On this day:
1834 – Six farm labourers from Tolpuddle, Dorset, England are sentenced to be transported to Australia for forming a trade union.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as a trade-specific benefit society. At the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what are now considered to be the predominant role of trade unions. On 18 March 1834, the Tolpuddle Martyrs were subsequently sentenced to penal transportation to Australia.
Before 1824 the Combination Acts had outlawed “combining” or organising to gain better working conditions. In 1824/25 these acts were repealed, so trade unions were no longer illegal. In 1833, six men from Tolpuddle in Dorset founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest against the gradual lowering of agricultural wages.
These Tolpuddle labourers refused to work for less than 10 shillings a week, although by this time wages had been reduced to seven shillings and were due to be further reduced to six. The society, led by George Loveless, a Methodist local preacher, met in the house of Thomas Standfield.
Groups such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs would often use a skeleton painting as part of their initiation process. The newest member would be blindfolded and made to swear a secret oath of allegiance. The blindfold would then be removed and they would be presented with the skeleton painting. This was to warn them of their own mortality but also to remind them of what happens to those who break their promises. An example of this skeleton painting is currently on display at the People’s History Museum, Manchester.
Prosecution and sentencing
In 1834, James Frampton, a local landowner and magistrate, wrote to Home Secretary Lord Melbourne to complain about the union. Melbourne recommended invoking the Unlawful Oaths Act 1797, an obscure law promulgated in 1797 in response to the Spithead and Nore mutinies, which prohibited the swearing of secret oaths. James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George’s brother James Loveless, George’s brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and Thomas’s son John Standfield were arrested and tried before Sir John Williams in R v Lovelass and Others. They were found guilty and transported to Australia.
When sentenced to seven years’ penal transportation, George Loveless wrote on a scrap of paper lines from the union hymn “The Gathering of the Unions”:
God is our guide! from field, from wave,
From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
We come, our country’s rights to save,
And speak a tyrant faction’s doom:
We raise the watch-word liberty;
We will, we will, we will be free!
Transportation, pardon, return
James Loveless, the two Standfields, Hammett and Brine sailed on the Surry to Sydney, where they arrived on 17 August 1834. George Loveless was delayed due to illness and left later on the William Metcalf to Van Diemen’s Land, reaching Hobart on 4 September.
Of the five who landed in Sydney, Brine and the Standfields were assigned as farm labourers to free settlers in the Hunter Valley. Hammett was assigned to the Queanbeyan farm of Edward John Eyre, and James Loveless was assigned to a farm at Strathallan. In Hobart, George Loveless was assigned to the viceregal farm of Lieutenant Governor Sir George Arthur.
In England they became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release. Their supporters organised a political march, one of the first successful marches in the UK, and all were pardoned, on condition of good conduct, in March 1836, with the support of Lord John Russell, who had recently become home secretary.
When the pardon reached George Loveless some delay was caused in his leaving due to no word from his wife as to whether she was to join him in Van Diemen’s Land. On 23 December 1836, a letter was received to the effect that she was not coming and Loveless sailed from Van Diemen’s Land on 30 January 1837, arrived in England on 13 June 1837.
In New South Wales, there were delays in obtaining an early sailing due to tardiness in the authorities confirming good conduct with the convicts’ assignees and then getting them released from their assignments. James Loveless, Thomas and John Stanfield, and James Brine departed Sydney on the John Barry on 11 September 1837, reaching Plymouth on 17 March 1838, one of the departure points for convict transport ships. A plaque next to the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth’s historical Barbican area commemorates the arrival. Although due to depart with the others, James Hammett was detained in Windsor, charged with an assault, while the others left the colony. It was not until March 1839 that he sailed, arriving in England in August 1839.
The Lovelesses, Standfields and Brine first settled on farms near Chipping Ongar, Essex, then moved to London, Ontario, where there is now a monument in their honour and an affordable housing co-op and trade union complex named after them. George Loveless is buried in Siloam Cemetery on Fanshawe Park Road East in London, Ontario. James Brine is buried in St. Marys Cemetery, St. Marys, Ontario. He died in 1902, having lived in nearby Blanshard Township since 1868. Hammett remained in Tolpuddle and died in the Dorchester workhouse in 1891.
Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum
The Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, located in Tolpuddle, Dorset, features displays and interactive exhibits about the martyrs and their effect on trade unionism.
Cultural and historical significance
A monument was erected in their honour in Tolpuddle in 1934, and a sculpture of the martyrs, made in 2001, stands in the village in front of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum.
Martyrs’ Day commemoration in 2005
The Tolpuddle Martyrs festival is held annually in Tolpuddle, usually in the third week of July, organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) featuring a parade of banners from many trade unions, a memorial service, speeches and music. Recent festivals have featured speakers such as Tony Benn and musicians such as Billy Bragg and local folk singers including Graham Moore, as well as others from all around the world.
The courtroom where the martyrs were tried, which has been little altered in 200 years, in Dorchester’s Shire Hall, is being preserved as part of a heritage scheme.
The story of Tolpuddle has enriched the history of trade unionism, but the significance of the Tolpuddle Martyrs continues to be debated since Sidney and Beatrice Webb wrote the History of Trade Unionism (1894) and continues with such works as Bob James’s Craft Trade or Mystery (2001).
There are streets named in their honour in:
Islington, north London
In 1984, a mural was created in Edward Square, off Copenhagen Street, Islington, to commemorate the gathering of people organised by the Central Committee of the Metropolitan Trade Unions to demonstrate against the penal transportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs to Australia. The mural was painted by artist David Bangs.
Comrades is a 1986 British historical drama film directed by Bill Douglas and starring an ensemble cast including James Fox, Robert Stephens and Vanessa Redgrave. Through the pictures of a travelling lanternist, it depicts the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
Born on this day:
1634 – Madame de La Fayette, French author (d. 1693)
Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette (baptized 18 March 1634 – 25 May 1693), better known as Madame de La Fayette, was a French writer, the author of La Princesse de Clèves, France’s first historical novel and one of the earliest novels in literature.
Christened Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, she was born in Paris to a family of minor but wealthy nobility. At 16, de la Vergne became the maid of honour to Queen Anne of Austria and began also to acquire a literary education from Gilles Ménage, who gave her lessons in Italian and Latin. Ménage would lead her to join the fashionable salons of Madame de Rambouillet and Madeleine de Scudéry. Her father, Marc Pioche de la Vergne, had died a year before, and the same year her mother married Renaud de Sévigné, uncle of Madame de Sévigné, who would remain her lifelong intimate friend.
In 1655, de la Vergne married François Motier, comte de La Fayette, a widowed nobleman some eighteen years her senior, with whom she would have two sons. She accompanied him to country estates in Auvergne and Bourbonnais although she made frequent trips back to Paris, where she began to mix with court society and formed her own successful salon. Her sister-in-law was Louise de La Fayette (1618–1665), favourite of Louis XIII of France. Some of her acquaintances included Henrietta of England, future Duchess of Orleans, who asked La Fayette to write her biography; Antoine Arnauld; and the leading French writers Segrais and Huet. Earlier on, during the Fronde, La Fayette had also befriended the Cardinal de Retz with whom her stepfather was associated.
Marie de LaFayette’s La Princesse de Clèves (1678)
Settling permanently in Paris in 1659, La Fayette published, anonymously, La Princesse de Montpensier in 1662. From 1665 onwards she formed a close relationship with François de La Rochefoucauld, author of Maximes, who introduced her to many literary luminaries of the time, including Racine and Boileau. 1669 saw the publication of the first volume of Zaïde, a Hispano-Moorish romance which was signed by Segrais but is almost certainly attributable to La Fayette. The second volume appeared in 1671. The title ran through reprints and translations mostly thanks to the preface Huet had offered.
La Fayette’s most famous novel was La Princesse de Clèves, first published anonymously in March 1678. An immense success, the work is often taken to be the first true French novel and a prototype of the early psychological novel.
Her correspondence showed her as the acute diplomatic agent of Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours, duchess of Savoy, at the court of Louis XIV.
The death of La Rochefoucauld in 1680 and her husband in 1683 led La Fayette to lead a less active social life in her later years. Three works were published posthumously: La Comtesse de Tende (1718), Histoire d’Henriette d’Angleterre (1720), and Memoires de la Cour de France (1731).
Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne was the eldest daughter of Marc Pioche (-1649), Esquire to the King, Sieur de La Vergne and the tutor to Cardinal Richelieu’s nephew, Jean Armand de Maille-Breze , and Isabella Pena (-1656) daughter of François Pena, physician of the King, and his wife, Michelle Coupe.
Her baptism took place March 18, 1634 in the Church of Saint-Sulpice. Her godfather was Urbain de Maillé-Brézé, Marshal of France, and her godmother was Marie-Madelaine de Vignerot, lady Combalet, later Duchess of Aiguillon, a niece of Richelieu.Mary Magdalene had two younger sisters:
Eleonore-Armande, baptized April 10, 1635;
Isabelle Louise, born in 1636
Her mother, Isabella Pena, remarried December 21, 1650 to René Renaud de Sevigne (-1656), uncle of the Marquise de Sevigne.
She married on February 15, 1655 François Motier, Count de La Fayette (brother of Louise de La Fayette) (1616-1683). He held several lands in the Auvergne region such as de La Fayette, de Goutenoutouse, de Médat and de Forest. She gave him two sons:
Louis de Lafayette (1658-1729), baptized March 7, 1658, commendatory abbot of Notre-Dame de Valmont;
Armand Renaud de La Fayette (17 September 1659-1694), Brigadier des armées, count and marquis de la Fayette.
La Princesse de Montpensier, 1662, 2nd edition 1674 and 1675.
Zaïde, histoire espagnole, vol. 1, vol 2, Paris, Claude Barbin, 1671.
La Princesse de Clèves, Paris, Claude Barbin, 16 mai 1678 [anonymous]. (English translation 1689, London).
Romans et Nouvelles, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 1989, ISSN 0750-2176.
La Comtesse de Tende, 1718.
Histoire de madame Henriette d’Angleterre, première femme de Philippe de France, Duc d’Orléans, Amsterdam, M.-C. Le Cène, 1720.
Mémoires de la cour de France pour les années 1688 et 1689, Paris, Foucault, 1828.
I have a couple of doctors that use iPads, and one uses “google glass.”
By Christina Farr: iPads In Every Hospital: Apple’s Plan To Crack The $3 Trillion Health Care Sector
Today’s selection — from Postcard America by Jeffrey L. Meikle. Always popular, the so-called