a black and white photo of elderly people in Victorian clothes outside a cottage

Peterloo Veterans who Peterloo Veterans who assembled at Failsworth in 1884 © Gallery Oldham

This photograph of 11 men and women shows the Failsworth Veterans of the Peterloo Massacre at a Great Reform Demonstration in Failsworth, Lancashire (now Greater Manchester) on September 27 1884.

A good 65 years after the event, these ageing Victorian veterans were by then in their eighties, but they offered a tangible link with an event that was already firmly lodged in the nation’s consciousness and regarded as one of the watershed moments in our democratic history.

Now for Peterloo 2019, the nationwide commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, researchers are hoping to connect the stories of those who were present in Manchester on 16 August 1819, with the stories of today by searching for the Peterloo Descendants.

It is thought 60,000 people assembled in St Peter’s Fields on that fatefull day to call for rights and equality. Confronted by local government forces, the day would end with the death of 18 and the injury of around 700.

Two hundred years later the potential number of descendants is vast, as is the geographical area they could live in and the variety of stories that link them to this moment in British history.

“We want to trace the story of Peterloo through the generations”

The search for Peterloo Descendants will draw upon the expertise of Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society and Michala Hulme, a leading oral historian and genealogist based at Manchester Metropolitan University.

“We want to trace the story of Peterloo through the generations, to understand the impact of its legacy in the lives of people,” says Hulme who lectures in history at the University.

“We know that in a number of towns Veterans of Peterloo met in the years after the massacre, but records from the time itself are limited in their nature and in what they reveal. So we are also fascinated to hear from anyone who believes they have a family link to Peterloo.”

If you think that your family had a presence in the events that unfolded on 16 August 1819 and would like to find out more about Peterloo Descendants and how you might get involved or follow the progress, please email Janine Hague (Project Manager for Peterloo 2019) with the details that you have available at Janine@manchesterhistories.co.uk.

Those interested in starting an exploration into their own family history to see whether they have any Peterloo connections will be able to take part in a Genealogy Open Day that Peterloo 2019 will host during the summer.

Peterloo 2019 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre with a programme of public events, learning and creative exploration that has been developed through the partnership work of cultural organisations and communities, led by Manchester Histories and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This is one of a number of projects that forms Peterloo 2019, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

To find out more about plans for 2019 and the public events that will take place visit: ManchesterHistories.co.uk and Peterloo1819.co.uk.