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 39

We have already mentioned the loose baulks of timber that lay scattered about to the south of the Friends' meeting-house. These "timber-trees," as he calls them, "could not be distinguished when the mob covered them, and they caused bad falls to one officer's horse and to many of the troopers" of the Hussars. Jolliffe himself went to the assistance of "a private of the regiment whose horse had fallen over a piece of timber nearly in the middle of the square, and who was most seriously injured."

Lieutenant Jolliffe's account of the fight near the Friends' meeting-house, also mentioned above, runs thus: "The mob had taken possession of various buildings, particularly of a Quakers' chapel and burial-ground enclosed with a wall. This they occupied for some little time, and in attempting to displace them some of the men and horses were struck with stones and brickbats. Seeing a sort of fighting going on, I went in that direction. At the very moment I reached the Quakers' meeting-house, I saw a farrier of the 15th ride at a small door in the outer wall, and to my surprise his horse struck it with such force that it flew open. Two or three hussars then rode in, and the place was immediately in their possession."

The statement in the "Chronicle" on the following Saturday to the effect that "one of the Yeomanry leaped his horse over the wall after a Reformer" would seem to be apocryphal, as the plan produced at the Trial showed that there was a drop of 10 feet on one side. I have to thank the authorities who have charge of the archives at the Friends' meeting-house for their courtesy in acceding to my request that the Records and Minute Books for August, 1819, should be examined.

They could find no mention whatever of Peterloo. Lieutenant Jolliffe also clears up the following reference in Stanley's account. Stanley says: "l saw no firearms, but distinctly heard four or five shots towards the close of the business on the opposite side of the square, beyond the hustings, but no one could inform me by whom they were fired". Jolliffe tells of a pistol fired from a window; and a footnote by Captain Smyth of the Cheshire Yeomanry refers to some men on the roof of a house with a gun. "The 88th fired a shot or two over the roof and cleared the spot."

Lastly, the question arises: What use was made of the Cheshire Yeomanry when they arrived in St. Peter's fields? Stanley, who shows them halting between the hustings and Windmill Street, adds


'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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