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Letter from J. Norris to Lord Sidmouth, Manchester, 6 October 1819

Acts of sporadic violence on both sides continued after the Peterloo Massacre. In this letter, magistrate James Norris provides the Home Office with an account of an attack on the house of Edward Meagher, the Trumpeter of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry.

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.


My Lord Sidmouth, I am sorry to be under the necessity of informing your Lordship that there is no amendment whatsoever in the disposition of the People since I left home – every opportunity is seized of creating local and petty disturbances by the persons wearing white hats & particularly on Saturday and Sundays.

An affair of this sort happened last saturday night. I understand the house of the Trumpeter to the Manchester Yeomanry, who is extremely obnoxious to the people on account of his having led the Yeomanry on the 16th. They assailed him and his house with stones and he fired on them twice and wounded two but not dangerously.

This circumstance has occasioned considerable sensation and the man is now lodged in the New Bailey I believe as much for his own safety as any other cause until next Saturday when the case is heard – as this case may appear in the opposition papers I transmit your Lordship’s this short statement which I believe to be correct. 

This attack on the Trumpeter is easily traced to the Observer of last Saturday to which if your Lordship will take the trouble to refer to the principle article on the last page you will find the whole of the magistrates, the yeomanry & this unfortunate man in particular are ‘marked out’ to the readers of that paper. The result is the immediate attack by the mob upon his house.

I have reason to believe that the system of Espionage on the part of the Revolutionists is carried on every where to a great extent & that all the magistrates are particularly watched. This I have heard from two or three quarters and also from my informant in Ashton. We are continually pesterted with anonymous & threatening letters from all parts of the Kingdom.

In my short absence of 10 days I had the honour to receive four – one or two of them most diabolical. This is evidently a part of their System of Terror & the agents are planted in all parts of the Kingdom. I have myself received letters from London – Edinburgh – Bristol – Liverpool.

I have the honor to be my Lord,
your Lordships faithful and obedient servant.

J Norris

Catalogue reference: HO 42/196.

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