On 16 August 1819, blood ran in the streets of Manchester. 18 people were killed and hundreds injured attending a peaceful demonstration at St Peter’s Field, now the area around St Peter’s Square. 60,000 people had gathered to demand the vote. The massacre became known as Peterloo. A major event in Manchester’s history and a defining moment for Britain’s democracy.
As well as political prints and poems, everyday items such as ceramic jugs and handkerchiefs immortalised and commemorated the massacre. Such items showed the owner’s support of the reform cause, and helped sustain the memories of its martyrs.
There were a number of commemorative medals produced following Peterloo, however, this medal is believed to be one of the only surviving examples of its kind.
It features a much more hostile and angry slogan than medals produced later.
It is thought that the medal may have been produced to raise funds for the victims of the massacre, although this is unconfirmed.
‘The front of the Peterloo commemorative medal depicts a scene with the yeomanry riding into the crowd, with one holding up a cap of liberty on a pole. The
inscription on the back of the medal reads, ‘The magistrates and Yeomanry of Manchester God confound them’, and the inscription round the edge reads, ‘These things will not endure nor be endured’.
The more common type of commemorative medal from the time includes an inscription on the back from the Book of Psalms 37th psalm, ‘The wicked have drawn out the sword. They have cut down the poor and needy and such as be of upright conversation’.
Part of the national commemorations marking 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre, this commemorative medal featured in the Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest exhibition at People’s History Museum in 2019 to tell the story of Peterloo and highlights its relevance today.