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John Tyas reporting on the Peterloo for The Times, 19 August 1819

Although critical of the troops’ and magistrates’ actions, Tyas was not without words of blame for the reformers though. In the same article, he reminds readers:

‘In The Times on Monday we concluded an article which severely blamed Hunt as a moral agent, by expressing an anxious hope that no persons (thereby meaning the magistracy) would so conduct themselves as to share with that brawler the reproach of any evil consequences which might follow the assemblage of so large a body of discontented labourers’.

Performed by Nigel Thomas.

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.


A posse of 300 or 400 constables marched into the field about 12 o’clock. Not the slightest insult was offered to them. 

The cavalry drew their swords and brandished them fiercely in the air: upon which they rode into the mob which gave way before them. Not a brickbat was thrown at them – not a pistol was fired during this period: all was quiet and orderly.

As soon as Hunt and Johnson had jumped from the wagon, to surrender, a cry was made by the cavalry, ‘have at their flags’. They immediately dashed not only at the flags which were in the waggon, but those which were posted among the crowd, cutting indiscriminately to the right and left in order to get at them.

One banner read ‘Taxation and no Representation is unjust’, on another banner ‘Equal Representation or Death’, on a third ‘annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and vote by ballot’.

This set the people running in all directions, and it was not until this act had been committed that any brickbats were hurled at the military. From that moment the Manchester Yeomanry lost all command of temper. 

Of the crowd a large portion consisted of women. About 8 or 10 persons were killed, and above 50 wounded were taken to the hospitals, but the gross number is not supposed to have fallen short of 80 or 100 grievously wounded.

Was that meeting at Manchester an unlawful assembly? We believe not. 

Was the subject proposed for discussion, reform of the House of Commons, an unlawful object? Assuredly not. 

Was anything done at this meeting before the cavalry rode in upon it, contrary to the law or in breach of the peace? No such circumstances are recorded in any of the statements which have yet reached our hands. 

Source: The Times, 19 August 1819.