In this section are collected brief biographical details of some of the people whose names are associated with Peterloo.
In addition, there are included, some lesser-known names and some whose connection is more tenuous, but nonetheless considered important enough to be included here.
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BIOGRAPHIES HAVE BEEN COMPILED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES INCLUDING WIKIPEDIA AND SPARTACUS EDUCATION.
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Samuel Bamford February 28th 1788 - 13th April 1872
For author Samuel Bamford, this compelling work was a direct attack on the intractable political forces of the British government, which were never more oppressive than in the early-19th century. His claim to literary fame was writing poetry and prose in support of the common man, and works like "Passages" found an eager, passionate readership among British textile workers.
A man of lively and independent spirit, Bamford was a natural opponent of the political and industrial interests of the British government throughout his long and unusual life. Though never a fire-and-brimstone radical, Bamford was nevertheless a much-loved character commanding respect among his literary peers as well as the working classes. He deserves to be remembered not only for the saltiness of his writing, but also for his effective political voice against the forces of governmental tyranny.
PASSAGES IN THE LIFE OF A RADICAL - Samuel Bamford. 1843 Published by Cosimo Inc. 2005 1-59605-287-2
SAMUEL BAMFORD (1788-1872) was an English weaver, poet, and social reformer. Jailed by the British government in 1819 for his part in the "Battle of Peterloo," Bamford was well known for his compassionate view of the working classes and for his revulsion toward the Britain's landed gentry. Additional works include: Early Days (1849).
Samuel Bamford was born on February 28th 1788 in Middleton, near Manchester.
He was destined to become one of the leading figures in the movement for the reform of Parliament, and he has gained a secure place for himself in the history of the working class in England.
When Bamford's books (and Early Days and Passages in the Life of a Radical ) they were titled 'The autobiography of Samuel Bamford'.
I do not think he originally conceived them as such. By writing this book I hope to bring Bamford to the notice of many for whom he may just be a name in a textbook.
Morris Garrett June 1992, Middleton.
SAMUEL BAMFORD, PORTRAIT OF A RADICAL - Morris Garrett 1992 George Kelsall, Publisher 0946571201
Samuel Bamford's "Passages in the Life of a Radical" (1842) and "Early Days" (1848) are among the most important sources for the social history of the early industrial revolution and the radical movement.
What is less well known is that he left behind an extensive, varied and readable collection of other writings. The diaries were written towards the end of his life (1858-1861) and include letters and journalism, both by and about Bamford, closely linked to the diary material.
There is frequent reference to and argument about the early 19th-century radical movement and the Peterloo massacre, and among Bamford's contacts and correspondents were the MPs Richard Cobden and James Kay-Shuttleworth, the pioneer dialect writers Edwin Waugh and Ben Brierley, and mid-Victorian political reformers. Beyond this, the volume provides a combination of diary, letterbook and commonplace book, so that Bamford can be seen in both public and private, as he saw himself, as he wished to be seen, and as others saw him.
THE DIARIES OF SAM BAMFORD, Poole (Ed) 2000 Sutton Publishing Ltd. 13: 978-0750917353
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt 6 November 1773 – 15 February 1835
Henry Hunt was a British radical speaker and agitator remembered as a pioneer of working-class radicalism
and an important influence on the later Chartist movement. He advocated parliamentary reform and the repeal
of the Corn Laws.He was first drawn into radical politics during the Napoleonic Wars, becoming a supporter of Francis Burdett.
His talent for public speaking became noted in the electoral politics of Bristol, where he denounced the complacency
of both the Whigs and the Tories, and proclaimed himself a supporter of democratic radicalism.
Because of his rousing speeches at mass meetings held in Spa Fields in London in 1816–17 he became known as
the 'Orator', a term of disparagement accorded by his enemies. He embraced a programme that included
annual parliaments and universal suffrage. The tactic he most favoured was that of 'mass pressure', which he felt,
if given enough weight, could achieve reform without insurrection. His capacity as an orator soon won him a large
personal following throughout the country.
He first came into contact with Lancashire Radicalism though the Hampden Club Movement, and was was invited by
the Patriotic Union Society, formed by the Manchester Observer, to be one of the scheduled speakers at the rally
originally scheduled for August 9th 1819 in Manchester.
The debacle at Peterloo added greatly to his prestige. Moral force was not sufficient in itself, and physical force entailed too great a risk. Although urged to do so after Peterloo, Hunt refused to give his approval to schemes for a full-scale insurrection.
Hunt was tried, and found guilty of ‘seditious assembly’ He was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. While in prison for his part in Peterloo, Hunt turned to writing, to putting his message across through a variety of forms, including an autobiography.
Business interests notwithstanding, he still found time for practical politics, fighting battles over a whole range of issues, and always pushing for reform and accountability. In 1830 he became a Member of Parliament for Preston defeating the future British Prime Minister Edward Stanley, but was defeated when standing for re-election in 1833. As a consistent champion of the working classes, he opposed the Whigs, both old and new, and the Reform Act 1832, which he believed did not go far enough in the extension of the franchise. He gave speeches addressed to the "Working Classes and no other", urging them to press for full equal rights. In 1832 he presented the first petition in support of women's suffrage to Parliament.
In his opposition to the Reform Bill Orator Hunt revived the Great Northern Union, a pressure group he set up some years before, intended to unite the northern industrial workers behind a platform of full democratic reform; and it is in this specifically that the germs of Chartism can be detected. Worn out by his struggles he died in 1835.
MAJOR JOHN CARTWRIGHT 17 September 1740 – 23 September 1824
John Cartwright was the elder brother of Edmund Cartwright, inventor of the power loom.
He is probably best known as the person who, in 1812, established Hampden Clubs, named after John Hampden,
an English Civil War Parliamentary leader, aiming to bring together middle class moderates and lower class Radicals
in the reform cause. To promote the idea, he toured northwest England.
In 1813 he was arrested in Huddersfield and in 1815 he recruited John Knight who went on to found Hampden Clubs across South Lancashire. Samuel Bamford became secretary of the Middleton Hampden Club, which gave members the opportunity to debate political issues and campaign for reform. Cartwright was present at the launch of the Middleton Hampden Club.
In 1818, Knight, John Saxton and James Wroe formed the reformist and popularist newspaper the Manchester Observer. In 1819, the same team formed the Patriotic Union Society, which invited Henry "Orator" Hunt and Major Cartwright to speak at a reformist public rally in Manchester, but the elderly Cartwright was unable to attend what became the Peterloo Massacre.
Later in 1819, Cartwright was arrested for speaking at a reform meeting in Birmingham, indicted for conspiracy and was condemned to pay a fine of £100.
Cartwright then wrote The English Constitution, which outlined his ideas including Government By The People and Legal Equality which he considered could only be achieved by Universal Suffrage, the Secret Ballot and Equal Electoral Districts. He became the main patron of the Radical publisher Thomas Jonathan Wooler, best known for his satirical journal The Black Dwarf, who actively supported Cartwright's campaigning.
JOHN KNIGHT ???? - 1835 (NO IMAGE AVAILABLE)
John Knight was a Yorkshireman, who moved to Lancashire and became a handloom weaver in Saddleworth. He was much influenced by ‘The Rights of Man’ and other writings by Tom Paine and was an active political speaker, suffering arrest and imprisonment on one occasion following a speech he gave in Royton.
In 1812 he organised a meeting of like-minded weavers in Manchester. Knowing Knight’s dislike for mechanisation Joseph Nadin – Manchester’s Deputy Chief Constable – burst into the meeting with an armed posse and, without a warrant arrested Knight and 37 others supposedly for "administering oaths to weavers pledging them to destroy steam looms" The charges were unproved and the men were all acquitted at their trial.
Knight must have acquired an education because he then turned away from weaving and became a schoolmaster in Oldham. He established the first Hampden Club in Lancashire in the model of those set up by Major John Cartwright.
It was Knight’s idea to invite Cartwright to speak at St. Peter’s Field but, Cartwright declined, due to failing health and , on the invitation of Joseph Johnson, Henry ‘Orator Hunt was chosen to replace him on the hustings.
Knight led the Oldham contingent at Peterloo and stood beside Hunt on the hustings, where he was one of the four men named by magistrate Hulton as those who were to be arrested.
John Knight was acquitted of the charge laid against him after Peterloo but found guilty and received two years imprisonment for his attendance at a meeting in Burnley some three months later. On his release from prison Knight tuned more to trade union activities and was much less active publicly. His last position, before his death in 1838 was as treasurer of the Oldham Poor Relief Fund.
WILLIAM COBBETT 9 March 1763 – 18 June 1835
William Cobbett was an English pamphleteer, farmer, journalist and member of parliament, who was born
in Farnham, Surrey. He believed that reforming Parliament and abolishing the rotten boroughs would help
to end the poverty of farm labourers, and he attacked the borough-mongers, sinecurists and "tax-eaters"
relentlessly. He was also against the Corn Laws, a tax on imported grain.
Early in his career, he was a loyalist supporter of King and Country, but later he joined and successfully publicised
the Radical movement, which led to his being elected in 1832 as one of the two MPs for the newly enfranchised
borough of Oldham. Although he was not a Catholic, he became a forceful advocate of Catholic Emancipation in
Britain. Through the seeming contradictions in Cobbett's life, his opposition to authority stayed constant.
He published a book, in 1830, Rural Rides, which is still in print today.
By 1815 the tax on newspapers had reached 4d. per copy. As few people could afford a daily newspaper, the tax restricted the circulation of most of these journals to people with fairly high incomes. Cobbett was able to sell only just over a thousand copies a week. The following year Cobbett began publishing the Political Register as a pamphlet for only 2d. It soon had a circulation of 40,000. Critics called it "two-penny trash", a label Cobbett adopted. Cobbett's journal was the main newspaper read by the working class. This made Cobbett a dangerous man, and in 1817 he learned that the government was planning to arrest him for sedition. He fled to America.
Cobbett had been an opponent of the Radical writer Tom Paine but later became a fervent supporter
Ten years after Paine died, penniless and almost forgotten, Cobbett arrived in New York and, under the cover of darkness, dug up his hero's bones and brought them back to England. He believed that their talismanic presence in the Old Country would rouse it up against the injustices against which he, Cobbett, raged. On approaching Manchester he was asked to explain what he was carrying and, on revealing that it was the bones of Tom Paine he was told that he could not enter the town. He chose to abandon the bones and their final resting place is now unknown. Another story claims that Cobbet’s manservant mistook the bones for kitchen scraps and threw them out, although quite what he thought they had been eating is not stated.
Soon after the Peterloo Massacre, Cobbett joined with other Radicals in his attacks on the government and three times during the next couple of years was charged with libel.
Cobbett still wanted to be elected to the House of Commons. He was defeated in Preston in 1826 and Manchester in 1832 but after the passing of the 1832 Reform Act Cobbett was able to win the parliamentary seat of Oldham. In Parliament, Cobbett concentrated his energies on attacking corruption in government and the 1834 Poor Law. In his later life, however, Macaulay, a fellow MP, remarked that Cobbett's faculties were impaired by age; indeed that his paranoia had developed to the point of insanity. From 1831 until his death, he farmed at Ash, Normandy, a village in Surrey a few miles from his birthplace at Farnham. Cobbett died there after a short illness in June 1835 and was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew's Parish Church, Farnham.
JOHN BRIGHT 16 November 1811 – 27 March 1889
John Bright was a British Radical and Liberal statesman and a promoter of free trade policies. Born in Rochdale in 1811, He received a Quaker education at schools in Lancashire and Yorkshire, an education that helped develop a passionate commitment to ideas of political and religious equality and human rights.
He was a forceful and popular public speaker, and though he never held major political office he was one of the most influential politicians of the Victorian era. He is perhaps most famous for his part in helping to abolish the Corn Laws in 1846. He sat in the House of Commons from 1843 to 1889 where he promoted free trade, electoral reform and religious freedom. During his life he served as President of the Board of Trade and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Bright opposed slavery on moral grounds and was a fearless supporter of Abraham Lincoln and encouraged the boycott of Southern cotton during the American Civil War.
Bright wrestled with the dilemma that the thriving Lancashire economy was one of the principal reasons why slavery was able to flourish in the USA and elsewhere. If Lancashire cotton mills, including his own family’s mills in Rochdale, did not rely on American cotton, then one of the pillars supporting the slavery economy would have been removed. He argued strongly to develop alternative supplies of cotton, encouraging its cultivation by free labour in other countries
Bright’s relationship with Manchester was a stormy one, and in 1857 he failed to be re-elected as its MP because of his strong condemnation of the country’s participation in the Crimean War. He was however respected by many for following his religious principles and his forthrightness in expressing his moral position.
By the 1870s Manchester’s attitude towards him had changed to such an extent that he received the extraordinary honour of having a statue of himself placed in Manchester’s new town hall whilst he was still alive. Following his death in 1889, Manchester took the step of commissioning a second public statue. This marble statue was placed in Albert Square in front of the town hall, where it was unveiled in 1891. The sculptor was Albert Bruce Joy who also carved a statue of Bright for Birmingham, the constituency that he represented from 1857 until his death. These were not the only public monuments. Rochdale honoured Bright with a posthumous statue in 1893. There is also a statue of Bright at Birmingham University
RICHARD COBDEN 3 June 1804 – 2 April 1865
Richard Cobden was an English manufacturer and Radical and Liberal statesman, associated with two major
free trade campaigns, the Anti-Corn Law League and the Cobden–Chevalier Treaty.
Cobden was born in Sussex, the fourth of eleven children born to William Cobden and his wife Millicent (née Amber).
His family had been resident in that neighbourhood for many generations. Cobden attended school in Teesdale,
County Durham. When fifteen years of age he went to London to the warehouse business of his uncle Richard Ware Cole
where he became a commercial traveller in muslin and calico in which proved successful. Later became co-owner of a
highly profitable calico printing factory in Manchester. However, he soon found himself more engaged in politics,
and his travels convinced him of the virtues of free trade (anti-protection) as the key to better international relations.
In 1828, Cobden set up his own business and with a calico printing facility in Sabden. In 1832 he settled in Manchester,
beginning a long association with the city. He lived in a house on Quay Street, which is now called Cobden House.
A plaque commemorates his residency. The success of the enterprise was decisive and rapid, and the "Cobden prints"