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 36

from the magistrates window. Mr. Stanley, who stood at the window immediately above the magistrates, was closely questioned on this point at the Trial in 1822. He said: "I neither heard it read nor saw it read". Similar testimony was given by Mr. McKennell, who stood on the steps of Mr. Buxton's house throughout the proceedings. Further discussion of this point is unnecessary because it seems to be fairly generally admitted that if the Riot Act was read (as it may well have been in a perfunctory way) no one whom it concerned had any knowledge of the fact; and supposing again that it was read, the time that elapsed between the reading of the Act and the charge of the troops was much less than that prescribed by the Act itself.


We now return to the scene in St. Peter's fields at the moment when the new troops arrived. Lieut.-Colonel L'Estrange, who was in command of the whole, and who had come round into Windmill Street with the 15th Hussars and the Cheshire Yeomanry, halted both, rode up to the house where the magistrates were assembled, and, looking up at the window at which Mr. Hulton (their chairman) was standing, said: "What am I to do?" Hulton admitted afterwards at the Trial that he did not consult his brother magistrates before replying. "There was not time," he said, "for me to consult my brother magistrates as to sending in more military, but they were with me at the window, and I should certainly conceive they heard me. l did not take the responsibility on myself. They at that moment were expressing fear themselves."

Mr. Hulton's fateful reply to Lieut.-Colonel L'Estrange (he repeated it over and over again at the Trials) was as follows: " Good God, sir ! don't you see they are attacking the Yeomanry? Disperse the meeting"

The scene that followed these words was one that sent a thrill of horror through the whole country - the report of it reached the poet Shelley in Italy, and he says: -

As I lay asleep in Italy,
There came a Voice from over the sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the Visions of Poesy,


'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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