The Peterloo Massacre

On Friday, I introduce you to my novel, His Irish Eve. The events of that particular novel lead up to the hero and heroine being caught in the melee of the Peterloo Massacre. Adam Lawrence, Viscount Stafford, recognizes the need to leave the old ways of the aristocracy behind; however, his father, the Earl of Greenwall, is not so receptive to the changes sweeping across England after the Napoleonic Wars and on the edge of the Industrial Revolution. So, what exactly happened at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester? 

A depiction of the Peterloo Massacre by Richard Carlile - Public Domain

A depiction of the Peterloo Massacre by Richard Carlile – Public Domain

On August 16, 1819, the Peterloo Massacre occurred at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester. A crowd of 60,000-80,000 had gathered to protest the lack of parliamentary representation for the heavily populated industrialized areas.

With the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the Corn Laws exacerbated the famine of the Year without Summer (1816) and the growing unemployment problems. By the beginning of 1819 the pressure generated by poor economic conditions, coupled with the lack of suffrage in northern England, had enhanced the appeal of political radicalism. In response, the Manchester Patriotic Union, a group agitating for parliamentary reform, organized a demonstration to be addressed by the well-known radical orator Henry Hunt.

Fearing the worst, local magistrates called on the military to dispense with the crowd. They also demanded the arrest of Hunt and the other featured speakers. The Cavalry charged the crowd with sabers drawn. In the melee, 15 people were killed and some 500+ were injured. The massacre was given the name Peterloo, an ironic comparison to the devastation found at the Battle of Waterloo. The Peterloo Massacre became a defining moment of the age. Unfortunately, the massacre’s immediate effect was the passage of the Six Acts, which labelled any meeting for radical reform as “an overt act” of treasonable conspiracy.”

650px-peterlooredplaque1It also led directly to the foundation of The Manchester Guardian, but had little other effect on the pace of reform. In a survey conducted by The Guardian in 2006, Peterloo came second to the Putney Debates as the event from British history that most deserved a proper monument or a memorial. A plaque close to the site, a replacement for an earlier one that was criticized as being inadequate, as it did not reflect the scale of the massacre, commemorates Peterloo.

Information from Wikipedia 

His Irish Evejpg

When the Earl of Greenwall demands his only son, Viscount Stafford, retrieve the viscount’s by-blow, everything in ADAM LAWRENCE’s life changes. Six years prior, Lawrence released his former mistress Cathleen Donnell from his protection, only to learn in hindsight Cathleen was with child. Stafford arrives in Cheshire to discover not only a son, but also two daughters, along with a strong-minded woman, who fascinates him from the moment of their first encounter.

AOIFE KENNICE, the children’s cousin and caregiver, is a woman impervious to Stafford’s masculine charms, as one of England’s most infamous rakes. In truth, Aoife is not immune as she pretends, but she cannot imagine herself as the object of more than a flirtation on the part of the viscount. On balance, they are world’s apart: Aoife is daughter of a minor Irish baron and the opposite of her beautiful cousin Cathleen, who possessed all the skills to lure in a handsome viscount. To make matters worst, Aoife maintains the family’s a sheep farm to support Stafford’s family. A “lady,” Aoife is not.

A battle begins: A fight Adam must win–a fight for the heart of a woman worth knowing, his Irish “Eve.”

(Leave a comment on Friday’s post to be a part of the giveaway.)

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Regency era and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Peterloo Massacre

  1. spiritofnlm says:

    Wow I have never heard of this . How terrible, let us hope nothing like this ever happens again !

  2. It is mind boggling that only 15 were killed. This type of horror still plays out across the world, even in our “enlightened” times. So depressing!

  3. Glenda says:

    Thanks for spotlighting a little known event.

  4. carolcork says:

    I think the most terrible thing was that this was a peaceful protest of unarmed men and women seeking liberty and freedom from poverty. The actions of the military were unconscionable.

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