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 118 to 124

Parish of Old Monkland, 7th, Nov. 1819.

My Lord Duke,
We, the subscribers, the deputation from the committee of Old and New Monkland, for obtaining subscriptions to a declaration of loyalty, as well as for volunteer cavalry and infantry, beg leave to lay before your Grace, as Lord Lieutenant of the county of Lanark, the following statement with regard to these two parishes with which we are connected: that it is impossible to obtain a subscription to the declaration of loyalty with effect, or to obtain signatures for forming either volunteer corps of infantry or cavalry in the present disturbed state of the district, however anxious the loyal and well-disposed part of his Majesty's subjects therein are, because of the apprehension they entertain from the illĀ·disposed and turbulent people with which they are surrounded: we, the subscribers, therefore wish to represent the absolute necessity of having a rallying point, which we consider alone can be effective, by having a military force stationed at Airdrie, as the only proper place of rendezvous for that purpose: we therefore hope your Grace will take the earliest opportunity of representing our statement to the Secretary of State.

We have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Grace's most obedient and humble Servants,
(Signed) DAVID BUCHANAN, Dep. Lt.

His Grace the Duke of Hamilton,
&.c. &c. &c.
Lord Lieutenant of the county of Lanark.


Hawkshead, November 9th, 1819.

My Lord,
ON my arrival in this county, l found that the tone of feeling and proceedings of the vast manufacturing population of this neighbourhood, were of a description calculated to excite the utmost alarm in the well-affected, and that the public mind was considerably agitated by the insidious and too successful promulgation of seditious principles, as well as by the late more open, audacious attempts, to interrupt the public tranquillity.

In this populous manufacturing district, revolutionary principles have made alarming progress. For a considerable period, the utmost pains have been taken to spread a spirit of disaffection in this county, by an unexampled spirit of proselytism, to perpetuate the evil, by instilling the most pernicious principles in the minds of youth, and to obliterate all religious feeling in this once religious district.

The statutes for repressing seditious clubs and societies, have induced the disaffected to conduct all their proceedings by committees, which are appointed at smaller meetings, to manage the preparations for the larger; and a system of rapid communication of political intelligence and orders is organized, in which, what are called "Unions," hold a conspicuous place. These "Unions," which are daily becoming more numerous, consist of classes or subdivisions of Reformers, who hire an apartment convenient for their local residence, where they procure newspapers and pamphlets of a seditious tendency. Notwithstanding the distresses of the times, there are few operative manufacturers, who do not find the means of reading such publications.

The assumed right of mustering from various quarters, to the point of meeting, with banners, bearing seditious symbols and inscriptions, or with inscriptions, which, though unexceptionable in the abstract, are made to serve the same purpose, has swelled the ranks of the disaffected, in consequence of the temptations which are thus afforded to idle curiosity: and the impunity with which this is done, has added to the effect which the speeches delivered on such occasions have on the minds of hearers already discontented, and predisposed to listen with eagerness and credulity to the prospects of innovation, so confidently held out to them.

Three of these meetings have been held within the last three months, in the county of Renfrew. The second of these, held on the 11th of September, was followed by disturbances which continued for three days before they were effectually suppressed. At the last meeting, held on the lst of November, at a village some miles distant from Paisley, numerous flags were carried in procession, bearing inscriptions calculated to convey alarm into the minds of the well affected, and inspire those of different dispositions with confidence in an impending revolution. There were also at this last meeting, two important features which had not been witnessed in those by which it was preceded - the junction of bands of females, as part of the exhibition, and the display of arms. The ostensible arms were chiefly bludgeons, but it is well known that many were prepared both with pistols and other weapons. Both in proceeding to the place of meeting, and in returning from it, there was a striking exhibition of movements, executed in the streets of the town by several thousand persons, with military precision, silence, and order. The pretence alleged for arming was self-defence, and this precautionary measure was said to have reference to the late events at Manchester, and to the exertions of the special constables and military, in quelling the riots at Paisley, on the 11th of September.

While these public meetings, thus held with a display of banners and arms, serve to inspire the disaffected with confidence in their numbers, they overawe and intimidate many who would otherwise have disclaimed seditious principles, and have gladly arrayed themselves in aid of`the Civil Authority.

Even the special constables, who have been enrolled and provided with batons, for the preservation of public tranquillity, feel reluctant to act with that vigour which is necessary.
There is not, at present, in this county, any corps of Yeomanry Cavalry, nor armed association of any description whatever, to counteract these menacing preparations, nor any suitable accommodation for the reception of` regular troops, so that they can be kept united, when called on by the civil Magistrate, or saved from that contamination of principle, which is also an avowed object among the Reformers.

On the whole, I think it my duty explicitly to state to your Lordship, that while the Reformers of this district call out "Order" at their meetings, and can systematically preserve it too, when it suits their policy or humour, their public harangues are of the most audacious and revolutionary description: the expectation of a subversion of the Government, is so deeply rooted in their minds, that whenever a leader shall arise, or a favourable moment occur, I fear a considerable portion of the population could not be depended on.

I have been induced to enter more fully into the situation of this county, as I believe the above will not be found an inaccurate representation of the management and proceedings of the Reformers in some other disturbed districts of the West of Scotland.
I have the honour to be,

With the greatest respect,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient
Most humble servant,

The Right Hon. Viscount Sidmouth,
&c. &c.


Halifax, Nov. 9, 1819.

IT was expected that great numbers of persons would from here attend the meeting at Huddersfield, yesterday, but it was thought sufficient to close the alehouses at eight o'clock.

It does seem to me, however, that a most outrageous breach of the peace was efected last night here. In truth, all we can expect is, that on the next occasion, absolute plunder and destruction of property, and perhaps of life, will be the consequence. This is the natural and obvious march of the spirit that pervades this part of the country.

l enclose for Lord Sidmouth's information, copies of the examinations I have taken. It is my intention to apprehend the parties, and if the complaint be proved, to commit them, or hold them to bail to answer at the next assizes.


To H. Hobhouse, Esq.
&c. &c. &c.


West Riding of Yorkshire.

John Brierley, Deputy Constable of Halifax, came before me, this ninth day of November, 1819, and on oath saith,

That near eight o'clock last evening, he met many hundreds of persons near to Barum Top in Halifax, coming, as he believes, from the meeting at Huddersfield; that they marched in ranks about eight or ten abreast, with music, and six or seven flags, and lighted candles; many of them had sticks, some large ones on their shoulders; that at Barum Top they shouted and fired many pistols in the air; as they went on, he thought they became more riotous, repeating their fire quicker, and he thought it his duty, though quite alone, to attempt to preserve the peace of the town; and with this view he went to the man who had the great drum, and rapping on it with his constable's staff, charged him to cease playing or beating, saying, the town must not be disturbed in that way: that the drummer did cease to beat, as also the band in general, in a great degree: marching down the street, the firing went on again, also the music. Near the White Lion lnn, deponent received on his right leg a very severe kick, which nearly took his legs from under him; he is certain t.hat Joseph Baines, of Halifax, is the man who assaulted him, and ran away directly, treading backwards and forwards, through the ranks, and that he must have known deponent; Baines was close to him, and deponent following him, till he was perfectly certain who it was; deponent then went down the street with the crowd, the band playing all the way, and pistols being fired, and loud shouting made; deponent says, the street down which the crowd marched is the most public one in the town, and they must have marched about half a mile through it, reckoning from Barum Top to the Talbot; that, seeing the crowd halt at the front door of the Talbot, he ran round to the back door, and went in to get the front door fastened; that a few of the mob had already entered the house.

That, in going down the street, he saw Joseph Wood, the son of James Wood, of Halifax, mason, and John Ingham, junior, of Halifax, plasterer, marching in the ranks of the mob; that he cannot say who it was that fired any of the pistols; that he left the mob at the Talbot door shouting and firing pistols, and went himself to have the alehouses near it shut up.

Sworn before me,
Thomas Horton.


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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