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 14

evidence. They are nearly all from Manchester, a few coming from Pendleton and Stretford; mostly tradesmen, innkeepers, and smail manufacturers, e.g. cheesemongers, ironmongers, tailors, watchmakers, calico printers, butchers, corn-merchants, butter factors, and so on. It would would be unreasonable to suppose that such a levy would contain many skilled horsemen, and this, as we shall see, was fully borne out at Peterloo. Lieutenant Jolliffe says of them: "without the knowledge possessed by a (strictly speaking) military body, they were placed, most unwisely, as it appeared, under the immediate command of the civil authorities"; and this "greatly aggravated the disasters of the day".

It may easily be supposed that the use of these local levies of mounted troops for the purposes of this kind aroused bitter resentment in the minds of the labouring population, which only grew as time went on. Thus we need not be surprised to find these words in the "Manchester Observer" just a month before the tragedy of Peterloo: "The stupid boobies of yeomanry cavalry in the neighbourhood have only just made the discovery that the mind and muscle of the country are at length united, and during the past week have been foaming and broiling themselves to death in getting their swords ground and their pistols examined .... "The yeomanry are, generally speaking, the fawning dependents of the great, with a few fools and a greater proportion of coxcombs, who imagine they acquire considerable importance by wearing regimentals."

The sharpening of the swords, by the way, was fully acknowledged by the other side. Thus Mr. Phillips writes (p. I7) : "The simple history of all the tales we have heard of sharpening sabres is briefly this. On the 7th of July the Government issued orders to the Cheshire and Manchester Yeomanry Cavalry, through the Lords Lieutenant, to hold themselves in readiness, and consequently most of the Manchester Cavalry sent their arms to the same cutler which the corps during the last war had employed, to put them in condition All these details are important as aggravating the bitter feelings which already existed, and we shall see later that when this improvised corps advanced into the crowd, using their sharpened swords, they were in some cases individually recognised by those at whom they struck. As we approach the date of Peterloo, the confidence reposed in the volunteer cavalry by the authorities becomes even more apparent, and


'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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