For years I’ve worked around this are of Manchester and been amazed at how little seemed to be known about the massacre of Peterloo. It is fitting that this 200th anniversary is being celebrated in part with the digitisation of so many important images.
Dr Janette Martin writes:
The University of Manchester Library has digitised a second tranche of unique documents and rare printed material relating to The Peterloo Massacre. These include a collection of handbills, placards and handwritten letters gathered by the notorious Rev. William Robert Hay (1761-1839). Rev. Hay was one of the ten magistrates present who ordered mounted soldiers into a crowded field to arrest Henry Hunt on 16 August 1819. That afternoon at least 15 people were killed and around 700 were injured by sabres and truncheons or trampled by horses or the panicking crowds. As evening fell Hay hurriedly wrote to Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary, setting out the magistrate’s version of events. In it he seriously downplayed the number killed and the types of injuries inflicted on the crowd. Not only were Hay and the other magistrates praised by the Prince Regent for their part in…
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