The accounts of the Peterloo Massacre, as the date Monday 16th August has come to be remembered, are many. But as with any historical event, reading about it in the prose of the day allows us to experience the day, and those leading up to it, with the intensity and fervour of those who lived through it.
Broadsides of 1800s Britain were much like pin-up posters of today in that they afforded a wider means of communicating to the common person than the more expensive print media of the day. They were widely used by both proponents and antagonists of the parliamentary reform that the Peterloo event, one of many, was intended to drive forward.
Archives+ has digitised the Broadsides shown in the Reference table below and in this blog to give a highlight into the nature and language of these Broadsides. The Peterloo Broadsides collection is available at the Archives+ flickr page and should you be interested in higher resolution scans, these can be requested from Archives+. The corresponding document reference number has been included (you know how libraries like reference numbers). A select number of these Broadsides shall be presented in this blog.
The selection below is in three categories:
1. Events preceding Peterloo
2. Events concurrent with Peterloo
3. Events following Peterloo
At the start of each section, the selected broadside has been referenced by its number in the reference table below. Please visit the Archives+ flickr page to see more.
Events preceeding Peterloo
The list of broadsides relating to this are: 5, 13, 14.
13: Henry Hunt: To The Inhabitants of Manchester, 1819
Being the words of the main speaker at the Peterloo gathering, the following broadside has been transcribed in full to convey the kind, and manner, of his speeches/messages.
Our enemies are exulting at the victory they profess to have obtained over us, in consequence of the postponement, for a week, of the PUBLIC MEETING intended to have been held on Monday last.
The Editor of the London Courier, (although he admits we are only checked not subdued) appears to be as much rejoiced as if he, and his coadjutors, had for a time escaped unhurt from the effects of an Earthquake or some great National Calamity; his blood–thirsty imitators of the local press of Manchester, cannot disguise the fears of their employers, although I am informed that they attempt to do it, by resorting to the most vulgar and impotent abuse. To reply to any of their malignant and contemptible efforts, would only tend to drag them forth, for a moment, from their natural insignificance and obscurity; therefore you will bestow on their petty exertions the most perfect indifference; for as they are beneath your anger, so you will not even suffer them to attract your notice.
You will meet on Monday next my friends, and by your steady, firm, and temperate deportment, you will convince all your enemies, you feel that you have an important and an imperious public duty to perform, and that you will not suffer any private consideration on earth, to deter you from exerting every nerve, to carry your praiseworthy and patriotic intentions into effect.
The eyes of all England, nay, of all Europe, are fixed upon you; and every friend of real Reform and rational Liberty, is tremblingly alive to the result of your Meeting on Monday next.
OUR ENEMIES will seek every opportunity by the means of their sanguinary agents to excite a RIOT, that they may have a pretence for SPILLING OUR BLOOD, reckless of the awful and certain retaliation that would ultimately fall on their heads.
EVERY FRIEND OF REAL AND EFFECTUAL REFORM is offering up to Heaven a devout prayer, that you may follow the example of your brethren of the Metropolis; and by your steady, patient, persevering, and peaceable conduct on that day, frustrate their HELLISH AND BLOODY PURPOSE.
Come, then, my friends, to the Meeting on Monday, armed with NO OTHER WEAPON but that of a self-approving conscience; determined not to suffer yourselves to be irritated or excited, by any means whatsoever, to commit any breach of the Public Peace.
Our opponents have not attempted to show that our reasoning is fallacious, or that our conclusions are incorrect, buy any other argument but the threat of Violence, and to put us down by the force of the Sword, Bayonet, and the Cannon. They assert that your leaders do nothing but misled and deceive you, although thy well know, that the eternal principles of truth and justice are too deeply engraven on your hearts; and that you are at length become (fortunately for them) too well acquainted with your own rights, ever again to suffer any man, or any faction, to mislead you.
We hereby invite the Boroughreeve, or any of the Nine wise Magistrates, who signed the Proclamation declaring the meeting to have been held on Monday last, Illegal,and threatening at the same time all those who abstained from going to the said Meeting; we invite them to come amongst us on Monday next. If we are wrong it is their duty as Men, as Magistrates, and as Christians, to endeavour to set us right by argument, by reason, and by the mild and irresistible precepts of persuasive truth; we promise them an attentive hearing, and to abide by the result of conviction alone. But once for all we repeat, that we despise their THREATS, and abhor and detest those, who would direct or controul [sic.] the mind of man by VIOLENCE or FORCE.
I am, my Fellow Countrymen,
Your sincere and faithful Friend,
Smedley Cottage, Wednesday, August 11, 1819
Events concurrent with Peterloo
The list of broadsides relating to this are: 1, 2, 30.
2. Advertisement for an account of the Massacre
IN THE PRESS, and will be PUBLISHED ON WEDNESDAY NEXT, August 25, 1819,
No.1, Price Two-Pence,
A full, true, and faithful Account of the inhuman Murders, Woundings, and other monstrous Cruelties exercised by a set of INFERNALS (mis-called Soldiers) upon an unarmed and distressed People, who were constitutionally assembled to consider of the best, most legal, and most efficient means of alleviating their present, unparalleled sufferings, when the were broken in upon by
Bands of Armed Ruffians,
WHO MURDERED MANY, AND CUT AND MAIMED HUNDREDS MORE IN A HORRIBLE MANNER
EDITED BY AN OBSERVER
In the course of the Work will given, all the public Placards which were issued previous to and after the bloody Tragedy; with every authentic Document that can be procured, tending to exhibit in their true colours the Authors, Abettors, and Actors in the Dramas of Death. In order to render this Work as Complete a Record of Facts as can be obtained, the Friends of the murdered and wounded people, are requested to furnish the Editor at the Observer Office with accurate statements of the nature of the wounds that occasioned death; and also of those which were sustained by the living. The Editor will also be thankful for any Communication which is calculated to throw a light on the late deeds of darkness; and, with the aid of Ithuriel’s spear, he trusts he shall be able to exhibit the Devils in their likeness.
August 23, 1819.
J. WROE, PRINTER, OBSERVER OFFICE, MARKET-STREET, MANCHESTER
Events following Peterloo
As with most historical events, the bulk of the general interest as documented in this collection is from events after the Peterloo Massacre.
The list of broadsides relating to this are: 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29.
18. Poem on Peterloo, 1819
See! see! where freedom’s noblest champion stand,
Shout! shout! illustrious patriot band,
Here grateful millions their generous tribute bring,
And shouts for freedom make the welkin ring,
While fell corruption and her hellish crew,
The blood stain’d trophies gain’d at Peterloo.
Soon shall fair freedom’s sons their right regain,
Soon shall all Europe join the hallowed strain,
Of Liberty & Freedom, Equal Rights and Laws,
Heaven’s choicest blessings crown this glorious cause,
While meanly, tyrants, crawling minions too,
Tremble at their feats performed on Peterloo.
Britons be firm, assert your rights, be bold,
Perish like heroes, not like slaves be sold,
Be firm and unite, bid millions be free,
Will to your children glorious liberty,
While cowards – despots, long may keep in view
And silent contemplate, the deeds of Peterloo.
Below is the list of available Broadsides digitised by Archives+. Please click the link on the reference number to view the item at the Archives+ flickr page.
|List Number||Title of broadside||Reference number|
|1||Partial list of wounded and killed at Peterloo, Sept 189||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.45|
|2||Advertisement for an account of the Peterloo Massacre||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.44|
|3||2 Ballads “Manchester Meeting – A new song” “The meeting at Peterloo”||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.Z|
|4||An account of the Manchester meeting which took place on the 16th of August 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.X|
|5||Notice that a public meeting will be held on the area near St. Peter’s Church to consider the propiety of adopting a legal and effectual means of obtaining a Reform in the Common House…||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.BB|
|6||Address to the Prince Regent, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.H|
|7||Address to the Prince Regent, 1819 (rear)||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.H|
|8||Peterloo letter, New Times, 1819, p.1||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.N|
|9||Peterloo letter, New Times, 1819, p.2||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.N|
|10||The Christian Observer on Peterloo, 1819 p.1||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.Q|
|11||The Christian Observer on Peterloo, 1819 pp.2-3||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.Q|
|12||The Christian Observer on Peterloo, 1819 p.4||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.Q|
|13||Henry Hunt: To The Inhabitants of Manchester, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.F|
|14||Henry Hunt at the Theatre Royal, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.E|
|15||Letter to Lord Derby, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.G|
|16||Mr. Houldsworth’s Speech, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.6|
|17||The Answer to Peterloo, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.E|
|18||Poem about Peterloo, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.W|
|19||Peterloo letter, Edinburgh Weekly Journal, 1819, p.1||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.M|
|20||Renowned Achievements of Peterloo, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.B|
|21||Peterloo: An Account, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.J|
|22||A tribute to the Immortal Memory of the Reformers, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.CC|
|23||Proceedings at Manchester from The Scotsman, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.L|
|24||Inquisition on John Lees, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.R|
|25||An account of Mr. Hunt’s [Henry Hunt] entrance into London, copied from the Globe Paper||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.2.S|
|26||Violent Outrage in Deansgate, Manchester, 1819||GB127.Broadsides/F1819.16.A|
|27||The Names of the Fallen, 1819||GB127.BR 942.730731 P95|
|28||Outrage at Manchester, 1819||GB127.BR 942.730731 P95|
|29||Declaration and Protest, 1819||GB127.BR 942.730731 P95|
|30||People of England, 1819||GB127.BR 942.730731 P95|