Convict Love Token - 1839
This token, (together with a token engraved with the name Fox Maule and another with the name Frost, relates to the Chartist, John Frost. The production of these tokens demonstrates that tokens were sometimes made for reasons other than as romantic keepsakes. In this instance the tokens commemorate political events or movements. Frost was a prosperous woollen draper and former mayor of Newport, Monmouthshire, who became a notable figure in the Chartist movement, a working class movement seeking political reform in Britain.
Frost attended the first Chartist convention in London in February 1839 at which a number of the leaders of the movement were arrested for sedition. He returned to Monmouthshire where he planned and led an armed attack on Newport. The attack was a dismal failure. About 20 people were shot dead, and 125 were arrested. Frost and two of his co-leaders were originally sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered, but after intense public pressure their terms were commuted to transportation for life. Fox Maule, Second Baron Panmure (1801-1874) was Under Secretary of State at this time. Frost sailed for Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on board the Mandarin, reaching Hobart on 30 June 1840. He worked as a clerk in the commandant's office at Port Arthur before going on to become a schoolmaster. On receiving a conditional discharge in 1854, he left for New York and eventually returned with a free pardon to England, where he wrote and lectured on the horrors of convict life. He died at Stapleton, near Bristol, on 27 July 1877.
Token crudely engraved on the reverse of a penny, still showing its original markings:
Token crudely engraved on the head of an 1826 penny, still showing some of its markings:
Copyright: National Museum of Australia