Chadderton Historical

Society

The Peterloo Massacre

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 The police spy, Nadin was to pay several visits to the Mills Hill area to report on the activities of reformers in that locality. James Jackson of Acres was one of several men sentenced to seven years tranportation for administering an illegal oath,

  

 Then came the day of Peterloo. Monday 16th August. 1819.

Well over 50,000 people
converged on St Peter's Field, Manchester'
(This is where the Free
 Trade Hall now stands). 
            

From towns and villages these groups marched peacefully, each contingent headed by its own banner bearing their demands.

In the early hours of that day local silk weavers from the Denton Lane area were roused from their sleep to drill on White Moss at Greengate


The demonstration in Manchester was peaceful enough as the gathering listened to the oratory of Henry Hunt their leader. However the authorities filled with alarm at what they believed would be the outcome of this immense demonstration, sent in the cavalry who charged into the densely packed mass with sabres drawn. Defenceless, the crowd tried to disperse but not before some eleven people had been killed and more than six hundred injured.


Henry Hunt and the radical leaders were arrested, convicted and imprisoned for their part in the demonstration. Also imprisoned were three Chadderton weavers, Thomas Ashton (22), Thomas Worthington (22) and Abraham Whittaker (19). However, all three were subsequently discharged.

 

Amongst the eleven who died two were local people, John Ashton of Cowhill who was sabred and stabbed and Thomas Buckley of Baretrees who was sabred and crushed.. Several others were injured either by sabre cuts or various forms of blows inflicted by the truncheons or muskets of the soldiers.

  


Extracts from "CHADDERTON CHAPTERS" by Michael Lawson .

 

Published by the Chadderton Urban District Council. in 1972.

Images reproduced from Manchester Region History Review.

Peterloo Massacre Special Issue.  

 
 

 

 

  

 The rapid changes in the industrial system in the first quarter of the nineteenth century provided a new source of wealth to the mill owners but drastically changed the lives of ordinary people.Misery and long working days in the factories deprived them of the simple pleasures and freedom which they had hitherto enjoyed. As industrial evolution gained momentum the working classes became poorer and more exploited. At the turn of the century a Chadderton weaver's wage for a week averaged 15s 9d (79p) but by 1818 this had fallen to around 5s (25p) per week. Coupled with this reduction in wages the price of wheat had increased by almost 50% in the same period. As wages fell the hours increased to some 15 hours each day. To supplement such meagre incomes the weavers were forced to send their children into mills often when they were no more than six years of age.
  1. Amid such conditions a strong spirit of rebellion against the government arose which gained momentum during the second decade of the century. One rebel was a Mr. O'Connor who was the innkeeper of the Rose of Lancaster at Haigh Lane. Along with another local publican he refused to take the oath of loyalty to the crown.

     


    The government fearing an outbreak of violence parallel to that of the French Revolution, were kept fully aware of the situation in the growing industrial towns by means of their spies and informers. In 1811, the year of the Luddite campaigns against the new machines, the government spy Chippendale reported back to his superiors how on two occasions armed meetings of discontented workers had been held in Chadderton. 

    

 

Two groups were organised in Chadderton, one of them at the Dog Inn at Cowhill whilst the main Chadderton division formed up at Healds Green. The inhabitants of that locality had for a long time been dedicated radical reformers. Wearing their white hats with green rims, the symbol of their radicalism, they marched behind their flag to Oldham where they joined up with neighbouring contingents before the march to Manchester.

The Chadderton Flag was of green and white silk and was about four yards long by three yards wide. It bore the legends "Chadderton Political Union" , United we stand, Divided we fall", "No Corn Laws", "Universal Suffrage", "Vote by Ballot" and "Labour the Source of wealth". On the reverse side was depicted a pair of clasped hands. (This flag was displayed in the old school at Healds Green for many years afterwards and was last thought to be in the possession of a lady who moved to Blackpool in the early twenties).

 

  1.       HENRY HUNT.

 

 

 


Ultimately, the aims of the movement, which paved the way for modern democracy, came to fruition: in the words of Chadderton's own flag- "Vote by Ballot" and "Universal Suffrage".

 

 

 Peterloo mural in Free Trade Hall, Manchester.

 

 

 
Home Page | School Local History Projects|History of Local Government | Members of Parliament for Chadderton | Long Serving Councillors | Christmas Lights & Calendar | News of the Year, Chadderton | The Constitution | Family History & Research | Chadderton Organisations | The Town and its People | Worship & Education | Chadderton Hall | Foxdenton Hall | Chadderton Mills | Programme of Events | Heritage Centre | Henry Taylor | Lydia Becker | Sir Philip Sidney Stott | Geoff Tootill - Baby Computer | Favourite Links | Membership;CHS Publications | | Current Newsletter | Secretary's Report | Avro History | Listed Buildings | Visitors Site for Chadderton

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