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First full biography published of Dic Penderyn, the iconic figure hung after the Merthyr Rising

25 Jul 2022 3 minute read
Background image by Hablot Knight Browne

On 13th August 1831 Richard Lewis, a 23-year old miner also known as Dic Penderyn, was hung outside Cardiff Gaol as an example after the 1831 Merthyr Rising workers’ revolt.

Innocent of the crime he’d been charged with, he was hailed a martyr of the budding labour movement.

This week sees the publication of the first full biography of this iconic figure – Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr by Sally Roberts Jones. A book launch and concert have been organised in Port Talbot to coincide with the publication.

On the morning of Saturday 30th July, there will be a Q&A with author Sally Roberts Jones at Aberafan Library, followed by a book signing. There will be also a short presentation by Angela Vaughan John on Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society, of which she is President.

Then in the evening, a free concert has been organised at the Grand Hotel, Port Talbot with excerpts from a new play about Dic Penderyn, Iniquity / Camwedd, and a performance by the Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph.

Eirwen Hopkins, organiser and member of Rich History, Port Talbot’s heritage group, says: “We hope that the events will celebrate both Sally Roberts Jones’ biography of Dic Penderyn and her career and achievements.”


Author Sally Roberts Jones has spent four decades researching Dic Penderyn’s life and legacy. Born to a Welsh family in London, she is a retired librarian and the author of books and articles on local history and the literature of Wales, as well as four collections of poetry.

She was the initial Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Swansea University and a founder member of the English Language Section of Yr Academi Gymreig and is Chair of the Port Talbot Historical Society.

Sally Roberts Jones says: “This is not an account of the Merthyr Rising as such, this is an account of the life of Richard Lewis insofar as we can know it, and of the world in which he lived.

“Dic Penderyn’s story has endured for almost two centuries and is now legend. I wanted to attempt to discover at least something of what lies behind that legend and – if possible – why Richard Lewis, among all those in search of social justice who were executed, transported or imprisoned, should be so well remembered, and even honoured.”

Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr examines Richard Lewis’ life and background, as well as the causes and events of the Merthyr Rising, Dic’s trial, his long-term legacy and his role as the first martyr of the labour movement.

Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr by Sally Roberts Jones (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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Tom Bennett
Tom Bennett
1 year ago

“…hanged…” rather than “…hung…”? Shocking that it happened to an INNOCENT man.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Bennett

Not really 😔 They just wanted to send a message. A message of terror 😟 I can’t say what THEY were here, but it starts with C and ends with T and S 😡🤬

Hell Glibson
Hell Glibson
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Bennett

Possibly both. 😀

Last edited 1 year ago by Hell Glibson

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