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 79 to 83

Macclesfield, Cheshire, August 18, 1819.

My Lord,
I BEG leave to acquaint your Lordship, that a mob of the reformers assembled last night about half past eight o'clock P.M., in the market-place in this town: the Mayor read the Riot Act about half past eight P.M.; about nine the mob proceeded to a very outrageous attack on the shop and printing-shop of Mr. Jonathan Wilson, printer of the Macclesfield Courier, and demolished the door and windows; they also attacked the house of Mr. Thomas Grimsditch, solicitor, an officer in the Cheshire Yeornanry Cavalry, in the Macclesfield troop; they broke all his front windows; they attacked my house and demolished my front windows, &c. They took advantage of the absence of our cavalry on duty at Manchester, and part of the 31st regiment of foot, which were here till last night. Twelve at night an express came from Manchester ordering them to Stockport, so that we were left quite defenceless: we turned out and restored peace at last; and this morning, at five A.M., the party of the 31st regiment arrived here from Stockport, and at ten A.M., our two troops of cavalry arrived from Manchester. - The Mayor, accompanied by the rest of the Magistrates of this borough, read the Riot Act, and declared the town in a state of rebellion, and delivered it up to the charge of the military, from the circumstance of their having last night attacked the post oflice: and I humbly submit, that for the better and future security of the town, and persons and property, a troop of horse stationed here for a while would remove and disperse all danger. The whole most humbly submitted by, (i)

Your Lordship's most obedient
humble Servant to command,

Lord Viscount Sidmouth.

(i) Either Tim. Jones does not tell a straight forward story, or the Macclesfield Mayor acts upon a new system. It is a strange course of proceeding, to "read the Riot Act, declare the town in a state of rebellion, and deliver it up to the charge of the military" on the 16th, because a riot was committed on the 17th of August.


Glasgow, 22nd August, 1819

My Lord,
IT affords me great satisfaction and pleasure that I have it in my power to inform your lordship, that the meeting of yesterday ended without any breach of the peace, or even disturbance. We had every preparation made, by having the special constabulary to the number of about four hundred assembled, as well as all the police and other civil officers, and also the military drawn up in the barrack-yard, to act in case the civil power should prove inefficient. Although all this was done without publicity or bustle, still it was not unknown to the crowd: indeed, in the speeches I understood that peace and good order were strongly inculcated by the argument of the preparations made to oppose' contrary conduct. To the presence of the military do we therefore owe our present state. The object of the meeting on Thursday being of a nature more likely to draw an assemblage of the poorer classes, than the common one of parliament reform, and greater pains having been taken to bring them from every quarter, we contemplate that it will be much more numerously attended. God grant that it may end as peaceably.

My Lord, I have the honour to remain
Your Lordship's faithful servant,

Right Hon. Lord Sidmouth,
&c. &c. &c.


Leamington, 26thAugust, 1819.

My Lord,
I HAVE this morning received a letter dated 20th inst. from Mr. Haigh, Mr. Haigh Allen, and Mr. Horsfall, three Magistrates acting at Huddersfield and in its neighbourhood, a copy of which I send for your Lordship's information.

No doubt it would have been more satisfactory had no meeting whatever taken place; but it is a subject of satisfaction that, taking place, it passed off peaceably, and that the assembled dispersed guietly, without the interference of any constituted authority; and no less so, that though a second meeting was announced for the following evening, it did not take place.
I trust, however, that your Lordship will approve the active vigilance of these Magistrates, and the precautionary measures which they have adopted, by swearing in a number of special constables, and by calling out the Huddersfield troop of yeomanry on permanent duty, and I am confident your Lordship may rely on their discretion, that the constituted authorities will not BE UNNECESSARlLY COMMITTED IN DOUBTFUL cases, but their powers used only WHEN MANIFEST NECESSITY SHALL JUSTIFY THEIR EXERCISE. (k)

I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient,
&c. &c. &c.

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

(k) Would to God, that such discretion had been exercised here on the 16th of August. "What misery, what heart-burnings, what animosities, and, above all, what infringements upon our constitutional rights, might not have been avoided!


Huddersfield, August 20th, 1819.

My Lord,
WE think it our duty to inform your Lordship, that last evening, about seven o'clock, a large multitude of people was suddenly assembled within half a mile of the town, to the number (as near as we can ascertain), of three thousand. A person from Manchester related to them what had taken place there, and concluded by telling them that now was the time to be revenged. (l) Another person then said, that all who were willing to support the cause of radical reform by force, by physical force, should signify the same in the usual way;' which was answered by a tremendous shout from the multitude: he then informed them, that a meeting would be held the following night at Fixby Park, (about a mile and a half from Huddersfield). With arms? was asked by the multitude. He said, we will not say with arms; but all persons are requested to provide themselves with such things as may in any way whatever be useful to them.

We find that there have been several evening meetings suddenly called in different parts of the neighbourhood, since Tuesday, and we have every reason to believe that the meeting to-night is. to be a concentrated meeting, as we are informed that a meeting in the neighbourhood of Halifax has been adjourned to meet at Fixby to-night.

In consequence of these appearances, we have thought it our duty to order our troop of yeomanry cavalry to assemble this evening, upon permanent duty for three days; we have also sworn in a number of special constables which we trust will meet with your Lordship's approbation.

We have the honour to be, with great respect,
Your Lordship's most obedient
humble servants,
(Signed) J. HAIGH.

Saturday morning. - The night has past over quietly. Numbers were seen returning to their homes late at night, most probably deterred from meeting by the precautions taken, and by a report circulated among the people, that the man who addressed them from Manchester was a spy.
(Signed) J. H.
B. H. L.

To the Right Honourable Earl Fitzwilliam,
&c. &c. &c.

(l) There can be very little doubt that the person here alluded to, actually was (as the postscript intimates him to have been), a spy.


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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