George Loveless, the acknowledged leader of the
Tolpuddle Martyrs, wrote two brief accounts: one
of his arrest, imprisonment and trial; the other, of his
experiences in Australia as a transported convict. Apart
from this, however, a shroud of mystery hangs over his life,
owing to a pact of secrecy, which he and those four of his
companions who, like him, emigrated to Canada following
their return from Australia, swore to one another.
Nevertheless, by painstaking research, not only in the
United Kingdom but also in Canada and Australia, it is now
possible to reveal many, hitherto, unpublished details about
George Loveless’s life.
This is the story of how Methodism – for George Loveless
was a staunch Methodist – was originally brought to
Tolpuddle, and of the intense and violent prejudice which
existed against such ‘dissenting’ religions at that time; of the
socio-economic forces which compelled Loveless to establish
his Tolpuddle trade union, and of the sly pretext on
which the authorities arrested and charged him in 1834.
We sense the humiliation of this righteous and God-fearing man
as he is marched, unceremoniously, through the streets of
Dorchester en route to His Majesty’s Prison. We sense the
anguish of his family as he is sent to the dreaded convict
settlement of Van Diemen’s Land in Australasia. Finally, we
learn of his triumph when he, together with Martyr brothers
James, Thomas and John Standfield, and James Brine make a
new and successful life in Canada.
Andrew Norman has delved deep to reveal the truth
about this important but almost unknown historical figure,
including confirmation that George Loveless's cottage still
exists as a listed building, although nobody inTolpuddle, or
indeed anywhere else, appears to be aware of this fact!
He paints a vivid portrait of the man who, once vilified and
who left Tolpuddle in shackles and chains, had the pleasure
in his later years, of cultivating roses and making himself a
rocking chair in the New World.
Andrew Norman was born in
Newbury, Berkshire and educated at
Thornhill High School, Gwelo, Southern
Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and at
St Edmund Hall,Oxford, where he
read animal physiology. In December
1970, he graduated in medicine from
the Radcliffe Infirmary and entered
into general practice in Poole, Dorset.
In 1983 he sustained a back injury
which forced him to give up his medical
career; he is now a fulltime writer.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 1 84114 838 0, hardback, 210x48mm, 176 pages. Published November 2008.
REVIEWS: Bournemouth Echo, Landworker Magazine (Unite).