Thursday 1 August 2019


In 1819 less than 2% of the population had the vote and there had been some agitation by the Radical Reform movement for democratic change. Magistrates feared civil disturbances and were reliant on the volunteer cavalry- the Yeomanry, to help keep the peace.On the 16th August 1819, 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s field, Manchester to listen to radical orator Henry Hunt speak on electoral reform. At half past one, the Yeomanry were sent in to charge and disperse the crowds. An estimated 18 people were killed and over 700 injured. The massacre became known as Peterloo.

The Cheshire Yeomanry were in attendance at Manchester.  Sir John Fleming Leicester was the first commander of the Cheshire Yeomanry and in our collection of the papers of the Leicester Warren family of Tabley there are many first-hand accounts of events of the day and in the build-up and aftermath. To mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo we will be sharing transcripts of these letters on our blog.

The first letter is from Lord Viscount Sidmouth, the home secretary, to the Earl of Stamford and Warrington George Harry Grey. 

Reference DLT/D463/6 (49)

Reference DLT/D463/6 (49)

                                                                                         Whitehall 7th July 1819

My Lord,

The numerous Public Meetings which have lately taken place at Stockport & the adjacent Parts of Lancashire, their manifest purpose & the Language which has been held at them have engaged the serious attention of His Majesty’s Government. – Your Lordship’s presence under these circumstances in the County of which your Lordship has the Charge, cannot but be highly desirable and important, in order that, under your Lordship’s Authority, the most prompt and efficient means may be adopted for the preservation of the Tranquillity of the County of Chester.
The utmost Vigilance, and activity on the part of the Magistrates in those Districts to which I have referred is indispensably & urgently necessary to maintain, an enforce if requisite, Obedience to the Laws and to bring to Justice those offenders by whom they may be violated. – For those Purposes, it is earnestly hoped that the Power of the Civil Authorities will be fully sufficient: but as a Measure of Prevention Your Lordship is desired to give immediate Directions to the several Corps of Yeomanry Cavalry in the County of Chester to hold themselves in readiness to attend to any Call for support and assistance, which, in case of necessity, they may receive from the Magistrates and the utmost confidence is justly placed in the Zeal, and Promptitude with which, under such circumstances the Call will be Obeyed.

 I have the honour to be
    My Lord
     Your Lordship’s
      Most Obedient
       humble servant

The Earl of Stamford & Warrington

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