Post card from George Loveless Tolpuddle to Tom Palin

George Loveless memorial at Tolpuddle

Dear Tom

We never met in life but our paths crossed in many ways. I wanted to let you know that your death and fight against the ironmasters and colliery owners in East Shropshire didn’t go un-noted in the Piddle valley where I came from in Dorset.

13 years after you were hung for riotous assembly I was sentenced not to death but for deportation to Australia with my 5 comrades  for organising against our local establishment. Like you standing up against cuts in pay, terrible working conditions and for organising.

What you will be pleased to know is that our story travelled far and wide and people protested all over England, including 200,000 in London. The government were forced to grant us a pardon and we were able to travel back and were celebrated as “martyrs” for standing up for the common people.

We did not see ourselves as “Martyrs”, as I am sure you didn’t, but people often re-tell history differently to fit in with what ever is fashionable to the next generation.

You didn’t get the chance to tell your story. No pictures or books to record what you were thinking but we knew about you. It was on people’s shoulders like yours that we stood.

When we were meeting under our tree, then in my house in 1810 and when we built a Chapel  in 1818 we heard about Waterloo and Peterloo. Our connectors from the church told us of events in the north and of the brave colliers and anvil bashers, they told us of your brave fight at Cinderloo.

We joked of our fight being “Piddleloo” after our small river and the towns along it that were involved in our struggle and as a hat tip to the battles that had gone before.

“Piddle” became an unpopular term because of its association with urine. The towns around us became “puddles” but we liked “piddle” because our bosses were always “taking the piss” and it was our term, our place, our word. We were proud of where we came from and what we stood for, like you I am sure.

I wrote this song when I was sentenced as a tribute to all who were engaged before us and after, who were fighting for liberty. I hope you like it.

God is our guide. From field, from wave,
From plough, from anvil and from loom,
We come our country's rights to save,
And speak the tyrants faction doom;
We raise the watch word "liberty"
We will, we will, we will be free!
God is our guide! No swords we draw,
We kindle not war's battle fires,
By reason, union, justice, law,
We claim the birthright of our sires;
We raise the watchword "Liberty"
We will, we will, we will be free!

Yours in liberty

George Loveless

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