William Jolliffe

William Jolliffe, the eldest son of the Rev. William Jolliffe, was born on 7th December 1800. William Jolliffe joined the 15th Hussars and at the age of nineteen took part in the events at St. Peter's Field on 16th August 1819. Lieutenant Jolliffe was at Deansgate when he received orders to go to St. Peter's Field. When Jolliffe arrived the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry had already moved into the crowd. The Yeomanry appeared to be in trouble and Lieutenant-Colonel George L'Estrange, the military commander in Manchester, ordered Jolliffe and the rest of the 15th Hussars to rescue them.

Jolliffe left the 15th Hussars with the rank of captain. In 1832 he unsuccessfully stood as Tory candidate for Petersfield. He obtained the seat in 1833 but was defeated in 1835. Successful in the 1837 General Election he held the Petersfield seat until 1866 when he was granted the title Baron Hylton. William Jolliffe died on 1st June 1876 at Merstham House, near Reigate. .

Primary Sources

(1) Lieutenant Jolliffe was interviewed by George Pellew about the Peterloo Massacre. Jolliffe's account appeared in George Pellew's book Viscount Sidmouth in 1847.

A platform had been erected near the centre of the field, from which Mr. Hunt and others were to address the multitude, and the magistrates, having ordered a strong body of constables to arrest the speakers, unfortunately imagined that they should support the peace officers by bringing up the troop of Yeomanry at a walk.

We arrived at St. Peter's Field with Colonel L'Estrange. It was then for the first time that I saw the Manchester troop of Yeomanry; they were scattered singly, or in small groups over the greater part of the field, literally hemmed up and hedged into the mob so that they were powerless either to make an impression or to escape. The small body of horsemen were entirely at the mercy of the people by whom they were, on all sides, pressed upon and surrounded. It only required a glance to discover their helpless position, and the necessity of our being brought to the rescue.

The Hussars drove the people forward with the flats of their swords, but sometimes, as is almost inevitably the case when men are placed in such situations, the edge was used, both by the Hussars and, as I have heard, by the Yeoman also; but I believe nine out of ten of the sabre wounds were caused by the Hussars. I still consider that it redounds to the humane forbearance of the men of the 15th that more wounds were not received, when the vast numbers are taken into consideration with whom they were brought into hostile collision; beyond all doubt, however, the far greater amount of injuries were from the pressure of the routed multitude.

(2) In his interview with George Pellew, Lieutenant Jolliffe explained what happened after the meeting had been broken up.

Carriages were brought to convey the wounded to the Manchester Infirmary. For some time the town was patrolled by the troops, the streets being nearly empty, and the shops for the most part closed. We then returned to the barracks.