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 11

in a few isolated cases among the operatives, of a decidedly dangerous character; this is freely admitted by their own representative, who tells, e.g. of the scheme to make a " Moscow of Manchester"; secondly, that the discovery of this fact led to an estrangement between employers and employed, which postponed and delayed any approach to a friendly settlement.

The whole situation is well expressed by the anonymous author of "An lmpartial Narrative," when he says: "The two general classes of Reformers and Anti-Reformers watched each other with a jealous eye". To anyone who makes an earnest attempt to obtain an impartial view this attitude of mutual suspicion, which seemed to heighten the barrier between the two classes as time went on, is one of the most painful features of the whole story.

Two years before Peterloo, when the Habeas Corpus Act had already been suspended, and a number of the agitators were consequently in hiding, a meeting was held in St. Peter's fields which, in all respects except the massacre, was almost the counterpart of the Peterloo meeting. On the 10th of March a great crowd assembled to give a send-off to the "Blanketeers". The magistrates were alarmed at the prospect, though nothing was proposed but a march of a body of petitioners to London, and on the 8th of March the Lord Lieutenant authorised Sir john Leycester to call out the Cheshire Yeomanry in aid of the civil power. The order was obeyed with alacrity; on the following day five troops of that regiment assembled and marched for Manchester, where they joined the King's Dragoon Guards, and detachments of the 54th and 85th Infantry, the whole force being under the command of Sir John Byng.

Early on the morning of the 10th crowds of people began to stream into the town by various roads, many carrying knapsacks and blankets. The instigators of the meeting spoke from improvised hustings in St. Peter`s fields. The magistrates met in the very same room which they afterwards occupied on the occasion of Peterloo, and having warned the leaders with no result, they called upon the military, as they afterwards did at Peterloo, to disperse the meeting. By a "judicious movement " of the Kingis Dragoon Guards, the cart was instantly surrounded and the constables took the whole of the speakers into custody. No opposition was offered to the cavalry, and the multitude immediately dispersed, the troops giving them free passage. The


'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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