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 8

each. The controversy was the signal for the appearance of a perfect avalanche of tracts, among which we must at least mention two: an anonymous paper entitled, "An lmpartial Narrative of the Late Melancholy Occurrences in Manchester "; and a high·toned protest entitled, " A Letter from C. Hobhouse, F.R.S., to Lord Viscount Castlereagh

More interesting for our present purpose are the detailed narratives of a number of eye-witnesses of the scene in St. Peter°s fields. The most famous of these is the account given by Samuel Bamford, the Middleton weaver, in his " Passages in the Life of a Radical". Corroborative of Bamford's narrative is the story written by a man who occupied a very different station in life, John Benjamin Smith, afterwards first treasurer of the Anti-Corn Law League, and a close friend of ]ohn Bright. A third connected narrative is given by Archibald Prentice, in his "Recollections of Manchester". There is also, of course, the rather highly coloured account given by Hunt, the chairman of the meeting, in his "Memoirs," issued during his confinement in Ilchester jail.

One of the most valuable of all the individual narratives is that given by the Rev. Edward Stanley, father of Dean Stanley, and brother of the first Baron Stanley of Alderley, who came upon the scene quite unintentionally and by pure accident, and watched the proceedings from beginning to end from the room immediately above that in which the magistrates were assembled. Stanley was at the time Rector of Alderley; he afterwards became Bishop of Norwich. His testimony - which was accompanied by a small sketch-plan - is specially valuable because he was pre-eminently a statistician; he became, indeed, one of the first Presidents of the Manchester Statistical Society. Moreover, he saw everything from the point of view of a stranger from outside; and his effort to be impartial and to confine himself to measured language is almost laboured.

The events at Peterloo gave rise to no less than six trials in the various courts, at which the story of the dayis proceedings was told and retold with the most wearisome reiteration. The chairman of the magistrates, the special constables, the yeomanry, the Reformers, the anti-Reformers, the chairman of the meeting, the reporters for the London and provincial papers - all were allowed to have their say, and once more the Rev. Edward Stanley appeared as a witness.


'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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