Tolpuddle MartyrsPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Russell Byers

The plaque commemorates the 150th anniversary of the conviction of the Tolpuddle martyrs. The plaque was originally unveiled in 1985 and rededicated in 2003. 

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were six men from the village of Tolpuddle in Dorset who were transported to Australia on the Surrey in 1834. They were sentenced for unlawfully administering oaths of loyalty to the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers they had established to fight the continuing reduction of their wages.

This was the beginning of Trade Unionism in England. It only took the jury five minutes to convict James Hammett, James Brine, brothers George and James Loveless, and father and son Thomas and John Standfield. Interestingly, the local magistrate was a factory owner who stood to lose if they got their way.

Public reaction throughout the country made the six into popular heroes, and in 1836, after continual agitation, the sentence against the so-called “Tolpuddle Martyrs” was finally remitted. Only one of the six returned to Tolpuddle; the rest emigrated to Canada, where one Tolpuddle Martyr–John Standfield–became mayor of his district. The popular movement surrounding the Tolpuddle controversy is generally regarded as the beginning of trade unionism in Great Britain.


Address:5 Garema Place, Canberra, 2601
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.278481
Long: 149.131636
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Government
Actual Event Start Date:18-March-1834
Actual Event End Date:18-March-1984


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 8th May, 1985
Front Inscription


 This Plaque Was Erected To Commemorate
The 150th Anniversary Of The Conviction
Of The Tolpuddle Martyrs.

James And George Loveless, Thomas And John
Stanfield, James Brine And James Hammett Were
From The Village Of Tolpuddle, England, And
In 1834 They Were Convicted Of Having Administered
Unlawful Oaths While Forming An Employees Union.

For Their Crime They Were Sentenced To
Transportation To The Australian Colonies For
Seven Years.  Their Sentences Aroused
Protests From Thousands Of Members Of The
Fledgling Trade Union Movement In Britain And In 1836
They Were Granted Pardons And Free Passage
To England.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Are Remembered For Their
Contribution To The Birth Of Trade Unionism And
Its Acceptance As A Legitimate Form Of Employee

The Then Minister For Territories
The Honourable Gordon Scholes MP
Unveiled The Original Plaque
On 8 May 1985

Re-dedicated By John Stanhope MLA
Chief Minister Of The Australian Capital Territory
On 14 October 2003

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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