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 17

represent them in Parliament, and the adopting [of] Major Cartwright's Bill. H. Hunt in the chair."

On the very next day the "Manchester Chronicle", a superior Tory organ, published a letter from Lord Sidmouth to the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire emphasising the need for the utmost vigilance on the part of the magistrates on account of the frequent public meetings, and desiring him to give immediate directions to the several Corps of Yeomanry Cavalry to hold themselves in readiness to attend to any call for support and assistance they may receive from the bench.

A week later the magistrates proclaimed the proposed meeting to be illegal. The Reformers accordingly decided to take the advice of counsel, and Mr. Saxton, sub-editor of the "Observer," was commissioned to proceed to Liverpool and seek legal advice in the matter. He returned with the important ruling, "that the intention of choosing Representatives, contrary to the existing law, tends greatly to render the proposed meeting seditious. Accepting this ruling, the Reformers at once abandoned the meeting and carefully revised their programme. Accordingly, on the 7th of August, the "Observer" published a notice to the effect that the Boroughreeve and Constables (i.e. the three main officials of the Court Leet) had been requested by 7OO persons to summon a meeting "to consider the propriety of adopting the most legal and effectual means of obtaining Reform in the Commons House of Parliament," and had declined to do so. Notice was therefore given (over the signatures of nearly 8OO inhabitants) that a meeting would be held in St. Peter's fields on Monday, the 16th of August, and that Mr. Henry Hunt would take the chair at 12 o'clock.

A week later, on the 14th of August, the "Observer" contained a long letter from Henry Hunt, dated from Smedley Cottage, where he was the guest of Mr. ]ohnson, urging the importance of the Reformers exhibiting "a steady, firm, and temperate deportment," and bringing with them "no other weapon than that of an approving conscience". According to the "Chronicle" there was an influx of strangers on the Saturday and Sunday preceding the eventful Monday. The same paper speaks of "painful anticipation" on the Sunday as to "how the following day would terminate". The general opinion on Change on the Saturday was that the magistrates had decided not to disturb the meeting, unless some breach of the peace occurred, and men of all


'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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