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 18

parties said that the meeting would go off quietly. No disturbance of any kind took place in Manchester on Sunday, the 15th of August.

It was a grand opportunity for a man with vision; but the responsible authorities - i.e. the special Committee of the magistrates of Lancashire and Cheshire (which included three clergymen) meeting in Manchester - seem to have been in a panic. They sat till midnight on Sunday without being able to decide what to do. At 11 p.m. one of them wrote to the Home Secretary that although the magistrates, as then advised, did not then think of preventing the meeting, they were alarmed, and were in a state of painful uncertainty.

The long-expected day came at last. The morning was fine, and later on the heat was considerable. ln Manchester the magistrates saw fit to publish a notice recommending the peaceable and well-disposed inhabitants to remain in their own houses during, the whole day, and to keep their children and servants within doors. The Rev. Jeremiah Smith, then the High Master of the Free Grammar School, afterwards stated at the Trial that most of the shop windows were closed, and that as there was a general feeling of apprehension, he dismissed his day boys after breakfast, and eventually went home and locked himself and his boarders into his house in Long Millgate - the very house from which the boy De Quincey had slipped away "in the deep lustre of a cloudless July morning," not twenty years before.

As early as nine in the morning people began to assemble in St. Peter`s fields. The magistrates met first at the Star lnn and at eleven o'clock adjourned to the house of Mr. Buxton in Mount Street. By this time the troops employed had been posted out of sight in the streets lying just off the open space where the gathering was held. Their disposition seems to have been as follows: one troop of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry was concealed in Pickford`s yard, off Portland Street, another troop seems to have been in Byrom Street; their commander was Major Trafford, but the first troop seems to have been led on this occasion by Hugh Birley, who only a few years before had opposed the new Corn Law. The Cheshire Yeomanry, in their full strength of eight troops, i.e. at least 400 men, had assembled on Sale moor at 9 a.m. and arrived at their assigned station in St. john Street soon after eleven; two squadrons of the I5th Hussars (i.e. over 300 men) were in Byrom Street and a troop of the same regiment was in Lower Mosley Street, acting as escort to a troop of


'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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