The Manchester Collection
About the Manchester Collection
The Manchester Collection is a rich series of records provided by Manchester City Council's Libraries, Information and Archives. They give details about how Manchester ancestors lived, particularly in the Victorian period, thereby providing colour to family history. Even if you do not live in Manchester now, you may have had ancestors there and these records will prove to be an essential resource.
The records comprise:
- Apprentices: 690 indentures, ranging from 1700-1849
- Baptism and birth registers: covering 1734-1920
- Cemetery and death records: around 175,000 names for 1750-1968
- Industrial school admission and discharge registers: almost 6,000 records c1866-1912
- Manchester Naturalisation Society – records for 542 individuals for the period 1896-1909
- Marriage registers: covering 1734-1808
- Prison registers: 247,765 records covering 1847-1881
- School admission registers: around 158,000 records c1870-1916
- Workhouse registers: 357,000 admission registers, 280,000 creed registers, 16,000 discharge registers
Here is a sample record from the Manchester Prison Registers 1847-1881. The record shows details of Mary Smith, a 91 year old hawker who was imprisoned in Belle Vue prison, West Gorton for seven days for being drunk and riotous.
Mary's record demonstrates the valuable detail to be found in the Manchester Collection. It provides this description of Mary's appearance and tattoos: 'Face wrinkled, lost all teeth. Blue letters MCSH and mask above right elbow'. The record also tells us that Mary was just 4ft 10 inches tall. Mary was born at sea and was discharged from the prison on 18 July 1870.
Click on the image for a larger version Mary is third on the list.Learn more about the Manchester Collection
For in-depth background information and comment regarding Manchester archival records and especially those relating to its industrial schools, prisons and workhouses, we recommend Gerard Lodge's Manchester Family History Research website. We would like to acknowledge the use of some of Gerard's case studies in the contextual help pages on findmypast.co.uk and in the press releases and other publicity used in the launch of The Manchester Collection.
Begin with the basics
The name of the person you are searching for may not be recorded in the way you expect. Henry John Davies, for example, may have been recorded as Henry Davies, Henry J Davies, H Davies, or even H J Davies. We would therefore suggest that you initially search using their last name only. If you receive too many results, you can then add a first name to narrow them down.
If you don’t find the result you want first time, it is worth trying every possible variation in the first name field. If you’ve included a middle name in your search, try searching the first name only.
Your ancestor might have used a different first name in everyday life from the one that appears on official records. For example, your great-uncle Jack’s birth name might have been John. If you can’t find someone recorded under the name you expect, try variations of that name. And if you still can’t find your ancestor using their full forename, try entering their first initial instead.
We’ve added an ‘Include variants’ tickbox next to the ‘Last name’ field to allow for common differences in spelling or incorrect spelling. For example, if you search for the name ‘Foakes’ while ticking the variants option, you may also get results for ‘Folks’, ‘Fookes’, ‘Forkes’, ‘Foukes’, ‘Foulkes’ and ‘Fowkes’.