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 45

the magistrates of Lancashire and Cheshire, who entered the town and sat at the Star lnn to take command of the police, and order the soldiers to cut down and trample upon unarmed crowds, would have no more jurisdiction over Manchester than Constantinople"; and in her "History of the Thirty Years, Peace," from which we have already quoted, Harriet Martineau describes Peterloo as "the great event of the year, and the most memorable incident in the history of the popular movements of the time.

The author of "Childe Harold" speaks of the "red rain" that fell at Waterloo, and "made the harvest grow" on the fields of Belgium. Perhaps we may, not inappropriately, borrow his figure, and say that the red rain that fell at Peterloo, four years later, has helped to ripen another harvest - the harvest of Freedom.


Five of the half-tone blocks are taken from the late Mr. A. Marcroft's "Landmarks of Local Liberalism". For permission to use them we are indebted to the courtesy of Mr. W. Marcroft of Southport, and Messrs. Hirst and Rennie of Oldham.

The view of Peterloo - the best of several sketches extant - is from a contemporaxy print now in the possession of Mr. Walter Flinn of Fallowfield. The details are fairly accurate. The houses on the right, at the back, are in Windmill Street; those to the left are in Mount Street; in one of these, number 6, the magistrates met. On the extreme left is seen "the corner of a garden wall, round which the Manchester Yeomanry, in blue and white uniform, came trotting, sword in hand, to the front of a row of new houses. Among the figures on the hustings we can distinguish Mr. Hunt, and a woman whom we may assume to be the "female reformer" who rode in his carriage. The crowd to the right of the picture are on the site of the Free Trade Hall.

The full-length portrait of Hunt is from a print now at the Manchester Reference Library. The bronze medallion of Hunt, now in the vestibule of the Manchester Reform Club, was unveiled by Mr. C. P. Scott on June the 29th 1908. The illustration is from a photograph lent by Mr. ]ohn Cassidy, R.C.A., who designed and executed the memorial.

The Plan of Peterloo has been drawn specially for this publication. It is based upon about half a dozen contemporary plans, including a tiny sketch by the Rev. Edward Stanley, which is useful as showing where the various bodies of mounted troops halted, and the directions in which they charged. The times are of course deduced from a comparison of the slightly varying accounts, and are only intended to be approximate. They cannot, however, be wrong by more than a few minutes.


'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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