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 1814 began on a Satuerday, wich was an extreme fine day, the sky being serene and clear, and as warm as in April. By the recent victories of the Allies over the French, the trade of this country as happily taken a favourable turn for the better, and meal, flour and pottatoes being much reduced in price, renders the situation of the poor more comfortable. Cristmas, which as been lost for several years, as holden up its delightful visage to thousands, who – 12 months since – where in a deplorable situation. Very few families, though ever so poor, but what raised a brew of malt this Cristmas, and the poor in general are in a more enviable situation than they have been for some time.

The turn of the tide had set in, though great events were yet looming in the distance. Napoleon, if checked for a time, had yet other designs to accomplish. We see by this annal what an effect on our trade and on the condition of the people the news from abroad had. We see also something in this annal of the habits of the Oldham people. “Very few families, though ever so poor, but what raised a brew of malt.” Who has read Old Cobbett on brewing? Though written nine years after this date, his remarks refer to this period. He tells of a farmer who began farming about 1780, who gave evidence before a committee of the House of Commons to the effect that when he began farming there was not a labourer’s family in the parish that did not brew their own beer and enjoy it by their own firesides, and that now not one single family did it, from want of the ability to get the malt.

June 2nd -
The pettition of the inhabitants of the parish of Oldham against the corn bill now pending with Parliament closed. The numbers where 7,278.

The fact that over 7,000 people voted against the Corn Bill in Oldham is evidence of their Free Trade principles of the people, their Conservatism in other matters notwithstanding.. These petitions were evidently against the Bill, which ultimately became law in 1815, which removed all restriction on foreign corn imported in order to be warehoused and permitted its free importation for home consumption only when at 80s.per quarter.

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