‘The Manchester Collection’, including parish, school, prison and workhouse records, is a series of records provided by Manchester City Council’s Libraries, Information and Archives.
The Manchester Collection consists of eight record sets with nearly 1,300,000 records that cover Manchester and some parts of Lancashire, due to boundary changes over the centuries. The records can be found at the Find My Past website.
The full series on the site comprises prison registers spanning 1847-1881, industrial school admission and discharge registers, c1866-1912, school admission registers c1870-1916, apprentice records ranging from 1700-1849, baptism and birth registers covering 1734-1920, cemetery and death records for 1750-1968, marriage registers covering 1734-1808 and finally, workhouse registers, which include admission registers, creed registers and discharge registers.
The prison register records are some of the most fascinating within the collection giving details of the crimes committed and full particulars of the prisoners, including a description of what they looked like. This index contains 247,765 records for the period 1847-1881. The records cover Belle Vue Prison, New Bailey Prison and Strangeways.
Industrial Schools Indexes
Industrial schools were set up in the middle of the 19th century to provide lodging for destitute children. They were intended to prevent vulnerable children from falling into criminality; children would be educated and taught a trade and could be there for a set period or throughout their education. They were also ‘youth detention centres,’ where Victorian children were sent following anti-social acts for rehabilitation.
Debra Chatfield, marketing manager at findmypast.co.uk comments: “These records are a fascinating insight into the crimes of the Victorian era and provide so much more detail than census records. Many of the crimes carried out and their subsequent punishments are quite shocking, and are far removed from what we are familiar with today. For example, stealing one lump of coal could get you seven days hard labour. Imagine what the recent English rioters would have faced if they had been under Victorian law and order.
“Even if you do not live in Manchester now, you may have had ancestors there 100 or more years ago and these records will prove to be an essential resource in tracing your family history. Manchester is one of the largest cities in the UK, and by making these records available online people will be able to discover even more about the lives of their Mancunian ancestors.”