About this blog

Peterloo is a horrific stain on British history and a landmark moment. On 16 August, 1819, 60,000 people marched to St Peter’s Field in Manchester to peacefully demand the right to vote, freedom from oppression and political justice. A day of hope ended with troops, including local government forces, charging the crowds, leaving 18 dead or dying and hundreds injured. 

It became known as the Peterloo Massacre and was a turning point on the road to democracy, equal rights and universal suffrage.

As we mark 200 years on, many characters have emerged, none more so than John Knight, a Mossley-born cotton manufacturer who was on the hustings that fateful day. The radical reformer’s place in British social history has largely been overlooked, but his work fighting for universal suffrage is now being recognised. 

Mossley Writers have painstakingly researched the local hero’s past and used their imagination and skills to bring his story to life.

On this blog is a selection of tales and poems from an array of viewpoints that capture John Knight’s character and cause – from his supportive wife to his tragic children and those that marched alongside him. We even have Mary Fildes, who survived serious wounds to become involved in the Chartist movement, and the great man himself looking back on his life. It all features in an impressive collection that both enthrals and educates.

Richard Hooton, July 2019

Please note: all images, apart from original artwork by Mossley Writers, have been kindly made available by Manchester Histories and the Peterloo1819 project. Check out their websites for more information about Peterloo, commemorative activities in Manchester throughout 2019 and other resources.