For those who don’t know today is the anniversary of the sentencing to transportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834. They were farm labourers living in poverty who formed the first ever Trade Union. For this sin a local landlord James Frampton had them convicted of administering an unlawful oath, under the 1797 Mutiny Act. A poor harvest and poor conditions along with rioting had preceded the event and the fear of revolution following the Napoleonic wars influenced the establishment. It’s worth going own to Dorset to visit a rural green, surrounded by thatched cottages in a small quaint village. Its a very ordinary place, and these were ordinary people driven to extraordinary acts.
Its worth reproducing the statement of one the leaders, George Loveless: We have injured no man’s reputation or property we were uniting to preserve ourselves, our wives and children from utter degradation and starvation. Loveless was a Methodist preacher and in a phamplet written on his return from Australia he wrote: I am told that the working man ought to remain still and let their cause work its way – that God in his good time will bring it about for him. However, this is not my creed; I believe that God works by means and men, and that he expects every man who feels an interest in the subject to take an active part in bringing about and hastening on so important a period.
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