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


The year 1809 comenced on a Sunday, wich was cold, roff, boisterous day, and in respect of Cristmas there was not the least appearance of it, for there was no poor family wich had power to brew, such are the distredness of the times, work so low and scarce, for there are hundreds in Oldham parish who are entirely without work; weaving is at the lowest ebb ever remembered, for a deal of masters give no more than twelf shillings a cut for weaving tabby, and from 18d. to 21d. for 21 hanks. Then let futurity judge of our lamentable situation.

The following is an accurate statement – namely:
Let futurity judge.” The twelve shillings was for weaving tabby velvets, containing each 6 pounds of 50’s weft, being 2s. per pound. This is the lowest point yet mentioned in these annals. This was for hand weaving. I knew of an old man who was being paid 2s. 6d., and his master told him he would have to reduce the price to 2s. 3d. “Nay!” said the old weaver, “before that aw’l give o’er,” and he did “give o’er” and never wove again.

March 20th.-
Monday, a very numerous meeting took place on Boardman Edge in order to petition for peace.

Boardman Edge was often the gathering ground of advanced politicians in former times. Even in Chartist times it kept up its reputation.

April 3rd.-
Being Easter Monday, there was a very numerous meeting at Tandle Hills, and came to a resolution to petition for peace

May 9th.-
Coton wich a short time since was selling at 3s 3d., is now selling at no more than 1s. 6d. a pond.

America was not such a fool, after all, as to force its “embargo,” and even if it did, British vessels were prepared to take the risk of carrying cotton for the cotton mills of England. A great score was made at that time in our carrying trade, and we have kept our position ever since...
Imports of cotton for three years as follows:-
1807………………196,467 bales.
1808………………. 66,215 bales.
1809………………267,283 bales.

September 19th -
Dutton and Midgeley, two refractory hatters, and who had been at the head of a party who had remonstrated with Mrs. Barker on the impolley of women working at the plank, whereby the magistrates at the Spread Eagle fined £20, and commited to the New Bailey for 2 months. They were commited 2 months since, and were liberated today, and came home in chaise. When they arrived at Coppice Nook, the hatters took the horses out of the carriage, and drawed them in great triumph through every public place in Oldham, to the great mortification of their masters. The workmen have turned out against, and refuse to work for those masters who employ women.

E. Butterworth says: The employment of females in the hatting trade occasioned considerable opposition the part of the male operatives engaged in that business in 1809. In July a party of the men had an interview with Mr. Barker, the hat manufacturer, for the purpose of expressing their disapprobation of the injury sustained from the competition of female operatives. During the interview two of the men, Dalton and Midgeley, uttered intimidating language. For this they were taken before the magistrates, convicted in a penalty of £20, and in default of payment sent to Salford gaol.

This annal shows the spirit of the workmen, nor did the feeling between them and the masters improve in after years; indeed, the trade of hatting was eventually banished from Oldham on account of strikes. Oldham was once one of the greatest hatting towns in England. Today, I believe, not a single stuff hat is made in the borough.

November 15th
Colonel Joseph Hanson arrived at his home at Strangeways Hall, near Manchester. He had been imprisoned in the King’s Bench Prison, London, for six months, for being a friend to the poor weavers, and particularly when the mobs where in May 1808. 39,600 weavers subscribed a superb gold cup and salver, which they made him a present of. The weavers from Bolton, Manchester, Ashton, and Stockport met him a mile before he reached Macclesfield, and took the horses out of his carriage, and drawed him through the principal places on towards Manchester. He went privately through Manchester to Strangeways Hall, his reason for going privately through, he was afraid of his enemies raising a riot, and the consequence being charged to Mr. Hanson’s friends.

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