Trade unions had been illegal until the repeal of the Combination Acts in 1824. Although many unions had survived the anti-union laws, after 1824 they were spreading and growing fast.
Robert Owen set up a single national union of all trades - the General National Consolidated Trades Union - in February 1834, the very month in which the Martyrs were arrested. He, and others, looked on trade unionism not just as a means of protecting and improving workers’ living standards, but for changing the political and economic order of the country.
These articles evidence the spread of this activity, the government's response and the anxiety of landowners and press barons.