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Extracts from an article in The Preston Chronicle and Lancashire Advertiser, 13 August 1842, about trouble in Manchester and its surroundings
(Catalogue ref: HO 45/249A)

Source 3a


(From the Manchester Guardian of Wednesday.)

We regret to state, that this week has witnessed the commencement of a series of disturbances in this town and neighbourhood, which at present have a very threatening appearance, and will require the utmost firmness and vigilance on the part of the civil and military authorities.

Although these disturbances have taken the appearance of a turn-out for wages, we believe that they have, in fact, a totally different origin, and are intimately connected with the recent outbreaks in Staffordshire and Scotland. As, however, a threatened reduction of wages at Stalybridge has been seized upon as the pretext for their commencement, we will state what we understand to have occurred in reference to that abatement. …

Source 3b

On Sunday a very large meeting was held on Mottram Moor, where eight or ten thousand people are said to have been present, and at which, we believe, the extensive outrages committed on Monday and Tuesday were discussed and agreed upon; and their objects were stated to be the attainment of “the people’s charter,” and of “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.”

On Monday morning the plans previously laid began to be rapidly developed. Messrs. Bayley’s spinners and weavers did not go to work; and, having been joined by reinforcements from Ashton and the neighbourhood, consisting, not only of spinners and weavers, but of colliers, labourers, and workpeople of all descriptions, they went in succession to all the mills in Stalybridge, and insisted on the steam engines being stopped, and the hands sent out of the mills. As is usual on such occasions, the mob were headed by a number of big lads, who made a great noise. These were followed by a few men and women, mixed indiscriminately together; and to these succeeded the main body. Not gaining access to the mills of Messrs. John and Jeremiah Lees so soon as they expected, the mob set to work, and ripped the planks out of the large doors. They also broke the lodge and mill windows. They got into the mill yard, and abused several of the hands; who, it appears, had been attempting to effect their escape by another door. Messrs. Cheetham’s hands, it appears, had not gone to their work at all, no doubt knowing what was to happen, and not choosing to have the trouble of being turned out. The ringleaders of the mob having insisted on the people from the various mills joining them, they soon formed a numerous body. …

They next went into the town of Ashton, and divided into two bodies; one of which, after visiting and stopping Messrs. Whittaker and Son’s mill, at Hurst, went to Oldham. The other party visited all the other mills in Ashton, after which, proceeding through Denton and Crown Point, and having forced the journeyman hatters to join them, they went forward to Hyde, where they stopped the whole of the factories.

In the evening a meeting was held at Ashton, and another yesterday (Tuesday) morning, when Mr. George Southam, who happened to be present, was called to the chair. Several persons addressed the meeting; and, after a resolution was passed insisting upon wages being advanced to the prices of the year 1840, it was determined to proceed in a body to Manchester. …

Source 3c

We resume and continue such an account as time and the state of the town permit us to make, of the proceedings in Manchester during this day (Wednesday).

At six this morning about 2,000 people assembled in Granby Row Fields. Mr. Crossley in the chair. When our reporter arrived, Mr. Doyle, a chartist, was addressing the meeting. After addressing them at considerable length, he advised them not to return to their work until their wages were advanced, he moved, that the meeting should form into a procession and go peaceably through the towns of Manchester and Salford. …

Having formed in procession, they proceeded along Granby Row. In passing near the Manchester and Sheffield Railway, they forced the labourers, who were at work on the line, to throw down their tools and go along with them. “No one,” they said, “should work till they had got their rights.” On their way to Ancoats-street, they sent a deputation to the factory of Messrs. Waterhouse and Thompson, Temple-street, demanding that the hands should be turned out, which was done, and the greater number joined the crowd. On making the same demand at the factory of Messrs. Barnes, Jackson-street, a refusal was given at first; but, on their commencing to break a few windows, the engine was stopped amid the cheers of the mob. The next resting-place of the crowd, which had now swelled to nearly 10,000 persons, was in Ancoats-street, in the neighbourhood of Messrs. Kennedy’s mill, which was protected by Superintendent Cochrane and the C division of police. Having placed fifty of the police across the street, in such a manner as to prevent the passing and repassing of any one, this led to a collision between them and the mob; stones were thrown, and the police, who, however, kept their ground manfully, succeeded in keeping back the crowd till a party of cavalry arrived. …

Source 3d

The mill of Messrs. Stirling and Beckton, Lower Mosley-street, which suffered so severely on the previous evening, was visited by several parties during the morning, who called on the hands to come out and join the procession. Finding that there was no disposition to comply with this request, the mob began to throw stones at the windows of the mill, and also at the doors and window-shutters of the dwelling house of Mr. Beckton, the latter of which soon became a total wreck.

The cavalry having arrived, they endeavoured to disperse the rioters, who now became audacious, and therefore seemed disposed to resist for a while; but on the soldiers drawing their swords and dashing into the midst of them, they fled in all directions. … On reaching Blackfriars-street, the crowd, which had increased in numbers by this time, turned down towards Salford; but on their way, they drew up in front of Messrs. Jenkinson and Bow’s machine shop, and began to throw stones at the windows. After breaking nearly a hundred panes of glass, the men were turned out amid the cheers of the crowd. They next visited the works of Messrs. Salmon and Marshalls, tool-makers, Greengate; Mr. Makin’s silk winding shop, next door to the Red Lion Inn; Mr. Harding’s thread mill, Cranage-street, Greengate; Mr. Butler’s dye-works, Greengate; and Messrs. Eveleigh and Neave’s hat manufactory, Greengate, and in every instance succeeded in turning out the hands. Passing along Broughton Road, one or two boys went into the shop of James Faulkner, provision dealer, and asked for bread. He gave them a 4lb. loaf, which was instantly torn to pieces in the crowd.

Glossary  Transcript

turning workers out of the factories, stopping their work, and marching through the streets

commencement beginning
pretext excuse
abatement reduction
attainment achievement; getting
collier person who digs or transports or deals in coal
journeyman a qualified worker who has finished an apprenticeship and is now employed by someone to work in that particular trade
disposition inclination; mood
disperse scatter in different directions
audacious daring; bold
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