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 61 to 66

Head Quarters,
Pontefract, August 17th, 1819, Nine AM.

My Lord,
I HAVE the honour to forward the accompanying copy of an oflicial report which I have just received from Lieutenant-Colonel L'Estrange, in command of the troops in. Manchester and its immediate neighbourhood, which I consider of suflicient consequence to send by express, as it will be one day sooner before your Lordship.

I most sincerely regret that the employment of military in aid of the civil power should have been necessary; but I trust it will appear to your Lordship, that the utmost forbearance, consistent with their duty, has been evinced by Lieutenant-Colonel L'Estrange, with the troops under his command : and I hope it will meet your approval, his having employed the corps of Cheshire and Manchester Yeomanry Cavalry, who, at the request of the Magistrates, had assembled with the greatest alacrity in full numbers, and had placed themselves at the Lieutenant Colonel's disposal.

By the latest account, I understand the town of Manchester has become more quiet. I shall await here a further report, and shall hold in readiness to move at the shortest notice, all the disposable forces under my orders.

I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's very obedient humble Servant,
JOHN BYNG, Major-General.

The Right Honourable the Secretary of State,
Home Department.


Manchester, August 16, I819.
Eight o'clock, PM.

THE Magistrates assembled here in consequence of the disturbed state of this district, directed me to have the troops in readiness to assist the civil power in case of necessity, at the time of the meeting proposed for this day. In concurrence with their wishes, and after consultation with them, the military were prepared and arrangements made, such as then seemed calculated to meet any occasion, in which the aid of the troops might be required to assist the civil power. The Magistrates were in attendance near St. Peter's Church; and Mr. Trafford, a Justice of the Peace for the counties of Chester and Lancaster, was appointed to remain with the cavalry. Early in the afternoon, the civil power finding it necessary that the troops should act in aid of them, it was deemed expedient that the cavalry shoud advance; and a warrant was executed, preceded by the civil authority, under which, two persons, Hunt and Johnson, named therein, were arrested; as were also two other persons, named Saxton and Sykes, who were active, as I am told, on the hustings. This service was performed with the assistance of the cavalry.

The infantry was in readiness, but I determined not to bring them in contact with the people, unless compelled to do so by urgent necessity; not a shot therefore has been fired by any of the military, though several have been fired by the populace against the troops. (W) I have, however, great regret in stating, that some of the unfortunate people who attended this meeting, have sufered from sabre wounds, and many from the pressure of the crowd. One of the Manchester Yeomanry, if not dead, lies without hope of recovery; it is understood he was struck with a stone. One of the special Constables has been killed. The Manchester Yeomanry under Major Trafford, and the Cheshire Yeomanry under Lieutenant Colonel Townsend, who had come on a very short notice from the county Magistrates (many of them from a great distance,) were most active and efficient in discharge of their duty. - The Committee, now sitting, consider it necessary to keep all the troops ready, though every means will be adopted to prevent the necessity of their acting.

I have, &c.
Lieutenant-Colonel 31st Regiment.

Major-General Sir John Byng, K.C.B.

(W) This statement has been rebutted in my remarks on Mr. Hay's letter.


Manchester, August I7, 1819.

My Lord,
MR. HAY and Mr. Hardman having left town this evening, on a mission to your Lordship and to government it is unnecessary for me to give you any information up to the period when they left, as they are fully informed.

Since their departure, the town has continued to assume a gloomy aspect, as the night has approached, and at this hour (a quarter from ten) all the civil and military authorities are in action throughout the town. Great numbers assembled this evening, from eight to nine, about the New Cross, but did not do any act of violence, though evidently of the description disposed to do so. Soldiers are placed there, and bodies of special constables, with orders in the first instance for the constables to act, and afterwards, in case of need, the military to disperse the mob. The riot act was not read this evening when I first went up, about six o'clock, though some stones had before been thrown at one or two houses, and a few at the military; yet l found matters peaceable and quiet, and the offending parties straggling about, and at considerable distances, and I hoped they would disperse. They did not, however, disperse; but the numbers considerably increased at the distances, and I found it necessary to communicate instantly with Col. L'Estrange, &c. The military have, in consequence, been strengthened in that quarter, and at present, every thing, I believe, remains quiet, although it can alone be attributed to the full exertion or appearance of the military strength.

I am, my Lord,
Your Lordship's faithful
And humblc servant,

To Viscount Sidmouth.


Examination of James Murrey, of No. 2, Withy Grove, Manchester, Confectioner, who, on his Oath, saith,

That on Sunday last, the 15th instant, he was at White Moss, near Middleton, about five miles from Manchester, between three and four o'clock in the mornirig, and saw there assembled between 14 and 1500 men; the greatest number of whom were formed in two bodies, in the form of solid squares; the remainder were in small parties of between twenty and thirty each; there were about thirty such parties, each under the direction of a person acting as a drill serjeant, and were going through military movements; that Examinant went amongst them, and immediately one of the drill serjeants asked him to fall in. He said, he thought he should soon, or gave some such answer; he then began to move away; upon which, some persons, who were drilling, cried out "Spies." - This Examinant, and William Shawcross, and Thomas Rymer, and his son (all of whom had accompanied this Exarninant from Manchester), continued to retire; the body of men then cried out, "Mill them, murder them." Near one hundred men then pursued this Exarninant and his companions; they overtook them near a lane end, at the edge of the Moss, and began to pelt them with clods of earth - they at last came up to the Examinant and his companions, and beat them very severely - Examinant begged they would not murder him; but the general cry was, "Damn him, kill him - murder him." Examinant said, "You treat me very differently to what nations treat each other's prisoners when they are at war. Suppose that I am an enemy, you ought to treat me as a prisoner:" they said, "How will you treat us, if you take us prisoners when we come to Manchester?"

Examinant knew at the time that a meeting was appointed for the next day (Monday) at Manchester.

The men kept beating Examinant all the time; at last they debated among themselves whether they would kill Examinant or forgive him, and they determined to forgive him, provided he would go down upon his knees and beg pardon to them, and swear never to be a king's man again, or to mention the name of a king. Examinant complied, to save his life, they standing over him with sticks, as he apprehended, to murder him, provided he had objected. They afterwards went away. Examinant was not previously acquainted with any of the persons assembled that he saw, but is certain that he should know again two of those who beat him.

The greatest part of the number assembled had stout sticks, from three to four feet long.

In consequence of the ill treatment received by Examinant as above, he was confined to his bed for three days.
Sworn at Manchester, before me, this 21st day of August, 1819.
Ra. Fletcher

(X) This person is one of a number of constables, &c. who committed a most outrageous assault on some of Mr. Hunt's friends, in a private room, after the public dinner at the Spread Eagle Inn, in January last. As numbers of persons went to witness the drilling, without receiving any molestation or insult, it is believed that a knowledge of Murrey's own previous conduct, procured him the beating he unquestionably received. He gave a tolerable sample of his talents at mistatement on the 24th of September, when he affirmed positively, at the New Bailey, that Thomas Ryder, who was charged with crying "Hunt and Liberty," was one of the persons who assaulted him on the 15th of August; but subsequently, when the accused person had satisfactorily proved an alibi, Murrey retracted his charge.- See the Times of Sept. 27th.


Transcribed PAGES from 'Notes & Observations ...'




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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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