in the localities occupied by the wage earning class, the streets seem to be given over to the children as play-grounds. The women revel in dirt, and are to be seen lolling and gossiping on the doorsteps. Here you see a brawny, frowsy-headed matron with breasts exposed, suckling a child. All seem to reek with dirt. Girls of fourteen or fifteen are seen with hardly enough rags on for decency, shoe-less, and stocking-less. The boys are in rags and tatters, and join in the endless rivalry as to who should get into the most dirt. A group of children are quarrelling, making use of the most disgusting language. The only check they receive, an objurgation from their mothers, if they can make it convenient to spare a few words with the children, to "shut up", accompanied, in all probability, by threats of what they will do. The mothers then return to their gossip and the children to their rows. What sort of promise does this give of the coming generation? It is almost too much to hope that with clean dwellings the dirty habits will vanish.
Signed by a Working Man.
In reference to servants' hours, I think it is high time something was done in the matter. Many girls are on from six thirty in the morning until eleven or twelve o'clock at night. I, for one, think we have no life. As the shops are closing early, I think steps should be taken for female servants to be able to get out early, in order to get what they may require, not half past seven or eight o'clock, the same as many do now. I say life is not worth living if things are going on at this rate. Slaves we are called, a more suitable name could not be found. We all ought to strike and strike we will, and let the so called gentry do their work themselves, for us girls mean to stick up for their rights. Trusting I am not intruding on your valuable space -
William Thomas charged with sleeping under a hay-rick at Alteryn, was discharged on promising to leave the town. The prisoner said he had no money, and had no work, and if he went elsewhere he would only have to walk about. The Mayor: "I'm afraid so too."
John Tayne was summoned for deserting his wife and children and neglecting to provide reasonable maintenance for them. The parties had been before the court several times. - The woman said that the man had always treated her in a most brutal manner. He had been to prison for ill-treating her but she only wanted maintenance. She had seven children, and when her husband was in work he allowed her only ten shillings a week. The police record showed the man had been brought up for assaulting his wife no less than seven times. - The Bench ordered defendant to allow his wife twelve shillings a week.
Before Alderman D.A. Vaughan and Alderman C.H. Bailey, Thomas Tugby aged 15 was charged with stealing oranges in the Provision Market, the property of Mr. Sheppard a fruitier. The father complained that the lad was incorrigible. The Bench made an order that the child should be sent to the Market Weighton Roman Catholic Reformatory, until he attains the age of 19, both Messrs Vaughan and Bailey remarking that the boy was no credit to his father, neither was the father any credit to the son. It was, said the Chairman, owing to the son's bad bringing up that he was in his present, poor, wretched condition.
Daniel Morgan, labourer, was summoned for disobeying an order of the Justices, by not sending his son to school. Defendant stated that the lad had no boots and the Chairman, Alderman D.A. Vaughan, pointed out that boots could be obtained upon application to the Relieving Officer. Defendant was fined five shillings.