Pencil drawing of William Addams Williams by James Flewitt Mullock
This pencil sketch of Monmouthshire MP and lawyer - William Addams Williams was drawn at the Chartist trials by Newport artist - James Flewitt Mullock. This drawing has recently been purchased for Newport Museum by the Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery. James Flewitt Mullock was one of Newport's significant Victorian artist. Born in 1818, he was 21 years of age when the Chartist Uprising took place. During his life he faithfully recorded many important events on canvas and in print and many of his paintings are held by Newport Museum and Art Gallery.
This drawing was created when he was 21 years of age and attended the opening of the Chartist Trials in December 1839. The Newport Commission had been hearing cases against the Chartists, but closed on 6 December. Rather than wait for the Spring Assizes, it was decided to set up a special commission to hear the cases and on 19 November 1839 a special commission of ‘Oyer and Terminer’ (a Norman-French term meaning to hear and determine) was issued under the Great Seal of Britain and Ireland to inquire into the ‘High Treasons and Misprisons of Treason’ committed, within the County of Monmouth. A trial for treason was a rare event and there had not been such a trial since the 1820 Cato Street Conspiracy and consequently counsels for the prosecution and defence found it necessary to study the law. On 10 December at 10am the Special Commission opened at the Assizes in Monmouth.
A Grand Jury of twenty-three local influential men was appointed to set out the indictments and one of them was William Addams Williams of the Llangibby Castle estate. Another notable man was Lord Granville Somerset, the brother of the Duke of Beaufort who was the foreman of the Jury. John Etherington Welch Rolls of the Hendre and Octavious Swinnerton Morgan of the Friars Newport were also there and the latter was the fourth son of Sir Charles Morgan of Tredegar Park. William Addams Williams was one of the MPs who were members of the Grand Jury. Joseph Bailey of Glanusk, Sir Benjamin Hall of Llanover and Reginald James Blewitt of Llantarnam Abbey were also members of the Jury and MPs. The Charter newspaper thought it was unfair that magistrates, who usually convicted men, were now acting as jurors. The Grand Jury found a ‘True Bill’ for High Treason against fourteen people and for lesser crimes against others. The Commission was then adjourned until 31 December, but meanwhile Sherriff Colthurst Bateman of Pertholey set about summoning a panel of 318 special assize court jurors from which the petty juries would be formed.
The Williams family acquired the Llangibby Castle estate following the purchase of the estate by Roger Williams of Usk in 1544-1545. The estate remained in the hands of the Williams family until the death of Sir John Williams without male issue in 1739 when his daughter Ellen inherited the estate. She married William Addams of Monmouth who took the additional surname of Williams.
For further reading see
J. R. Wilson, Art and Society in Newport: James Flewitt Mullock and the Victorian Achievement
Journal of the Gwent Local History Council: Chartist Anniversary Edition, available at Gwent Archives for £5.