the year 1820, John Jenkins moved into Castle Villa (later called
The Mynde). It seems that his family, through hard work and 'good
fortune', had risen from relatively humble beginnings to being
one of the wealthiest families in Caerleon. John was part owner
and manager of the tin works in Ponthir (the Caerleon Works).
This business was important to the prosperity of the area. Much
of its 'output' was brought down the Tram
Road to the quayside at Caerleon to be loaded onto ships.
1829 Jenkins had become a magistrate. Although the majority of
the crimes he had to deal with could be described as petty, the
punishments were certainly not - many of the convicted were transported
to Australia. In 1838 John Jenkins became Sheriff for the county
- a very high position.
these were times of restlessness. The Chartist Movement (campaigning
for the right to vote) was gaining momentum. John Frost (later
deported to Australia for his part in the Chartist Riots in Newport)
visited Caerleon on several occasions to speak at public meetings.
It's not clear where John Jenkins' sympathies lay. He did attend
some of these meetings, though what his motives were we can only
guess. We get some insight into his 'attitude and bearing' from
this notice in a local paper (The Merlin) some years later on
occupied a position of considerable influence, and wielded that
influence in a manner which secured him the utmost esteem and
respect by whom he was known."
There are some
strong words here, and it seems likely that those who held him
in high 'esteem and respect' were the wealthy who like Jenkins
also held powerful positions.
was actually accused of wielding influence by none other than
John Frost. This was Thomas Prothero ( or Protheroe ) of whom
come to Newport without a shirt on his back, and was worth £20
000 within two years … the inevitable result of setting a beggar
Prothero was agent
for the Charles Williams Charity. He
was accused of using this position by supplying materials for
alterations and repairs to charity properties (as a timber and
slate merchant) and having practically unlimited power over tenants
of charity properties.
In 1821 Prothero
took legal action against John Frost for an alleged libellous
letter. The trial could hardly be described as fair - seven of
the nine jury members were tenants of properties owned by the
Charles Williams Charity of which Prothero was the treasurer!
It is said that at some time during these proceedings Frost was
kept in custody at the Charles Williams School in Caerleon.
(such as Jenkins and Prothero) must have felt that the Chartist
leaders were watching their every move. It is likely that for
this reason John Jenkins built the high wall around the castle
grounds. There was a genuine fear that a revolution might take
place here as it did in France.
A large volume
of stone was used in the construction of the walls - mostly taken
from the nearby ancient ruins (Roman and Medieval). Much destruction
must have taken place to elicit so much facing stone. As well
as giving those living within a sense of security and considerable
privacy, it must have added to their status, placing them even
higher above the 'ordinary locals'.
It is interesting
to note that within a few years the fear of a revolution had passed
and we find John Jenkins spending his later life in Broadwell
house, this building was without the high walls of the Mynde.
Also, and you may like to delve into this rather cryptic statement,
John Frost's headstone may well have ended up inside the
[ Back ] [ Home
] [ History
Index ] [ Search