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Duration 00:02:27

Constable Jonathan Anderson’s account of Peterloo

Constable Jonathan Anderson’s account of the Peterloo Massacre.

Performed by Eddie Kelsey.

Archives Alive: Peterloo

The Archives Alive: Peterloo project is a collaboration between Royal Holloway, University of London, and The National Archives, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This series of short films forms part of a wide programme of activity marking the 200th anniversary of the massacre – an important milestone in the history of the struggle for rights and representation – and its aftermath. Find out more on The National Archives’ blog.


On Monday morning 16th August we sent from the police office men on horseback on the different Roads leading into the town and we were informed that a great number we coming with flags, Caps of Liberty and some with Bands of music all in military procession. 

I saw several large detachments come on the ground as above described a great number carrying large sticks on their left shoulders, in the manner a soldier carries his musket and as each party came on the ground they were received with three cheers and they joined brandishing their sticks.

A length  of time elapsed before Hunt arrived on the ground he came in a Barocche along with several others and a female carrying a flag, Mr Hunt took off his Hat and proceeded to give several shouts turing round to the people who joined him, he then proceeded towards the Hustings.

The special constables were early on the ground and got in the first instance near to the Hustings, but the cart was removed as if on purpose to get the own party round it, which they succeeded in and the special constables were pushed off a considerable distance except a few who got  mixed in the crowd, being informed that it was likely a Warrant would be? against Hunt and others on the  stage, I went as near to it as I  could and I stated to Mr Wheeler on returning from it that it would not be proper to execute the Warrant without being assisted by the military.

I was immediately afterwards called up into the Magistrates room and I also stated to Mr Hulton the improbability of executing it without Military assistance and that I could not think of attempting it with such appearances before my eyes and the determined manner of the people seemed to , and in this has not deceived, for on arrival the military they shouted and waved their sticks in the air as if in open defiance.

I led up captain Birley of the yeomanry Cavalry about 8 or 10 yards and desired him to surround the Hustings next me to be able to take the parties off the stage.  I never saw any person cut with the sabre and using this time and on my getting to the stage I was surrounded by the yeomanry Cavalry which enabled us to take the parties off as I was taking Johnson the 15th ? came up/

Jonathan Anderson Constable of Manchester

Manchester Oct 7th 1819.

Catalogue reference: HO 42/ 196 , folio 40.

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