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Author: Alison Morgan

This book is the first edited collection of poems and songs written in the immediate aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. Of the seventy or so poems included in the anthology, many were published as broadsides and almost half were published in radical periodicals, such as the moderate Examiner and the ultra-radical Medusa with many from the Manchester Observer. Although I have provided headnotes and footnotes to support the reading of the texts, I intend them to stand alone, conveying as much of the original publication as possible, in order not to dilute the authenticity.

Following an introduction outlining the events before, during and after the massacre as well as background information on the radical press and broadside ballad, the poems are grouped into six sections according to theme, rather than chronologically or by publication because I want the reader to note the similarity between so many of the poems. Grouped in this manner, one cannot avoid the voices echoing down the centuries, speaking to us of the horrors of the time in texts that can no longer be ignored. Shelley’s Masque of Anarchy is included as an appendix in acknowledgement of its continuing significance to the representation of Peterloo.

This book is primarily aimed at students and lecturers of Romanticism and social history. With the bicentenary of the massacre in 2019 and Mike Leigh’s forthcoming film, I envisage the potential for a wider readership of people interested in learning more about one of the most seminal events in English history.

Katrina Navickas

The Peterloo Massacre was more than just a Manchester event. The attendees, on whom Manchester industry depended, came from a large spread of the wider textile regions. The large demonstrations that followed in the autumn of 1819, protesting against the actions of the authorities, were pan-regional and national. The reaction to Peterloo established the massacre as firmly part of the radical canon of martyrdom in the story of popular protest for democracy. This article argues for the significance of Peterloo in fostering a sense of regional and northern identities in England. Demonstrators expressed an alternative patriotism to the anti-radical loyalism as defined by the authorities and other opponents of mass collective action.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Nathan Bend

The role of the Home Office in the Peterloo Massacre remains contentious. This article assesses the available evidence from the Home Office and the private correspondence of Home Secretary Viscount Sidmouth to contest E. P. Thompson’s claim that the Home Office ‘assented’ to the arrest of Henry Hunt at St Peter’s Fields. Peterloo is placed within the context of government’s response to political radicalism to show how the Tory ministry had no clear counter-radical strategy in the months leading up to the August event. The article further argues that although the Home Office may not have assented to forceful intervention on the day, the event and its aftermath were needed to justify the Six Acts which would ultimately cripple the reform movement.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Katrina Navickas

3 Peterloo and the changing definition of seditious assembly On Monday 16 August 1819, over 60,000 people assembled on St Peter’s Fields to hear Henry Hunt and local radicals proclaim the message of universal suffrage. The meeting had been adjourned from 9 August, after the Manchester magistrates issued a notice declaring it illegal. The Patriotic Society, headed by James Wroe, editor of the Manchester Observer, took extra precautions to ensure that the crowds a week later formed a peaceful meeting, with no provocation of an ‘anti-­ parliament’ or physical

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
F. A. Bruton
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Open Access (free)
Biography of a Radical Newspaper
Robert Poole

The newly digitised Manchester Observer (1818–22) was England’s leading radical newspaper at the time of the Peterloo meeting of August 1819, in which it played a central role. For a time it enjoyed the highest circulation of any provincial newspaper, holding a position comparable to that of the Chartist Northern Star twenty years later and pioneering dual publication in Manchester and London. Its columns provide insights into Manchester’s notoriously secretive local government and policing and into the labour and radical movements of its turbulent times. Rich materials in the Home Office papers in the National Archives reveal much about the relationship between radicals in London and in the provinces, and show how local magistrates conspired with government to hound the radical press in the north as prosecutions in London ran into trouble. This article also sheds new light on the founding of the Manchester Guardian, which endured as the Observer’s successor more by avoiding its disasters than by following its example. Despite the imprisonment of four of its main editors and proprietors the Manchester Observer battled on for five years before sinking in calmer water for lack of news.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Plotting, counter-intelligence and the revolutionary tradition in Britain and Ireland

On 23 February 1820 a group of radicals were arrested in Cato Street off the Edgware Road in London. They were within 60 minutes of setting out to assassinate the British cabinet. Five of the conspirators were subsequently executed and another five were transported for life to Australia. The plotters were a mixture of English, Scottish and Irish tradesmen, and one was a black Jamaican. They were motivated by a desire to avenge the ‘Peterloo’ massacre and intended to declare a republic, which they believed would encourage popular risings in London and across Britain.  This volume of essays uses contemporary reports by Home Office spies and informers to assess the seriousness of the conspiracy. It traces the practical and intellectual origins of the plotters’ willingness to use violence; describes the links between Irish and British radicals who were willing to take up arms; makes a contribution to early black history in Britain; examines the European context to events, and follows the lives and careers of those plotters exiled to Australia. These well-written essays will find an appreciative audience among undergraduates, graduate students and scholars of British and Irish history and literature. The book will be of interest to those interested in black history, as well as the related fields of intelligence history and Strategic Studies. A significant contribution to our understanding of a particularly turbulent period of British history. An examination of a plot of February 1820 to assassinate the British cabinet and establish a British republic. The conspirators consisted of English, Scottish and Irish tradesmen and a black Jamaican. This book uses contemporary reports by Home Office spies and informers to assess the seriousness of the conspiracy. It traces the origins of the plotters’ willingness to use violence; describes the links between Irish and British radicals; examines early black history in Britain; and follows the fate of those plotters exiled to Australia.These well-written essays will find an appreciative audience among undergraduates, graduate students and scholars of British and Irish history and literature. The book will be of interest to those interested in Black History, as well as the related fields of intelligence history and Strategic Studies. A significant contribution to our understanding of a turbulent period of British history. If the Cato Street Conspiracy had been successful, Britain would have been proclaimed a republic by tradesmen of English, Scots, Irish and black Jamaican backgrounds. This book explains the conspiracy, and why you have never heard of it.

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Disorder and stability in the United Kingdom
Author: Malcolm Chase

1820 is about much more than a single year. Integrating in detail the experiences of both Britain and Ireland, this book provides a compelling narrative and analysis of the United Kingdom in a year of European revolution. The year 1820 was a year of political dislocation unparalleled in peace time, but the gravity of the situation has been obscured for four main reasons. First, the dominant historical narrative of the United Kingdom in the early nineteenth century has remained so English-centred that Ireland only begins to intrude upon it in the mid-1840s, and Scotland scarcely at all. Second, Peterloo has over-determined the interpretation of the period. The third reason why events that year are misinterpreted or ignored is that the Government itself actively sought to efface the challenges confronting it. To do otherwise would have jeopardised its survival in a year that combined a general election, a constitutional crisis, a seemingly irreparable rift with the monarch, and a surge of radicalism both within and beyond Parliament. The fourth reason why the true significance of events in 1820 has been obscured derives from the late-twentieth century's preoccupation with the Queen Caroline affair. From the early 1980s, increasingly gender-aware scholarship made the second half of 1820 one of the most intensively investigated six months in modern British history.

Alison Morgan

‘Base brat of reform’ 93 3 j ‘Base brat of reform’: the victimisation of mother and child Of the estimated eighteen people believed to have been killed at Peterloo, four were women and one was a child. Margaret Downes was sabred; Mary Hays was trampled by the Manchester Yeomanry Cavalry; Sarah Jones was hit on the head with a truncheon; and Martha Pilkington was thrown into a cellar. Two-year-old William Fildes was the first victim on 16 August 1819 when he was trampled to death by the horses of the yeomanry whilst they were on their way to St Peter’s field

in Ballads and songs of Peterloo
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Sarah Sayeed

Manchester used to sit, until the creation of Greater Manchester in 1974. Eighteen of these mosaic roses are inscribed with names at their centres: each one of those killed in the Peterloo massacre on 16 August 1819. Perhaps no event in Manchester’s modern history has had more impact on radical change and reform in the city. On the morning of 16 August 1819, at least 60,000 people flooded down Windmill Street and Oxford Road and assembled in the fields fronting Peter Street to ask peacefully for the right to decide who would represent them in Parliament. They had come from

in Manchester