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 23

had not been widened. The pavements in places were only 18 inches wide, and several accidents occurred on the day of Peterloo from falls into the cellars which were then used as living rooms. Bearing in mind these facts, it is easy to follow the various contingents as they converged towards St. Peter's fields, - the principal procession being that of the chairman.

Henry Hunt was a country gentleman of Wiltshire, whose personal characteristics made him specially successful as a demagogue, and there is no doubt that he was perfectly sincere. Bamford, whose admiration for him waned in later years, describes him as "gentlemanly in his manner and attire, six feet and better in height, and extremely well formed". The white hat which he wore became the symbol of Radicalism. He was shrewd, quick at repartee, and had the copious flow of highly-coloured language which delights a crowd. He was exceptionally clever in handling a great gathering, and was always scrupulously careful to keep within the strict letter of the law. His vanity we can forgive, for he rendered yeoman service to the cause of Liberty, but his private life, the details of which are told with almost brutal candour by himself in his "Memoirs," will not bear inspection. Of his political record he has no reason to be ashamed. He┬Ěpresented the earliest petition to Parliament for Women`s Suffrage; he fought the battle of Reform in its darkest days; and he attacked the first Reform Bill, demanding the Ballot, Universal Suffrage, and the repeal of the Corn Laws. He has been compared in some respects to Wilkes. "As a practical Reformer he failed because he never understood the place of compromise in politics, but he was a shrewd and far-seeing ideologue and a splendid political gladiator." Whatever may be the correct estimate of him there is no doubt that at the time we are considering he was the object of boundless admiration on the part of the Reformers, who simply idolised him. After he was bailed at Lancaster, pending his trial, he was accorded a triumphal procession through Lancashire to Manchester, and in London he was cheered to the echo by enormous crowds.

The contingents from Middleton and Rochdale, led by Samuel Bamford, were approaching Collyhurst, when a message reached them from Hunt, directing them to come by way of Newton and head his procession from Smedley Cottage. This they did, but taking a wrong turn at the top of Shude Hill, they led down Swan Street, Oldham


'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

Peterloo project Menu Page
Peterloo project
Peterloo Project Menu
on our companion website,