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 112 to 118

Lancashire to wit }
Examinations of Witnesses taken upon Oath before me, the Reverend Thomas Dunharn Whitaker, Clerk, Doctor of Laws, one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace in and for the said county, this thirteenth day of October, 1819 - against James Morris and John Knowles.
X. Y. deposeth as follows;

Yesterday about eight o'clock in the morning, I Went with Y. Z. to the house of the prisoner James Morris, in Haslingden Grain. We got there about eleven o'clock in the forenoon. we found Morris at work in his smithy; he was mending some tools. l asked him if he had any winding-machines by him? he said he had none finished off. I then asked him if he could have one ready by next Sunday week? he said, yes. James Morris then asked the prisoner if he was for Bolton? he answered, yes, they could not do without him. Morris, the prisoner, then pulled out a pike-head from under a quantity of turf in the smithy, and said, there is the winding-machine you want, I suppose? I said, yes, that is the tool itself. He then pulled out two other pike-heads from the same place, and asked if those articles would do, and if we would grind them down ourselves? We then asked him the price of two of the pikes ? he answered, three shillings, he could take no less. We purchased two pikes for three shillings. The prisoner Morris then looked at me, and said to Y. Z. that man has plenty of money, I answered, yes, I have a note. The prisoner then said, get shut of it as soon as you can, for it will be of no use to-morrow after Bolton meeting. He then asked me if I should be there? In the course of the conversation with the prisoner, he said, it is of no use to go to Bolton meeting, without they took these tools with them to defend themselves; and referred to the Manchester meeting, which he called Peterloo. The pikes now produced are those which we purchased as is above stated.

Y. Z. and I then proceeded to John Knowles, of Rawtenstall. About three or four o'clock in the afternoon we called at the Wheatsheaf, which is a door or two from Knowles's smithy. In passing the smithy on the way to the Wheatsheaf, I saw Knowles at work upon the steady, hammering a pike. I sent the landlady for Knowles; he came in a few minutes. We gave him something to drink. Y. Z. asked him if he had any pikes? he said he had. four, but they were not quite finished off. Knowles then went out of the house, and in about five minutes came back with a short man: the short man (whose name I do not know) brought with him several pikes, covered up in a wrapper. Knowles then sat down, and drank Hunt and Liberty, and REVENGE T0 PETERL00 MEETING. Another man came into the room, and produced a pike from under his coat, and said to me, this pike I have just got made for my son. Y. Z. took up the last mentioned pike, and asked the price? Knowles said it was three shillings and sixpence. I asked Knowles if he had made it himself? he said he had, he had made many a score. He then asked me where I came from? I said, from Accrington. Knowles said there were many had gone into that quarter. We then bought two pikes, one of which cost two shillings and four-pence, and the other two shillings. I then inquired of the landlord what the shot was? he said, nine pence. I said, I had but seven pence halfpenny: Knowles said, I will give you three halfpence, reformers are not within three halfpence one to another. I then asked Knowles if we could go no way private; Knowles shewed me the way to the back door; we came that way, and brought the pikes with us: they are the pikes now produced.
X. Y.


Y. Z. deposeth as follows: I have heard the preceding examination of X. Y. read, and the same is true in every particular. The pikes now produced are those which were purchased from the two prisoners as is above stated.
Y. Z .

Taken before me, T. D. Whitaker.


U. V. deposes as follows:
This morning at two o'clock I set out from Blackburn in company with *** a detachment of cavalry, and others, for the purpose of apprehending James Morris of Haslingden Grain, and John Knowles of Rawtenstall. We reached the prisoner Morris's house at a little past three o'clock in the morning; we got admittance into the house and apprehended the prisoner, and then proceeded to search the house. * * * and I and some of the soldiers went up stairs; I found in a room up stairs a pike head concealed under a lathe among the turnings; . * * * then took a candle, and found two pistol stocks concealed upon a shelf near the roof; one of the stocks had a barrel let into it; in another room, * * * and I found a box which was locked; we called out for a key; one of Morris's sons, a lad of about 15 or 16 years of age, said the key was lost; I then attempted to break open the box; the lad then said to us, will you break it open? I told him we would if he did not produce the key; the lad then produced a key from his breeches pocket and delivered it to * * *; * * * opened the box, and in it we found about four pounds weight of leaden balls in an unfinished state. I afterwards found two poles, each about five feet long, put up a chimney in the same room, which appeared to have been intended for pike shafts: we then reached the smithy and out-buildings, and found in the smithy, close to the anvil, a piece of iron beaten, which appears to have been intended for a pike head. We then sent the prisoner off to Blackburn, under the care of * * *, and ** * *, to whom we delivered the articles found as above stated. The articles now produced are those which were found. * * * and I and a party of soldiers then proceeded to Rawtenstall, to the house of the prisoner John Knowles: it was about five o'clock when we reached his house; Knowles was in bed; . * * * called to him to get up; Knowles inquired who wanted him? . * * * answered, it was an old friend; Knowles called out, what are you for, Bolton? . * * * said yes; Knowles then came downstairs, partly dressed, and opened the door and was immediately apprehended: . * * * accompanied him up stairs whilst Knowles dressed himself. I proceeded to search Knowles's smithy, and in a cupboard in the wall I found the socket of a pike head and a small pistol; I found upon a bench near the cupboard a small box, containing the papers now produced, and which I have marked. One of the papers contains the letters "Hunt and Liberty," written in roman letters with a pen; another, the pattern of a pike; another is entitled at the top, "Rawtcnstall Section, No. 1," and it is ruled in square columns and contains several numbers: and another purports to be an epitaph on the constitution. We brought Knowles off, and I kept the articles which were found, as above stated, and they are those which are produced. In our journey back to Blackburn I rode with the prisoner in a chaise; I had some conversation with him; I asked him if he had sold any pikes within this week or fortnight; he said he had not; but he said he had made several, and would make for any body who came to order them; he was onty working for wages, and work was scarce; I then shewed him the pike which I had found upon his premises, and asked him if he had made any of that pattern; he put one finger up the socket and said he had made that pike, but on examining it a second time he said he had not made it; it was a very clumsy, rough thing, it had been sent to him as a pattern: it began to rain, and I observed that I thought it would prevent many people from going to the Bolton meeting; he said he thought not, for they did not much mind being wet.
U. V.

Taken before me, T. D. Whitaker.


. * * * deposes as follows;
l have heard the preceding examinations of U. V. relative to the two prisoners, read: so much of it as relates to me is true: during the time when l was with the prisoner Knowles up stairs, and while he was dressing, one of the soldiers said to Knowles, you are a clever fellow, you understand making pikes very well: Knowles answered he could make a pike as well as any man in England. (q)
. * * *
Taken before me, T. D. Whitaker.

(q) These four affidavits, like those with respect to drilling, prove the publicity with which what is now represented as an unlawful pursuit, was carried on. T. U. speaks of about five or six other persons being present, whilst the pikes were made. U. V. saw a number of persons standing near Miller's smithy. X. Y. and Y. Z. depose that Morris said, "It is of no use to go to the Bolton Meeting, without they took these tools with them to defend themselves, and referred to the Manchester Meeting which he called Peterloo." They also state, that Knowles drank "Revenge to Peterloo Meeting" U. V. deposes, that when Knowles was apprehended, he said he had made several pikes, "and would make for any body who came to order them. He was only working for wages, and work was scarce." I am therefore fully borne out in my assertion, that the making of pikes was not by these persons considered to be illegal. Nor in itself, is it so. It is only when they can he proved to the satisfaction of a Jury, to have been made in contemplation of an unlawful purpose, that the making of them becomes an offence. But it is also important to remark, that the circumstances which occurred at Manchester on the 16th, are constantly referred to, as the inducement to procure arms for self-defence. The Magistrates, therefore, are the persons to whom all the blame of the degree of arming, which there has been since that period, ought to attach.


Hamilton Palace, November 6, 1819.

My Lord,
I HAVE to acknowledge your Lordship's two letters of the 1st. and 2d. of November, upon the subject of the Yeomanry Cavalry, and will endeavour to give every effect to the same ; your Lordship holding always in view, what I before said of the great difficulty attending it. To the natural difficulty, attached to the situation of the farmer, &c. &c. in this country, there appears now a novel one, proceeding from the alarm excited by those who compose the various and numerous meetings in this district of country. - In regard to the general state of affairs, your Lordship has other sources of information, perhaps better than mine; but were I to venture to offer an opinion of my own, I should say, that the state of men's minds is such, at this moment, that the most trifling irritation would lead to disturbance; and should any violence commence, there are no means, nor should I be able to counteract it.

As the meeting of Parliament will occasion my absence from the country, ere long, I must repeat to your Lordship, that this neighourhood continues in astate of extreme distress - generally in want of employment, and under a considerable degree of agitation; all of which appear more likely to increase,than diminish. lf therefore your Lordship should have any particular communication to make to me, or any directions to give connected with the public service in this country, I am anxious to receive the same, before my approaching departure, which will probably take place in about eight or ten days.
I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient
and most humble Servant,
The Viscount Sidmouth,
&c. &c. &c.


Hamilton Palace, Nov. 7, 1819.

My Lord,
I YESTERDAY communicated to the Lord Advocate, to be laid before Sir Thomas Bradford, a letter that I had just received from a very respectable Magistrate.

He states that in his neighbourhood, the farmers, &c. &c. who were required to act as constables or volunteers, although well-disposed so to do, did not dare to come forward on account of the menaces of their neighbours. I have again this day received a report, of which I have the honour to inclose a copy. Your Lordship will see that the alarm which prevails in their district precludes those gentlemen likewise from being able to procure signatures from the very persons who they are persuaded are disposed to sign.

This part of the country is unfortunately surrounded by idle Irishmen, Weavers, and Colliers, who create a general uneasiness; and if any means are to be carried into effect to separate the good from the bad, or to maintain order and public justice, it is requisite that the civil power, and the peaceable part of the population, should know how and where to find support and protection. I must recommend to your Lordship's serious consideration the above important statement.

I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's obedient humble Servant,

To the Lord Viscount Sidmouth,
&c. &c. &c.


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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