Sunday, 19 July 2015

Loveless – Who Loved Much

When I visited the little chapel in Tolpuddle on Tuesday, I was very moved to read about George Loveless. He was the leader of the farm workers who organised themselves into a union in 1834. A staunch Methodist, and a local preacher, George Loveless was a righteous, thoughtful and God-fearing man. His concern was for those in desperate need – it is said that for many of the agricultural labourers and their families, their diet was mostly ‘tea, bread and potatoes’. He loved his friends and neighbours and was driven to improve their situation. His Christian faith, and the belief that men had the right to a decent wage, in order to provide for their families compelled him to establish a union in Tolpuddle in 1837.
The authorities arrested him and his comrades, and after an unjust trial, they were transported to Australia, sentenced to seven years penal servitude. He wrote out this poem* on a scrap of paper, and passed it to an onlooker. It became the Martyrs’ Hymn of Freedom.
God is our guide from field and wave,
From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
We come to liberate the slave,
And speak the factious despot's doom:
And, hark! we raise from sea to sea,
The watchword—“ GOD AND LIBERTY !”

We draw no devastating sword,
No war's destructive fires we light,
By reason and the living word
Of God, we put our foes to flight:
And, hark! we raise from sea to sea,
The watchword—“ GOD AND LIBERTY !”

We come with blessings in our train,
To spread them with a bounteous hand;
To wipe away the guilty stain
Of slavery, from this much-lov'd land:
And, hark! we raise from sea to sea,
The watchword—“ GOD AND LIBERTY !”
[*the poem was written by George de Bosco Attwood of Birmingham in 1832]
The first verse speaks of the different backgrounds of those involved in the struggle. The middle verse of their determination to avoid physical violence, but win their cause by ‘reason and the living word of God’ and the final verse speaks of the blessings which will come when slavery is abolished.
One of our lovely Deacons, Pam, [in green teeshirt] heads up the work of CAP [Christians Against Poverty] locally. Yesterday they had a stand at a local Fun Day. I was there briefly in the morning.
It is nearly 200 years since George Loveless preached about the need to help the poor, and ensure families had clothes, food and shelter. I am sad that there is still so much poverty in my country – but grateful to all those, like Pam, who are working hard to eradicate it, and help those in need. May God bless their endeavours.



  1. I was fascinated to read your last post as well as this one about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. My mother who was born in Ontario, Canada was a direct decedent of one of the Loveless brothers (James, I think). My grandfather, Elijah Loveless was a Free Methodist Minister (as was his wife). In their early day the Free Methodists were active in the abolition of Slavery in North American and in women's rights) Its a wonderful heritage and your posts have reminded me of the continuing need to fight slavery in all its forms that is sadly still a huge problem in our world today.
    Thank you for your posts.
    Sylvia den Hollander

  2. Wow- thank you SO much for sharing this information. A truly wonderful heritage as you rightly say. God bless you - and your family!!


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