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Genealogy day to help find Peterloo descendants


A descendants genealogy project is one of the leading elements of Peterloo 2019, an exciting programme of events and resources marking the Peterloo Massacre bicentenary in Manchester this summer.


Led by Manchester Histories, Peterloo 2019 commemorates the 200th anniversary of the massacre on 16 August 2019, when 60,000 men, women and children were brutally attacked by troops, leaving 18 dead and around 700 injured.


Appeal for descendants

The Peterloo Descendants project has seen Manchester Histories working with Michala Hulme, a genealogist and historian at Manchester Metropolitan University. Following an appeal for descendants, Michala has been working through their stories and undertaking research to help people find out more about their relatives and their roles in the tragedy.


One family is tracing the story of their 2x great-grandfather, who according to records is believed to have been one of the Special Constables under the command of Deputy Constable Joseph Nadin. For another their story shows the chapter of history that followed Peterloo; John Stafford and his two brothers and sister were witnesses and he went on to be a prominent member of the Chartist Movement.


The project has also uncovered stories passed down the generations, such as that of Rochdale clockmaker Thomas Chadwick, a marcher who wrote at the time of those he’d seen wounded. Other relatives are using the Book of Injured to start tracing their ancestors’ stories. Funds were set up to support the injured and these are one way of identifying them, such as John Booth, whose family kept a receipt of payment.


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Some descendants even have artefacts and these, as well as family members, have ended up in many different parts of the world. A spokesperson for Manchester Histories said: ‘Whilst the family of Martha Clay, present at Peterloo at the age of 10, has a photograph taken of as her an old lady. Others, such as the family of Thomas Tuke, have a fascinating connection, as it was he who painted a portrait of Henry Hunt during his visit to Manchester.’


A number of descendants contacted the project from overseas, including a US family who will be taking part in a film bringing all the stories together, being screened in Manchester this autumn. The family is visiting the city for the anniversary to remember those of Peterloo and their 3x great-grandfather Richard Carlile, who spoke on the hustings beside Henry Hunt.


Free Trace your Peterloo People event


A free ‘Trace your Peterloo People’ event takes place at Manchester Central Library on 13 July, 10am. Throughout the day there will be different activities taking place with the aim of providing the assistance needed for people to start or develop their own family tree. A workshop with Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society will give beginners the opportunity to take part in a one-to-one session that could be the first step to uncovering their own Peterloo past. As well as expert assistance there will be access to a wealth of resources.


Michala Hulme will be giving both a talk about the research she’s been doing into Peterloo descendants, tracing links over 200 years of family history, and carrying out a hands-on Masterclass. The Masterclass is intended to help those on their research journey advance their progress, and will include computer-based work. Also featured are a series of tours of the Library and its Vaults, including a look at the Peterloo archives in the Search room.


The sessions take place at different times across the day starting from 10am and are bookable on an individual basis. Suitable for all ages, you can book sessions here.


Find details of the full Peterloo 2019 programme of events, exhibitions and even the unveiling of a new memorial here.


You can read about the events surrounding the Peterloo Massacre in the August 2019 issue of Family Tree, on sale from 2 July 2019.


Images: Peterloo Massacre 1819 commemorative glass plate © People's History Museum, which is holding an exhibition, Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest exhibition as part of the Peterloo 2019 anniversary events; Peterloo veterans assembled in Failsworth, Manchester, 1884 © Gallery Oldham.



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