Thursday, May 24, 2012
The so-called Tolpuddle Martyrs were six farm labourers who lived in Tolpuddle, Dorsetshire in the 1830s. When the seven shillings a week they earned was not enough money to support themselves and their families, they went on strike. All were arrested, found guilty, and transported to Australia in March 1834. Public indignation was so great over this that they were pardoned two years later and returned to England in 1837. The event is still regarded as a turning point in labour laws in the UK.
Upon their return, five of the six men, along with their families, emigrated to Upper Canada and settled near London. George Loveless, wife Elizabeth and family pioneered on what is now Fanshawe Park Road. Siloam Cemetery on Fanshawe Park Road East contains headstones for George Loveless and fellow-martyr Thomas Standfield. In commemoration, there's a memorial plaque outside the Siloam Cemetery gate.
Another monument to these men is the Tolpuddle Housing Co-Op on Adelaide Street. And the London and District Labour Council annually presents its Tolpuddle Memorial Award to an activist who has contributed extensively to labour and social causes in the community. One suspects George and his friends would approve.