Manchester Chronicle

The Manchester Chronicle was one of the four Tory newspapers in Manchester during the early part of the 19th Century. Founded by Charles Wheeler in the 1781 the Manchester Chronicle was the most popular Tory papers in the city, selling over 3,000 copies a week. Over half of the paper was taken up with advertisement. Although it was considered a dull newspaper, the Manchester Chronicle had a loyal following with those who opposed social reform.

Charles employed his son John and Jeremiah Garnett as reporters. The two men also had to help with the printing of the newspaper. Jeremiah Garnett had been their reporter at the Peterloo Massacre. Although Garnett had his reporter's notebook confiscated by a special constable, he was still able to write a full description of what happened. Charles Wheeler, disapproved of Garnett's account and refused to print his article. The article that appeared was written by Wheeler and strongly defended the action of the magistrates and soldiers. Garnett resigned in protest and later John Edward Taylor employed Garnett on the Manchester Guardian. Charles Wheeler died in 1827 aged seventy-one. The Manchester Chronicle ceased publication in 1842.

Primary Sources

(1) The Manchester Chronicle (21st August, 1819)

The Magistrates, the Boroughreeves and Constables of Manchester and Salford, an immense body of Special Constables, and the various force of military and artillery were in motion for their appointed duties. The latter consisted of our own Yeomanry Cavalry, under Major Trafford; the Prince Regent's Cheshire Yeomanry were under Lieutenant-Colonel Townsend; the 15th Hussars from the Barracks, under Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple; a detachment of the 88th Foot, now stationed in the King Street Barracks, under Colonel McGregor; the Royal Horse Artillery, under Major Dyneley; and a detachment of the 31st Foot, under Lieutenant-Colonel L'Estrange, the able, intelligent, and active officer who commanded the whole and made all the necessary arrangements for the occasion.

The Radical Reformers began to make their formidable appearance. They marched in regiments under regular leaders, and all the appalling insignia, Caps of Liberty, etc. which had been long preparing for what they considered to be a most glorious day. As they progressively advanced to the hustings they were received with the loudest acclamations with huzzas and the clapping of hands.

(2) The Manchester Chronicle (21st August, 1819)

A scene of confusion and terror now existed which defies description. The multitude pressed one another down; and in many parts they lay in masses, piled body upon body. The cries and mingled shouts, with the galloping of the horses, were shocking. Lt.-Col. L'Estrange, the commander of the troops received a tremendous blow on the forehead with a brick, which for a moment deprived him of sense, and he had nearly fallen from his horse. Many of the most respectable Gentlemen of the town were thrown down, ridden over, and trampled upon. One special constable, Mr. Ashworth, of the Bull's Head, in Market Place, was killed on the spot.

Under the circumstances, these actions were unavoidable: not the smallest blame is attached to the Military. It was scarcely to be anticipated that great numbers of the Reformers would come to the meeting prepared with offensive weapons; but it was the case. A class of them were dressed as brewers' servants usually are, with long brats that contain pocket. These pockets were filled with stones.