The name “Tolpuddle Martyrs”

How did the name “Tolpuddle Martyrs” come about?

In a recent presentation, Dr CVJ Griffiths showed the following slide:

The earliest reference that I could find is the article “The Tolpuddle Martyrs” by Rev J. T. Waddy in the 1907 Methodist Recorder.

Did the “martyr” designation flow from Methodism, or was it an attempt by the Trade Unionists to “martyr-wash” their reputation?

And when did the reference first appear?

I do prefer “Six Men of Dorset”  but “Tolpuddle Martyrs” is certainly more recognizable and most definitely is here to stay. 

Part of the reason I prefer SMOD is that I doubt that the Six Men of Dorset would have been happy with the “Martyr” designation. They overcame and conquered, with a fulfilling life in Canada.

Another reason is, nobody died.

2 thoughts on “The name “Tolpuddle Martyrs”

  1. Thanks, Andrew,
    It certainly would be interesting to learn more of his church role in his younger days. Over here, I really know nothing beyond that which is well known from the public documentation regarding his itinerant circuit lay preaching, and his connection to the establishment of the Siloam Church and Cemetery.
    HIs brother James, of course, was closely associated with the North Street Church, which is discussed a bit in the online book accessible from this site.


  2. Thanks for this post. TOCT knows of the article by Rev Waddy.
    One of our trustees, professor Philip Martin, is researching ‘The Missing Years’, the time that George Loveless, Lay Preacher, worshiped and preached in the original 1818 Wesslyan Chapel here in Tolpuddle.
    Any insights into his preaching there or later in Canada would be appreciated,

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