Six labourers led by George Loveless founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers' in 1833 to protest against the gradual lowering of agricultural wages. A local landowner and magistrate complained about the union and the Unlawful Oaths Act 1797 was invoked prohibiting the swearing of secret oaths of allegiance. At the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what is now considered a predominant role of trade unions.
James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless and his brother James, George's brother-in-law, Thomas Standfield, and Thomas' son, John Standfield, were all arrested, tried and found guilty. They were sentenced to penal transportation and were shipped to Australia for seven years.
After their release, they settled in Chipping Ongar, a small market town in the civil parish of Essex, England. Eventually, five of the six men migrated to Canada. They chose to live out the rest of their lives in London, Ontario where there is now a monument in their honour and the affordable housing co-op named Tolpuddle Housing Co-Operative.