Peterloo Massacre
(1819)

Died aged 0

The Peterloo Massacre occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 had resulted in periods of famine and chronic unemployment, exacerbated by the introduction of the first of the Corn Laws. By the beginning of 1819, the pressure generated by poor economic conditions, coupled with the relative lack of suffrage in Northern England, had enhanced the appeal of political radicalism. In response, the Manchester Patriotic Union, a group agitating for parliamentary reform, organised a demonstration to be addressed by the well-known radical orator Henry Hunt. Shortly after the meeting began local magistrates called on the military authorities to arrest Hunt and several others on the hustings with him, and to disperse the crowd. Cavalry charged into the crowd with sabres drawn, and in the ensuing confusion, 15 people were killed and 400–700 were injured. The massacre was given the name Peterloo in an ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier. Historian Robert Poole has called the Peterloo Massacre one of the defining moments of its age. In its own time, the London and national papers shared the horror felt in the Manchester region, but Peterloo's immediate effect was to cause the government to crack down on reform, with the passing of what became known as the Six Acts. It also led directly to the foundation of The Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian), but had little other effect on the pace of reform. In a survey conducted by The Guardian in 2006, Peterloo came second to the Putney Debates as the event from radical British history that most deserved a proper monument or a memorial. Peterloo is commemorated by a plaque close to the site, a replacement for an earlier one that was criticised as being inadequate as it did not reflect the scale of the massacre.

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Commemorated on 3 plaques

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The Peterloo Massacre. On 16th August 1819, a peaceful rally of 60,000 pro-democracy reformers, men, women and children was attacked by armed cavalry resulting in 15 deaths and over 600 injuries.

Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester, United Kingdom where it was

The site of St. Peter's Fields where on 16th August 1819 Henry Hunt, radical orator addressed an assembly of about 60,000 people. Their subsequent dispersal by the military is remembered as 'Peterloo'.

Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester, United Kingdom where it sited

Peterloo Demonstration 16 August 1819. The Middleton contingent congregated here on Barrowfields and marched to St Peter's Field in Manchester led by Sam Bamford. The meeting, popularly known as the "Peterloo Massacre", was in support of the vote for the working classes. 16 Middleton people were injured.

Bardsley Street, Middleton, United Kingdom where it met