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Major Dyneley’s account of the Peterloo Massacre

Major Thomas Dyneley was in command of the horse artillery stationed in Manchester on the day of the Peterloo Massacre. He sent this account of the day’s events to the Home Office at 16:00, just hours after the Massacre had taken place.

Performed by Klemens Koehring.

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.



Monday 4 o’clock

My Dear Sir,

The first action of the Battle of Manchester is over, and has I am happy to say ended in the complete discomfiture of the Enemy. Hunt made his appearance about 12½ in his Carriage, accompanied by three male, a very good looking female, bearing a very fine silk flag, about 3,000 rabble with a Band of Music, several, perhaps 6 Colors, one Cap of liberty

They arrived at the Hustings about 1 o’ clock. In less than a quarter of an hour the Magistracy thought it right to take Hunt into Custody – this the Mob attempted to resist – the Military were at hand & rushed upon them & there was the hell to pay. The number that were rode over might have been very great. I don’t know that any of them were killed. I saw several carried very badly wounded to the Hospital. I am sorry to say one of the Manchester Cavalry was shot dead, & two or three of the Constables very badly wounded. One of the 15th Hussars had his arm broken & badly cut on the Head.

We have taken Hunt, Johnson, & three or four of their sort, with two reform Ladies, & lodged them in the New Bailey. The whole Business was settled in 5 minutes.

I was at a short distance from the ground, & brought the Guns up at a gallop, but the business was nearly settled by that time, & I had the pleasure of seeing Hunt secured & sent off, the Colors & Cap of liberty in the hands of our troops, the hustings torn to pieces, & I must not say the pleasure of seeing the field of Battle covered with Hats, Sticks, Shoes, Laurel Branches, Drum Heads; in short the field was as complete as I had ever seen one after an action. The mob fired some shots (about 8 or 9) from the tops of the houses, & out of the Windows, which were returned by our skirmishing Infantry. We remained in full possession of our ground about 1½ hours, & then moved thro’ the town to the Barracks. I was very much amused to see the way in which the Volunteer Cavalry knocked the people about during the whole time we remained upon the ground; the Instant they saw 10 or a dozen mobbites together, they rode at them, & leathered them properly. We are not by any means quiet – a Squadron is this moment ordered down, but I don’t know that it is anything more than precautions, and we remain harnessed ready to turn out at a moment’s notice.

I think I have now told you all I know. I hope you are able to read what I have written, but I am sure you would excuse it all, could you see the hurried way on which I am writing.

Catalogue reference: TS 11/1056.

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