[This note is at the end of the texts but not included in the audiobook version of the story. For those who have asked about it, here you go.]
The Peterloo Massacre, as it became known, shocked people across England, according to accounts at the time. While the government quickly praised the actions of the magistrates’ committee, public sentiment was not so sanguine. People from around the country donated funds to help the injured, and bought commemorative items—plates, jugs, handkerchiefs, medals—that carried what became the iconic image of Peterloo: cavalrymen with swords drawn slashing at bare-armed civilians.
Some formerly anti-reform newspapers turned toward reform, including the influential Times of London, whose reporter was among those arrested on the speaker’s stand that day. But political reform did not come until 1832, more than a decade later. The immediate effect of the summer of protests was more government crackdown, including the Six Acts, which allowed houses to be searched without a warrant and declared that “every meeting for radical reform is an overt act of treasonable conspiracy.”
Orator Hunt and Sam Bamford, along with eight others, were charged with sedition for their parts in the meeting on 16 August; both were found guilty and went to jail, Hunt for four years, Bamford for one.
In this story, I have taken liberties with some of the history, particularly with the members of the magistrates’ committee. I did not base my likenesses of Nash Quinn or any of the others on the people who did serve on that panel, partly because no one on the committee actually lived in Manchester. I also took major artistic license with the bathing rooms in Manchester; while they did sit on the grounds of the Manchester Hospital, in style they were more Spartan than Roman.
The injuries the marchers and yeomanry sustained at Peterloo are taken from eyewitness accounts. For a listing of books, websites, and other references I used, a book-club guide, and for more about this story, please see nickypenttila.com.
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