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Henry Hobhouse to Sir John Byng, 18 August 1819

Henry Hobhouse writes to Sir John Byng in the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre.

Performed by James Parsons.

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.


My dear sir,

As my letter of the 17th was written from my own impressions only of Lord Sidmouth’s sentiments, and not by his authority, it is right that I should now communicate to you that he not only entirely approves of your absence from Manchester, but on several accounts is glad that you were not there.

Your presence would have given too much importance to Hunt, and would have given an appearance of a predetermination in government to subject the People to military execution.

Your confidence in Col L’Estrange appears to have been, as Lord Sidmouth has no doubt it was, judiciously deposed; and his judgement has in Lord Sidmouth’s mind been evidenced by his employing the yeomanry in the town agreeably to the plan on which I know you intended to act.

I trust there will be no occasion for your returning to Lancashire again, as I hope a decisive blow has been given to the treasonable and seditious spirit prevailing there.

I have reason to believe that your distinct order has stopped the sale of Sherwin’s address to the soldiers, for I find it is not now to be purchased at many of the shops, where sedition is usually sold without reserve.

You do right to preserve the copies which you received from Hull, but probably they cannot be made use of in evidence, as it cannot be proved of whom they were received.

What I have stated will show you that i do not expect any more will be circulated among the troops.

Your most faithfully


Catalogue reference: HO 79/3, pages.

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