Oldham Historical Research Group

William Rowbottom's Diary as published in the Oldham Standard



No. XC


The flag or collors that where presented to the above corps on the 21st, where delivered by Mrs. Taylor, the mother of Captain Taylor, commandent of the corps, who, on delivery to them, made a very ammiabel speech on the ocation.

June 22nd -Died at Oldham, John Hall, an old collior, aged upwards above 70 years.

June 30th -This morning died, near Chadderton, John Fish, a man far advanced in years; and the Oldham Cavalry returned from Preston, where they had been on duty a few days.

Extreem wet and cold concludes this month, which much retards the farmers for beginning the hay harvest.

July 17th -Died Mr. Harry Gatlif, of Couldhurst-lane, hat manufacturer, age about 20 years; disorder, a consumption.

July 12th -Monday, the opening of the new peal of ten bells in the new steeple at Ashton-under-Line, when fifteen sets from different places rung upon these musical bells.

24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th – Uncomon hot days.

The bell tower at Ashton Parish Church, now being restored would be a receptacle for these ten bells, and it may be of interest to those concerned in its restoration to note the date of the opening of these bells.

July 24th -Stockport, last night, William Birch, constable, arived here with his prisoner, Parson Harrison, whom he aprehended at London on a charge of sedition, when he was malisciously shot. The ball could not be extracted, and he is dangerously wounded.

The shooting of Constable Birch was a great cause of alarm, and was supposed to be a serious reflection on what the reformers were prepared to do to gain their ends. He had landed his prisoner, and the house where he and his prisoner were, which I am told was a farmhouse, was surrounded by an angry mob.

next column

Birch, who was supposed to be a popular constable, ventured out of the house, and made his way through the mob. In doing so he received a shot from behind. It is said that an Irishman fired this shot, who was tried for the offence at Chester. Birch lived many years after, and at his death a post-mortem examination was made, and the bullet was found in one of his ribs.

Meetings for reform have been held in the following places:- London, Birmingham, Manchester, Stockport, Macclesfield, Ashton-under-Line, Oldham, Blackburn, Rochdale, Leeds, Huddersfield, &c. Bills of indictment have been found against some of the principal speakers; several have been aprehended, and have got bailed. Mr. Wm. Fitton, of Royton, is one of the number.

E. Butterworth says: "Mr. William Fitton, surgeon, of Royton, a practical and comprehensive advocate of Parliamentary Reform, delivered his first public address at the county meeting held at Preston, February, 1817, for the purpose of voting an address to the Prince. Regent on the atrocious attempt which had just previously been made on the Royal person. In August, 1819, Mr. Fitton was indicted for taking part in an alleged sedition meeting held at Blackburn (probably the one mentioned in this annal), but it does not appear that he was imprisoned for the offence. This popular speaker was the chief adviser of the small but firm band of Radical reformers at Oldham, who proved themselves the truest supporters of the cause of Radical reform in any part of the country. These individuals ultimately became the leaders of one of the principal political parties in the borough, adopting as the basis of their views the opinions of Mr. Wm. Cobbett. On the introduction of the Reform Bill in the House of Commons in 1831 Mr. Fitton was mainly instrumental in taking such measures as ultimately secured the inclusions of the three townships of Royton, Crompton, and Chadderton within the borough of Oldham. Mr. Fitton died November 15th, 1840.”

July 27th -Last night, John Chadwick, shopkeeper, West-street, Oldham, was robbed in Oldham of cash to the amount of 90 pounds.

Hay harvest, the greatest quantity and the best cured and housed or ricked that ever was known in the memory of man, for it is an absolute fact that the crops are nearly doubled in consequence of the unpareled fine weather. Never such quantity of hay was so well got in before. But the favours of heaven doth not stop here, for the crops of all kinds of grain and pottatoes are the most promising, and such a quantity of goosberrys as was never known before, and all kinds of vegetation was luxurant and the crops great.


Among other products, gooseberries come in for special mention, for the reason, as I suppose, that they were grown largely in the cottage gardens about Oldham. Does anyone know why this fruit was called in Oldham “fayberry?” Not that it was food for the fays, or was produced under their special influence as some suppose, but that gooseberry was another term for feaberry, which, according to Bailey, was a south country word sometimes found as “feabs.” Tim Bobbin has the word feaberry, and the Imperial Dictionary gives feaberry and gooseberry as interchangeable words.

Carbineers, or 6th Regiment, on Saterday, July 30th, two com-troop of the 6th Regiment arrived in Oldham to do duty during the disturbed times.

August 2nd -Died at Whitaker-fold, James Clegg, shoemaker; disorder, an inflammation; age, 70 years.

Proclamations where stuck up in most parts of the country, signed by the magistrates of Cheshire and Lancashire, warning the public not to attend reform meetings; and one signed by the Prince Regent, warning the country against meetings and exaarsizeing, &c.

Bamford makes much of old Major Cartwright’s injunction, “Hold fast by the laws,” but it would seem that these proclamations were disregarded by the Radicals. Meetings were still held, and “exercising” still went on according to Bamford; and though the Manchester meeting of August 9th was allowed to be suppressed, one for the 16th was soon after called, which lewd to much mischief and bloodshed.

August 3rd -Abraham Taylor, comonly called Abraham of Elcanos, in a fit of dispair, hanged himself. He resided at Glodwick; his age 81 years.

August 8th -Died near Edge-lane, John Wooley, formerly servant to Thomas Horton, Esquire, Sir William Horton, Bart., all of Chadderton Hall, aged 82 years.

August 10th -Last night died, at Tetlow Fold, Jenny, daughter of Edward Barlow. He is servant to Mr. Hadfield, late of North Hulme; disorder, a fever; age 16 years.

A few days since Mr. Hadfield and family left North Hulme for Oldham, and Mr. Butterworth entered on North Hulme.

next column

North Hulme is not, that I am aware of, the name of any place in Oldham to-day. We have West Hulme. By-the-way, what is the meaning of Hulme? Some say it was a kind of island, or habitable tenement made out of and surrounded by a swamp or morass, and Davyhulme and Levenshulme are spoken of as examples. I know not what truth there is in this statement.

The weather for some time has been excessive hot.

Goosberrys there as been the greatest quantity ever remembered. Prices from 2s. 3 1/2d. per quart.

August 16th -Manchester public meeting praying for universal sufferage and annual parliaments was holden this day. An emence number of people attended from all the neighbouring parts, and several parties had elegant flags with different mottos there on, particularly from Stockport, Ashton, Oldham Royton, Saddleworth, and all the neighbouring towns. The meeting, which consisted of upwards of seventy thousand, was conducted in the most peaceable and orderly manner, but when the celebrated Mr. Hunt had taken the chair, a large number of constables with the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry Cavalary, and the 15th Hussars and 31st Regement of Foot made a tremendous dash at the hustings, took the speakers into custody, took and destroyed all the collors and flags, one from Middleton excepted. The cavallarry and the constables made sad havoc uppon the poor defencless people. The constables, wi’ there trunchion and the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry Cavalry, with there sabres; a number where killed on the spot, and report says upwards of 300 wounded, and some very dangerously. To the honour of the regular soldiers they shewed the greatest forebearance, and shewed a deal of humanity. The following are amongst the killed:- Mr. Ashworth, of Bull’s Head, Market-place, Manchester; Mr. Parkinson from Eccles; John Ashton, from Cowhill, near Oldham; William Fildes, an infant of Manchester; Joseph Whitworth, from Hide. An emence number where wounded, and a great number severely wounded, and some dangerously. Mr. Hunt, the chairman, and the different speakers where torn off the hustings, and conveyed to the New Bayley, where part were committed to Lancaster and part-bailed; their charge was misdemeanour.

Among all the past years of the present century none stands out from the rest in such ghastly prominence as the year of Peterloo. It comes up before the mental vision like the imaginary ghost of one who has been murdered. Judging by these annals, 1819 was a year of agricultural plenty.

Page 137

previous page link
diary page links
next page link

William Rowbottom's Diary as published in the Oldham Standard
Transcribed by Mary Pendlbury & Elaine Sykes
Courtesy of Oldham Local Studies & Archives
Not to be reproduced without permission of Oldham Local Studies & Archives.
Header photograph © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for re-use under the C.C. Licence.'Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0'

link to home page
Oldham in Gazetteers link
From the archives link
link to members' pages
link to News
link to miscellaneous pages
links page