RAISE THE WATCHWORD LIBERTY:
 THE SONG OF THE TOLPUDDLE MARTYRS

Possibly the oldest Union poem/song in the world? I was touring in Dorset with Martha Burns in November 1984 and, to pass some time away, visited the Tolpuddle Martyr Museum. These words were written by George Loveless who, with five friends who repeated it, was transported to Australia for seven years in 1834 as punishment. The villagers of Tolpuddle had taken a secret oath of loyalty to the Union but, under the Act of 1797, which had been passed to deal with naval mutinies, Loveless and his pals were charged with the offence of taking illegal, secret and unlawful oaths. Two years later, after the six men of Dorset had endured the brutality of the convict settlements and after nationwide agitation, they were pardoned. Rumour has it they became comparatively rich men although it was a further three years before the last of them returned to England. Funny old life isn't it? The tune is mine.

 

God is our guide through field and wave,

By plough by anvil and by loom,

We come our country's right to save,

And speak the evil factions doom.

We raise the watchword Liberty,

We will, we will, we will be free.

We raise the watchword Liberty,

We will, we will, we will be free.

 

God is our guide no sword we draw,

We kindle not wars battle fires,

By reason, union, justice, law,

We claim the birthright of our sires.

We raise the watchword Liberty,

We will, we will, we will be free.

We raise the watchword Liberty,

We will, we will, we will be free.

 

 

© Joe Stead - Fore Lane Music April 1994

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