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 21

the )ldham people. But the banner which furnished the most important "evidence" in the Trial at York was a black one carried in the procession of the Saddleworth, Lees, and Mossley Union. lt was inscribed: "Equal Representation or Death," "Unite and be Free," "No Boroughmongering," "Taxation without Representation is Unjust and Tyrannical," and it bore figures of justice holding the. scales and two hands clasped. After the lapse of a century the talk of the terrible danger hidden behind this banner, on the part of counsel at the Trial and public speakers elsewhere, may appear somewhat ludicrous. The Oldham and Royton colours were escorted by some 200 women dressed in white. The procession was joined later by the Failsworth Radicals. Altogether there seem to have been sixteen banners displayed at the meeting, with five caps of liberty.

As the contingents approached Manchester, horsemen rode out in various directions to meet them and returned to report to the assembled magistrates. One of these scouts was Mr. Francis Phillips. ln his "Exposure" he tells how he rode "along the turnpike road leading to Stockport, and at a place called Ardwick Green, about one and a half miles from Manchester Exchange "met a regiment of Reformers marching in file, principally three deep. This column, 1400 or 1500 strong, "marched extremely well, observing the step though without music It included about forty women, and the colours were handsome and inscribed "No Corn Laws" and "Universal Suffrage". Mr. Phillips is careful to add: "Nearly half of the men carried stout
sticks". He slipped back to Manchester by another road and reported these facts to the magistrates. lmmediately afterwards the column carried its colours into St. Peter's fields, and Phillips then took up his station in the cordon of special constables. From the evidence at the Trials we obtain details of the Bury contingent, five abreast and 3000 strong, with many women, and of that from Pendleton; and the Rev. Edward Stanley tells how he met the Reformers from Ashton.

Mr. Archibald Prentice, standing at a window, watched the crowd stream down Mosley Street. "l never," he says, "saw a gayer spectacle. There were haggard-looking men, certainly, but the majority were young persons, in their best Sunday suits, and the light-coloured dresses of the cheerful, tidy-looking women relieved the effect of the dark fustians worn by the men. The 'marching order,' of which so much was said afterwards, was what we often see now in the processions


'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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