Wales UK: Dic Penderyn should be pardoned, MPs told in petition

Ann Clwyd says people feel Dic Penderyn was ‘wrongly executed’

A miner hanged for stabbing a soldier in a 19th Century industrial rebellion should be pardoned, MPs have been told.

Richard Lewis – known as Dic Penderyn – is regarded by many as a martyr for his part in the 1831 Merthyr Rising.

Presenting a petition to the House of Commons, Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd said there was a “strong feeling” in Wales that he was wrongly executed and should have his named cleared.

The decision lies in the hands of Justice Secretary Michael Gove.

Red flag

The Merthyr Rising was sparked by anger at low pay, debt and appalling working conditions in the ironworks and mines of the south Wales valleys.

The week-long rebellion, the first time a red flag was raised for a socialist cause, broke out over a threat to cut ironworkers’s wages.

MPs heard Lewis was arrested and charged with stabbing Donald Black with a bayonet as soldiers tried to quell the unrest in June 1831.

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Dic Penderyn faces the hangman’s noose – illustration by Dewi Bowen

Ms Clwyd told the Commons on Monday the people of Merthyr were convinced of Lewis’s innocence but he was convicted and hanged in August that year.

She said evidence had been suppressed, a witness admitted lying under oath, and another man – Ianto Parker – confessed on his deathbed in 1874 to having attacked the soldier.

Quoting from the petition, Ms Clwyd said: “There is strong feeling in Wales that Richard Lewis – Dic Penderyn – was wrongly executed, that his conviction should be overturned and that he should be granted a pardon.

“The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the secretary of state for justice to grant a pardon to Richard Lewis – Dic Penderyn.”

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A plaque at Merthyr’s main library commemorates a man regarded as a working class martyr

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