Daughters of Rebecca were activist men in drag
1839 The Rebecca Riots began, Efailwen, Wales
Led by a huge man named Thomas Rees, a group of men dressed in women's clothing, calling themselves the Merched Beca ('Daughters of Rebecca'), burned down a hated toll-gate at Efailwen (Yr Efail Wen), Carmarthenshire, Wales. A few weeks later they destroyed the tollgate at Maesgwynne.
The Rebecca Riots, as they were known, were direct actions by poor Welsh tenant farmers and farm workers against turnpikes -- gates set across roads to prevent passage until a toll had been paid. Until that time, most tollkeepers had allowed locals to pass through for free, but now Thomas Bullin, a wealthy turnpike owner, made sure that all who passed through, paid.
There had been a bad crop that year, as well as a rapid increase in population and the imposition of a money economy upon a rural society dominated by a small landowning class. The tolls were the last straw ...
Categories: activism, direct-action, british-history, poverty, uk