Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17


Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

Among the throng on St. Peter’s Field it was reported that some banners

were seen saying ‘Bread or Blood’, ‘Liberty or Death’ and ‘Equal

Representation or Death’. Hunt had barely made it onto the stage when

the 15th Hussars, dispatched by magistrate the Rev. Hay, later the Vicar

of Rochdale, rode, with sabers drawn, into the crowd . Eleven people

were killed and 400 injured in what became known as the Peterloo



The government of the day finally addressed the parliamentary reform

issue in 1832, by passing the Parliamentary Reform Act. Unfortunately,

for the majority of the people in Rochdale and around the country

nothing changed. The Act abolished ‘Rotten Boroughs’ and gave their

seats to new towns including Rochdale. It extended the franchise but only

on the basis of wealth to £10 householders in boroughs and £50 tenants

in the counties. In Rochdale this meant that 687 out of a population of

28,000 could now vote.

Rightly or wrongly, the mass of the working-class saw the right to vote

as a chance to influence government policy (something that continues

to be almost impossible, even with universal sufferage) and to improve

their miserable lot. A national movement known as Chartism grew up

to address this working-class discontent. It derived its name from the six

point charter that set out the demands of the organization, demands

which some were prepared to back with force if necessary:

1. Universal (male) sufferage.

2. Annual Parliaments.

3. Vote by (secret) ballot.


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