The Massacre of Peterloo, Manchester, 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819

'The Story of Peterloo' by F.A. Bruton, Pub. 1919

Page 7

event; one of the trials, for example, took place nearly three years after the catastrophe.

It is a curious and interesting fact that the future editors of two Manchester newspapers not then founded, both of whom were present in St. Peteris fields on the I6th of August, 1819, finding that the reporter for the London "Times" had been arrested at the hustings, and fearing that therefore the accounts in the London papers would be one-sided, unfairly condoning the action of the magistrates, determined to send a report to London themselves, which duly appeared in two leading London papers. These two men were John Edward Taylor, the founder and first editor of the "Manchester Guardian," and Archibald Prentice, founder and first editor of the "Manchester Times". Taylor, who was in business at the time, immediately constituted himself the protagonist among the champions of the " Reformers," and opened the battle in a series of fourteen weekly tracts entitled "The Peterloo Massacre," the first of which appeared just a week after the event. His clear reasoning and strong democratic leanings are visible in a number of other protests which appeared at the time; the flame of his indignation against anything that savoured of tyranny seemed only to burn more brightly in the face of adverse verdicts; and when, less than two years later, the assistance of a number of friends made it possible for him to issue the prospectus of the "Manchester Guardian," foreshadowing a newspaper that should aim at "fixing on ·a broader and more impregnable basis the fabric of our liberties," he used the columns and leaders of his paper as a weapon of fearless and scathing criticism of those who attempted to defend the action of the authorities on the 16th of August. As a single illustration we may mention that when, in May, 1821, Sir Francis Burdett moved in the House of Commons for a Committee of inquiry into the whole question, and the motion was seconded by Mr. Hobhouse, and lost by more than two to one, Taylor devoted nine and a half crowded columns to a report, and criticised the debate in a leader consisting of three columns closely printed in small type.

Taylor's vigorous and spirited protests brought out Mr. Francis Phillips, a Manchester manufacturer, as champion of the magistrates, and his able pamphlet entitled "An Exposure of the Calumnies Circulated by the Enemies of Social Order against the Magistrates and
the Yeomanry Cavalry," went through two editions of a thousand


'The Story of Peterloo' by F.A. Bruton, Pub. 1919
Written for the Centenary, August 16th, 1919'.by F.A. Bruton, M.A.(of the Manchester Grammar School.
Download .pdf copy from the Internet Archive HERE

Transcribed here by Sheila Goodyear 2019

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