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 40

this note to his plan: "My attention was so much taken up with the proceedings of the Manchester Yeomanry, etc., and the dispersion in front of the hustings, that I cannot speak accurately as to their subsequent movements". It is clear that they cannot have charged the crowd from that point. They would have been riding at right angles to the charge of the Hussars. The Centenary Volume of the Cheshire Yeomanry throws no light on the matter. The most detailed contemporary plan shows Yeomanry and foot-soldiers at different points "intercepting and cutting at fugitives". Lieutenant Jolliffe, speaking of the Cheshire Yeomanry and the 31st Infantry, says: "the whole remained formed up till our squadrons had fallen in again". Captain Smyth, who led one of the troops of the Cheshire Yeomanry, says (in a footnote to Jolliffe's account): "The Yeomanry and Infantry stationed at the four corners opened to allow the multitude to escape". We are therefore driven to the conclusion that L'Estrange held the Cheshire Yeomanry in reserve while the Hussars made their charge.

We have at least two testimonies as to the appearance of the fugitives as they streamed into the open country. Mr. Prentice had left the crowd to go to his home in Salford just as Hunt had mounted the hustings. "I had not been at home more than a quarter of an hour," he says, "when a wailing sound was heard from the main street, and rushing out, I saw people running in the direction of Pendleton, their faces pale as death, and some with blood trickling down their cheeks. lt was with difficulty I could get anyone to stop and tell me what had happened. The unarmed multitude, men, women and children, had been attacked with murderous results by the military." Mr. William Royle, in his "History of Rusholme," published in 1914, says: "l remember my father telling me that on the day of the Peterloo massacre in 1819 he was standing at the corner of Norman Road, and saw crowds of people coming from Manchester, many with marks of blood upon them received in that murderous affray".

Meanwhile, Hunt, who was brutally maltreated after his arrest, had been hurried with the other prisoners to the New Bailey in Salford. The military and special constables patrolled the streets. Apparently the temper of the crowd had been roused to a dangerous pitch. Stanley, who praises the quiet demeanour of the people before the event, says: "At the conclusion of the business I found them in a very different state of feeling. I heard repeated vows of revenge.


'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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