Tolpuddle Martyrs

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  • Intro

    Life as an English farmworker in the 1830s was dismal. Rent and a basic diet of tea, bread and potatoes would cost a typical family 13 shillings a week. But exploitative landowners, given land by the Enclosures, paid their workers as little as 9, 8, even 7 shillings. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were six such men from Tolpuddle, Dorset. In 1832 they founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers, demanding 10 shillings a week. A local landowner reported them, and under an obscure 1797 law they were arrested and transported to Australia. They became popular heroes, and all were released by 1837. Four returned to England. The Martyrs are still celebrated in trades union history. This article about the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs is from the Caledonian Mercury newspaper, published 29 March 1834.

     

    Shelfmark: British Library Newspaper Archive

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