Thomas Prothero was at one time a very prominent Newport Citizen- but now almost totally forgotten. In Paul Busby’s brilliant talk on 26th September, he revealed the multitude of faults in Prothero’s character- money grabbing, power mad, dishonest and vindictive to name only a few.Prothero was born in Usk- illegitimately which perhaps partly explains some of his defects. After spending time in London to qualify as a solicitor he decided to make his fortune in the rapidly expanding town of Newport. There he showed great energy and opened up opportunities for himself as Town Clerk, main agent and rent collector of Sir Charles Morgan, of the Tredegar Estate, owner of Prothero and Phillips, solicitors in the town, and coal mine owner. He accumulated sufficient wealth to have the fine Malpas Court built for himself.
People were soon afraid of his power and his ruthlessness in using it. Finally one man stood up to him, John Frost, one time mayor of the town and Chartist leader. However Prothero took Frost to court and, probably thanks to a jury largely made up of his own tenants (as town clerk he had responsibility for jury selection!), won the case and Frost received a jail sentence.
However, nothing- good or bad- lasts for ever and eventually Prothero’s stars dimmed and his reign ended. John Frost, despite his long custodial sentence in Tasmania after the Chartist Riots, outlived him.