William Sherwin was born in 1799. As a young man he moved to London and found work as the keeper of Southwell Bridewell. However, he lost his job when it was discovered that he was a supporter of Tom Paine. (1)
Sherwin found employment as a printer and in April 1817, he joined forces with Richard Carlile, a journalist, to form a publishing business. The company began publishing the radical journal, Sherwin's Political Register. Sherwin was a supporter of Henry 'Orator' Hunt and his campaign for parliamentary reform. Joel H. Wiener described the newspaper as "one of the formative radical journals in early nineteenth-century Britain". (2) Although Sherwin was only 18 years-old his newspaper was the "most cogent and well written of the periodicals". (3)
Sherwin praised the work of the Church in its role in the education of children: "If the Bible Societies, and the Sunday School societies have been attended by no other good, they have at least produced one beneficial effect - they have been the means of teaching many thousands of children to read." (4)
Richard Carlile was p[resent at the Peterloo Massacre. Carlile managed to avoid being arrested and after being hidden by local radicals, he took the first mail coach to London. The following day placards for Sherwin's Political Register began appearing in London with the words: 'Horrid Massacres at Manchester'. A full report of the meeting appeared in the next edition of the newspaper. The authorities responded by raiding Carlile's shop in Fleet Street and confiscating his complete stock of newspapers and pamphlets. (5)
William Sherwin decided to withdraw from the business and the following week the newspaper changed its name to The Republican. (6)
The meeting was one of the most calm and orderly that I have ever witnessed. No less than 300,000 people were assembled. Mr. Hunt started his speech when a cart was moved through the middle of the field to the great annoyance and danger of the assembled people, who quietly endeavoured to make way for its procedure. The cart had no sooner made its way through, when the Yeomanry Cavalry made their appearance from the same quarter as the cart had gone out. They galloped furiously round the field, going over every person who could not get out of their way.
The Yeomanry Cavalry made their charge with a most infuriate frenzy; they cut down men, women and children, indiscriminately, and appeared to have commenced a pre-meditated attack with the most insatiable thirst for blood and destruction. They merit a medallion, on one side of which should be inscribed 'The Slaughter Men of Manchester', and a reverse bearing a description of their slaughter of defenceless men, women and children, unprovoked and unnecessary. As a proof of meditated murder of the part of the magistrates, every stone was gathered from the ground on the Friday and Saturday previous to the meeting, by scavengers sent there by the express command of the magistrates, that the populace might be rendered more defenceless. The meeting was one of the most calm and orderly that I have ever witnessed. No less than 300,000 people were assembled. The Yeomanry Cavalry made their charge. They cut down men, women and children, and appeared to attack with a thirst for blood.