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 38 to 44

Manchester, August 12, 1819.

My Lord,
HEREWITH I have the honour to transmit your Lordship certain depositions, as well respecting the situation in which certain parts of this town have been during the last week, as respecting the practice of drilling, which has so extensively taken place in this and the surrounding neighbourhood. Many more are in existence, and may be added to the number, but I apprehend those which I now send will be suflicient to assure your Lordship of this alarming practice. They affect to say, that it is for the purpose of appearing at Manchester in better order, &.c. on Monday next; but military discipline was not requisite for this purpose, and a more alarming object is so palpable that it is impossible not to feel a moral conviction that insurrection and rebellion is their ulterior object.

To Lord Viscount Sidmouth.
&c. &c. &c.

(H) The depositions with respect to training, as I have before shewn, exhibit no motive whatever for it, except that of attending the Manchester Meeting with good order and regularity; yet in spite of their concurrent testimony, though made by different persons, without the possibility of concert, taken by different Magistrates, and relating to different places, Mr. Norris speaks of their avowed purpose as an "affected" one, and concludes by saying "a more alarming object is so palpable, that it is impossible not to feel a moral conviction that Insurrection and Rebellion is their ulterior object." This "moral conviction," in direct opposition to evidence, may suit Lord Sidmouth's notions of justice, but will be appreciated as it deserves, by the enlightened inhabitants of England.


Lancashire, to wit }
The examination of C .D. taken on oath at Salford,this 5th day of August, 1819, who saith,
THAT last night about nine o'clock he was returning home from Failsworth: it was dark, but at the distance of two fields from the road along which he was going, he heard the marching of a body of men, and several times heard the words of command, "March" and "Halt." He remained listening about a quarter of an hour, and got upon the hedge side, but it was too dark for him to see the body of men; from the sound he heard he has no doubt there were a considerable number of men, but he cannot state any number as to the particulars. Examinant durst not go to the spot.
Sworn before me, W. Marriott.


Lancashire to wit.
D.E. says, that last night about a quarter before nine o'clock, he was in Failsworth, and saw between four and five hundred men marching in a field in Failsworth belonging to Robert Bury - he heard the words of command, "March," "Halt," "wheel to Right and Left," and other words given - the men had no arms - they dispersed about ten o'clock and were ordered to meet again this night.
D. E.
Sworn before me, 5th August, 1819,
J. Norris


Lancashire to wit.
The information and examination of E.F. taken upon oath the 31st day of July, 1819, before me, one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the county of Lancaster, who saith, that on the 19th day of July, 1819, coming from Dry Clough in the township of Oldham, towards the town of Oldham, he met with three men who had all pikes in their hands, the length of which, when the dagger was drawn out, was about two yards long; which said three men were going to join a party of about forty in a field at a little distance, who had likewise some pikes with them, but cannot say how many, and assembled at the sound of a bugle. On the same day, he saw at least one hundred persons near Hey Side assembled together with some pikes amongst them.
E. F.
Sworn before me,
J. Holme.


Lancashire to wit.
F.G. maketh oath and saith, That on Thursday night, the 5th of August, he went to a field in the township of Failsworth, belonging to Robert Bury, where he saw about ninety persons, divided in four divisions and a small division which they called the awkward squad; that there was a man to give the word of command; that deponent heard them commanded to march to the right and left, to Wheel, fire, &c. that the men had no fire arms, but when the word "fire" was given they clapped their hands altogether; that after they had done exercising, they formed a circle round their commander, who told them, that the intended meeting was put off, on account of their paper being illegal, BUT THAT WOULD GIVE THEM MORE TIME TO DRILL: he then said they must have a colour, and that they must subscribe; that the man then took off his hat, and gathered round from some a penny. and from others a. halfpenny each; that there were a quantity of women in the field, and the leader of the men called to them to come into the ring, and said they must subscribe also, and that he wanted twelve young ladies to carry their colours, for he was certain if there was a regiment of soldiers drawn up to oppose them, they could not find in their hearts to hurt them: that their leader proposed, that as Bury, the owner of the field, had given them leave to drill in it three weeks, he should have the honour of their marching out of it; that the persons assembled did not offer to molest deponent, but damned him for being backward in falling in.

G.H. and H.I. having respectively read over the affidavit of F.G. severally make oath that the same is true.

Sworn at Manchester aforesaid, the 7th day of August, 1819, before me, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Lancaster, J. Norris.


Lancashire to wit.
I.K. says, That on Sunday morning last, about five o'clock, in company with *** he went to Thornham or Tandle Hills, near Middleton, and there saw two or three thousand men, and a number of them exercising in military order, - they had no arms; but he heard distinctly the words of command, "Quick march," and "Double quick march." Deponent particularly noticed one company of about one hundred, march in wings under their leader, and advance also in wings; that the right wing advanced first, and the words of command, "Fire, front rank kneeling," and when the word of command "Fire" was given, they clapped their hands; the leader then advanced the left wing in the same order as the right, and ordered them to fire; this was repeated several times. Deponent and Mr. * * * being informed they were to assemble at Slattocks in Thornham, near Middleton aforesaid, they repaired thither, and Deponent and Mr. *** placed themselves by the road side, in order to ascertain their numbers, when they passed Deponent and Mr. *** marching in military order four deep, when they counted seven hundred men.
I. K.
Sworn before me at Salford, this 10th day of August, 1819. J. Norris.


K.L.L.M. and M.N . severally make oath and say, That having been frequently informed that a great many of the disaffected inhabitants of Bury, and the neighbourhood, made it a practice to meet or assemble in large bodies to learn military exercise, and that such persons met four or five evenings in a week for that purpose; these Deponents went in company together on Monday the second of August instant, towards the place where they understood such persons generally met; that they had not proceeded more than two or three hundred yards out of the town of Bury, on the Rochdale turnpike road, before they met about two hundred persons, so near as these Deponents could calculate, between the hours of nine and ten o'clock in the evening, marching in regular military order four deep INTO THE TOWN OF BURY.
Sworn at Bury aforesaid, the 9th day of August, 1819, before me,
Sam. Woodcock, a Master Extraordinary in Chancery.


Lancashire to wit.
D.E. maketh oath and saith, that in addition to his deposition made on the 5th instant, that on the night in question, viz. the 4th of August, this deponent, in endeavouring to approach the field where the men were training, and when he was within a field from them, and looking over the hedge, a man came up to deponent and said, "Halt;" that deponent was walking away, and the man again said, "Halt ;" when deponent said, "if I halt, it will be with a different commander than you," and continued to walk away; that the man followed deponent towards a wood in the neighbourhood; when near it, the man said, "If I catch you, or any other man in the wood, or near it, watching me and others, will be as bad as taking your life from you."

This deponent also says, that on the same night he heard a person in the field where the men were assembled, call, - "Failsworth, Woodhouses, Newton, and Droylsden, (being townships in the neighbourhood) - if any of you can afford to give a halfpenny or a penny a piece, you must come forward to-morrow night at half past seven o'clock," and said, "We will have colours same as the rest," - meaning, as this deponent believes, that they would have colours because other parties at drill in different parts had already obtained them; that deponent then heard a discussion about them as to whether they should be blue or otherwise, when one of the persons observed, "Damn them, we will not be TRUE BLUE any longer, we have been TRUE BLUE long enough."

This deponent further saith, that about half-past nine o'clock on Thursday the 5th instant, he went to a field in the neighbourhood of Failsworth, belonging to Robert Bury, and observed from the hedge a party of men at drill, and heard the word of command given several times; and that in an adjoining field, deponent heard the word of command given to another party also at drill.
Sworn at Manchester, in the county of Lancaster, the 7th day of August, 1819, before me one of His Majesty's Justices for the same county, J. Norris.


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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