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The Middleman at Middleton Hall: The Letters of Thomas Herbert Cooke, Land Agent in Rebecca's Carmarthenshire, 1841-1847

In late summer 1841, Thomas Herbert Cooke arrived in Porthyrhyd, Carmarthenshire, ready to take up the post of land agent on the Middleton Hall estate. His employment and life in south-west Wales are chronicled in a series of letters, predominantly addressed to his mother, Mrs Charlotte Cooke, in his native Northamptonshire. This richly detailed collection provides fascinating insights into the role of the land agent, the management of a landed estate, and life and work in 1840s south-west Wales, revealing the impressions and attitudes of a newcomer to the local area. Cooke writes frankly of his employer, his duties, his impressions of the estate, the locality and its people.

Significantly, Cooke’s time in south-west Wales coincided with the height of the Rebecca Riots. His letters capture in detail the sense of fear and uncertainty within the community, recording receipt of threatening letters, instances of Rebecca attacks on tollgates and private property, and vivid descriptions of encounters with Rebeccaites. As such, they are a highly significant source in the study of rural unrest in nineteenth century Wales.

With the permission of the National Library of Wales, this volume will for the first time present full transcriptions of the Middleton Hall letters, published in their entirety, with a scholarly introduction placing this important collection in context.

Dr Lowri Ann Rees is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Bangor University. A historian of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Wales, with a particular interest in landed estates and rural society, she has published on the Rebecca Riots, Welsh sojourners in India, and new wealth and gentry society. She co-edited the volume The Land Agent: 1700-1920 (Edinburgh, 2018), which explores the role of land agents in Britain and its imperial territories. She first studied the letters of Thomas Herbert Cooke as a student at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth when researching her MA thesis.

South Wales Record Society publication no. 36
Edited by Lowri Ann Rees
Published 2023
ISBN 978-1-7390856-0-5 (paperback)

Price: £28

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