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Tolpuddle Martyrs

Tolpuddle Martyrs, name given to six English agricultural laborers who in 1834 were prosecuted for trade union activities and sentenced to transportation. In 1833 these laborers, led by George and James Loveless (or Lovelace), formed a branch of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Laborers at Tolpuddle, in Dorset. With the approval of the Whig government, which feared a renewal of the agricultural agitation of 1831, they were arrested on the trumped-up charge of administering illegal oaths and were sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. Public reaction throughout the country made the six into popular heroes, and the sentence was finally remitted in 1836 after continuous agitation. One of the six returned to Tolpuddle; the others emigrated to Canada.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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