A number of commemorative medals were produced following the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, but this one, recently acquired by the People’s History Museum in Manchester, is believed to be one of the earliest.
Its closeness to the terrible events of the notorious massacre of August 16 of 1819 when 18 people in a crowd of 60,000 protestors were charged and killed by local yeomanry in St Peter’s Fields in Manchester, may explain the combative slogan that appears on its reverse.
“The magistrates and yeomanry of Manchester God confound them”, and round the edge “These things will not endure or be endured”.
The medal’s design, with women children and a protestor holding aloft a French revolutionary cap as they as charged and sabred, is equally rousing and a match for the visceral cartoons and illustrations of the period.
With Mike Leigh’s Peterloo film due for release this year and a slew of commemorative events marking the bicentenary in 2019, the medal made a brief appearance at the museum in August as a foretaste of things to come.
The People’s History Museum, in partnership with the Working Class Movement Library is now actively building on the strengths of both collections by acquiring material related to the fight for the vote, from the Peterloo protest in 1819 to lowering the voting age in 1969.
From January 2019 the museum’s exploration of the legacy of Peterloo will begin with a new display of banners, specially selected to reflect key moments of protest, and in spring the museum’s headline exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo & Protest will open featuring objects from the museum’s unique collection, including original Peterloo artefacts alongside newly acquired pieces including the rare medal.