‘Orator’ Hunt, radical mobilisation and the Peterloo massacre

October 16, 2019

To mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre Professor John Belchem will be talking to us about the part played in those momentous events by Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt

In marking the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre, it is appropriate to reconsider and reassess the role of Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt, the star attraction at the ill-fated meeting on St Peter’s Fields Manchester on 16 August 1819. As depicted in Mike Leigh’s recent epic film of the massacre, the white-hatted Hunt appears as a conceited gentlemanly figure, far removed from the north, its poverty and distress, swanning into Manchester in August 1819 for a one-off headline appearance before adoring large crowds. Such a portrayal fails to do justice either to Hunt or the people who flocked to hear him.  Amidst the deepening distress in the post-war years after Waterloo, Hunt – the ‘intrepid champion of the people’s rights’ – was tireless and unbending in the escalating extra-parliamentary campaign for universal manhood suffrage, annual parliaments and the ballot. Undeterred by government repression, the spy system, or the cost to his own finances, it was the fearless Hunt with his stentorian voice and showman’s headgear, who mobilised workers in the north and across the country to demand their rights in the build up to Peterloo.

The lecture will be on Wednesday, 16 October 2019, in the top floor meeting room of Liverpool Central Library starting at 2 p.m.

Please check the website for any last-minute changes.