St Helens families of folk caught up in a terrible but history-changing episode of Britain’s past are being sought.
Heritage experts are hoping to connect the tales of those who were present at the Peterloo Massacre with the stories of today by searching for descendants.
More than 60,000 people assembled in Manchester on August 16, 1819 seeking rights and equality.
Confronted by local government forces, the day would end with the death of 18 and the injury of around 700.
Two centuries later the potential number of descendants is vast, as is the geographical area they could live in and the variety of stories that link to this watershed moment in history. Could you be a Peterloo Descendant?
The search will draw upon the expertise of Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society and Michala Hulme, a leading oral historian and genealogist based at Manchester Metropolitan University.
This is one of a number of projects that forms Peterloo 2019, led by Manchester Histories and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
One of the starting points of the research is a photograph of the Failsworth Veterans of Peterloo, in which 11 men and women are pictured together.
Ms Hulme said: “We want to trace the story of Peterloo through the generations, to understand the impact of its legacy in the lives of people. 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.”
Karen Shannon, chief executive of Manchester Histories, said: “Our approach to the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre is to connect and explore the threads of what happened then to the issues and world of today.
"Peterloo Descendants seems a fitting way to reflect upon the journey of democratic reform and the point that we are at 200 years later.”
Anyone who thinks their ancestors witnessed those events of 1819 and would like to get involved in or follow the project’s progress, is asked to email Janine Hague (project manager for Peterloo 2019) with the details that they 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.