The anniversary of Tolpuddle Martyrs arrest


Before sunrise on 24th February 1834 farm worker George Loveless left for work as usual … but it would be three years before he was back with his wife and children again.
George and five fellow workers – James Brine, James Hammett, James Loveless, John Standfield and Thomas Standfield – were arrested, charged with making an illegal oath and transported to Australia. They only returned following a public outcry over their treatment.
We know now that the real reason for their treatment was that they had made a stand against poor pay and wage cuts by forming a trade union.
The Martyrs Arrest 190 event offers an opportunity to connect the historical struggles of the Tolpuddle Martyrs with contemporary worker experiences, featuring insights from speakers and performances by the local socialist choir, Dorset Red, and singer-songwriter Neil Duncan-Jordan. Unite event organizers are collaborating with a Canadian project dedicated to restoring the grave of George Loveless in London, Ontario, where many Martyrs found refuge post-release. This collaboration aims to include a virtual discussion about the restoration effort.
John Burbidge, a former farmworker and Unite Branch Chair, reflects on the parallels between the past and present, saying ‘The Martyrs’ arrests were calculated to create fear after pay cuts that left workers unable to feed and house their families.’ He goes on to say how this might be seen to mirror today’s governmental efforts to quash worker resistance against economic injustices.
Unite South West Deputy Regional Secretary Donna Williams will be speaking at the event and said: ‘As we reflect on the Tolpuddle Martyrs legacy, the struggles of the past continue to resonate with the challenges workers face today as we continue to fight for jobs, pay and conditions.’
The event will be held in Tolpuddle Village Hall on 24th Feb, 12.30 to 3pm.
For more information please contact Unite Branch Officer Alan Daniels –

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