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 22

of Sunday School children and Temperance Societies. To our eyes the numerous flags seemed to have been brought to add to the picturesque effect of the pageant. Slowly and orderly the multitude took their places round the hustings. Our party laughed at the fears of the magistrates, and the remark was that if the men intended mischief they would not have brought their wives or their children with them. I passed round the outskirts of the meeting and mingled with the groups that stood chattering there. l occasionally asked the women if they were not afraid to be there, and the usual laughing reply was: 'What have we to be afraid of?' "

Mr. John Benjamin Smith, who watched the meeting from a window in Mrs. Orton's house, next door to Mr. Buxton's in Mount Street, says: "We reached there about eleven-thirty, and on our way saw large bodies of men and women with bands playing, flags and banners bearing devices. There were crowds of people in all directions, full of humour, laughing and shouting and making fun. It seemed to be a gala day with the country people, who were mostly dressed in their best, and brought with them their wives, and when l saw boys and girls taking their fatheris hands in the procession, l observed to my aunt: 'These are the guarantee of their peaceful intentions, we need have no fears,` and so we passed on to Mrs. Orton's house."

For two hours the Yeomanry and Hussars remained at their stations dismounted. Occasionally a few of the officers would ride up to Deansgate to watch the procession. One of them writes: "During the greater portion of that period a solid mass of people moved along the street. They marched at a brisk pace, with ranks well closed up, five or six bands of music being interspersed. Mr. Hunt was in an open carriage, adorned with flags and drawn by the people. As soon as the great bulk of the procession had passed, we were ordered to stand to our horses." '

Manchester at that time was the mere nucleus of the Manchester of to-day. Districts which now lie well within its boundaries were then outlying villages. Even in the heart of the city several of the main thoroughfares familiar to us did not then exist. Market Street was still a mere winding lane, in places only five yards broad from building to building; the Bill for widening and straightening this thoroughfare was passed just two years after Peterloo. The present Corporation Street and Victoria Street did not exist, and Deansgate


'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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