Welsh Journals

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1755-7 and then again in 1778-9. The Acts specifically excluded all Irishmen and stated that a recruit had to be Protestant and have 'the perfect use of his limbs'.15 The last condition seems to have given some desperate men a way out of conscription. During the last enactment of the Press Act, local newspapers printed several accounts of men on the borders of Monmouthshire and England deliberately cutting off their thumbs and maiming themselves in other ways to avoid being forced to join the services. 1788 was the last time that the government enforced conscription up until the First World War. There is a possibility perhaps a strong one that the cause of the riot in Abergavenny had its roots in far deeper resentments, and that the disturbance was more than a straightforward attempt to rescue Peter Powle from being conscripted into the army. Although it is nowhere stated in the evidence presented by Dutton Colt after the riot, it is possible that the disturbance was partly down to the influence of Catholicism in the area. There were many Catholics in Abergavenny and the surrounding area and there had been many extremely bitter confrontations between Protestants and Catholics. Some of these disputes had split families and near relatives. It would appear that Jane, the wife of Henry Newman, one of the petty constables involved in the riot, was a Catholic.16 The case of Charles Price of Llanfoist graphically illustrates the inhumane depths to which some people would sink. He hunted and harassed his Catholic cousin, Walter Price, with a single and bloody-minded obsession until Walter died suddenly in January 1679. Walter's friends secretly buried his body but it was found by Charles Price who had it exhumed to make sure that it really was his cousin's body.17 The Gunters of Abergavenny were another family split by religious differences. James Gunter was a Protestant living at the Priory, Abergavenny, whose father Robert had been sheriff for the county in 1685. He, himself, would become MP for Monmouth in 1712.18 His relationship with his relatives, who lived just around the corner at the Gunter mansion in Cross Street, have sometimes been described as aggressive and hostile because of the latter's unrepentant adherence to Catholicism.19 But in the case of this family, it is clear that they had actually been reasonably close at times. Thomas Gunter of Cross Street had been asked to be a guardian and the tutor of James's elder brother Robert and this close contact with Catholicism may have had an influence on James's actions.20 It is possible that James Gunter's reluctance to attend the Angel in the aftermath of the riot was more down to his not wanting to be of assistance to Dutton Colt personally, because of his uncle's fanatical, and possibly unhinged, pursuit of recusants. It is also possible that some Catholics in Abergavenny may have had a further reason for not wanting to see conscription for the army. They may not only have been venting their frustration at their constant harassment by the authorities but also showing support for James Stuart, the Old Pretender. After all, the War of Spanish