THE MARTYRS TREE
The tree was planted on the village green in 1973 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 16 women imprisoned for picketing during a strike by farm hands in 1873. The original benches (See picture below) were replaced in 2000
Doris Warner local historian with husband Ivor planting the Martyrs’ Tree who also gave the original seats to the village…1973 unveiled by Reg Bottini (left picture) General Secretary of National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers and Florentia Tait Parish Council Chair.
In the middle of the 19th century Oxfordshire was one of the poorest parts of the United Kingdom, today it is one of the richest. Dependent on the rural economy, wages and conditions for the farm workers were very poor which enabled the newly formed Agricultural Workers Union to gain a foothold. Membership under the leadership of Joseph Arch grew rapidly and soon labour unrest developed leading to strikes for higher wages which by 1873 were legal, although picketing was not.
The seven women imprisoned for 10 days with hard labour were: Martha Maria Smith aged 45, Rebecca Smith aged 25, Mary Moss (alias Smith) aged 17, Charlotte Moss aged 39, Ann Susan Moss aged 25, Ann Moss aged 22 and Fanny Honeybone aged just 16.
The nine women sentenced to 7 days imprisonment with hard labour were: Elizabeth Pratley, aged 29, Mary Pratley aged 33, Ellen Pratley aged 25, Lavinia Dring, aged 44, Amelia Moss aged 36, Martha Moss, aged 33, Caroline Moss, aged 18, Jane Moss aged 31 and Mary Moss aged 35.
Two children also ended up in prison with their mothers, Thomas Pratley (son of Mary) aged 10 weeks & Eli Pratley (Son of Elizabeth) aged 7 months