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 124 to 130

West Riding of Yorkshire,

Mr. David Mallinson, of Halifax, clerk, came before me, this 9th day of November, 1819, and on his oath, says,
That near eight o'clock last evening, he saw a large crowd of persons go down the main street of Halifax, with lighted candles, a band of music, and flags, shouting very much, and tiring pistols; that he followed them to the front of thc Talbot Inn, where the crowd halted, the door being fast; that they marched in regular order; that he observed Joseph Roberts, of Halifax, sail-maker, on the Talbot steps, speaking to the crowd, beginning by calling them brothers, or countrymen, or some such term; that he does not know exactly what he said, but thinks the object of his speech was to call on the crowd to thank the band for their attendance, also saying something about radical reform; that he saw Roberts that morning going
towards Huddersfield with a stick in his hand, not a yard long, like a cudgel, but does not know whether he had it at night.

Sworn before me, Thomas Horton


Manchester, Nov. 10, 1819.

My Lord,
THE state of this town and neighbourhood remains much the same as when I last wrote to your Lordship. On Sunday last, between six and eight o'clock, a pistol loaded with ball was fired into the lodgings or sitting room of a Mr. Mutrie, who gave evidence before the coroner on the inquest of John Lees, as to the attack of the mob on the Manchester Yeomanry. On Monday night, about eleven o'clock, a pistol, loaded with slugs, was fired into one of the bed rooms of Mr. Thos. Hardman's house, in Quay-street; but fortunately, without injury, and two or three other instances of the firing of pistols, with malicious intent, have also occurred. I mean ultimately to collect the instances, on oath, for your Lordship's information. I much fear they will increase before the meeting of Parliament, and most likely in a degree to call on the Legislature to interfere. (r) Meetings still continue to be held, though not in this immediate neighbourhood. One was held at Wigan, about twenty miles distant, and another at Huddersfield, distant twenty-six miles, on Monday last, both large meetings.

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

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

(r) It is a remarkable fact, that the circumstance of Mr. Mutrie's sitting room having been fired into, was scarcely heard of here, until this letter was made public; whilst, of the alleged firing into Mr. Thomas Hardman's house, I never before heard a syllable. The hint that such cases "will increase before the meeting of parliament," gives some support to the current opinion that these cases were timed with a. view to that event. I shall only say, it is strange, that in four or five cases "of the firing of pistols with malicious intent," not one instance of the slightest injury to any individual should have occurred. Does not this fact render it probable that nothing further was intended, than that the report of them should be heard in the House of Commons?


Blackburn, Nov. 10, 1819.

My Lord,
I HAVE thought it expedient to transmit to your Lordship drawings of different pikes, which have been seized in this neighbourhood, for the purpose of removing the incredulity which even yet seems to prevail in some minds as to their existence.
(S) I must now request your Lordship's attention to another subject of immediate and urgent importance. It is the general opinion, that the spirit of the reformers, as they entitle themselves, is on the decline; an opinion grounded solely on their present quiet and silence.
I have strong reasons for thinking very diiferently. For, in the first place, pikes continue to be made and circulated daily, in different parts of the country, and with perfect impunity, as, in consequence of former seizures, the makers will sell to none but known friends, and will enter into no conversation with strangers (excepting in a single instance) on the subject.

I have the honour to be, &c.

To Lord Viscount Sidmouth.

S) The learned Doctor's expedient "for removing the incredulity which even yet seems to prevail in some minds as to the existence of pikes," is much upon a par with that of the man, who proved the personal existence of the Devil, by saying, he had "often seen the picture of him."


Haigh Hall, Wigan, Nov. 11, 1819.

My Lord,
ONE of the seditious meetings, the nature of which I need not describe, was held on a common, distant about two miles from Wigan, on Monday the 8th instant. Its object was evidently to feel for the disposition of the inhabitants of Wigan and its vicinity.
About six thousand persons assembled round the temporary stage, and probably about four thousand persons more were present, but they remained at such a distance as shewed that curiosity alone had led them to that spot. The meeting was held at the requisition of some low persons of Wigan, but they were joined on the common by the dangerous rabble of Bolton, who were all armed with bludgeons, and RUMOUR says, with arms, chiefly loaded pistols, which was manifested by the explosion of them towards the close of the day. Harrison addressed them from the stage or platform.

The mob carried eighteen flags, with the usual symbols of sedition; they had selected the day of the quarter sessions being held at Liverpool, for their meeting; but the Magistrates of Wigan and its vicinity were aware of that trick, and remained at their post. The Magistrates were seven in number, myself being the chairman, which has induced me to trouble your Lordship with a communication of the events of the day.

Sir William Gerard, with thirty-nine of his Yeomanry Cavalry, being the etfectives of two troops, attended Wigan at the requisition of the Magistrates. As the leaders had selected a large common for their meeting, the Magistrates thought it adviseable not to interfere with them, as, situated there, could do no mischief; and they thought it quite sufficient to send to the spot a body of special constables to preserve the peace and order; the Magistrates, Yeomanry Cavalry, and the superior class of the inhabitants of Wigan, remained in the burgh, awaiting the result. In 'this position the Magistrates rested, having determined, that as the meeting of Parliament was so near, they would pay no attention either to the leaders or their flags, and the day passed away with the greatest order and tranquility.

I have the honour to remain,
Your Lordship's faithful and obedient Servant,

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


The following is an Extract from the Speech of Mr. Harrison, on Monday the 8th of November, 1819.

"If any man molests you, or oppress you, knock him down - keep him down - and cut him when he is down."

It has been inculcated here, and with too much success, that the people have a right to carry concealed arms, for the purpose of self-defence, against the disturbers of their meetings. (t)

(t) "It has been inculcated here, and with too much success, that the people have a right to carry concealed arms, for the purpose of self-defence against the disturbers of their meetings." Provided their meetings be peaceable, and for a legal object, there can be no doubt that hitherto the people have a right to carry arms for the purpose of defending themselves against the disturbers of their meetings. Few will deny either, that they have or ought to have that right.


Police Office, Manchester, Nov. 12th, 1819.

My Lord,
WE have the honour to commence our official correspondence with your Lordship on a painful and alarming subject - the attempted assassination of Mr. Nadin - an event which we understand was communicated to your Lordship by Mr. Norris, the evening it occurred.

By the posting bill herewith inclosed, your Lordship will be informed of the measures which we have adopted: and we beg leave to submit to your Lordship's consideration, the propriety of offering a pardon, on the conditions proposed.

Up to the present time, we regret to state, that we have not any further information on the subject, than the description given by Mr. Nadin, but every exertion will be made for the discovery of the offender.

We have not hitherto addressed your Lordship on the political state of the town and neighbourhood, having been informed that Mr. Norris has regularly communicated the passing events. 'On this important subject We regret that it is not in our power to report favourably. The system of arming is continued to a great extent, and although it does not appear to be the intention of the reformers to hold a general meeting previous to the assembling of Parliament, from the best information we can obtain, we learn that arrangements are making for delegates, or agents, to attend and watch the proceedings of Parliament; and in the event of measures being adopted, which they may consider inimical to their views, then a signal to be given for an immediate simultaneous rising. (u)

In a few days we hope for further information, which we will immediately communicate to your Lordship, as well as the particulars of other information, which we have obtained periodically, during the present week; and which, we trust, will be acceptable.

We beg to assure your Lordship, that, during this eventful period, our utmost attention and exertion shall be devoted to preserve the peace of this town and neighbourhood; to aid which, we rely on the cordial support of His Majesty's government.

We have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's
Most obedient humble Servants,
THOMAS SHARP, Boroughreeve.
JOHN ORFORD, Constable

To the Right Honourable
Lord Viscount Sidmouth,
Secretary of State, &c. &c. &c.

(u) There is amongst men of all parties an almost unanimous disbelief of the fact, stated in the commencement of this letter. I shall, in a future part of this book, give my reasons at length, for not attaching credit to the story. The Boroughreeve and Constables say, that "in the event of measures being adopted, which they (the Reformers) may consider inimical to their views, then a signal to be given for an immediate general rising." The gentlemen by whom this letter is signed, are not to be confounded with those who were in oflice on the ltith of August. At this early period of their official proceedings, I would entreat them not to be hasty in forming conclusions, so much to the discredit of large bodies of their fellow countrymen. Above all, I caution them against giving entire credence, to evidence, with which they may be furnished by their usual purveyors, unless confirmed by testimony of a much less equivocal character.


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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