Immediately after the Peterloo Massacre, middle-class Radicals circulated a petition to display solidarity with the protestors. The petition publicly declared that the protest was peaceful and condemned the violence exercised by the yeomanry. After collecting the signatures the petition was printed in this pamphlet form, shown here, in 1820.
Who signed the petition?
The organisers collected approximately 5000 signatures from Manchester and the surrounding districts. Many ‘respectable’ citizens signed their support. This may have surprised loyalists, who stereotyped Radicals and pro-reform citizens as violent or criminal, uneducated members of the working class. Although women took part in the protest, none have signed this petition.
How does the petition develop our understanding of Percy Bysshe Shelley's ‘The Mask of Anarchy’?
The petition provides insight into the range of responses to which Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ belongs. As Shelley was moved to respond to Peterloo through poetry, the petition allows us to appreciate that thousands others also sought to express their opposition.