The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819

Rowbottom's Comments on Trade and Politics - 1800 to 1819
As Recorded in the Diary of William Rowbottom
Comments and additional information (in italics) are from the transcription by Samuel Andrew,
serialised in the 'Oldham Standard' between 1887 & 1889
Cost of Provisions HERE


Jan 18th -
It is worthy of remark that James Rowbottom, of Alderroot, in the last year as a journeyman rover at a factory got by his own labour £91, and in the great drought last May there were three weeks which he got but a few shillings, as the works were stopped for lack of water.

We are not told how long James Rowbottom had to work daily to earn his 36s. a week. But we know from old people that the mills used to work night and day in many cases - or at least in water mills as long as the water lasted.

January 30th -
The scarceness of coals excites the astonishment and wonder of this country, as is natural. The poor feel effects of this trouble as well as all others to a greater degree than the rich. They have this winter met with a great deal of trouble and disappointment by the scarceness of coals, for they have not been obtainable for money. Therefore the poor have been under the necessity of burning slack, bags, or any other rubbish they could light of at Manchester. They have been sold as high as 4d. for a horseload, or two baskets. At Prestwich and other places in this neighbourhood they have been sold as high as 4 1/2d. per 100 lbs.

This scarcity of coal was no doubt caused by the demand, which at the time was increasing for coal for mill purposes. E. Butterworth says :- The great consumption of coal which ensued as the inevitable consequence of the introduction of the steam engine as the moving power of cotton mills served to develope the mineral resources of the district, and stimulated the colliery proprietors to extraordinary activity in working the mines to the fullest extent and upon the most efficient plan of which they were capable.

Select Observations.-
In consequence of some of the necessaries of life being reasonable, and the uncommon briskness of all sorts of trade, a universal joy is felt in the country. Mule spinning is behind all imagination, for a man upon an average earns 30s. a week, and all sorts of weaving were never brisker, although wages have been higher. Masters are giving 1 1/2d. per hank for picking mule weft; in common jenny weft, say 3d. a pound weaving, which makes a piece 6d. a pound more than about a year ago, and indesed, some reckon it to be mended more than 6d. per pound. But the country flourishes, and all is joy and happiness.

August 29th -
An exalent fine day and a deal of strangers. There has been more ale, porter, &c., drunk at Oldham this Wakes that ever was known in the memory of the oldest person living, and one thing extraordinary, that is, very little fighting, for trade was never in a more flourishing state. Masters are giving 3s. 3d. for weaving 24 hanks calicoes. Nankeens, &c., in proportion, but I am not able to state the prices.

June 21st -
Since the commencement of the present war the price of labour is very much decreased, especially the weaving branch. Fustian weaving is dropt 9d., for weaving 24 hanks it was 3s. 3d., and now 2s. 6d., nankeen 36 reed from 36s. a piece to 24s., and calico from 6s. a cut to 4s. a cut, and all others in proportion, and especially light goods.

E. Butterworth says:- Manufactures and consequently population increased greatly during the war, and yet in 1803-4 trade was subjected to a severe depression.September 19th

E. Butterworth says:- Renewed threats of invasion on the part of the Government of France produced a revival of the volunteer system throughout the country. The Oldham Volunteers were arrayed in September 1803, under command of John Lees, Esq., of Church-lane and Werneth,

November -The most dismal times again present themselves to our view, provisions rising, and all sorts of wages lowering.

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