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On This Day… The Tolpuddle Martyrs!

Written by: George Chittenden : 09 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 18th March, back in 1833 when small group of agricultural labourers from Dorset, England, were sentenced to penal transportation to Australia, for forming a trade union! The Tolpuddle Martyrs, which consisted of six men, founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest against the gradual lowering of agricultural wages.

They weren’t happy about working for less than 10 shillings a week, and their wages had been reduced to seven shillings. Five of the men arrived in Sydney on August 17th, 1834 where they were given jobs as farm labourers to free settlers in the Hunter Valley, and you guessed it, they didn’t even receive seven shillings a week.

The leader of the six, George Loveless, sailed on a different ship and arrived in Hobart on Sept 4th, 1834. Back in England though, the Tolpuddle Martyrs became heroes and an incredible 800,000 signatures were collected for their release. Eventually all six were pardoned.

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