On April 21, 1834 a huge meeting of trades unionists with banners set off from Copenhagen Fields and marched on Parliament to present a petition protesting against the harsh sentences passed against the Tolpuddle Martyrs. These six agricultural labourers from the village of Tolpuddle in Dorset had been arrested on a legal technicality during a labour dispute against cutting wages. Found guilty they were sentenced to penal transportation to Australia. Such was the anger and support for the men that the sentence was overturned and on April 25, 1836 a public dinner was held at the White Conduit House, Barnsbury Road, to celebrate. The Tolpuddle Tree, a sycamore, was planted in Caledonian Park on April 24, 1984 by Ray Buckton of the National Union of Railwaymen in the presence of Norman Willis, Deputy General Secretary to the Trades Union Congress and Councillor Pat Haynes, the Mayor. Two years later the street was given its present name but it was not the first time it had been changed. In 1811 it was White Conduit Place, then in 1829 Sermon Lane and then sometime before 1910 Mantell Street. The area was known as the Mantells and was in Henry II’s reign given to the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Mantell being a corruption of Mandeville after Geoffrey de Mandeville who held land in Islington. But it may also have been a nod to an Islington butcher called John Mantell who was doing trade during Henry VIII’s reign.
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