The Massacre of Peterloo, Manchester, 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819


'NOTES & OBSERVATIONS, Critical & Explanatory, on the Papers Relative to
the Internal State of the Country, Recently Presented to Parliament
to which is appended,
a REPLY to Mr. Francis Philips's
'Exposure of the Calumnies circulated by the Enemies of Social Order ...
PAGE LIST (below) with LINKS

&c. &c.

Pages 7 to 11

Birmingham, July 18, 1819.

My Lord,
I HAVE great satisfaction in making known to you that the meeting held in this place yesterday evening, was not attended with any breach of the peace,and that the whole assemblage had quietly dispersed before seven o'clock. It may not, however, be unacceptable to your Lordship, to be acquainted with some small detail of the proceedings, as reported to me by various, persons employed for that purpose. An attempt was first made to collect a crowd by a miserable procession (as it was called) of Major Cartwright, Wooler, and Edmonds, in a street chariot, carrying two flags: they were also accompanied by one Maddocks, whose father was executed at Warwick, some years since, upon a Bank prosecution, and whose brother is now transported, under a similar conviction. Sir Charles Wolseley was not present, having excused himself on account of the death of a near relation. The chair was taken by Edmonds, and the only speakers were Edmonds, Maddocks, Wooler, Major Cartwright, and one Lewis, who had attended Sir C. Wolseley at Stockport. The proceedings were confined to certain resolutions expressive of the want of reform in the representation of the people; a remonstrance, founded on those resolutions, and addressed (I believe) to the Speaker of the House of Commons; an election of Sir Charles Wolseley to be Legislatorial Attorney of the people of Birmingham in Parliament for one year, if so long he executed his trust faithfully; an exhortation to this gentleman to be at his post, on the opening of the next session of Parliament, and instructions to him how to proceed. All these, I presume, will be printed, when your Lordship shall be furnished with a copy. The language held out in the speeches was of a very different kind from that which we UNDERSTOOD to have been used at the meetings to the northward, which appears sufficiently to prove the knowledge of the speakers, that their audience, on this occasion, were not prepared to bear that language, or to support those who might make use of it.(E) The most violent speaker was Lewis; the tenor of all the speeches was, abuse of the body calling itself the House of Commons, and abuse of some individuals amongst his Majesty's Ministers.

The crowd assembled has been variously estimated, from 10,000 to 25,000 persons; of these, however, a great proportion were women and children. The nature of the ground is such, being two sides of an amphitheatre, rising to a considerable height, that it is almost impossible for a person in the crowd to form any estimate of numbers. Lord Aylesford and myself, who could survey the whole assemblage from the roof of an adjoining house, had formed our own opinion, that the number could not exceed 10,000. This meeting seems to afford good ground of conclusion, that the first open acts of violence to which the populace are to be instigated, will not take place in this immediate neighbourhood. It is, however, (to use the language of this Lewis) "one blow to the existing system;" and I presume the next meeting called here, will be to receive the report of what occurs upon Sir Charles Wolseley offering to take his seat, if he is wild enough, so far, to fall into their plans.
After the meeting, a small party of the principal performers, and their adherents, adjourned to a low public house, to pass the evening; but I have not heard what occurred there.

I had the greatest satisfaction in Lord Aylesford's attendance here, both in his assistance as a magistrate, and from his being on the spot, to issue the necessary orders for the assembling of the yeomanry, had any disturbance occurred. His Lordship, as well as myself, thought it prudent to remain in the town during the whole night.

I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's
Very faithful and obedient servant,

The Viscount Sidmouth,
&c. &c. &c.

(E) This sentence proves how rash and groundless was the conclusion, in the latter part of Mr. Spooner's former letter. Surely, on comparing them together, Mr. S. must feel the impmpriety of his unadvised speculations, as to the conduct of the people.


My Lord,
I HAVE the honour to inform your Lordship, that I have this evening had an interview with Mr. Norris, the residing Magistrate, and Mr. Moor, the first Constable, of Manchester, who has communicated to me the inclosed resolutions of a meeting held in that town, with a view to strengthen the civil power; and these gentlemen have at the same time shewed me a letter from your lordship's office, giving them reason to believe, that the offer of an armed association, if sanctioned by my recommendation, would meet with the approbation of his Majesty's Government; I therefore lose no time in laying their proposal before your lordship, and adding my strongest conviction, that its immediate adoption will be highly conducive to the preservation of the public peace in the district of Manchester, and its neighbourhood, and therefore I request your lordship to lay it before the Prince Regent with my recommendation; and that, if his Royal Highness is pleased to approve thereof, you will give immediate directions to the proper ofiicers, that the arms and accoutrements necessary to give effect to this plan, may be furnished to the Association with as little delay as possible. On the strength of your lordship's letter, I have ventured to desire I may be furnished with a list of the persons whom it is wished to recommend as officers, and I shall do myself the honour of forwarding it to your lordship, as soon as I receive the same, that, in case the plan is approved, the same may be put into execution, with that promptitude recommended by your lordship, and which I am persuaded the exigency of the case requires.

I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's obedient humble servant,
Knowsley, Friday night,
July 16, 1819.

The Viscount Sidmouth,
&c. &c. &c.


Manchester Police Office, July 16, 1819.

At a meeting of the Committee "to Strengthen the Civil Power,"
JOHN BRADSHAW, Esq. in the Chair,

The following Resolutions were passed unanimously.

THAT, Government having signified their approbation of an Armed Association, an offer be immediately made by this Committee, through the medium of the Lord Lieutenant of this county, of an Armed Association in aid of the civil power, and for the protection of the towns of Manchester and Salford, and their immediate neighbourhood; and that Government be requested, for the present, to furnish arms and accoutrements for one thousand men.

That this Committee do not conceive that any uniform will he necessary for such Armed Association.

That it is on every account desirable, that the least possible sacrifice of time should be required in drilling, as it is considered only necessary, that the most simple parts of military discipline should be acquired by such Association.
That a deputation, consisting of Mr. Norris, the resident Magistrate, and Mr. Moor, the first Constable of Manchester, do immediately wait upon the Lord Lieutenant of the County, to communicate the foregoing resolutions, and to take his opinion thereupon.



Transcribed PAGES from 'Notes & Observations ...'




(inc. footnotes)

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'NOTES & OBSERVATIONS, Critical & Explanatory, on the Papers Relative to the Internal State of the Country, Recently Presented to Parliament; to which is appended, a REPLY to Mr. Francis Philips's 'Exposure of the Calumnies circulated by the Enemies of Social Order ...'
by a 'Member of the Manchester Committee for Relieving the Sufferers of the 16th August 1819 (Ascribed to John Edward Taylor)
Pub. Dec1919

Transcribed by Sheila Goodyear 2019

LINK to full .pdf document of 'Notes & Observations ...' on the Internet Archive website to read or download.
LINK to .pdf file of 'Exposure of the Calumnies...' on the Internet Archive website to read or download.

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