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.
- Full title:
- Declaration and protest. We, the undersigned, without individually approving of the manner in which the meeting held at St. Peter's, on Monday, the 16th of August was constituted, hereby declare, that we are fully satisfied, ... that is was perfectly peac
- estimated 1820, probably Manchester
- Pamphlet / Petition
- Inhabitants of Manchester and Salford
- Held by:
- British Library
- Article by:
- Ruth Mather
- Power and politics, Romanticism
In August 1819 dozens of peaceful protestors were killed and hundreds injured at what became known as the Peterloo Massacre. Ruth Mather examines the origins, response and aftermath of this key early 19th century political event.