Warren, Thomas

Thomas Warren (c. 1779-1851) was vicar at that time of St. John the Baptist Church in Tolpuddle, a small village in Dorset that would soon become famous for its treatment of a group of farmworkers who sought to form a union to gain better wages and work conditions. They were denounced and summarily deported to Australia and became known as the “Tolpuddle Martyrs.” The government eventually pardoned them. Warren would play a role in this controversy. The workers were led by George Loveless, a lay Methodist preacher. Loveless arranged a contract between the workers and the landowners and asked Warren to witness it but later, when the landowners changed their minds, Warren denied he had ever witnessed the contract, a betrayal that ensured the defeat of the workers and their eventual deportation. A set of letters between Warren and his nephew, written between 1832 and 1836, was recently put up for sale in a public auction, in which one letter Warren says he tried to help the families but insists that such unions had to be stopped for the good of the peace of the country.