T’was the twenty fourth of February,
eighteen thirty four,
when the Tolpuddle sheriff
came a’knocking at my door.
Served with a warrant
I was swiftly hastened away
for taking an illegal oath
to challenge my meagre pay.
You see we were only paid six shillings a week
for working the squires land,
so we set up a trade union
and in our little band
there was James Hammett and James Brine,
Thomas Standfield and his son John.
my bother James and I, George Loveless,
brought together to right a wrong.
They had already cut our wage three times
in just as many years
and the Revolution ‘cross the channel
had raised land owners fears,
so when the squire, John Frampton,
got wind of what we’d done
he decided to stamp the union out
and quell our rebellion.
The six of us met in the village
‘neath the shade of a sycamore tree,
we talked about our plan of action -
took an oath of secrecy.
But for this simple action
we would lose our reputation,
sentenced to hard labour
and seven year’s transportation..
In prison I scribbled some words
“We raised the watchword, Liberty,”
and added as an afterthought
“We will, we will, we will be free!”
Simple words from a simple man
not signalling aggression
just asking for the working class
to rise up against oppression.
And comrades rallied to the cause
so that every politician
took heed of the voice of the country
as eight hundred thousand signed a petition -
and it took them three long years
before they listened to the plea
and sent us home as heroes,
pardons granted, safe and free.
Some called we six martyrs -
but that don’t sit well with me,
just lessons learned that justice
can be served with unity.
So when they come to take you
band together, don’t bend the knee,
stand up and be counted
bonded in solidarity.