Description

English

This publication from 1819 uses the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ as a means to criticise the ‘Peterloo Massacre’. In August that year a mass rally of an estimated 100,000 people had gathered at St Peter’s Fields in Manchester to hear the pro-reform speeches of Henry Hunt. Fearing insurrection, magistrates ordered the meeting to be broken up by force and the leaders arrested. Eleven people were killed at the hands of the Yeomanry with several hundred people injured. The pages shown here illustrate the apparent indifference of the magistrates to the fate of the people that day. Note in particular the depiction of the Prince Regent as a strutting peacock who was apparently ‘unconcerned’ at events in the north. 

The deaths in Manchester did much to upset social relations between the militia, politicians and the working class. The protest was widely reported by journalists and public indignation was raised to fever-pitch. The government, however, responded by supporting the actions of the magistrates and by implementing a crack-down on radicalism. This was achieved through the implementation of the ‘Six Acts’, designed to curb the activities of political radicals.

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