Manchester Archives have  launched The Manchester Collection via Find My Past. Many examples were used from this site were used in publicity packs and blogs to announce this launch.

I am just going to deal with records from 1834 onwards when The Poor Law Amendment Act replaced the old poor law system. The new law was administered by the Boards of Guardians of the newly formed Poor Law Unions. Manchester was divided into three Unions, the Manchester Union, the Prestwich Union and the Chorlton Union.

PLEASE NOTE that besides the material available in Manchester Archives, there are also some very useful gems of information in the Local Studies stacks. Abstracts of Accounts (Ref 339M7) are helpful for finding details of staff. From the 1890's they give details of people working at Crumpsall Workhouse, New Bridge Street Workhouse and the Swinton  Industrial Schools. The 20th Century accounts are more detailed, all employees are named and details of pay, addresses, length of service etc are given. There are even details of some former employees. The last volume (1915-1930) gives these details for all the Manchester Union and includes such places as Withington Hospital, Delaunay's Hospital, the Langho Colony, Styal Cottage Homes, Rose Hill School and the Dr Rhodes Memorial Home.

If you have landed on this page via search engine and you have not found what you were looking for, just take a few minutes to look around the site. There is a vast amount of information here about Manchester and the surrounding districts. If you follow this link you may find a few facts about Manchester that you did not know.


The powers of the Guardians extend to all relief to the poor, to building, providing or altering such workhouses, poor houses, &c, as may be required for the poor; to the government and management of such workhouses, &c; and to make contracts in all matters relating to the management of the poor. These powers are to be exercised by the major part of the Guardians who attend any meeting, no such meeting valid except for the purpose of adjourning, unless three Guardians, at least, shall be present, and concur therein. At the first such meeting every Guardian is required to attend, some fixed day will be appointed to hold future meetings, between the hours of eleven and four, and also the place where the meetings are to take place. A chairman is also to be elected, who is to continue to hold till the next annual election. They are to meet at least once in each week. At each meeting the minute of the preceding will first be read over and ordered to be entered into the minute book. Business arising out of such minutes then to be disposed of, and the necessary directions given. The will then have to examine the Treasurer's books of receipts and payments, the collectors' books, the report of the and the accounts of the master and mistress of the workhouse, the relieving officers' account, the medical officers' reports, the report of the clerk respecting the execution of the orders of made by the Board, and his accounts. They will next have to direct the accounts and nature of relief to be given or continued to paupers on the books of the Union, to hear applications for relief...Adjourned or extraordinary meetings may be held when requisite. All questions to be decided by vote, and the chairman for the time being to have also a casting vote, where the numbers are equal. Such chairman to be appointed from the persons attending in the absence of the elected chairman. Strangers are to be excluded from the Board Room unless when their presence is required.

The Officers of the Board subject to the approval of the Poor Law Commissioners are to be, Clerk to the Board, Master and Matron of the Workhouse, Medical Officers, Relieving Officers, Collectors of Rates,  Treasurer, Auditor, and if the Guardians shall think fit, a Chaplain, a Schoolmaster and Mistress and Porter to the Workhouse, and such other assistants and servants as they may deem necessary for the due performance of the duties of the several officers as above stated. The salaries to be settled by the Guardians, subject to the approval of the Commissioners, and legal business done by the Clerk, if a lawyer. The Collectors to be allowed 4d in the pound on all rates and rents above 20 shillings collected by them on account of the union for which they act, and not exceeding 6d in the pound on rates or rents under 20 shillings. Proper security is to be obtained from the officers, and they may be suspended or dismissed by the Guardians subject to the approval of the Commissioners. Upon all these heads, as well as upon the duties of each respective officer, the most clear and concise printed instructions are given, so that the Guardians will have no difficulty in executing the tasks imposed upon them, and seeing others are diligent in their respective duties.

There several popular misconceptions about registration of births and deaths prior to 1874. In Manchester it was not unusual for one of the above to also be a district registrar. The following is an extract from an 1852 Manchester Trade Directory. It follows details of the local Unions, Guardians, Registrars etc...under the heading;


As to Births -  Births may be registered  from six weeks from the time of birth without any charge whatever. After 42 days, the charge for registering a birth will be seven shillings and sixpence; and after the expiration of six months, a birth cannot be registered at all. The Father and Mother, or the occupier of the house in which the child was born, is bound to give the necessary  information to the Registrar  of the district. The information required will be , where born, name (if any), name and maiden name of mother. The child need not be brought to the Registrar's Office.

As to Death - Before burial, every must be registered, and a certificate obtained, from the Registrar of the district, for neither of which can any charge be made. Some person present  at the death,  or in attendance  the last illness, or the occupier of the house in which such death shall have happened, is bound to give the necessary information. The information required  will be - when died, the name and surname, the age, the business or occupation, and the cause of death.



This was formed in 1841 and was made up of Manchester, Blackley, Cheetham, Failsworth,  Harpurhey, Moston, Newton, Prestwich, Great Heaton and Little Heaton. In April 1850 the Manchester Township was declared a separate Union. The remaining townships became the  Prestwich Union. In 1858 Beswick became part of the Union as did Clayton in 1894. Great Heaton and Little Heaton were removed from the Union in 1891. See the Minutes of the Manchester Poor Law Guardians here.


This Union consisted of Ardwick, Burnage, Chorlton-Upon-Medlock, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Didsbury, Gorton (divided into Gorton and West Gorton in 1894), Hulme, Levenshulme, Moss Side, Openshaw,  Rusholme, Stretford and Withington. Barton upon Irwell, Flixton and Urmston were added in 1841 but removed in 1849*. In 1910 the Chorlton Union became the Township of South Manchester for Poor Law purposes.

In 1915 a major reorganisation of the Poor Law Unions took place. The Township of Manchester, the Township of South Manchester and the Prestwich Union were united to form the Manchester Union.


The Manchester Union Workhouse was originally the one at New Bridge St but it was augmented by a new workhouse in Crumpsall. It remained as the main site of the Union until mid 1877. As early as 1865 the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company had approached the Manchester Board of Guardians with a view to buying a portion of the workhouse grounds. This was necessary for the expansion of Victoria Station. This was rejected, but instead the Guardians offered to sell the the whole plot. Reports in 1866 and 1867 stated that the New Bridge Street Workhouse was in need of renovation and needed more space. The Guardians were reluctant to invest funds in the existing site with the activities of the LYR in the area. In September 1872 LYR agreed to purchase more 167,562 sq ft of land, leaving the Guardians with 50,472 sq ft. This portion of land was redeveloped and several wards were built including those for the infirm, lunatics, laying in, and female lock patients. The later being a euphemism for those suffering from gonorrhoea or syphilis. There were also administrative buildings for indoor and outdoor relief. The  War Office  took over the building during the First World War. Eventually even this last portion of the New Bridge Street site was swallowed up, by what was then, the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company. The land was cleared c1929.

Records available: Creed Registers 1881 to 1914. Most of these are available on microfilm at Central Library. The last couple of years have not been filmed but they are available to view at Marshall Street with two working days' notice. ref: Archives GB127.M4/11/29-31. I have also researched the weekly returns from the workhouse, which were previously thought just to contain statistical information. Although there are no names or details of patients included, there is a wealth of information about the staff and the various uses of buildings. They include details about the early operation of the Union including  at sites other than the New Bridge St Workhouse, including Blackley, Prestwich, Canal Street, the Tib Street House of Industry, Minshull Street. The returns also give details of the vast amount of Outdoor Relief that was provided.

This is an example of the information given in the  New Bridge St Creed Registers.

Date of Admission: 24th June 1891. Name: BOWMAN Joseph. Year Born: 1882. From Whence Admitted: No 3 District. Religious Creed: Hebrew. Name of Informant: Self. Discharged or Dead: 24th June. Admitted: 16th July. Discharged: 17th July. Admitted: 17th July. Discharged: 20th July.

As you can see from the dates he was admitted and discharged  on the same day on two separate occasions.


Even before the reports to the Guardians of 1867 and 1868, it was evident that the accommodation available at the New Bridge Street site was not large enough and  in 1854 The Manchester Board of Guardians  purchased the Bongs Estate on which to build  new workhouse  and also a new infirmary. The new workhouse was situated adjacent to the Prestwich Workhouse. Some inmates were in Crumpsall as early as 1857 but the main block was not occupied until the following year. However, it was not until a meeting of the Manchester Board of Guardians on Thursday  14th June 1877 passed a resolution : That the Workhouse of the Township of Crumpsall, with the Infirmary adjoining the same, now in the course of erection, be in future styled "The Manchester Workhouse".


Courtesy of Manchester Local Image Collection


By 1930 the Manchester Union Workhouse had become known as Crumpsall. It was renamed Park House Hospital in 1939. When the National Health Service came into existence it was again renamed. This time it was known as Springfield Hospital. The Infirmary later became known as Crumpsall Hospital. In 1972 the Springfield Hospital, Crumpsall Hospital and the Delaunay's Hospital amalgamated to form Manchester General Hospital.

Some of the records available are: Birth Registers 1934-1948; Death Registers 1933-1945; Death Registers indexes 1924-1954; Admission and Discharge Registers (hospital) 1937-1949; Admission and Discharge Registers (institution) 1933-1938; Register of Admissions to receiving wards 1944-1946 and Mortuary Particulars Book 1946-1948.

NEW CATHOLIC RECORDS FROM FIND MY PAST. This will eventually be the most comprehensive online collection of Roman Catholic records for Britain, Ireland and the USA. TRY A 14 DAY FREE TRIAL NOW.






By the end of 1895 the number of tramps and vagrants trying to enter the Casual Wards of the various  local unions had increased dramatically. In 1885 the New Bridge Street Casual Wards the average weekly number of vagrants was 125, ten years later the weekly average was 1006. On entering a Casual Ward,  vagrants were bound to give their names, occupation, the places where they last slept and where they were going. From the admissions it could been seen that there was a regular pattern of movement. In the Chorlton Casual Ward most men came from the south and were going northwards. At New Bridge Street they came from the east to move to the west. At Salford it was exactly the opposite. Many of the Casual Ward Attendants were seeing the same faces time and time again and some of them stated that many of the vagrants were "professional" tramps. Owing to the large increase in the number of casuals it had been impossible to apply what was technically called the "Labour Test". The Casual Poor Act gave the Unions the authority to detain Casuals who had been given food and shelter for two nights to impose some labour task such as stone breaking. If the same person had shelter twice within in month, the Union was then entitled to detain him for three nights and use them for labour during the daytime. The large numbers meant that the congestion did  not aid much work to be carried out.

In an attempt to solve this problem it was proposed that the Chorlton, Manchester, Prestwich and Salford Unions should provide a Central Casual Ward and Test House. Eventually the Prestwich and Salford Unions decided to go their own ways and the Manchester and Chorlton Unions began to jointly operate the Tame Street Workhouse and Test House in 1896. The site was that of a disused mill. The Test House was used to see that the vagrants were physically fit to work.

In 1900 a fire damaged part of the old mill, but the institution managed to keep operating. A re-building programme was started in 1901. That same  year 25,305  vagrants passed through the jointly operated wards and by 1902 this number was 31,703.

New buildings were  finally completed in mid 1905 and the local papers wrote lengthy pieces about this institution and how in future the City was going to deal with vagrancy. On April 13th 1905 the Manchester Guardian printed: "The new buildings of the Chorlton and Manchester Joint Workhouse in Ancoats are nearing completion. This Institution  which includes a "test" house  and casual wards, is  unique in England, and  is worthy of  some description on its own account. The test-house is more than the ordinary workhouse. It is intended for able-bodied persons who have become chargeable to the  poor rates, and to whom it is undesirable to grant privileges which are commonly enjoyed in the workhouse where adults and children, the healthy and the infirm are alike received. The Township of Manchester and the union of Chorlton have combined to make this distinctive  provision for the healthy destitute, thus leaving the workhouses at Crumpsall and Withington free for a more relaxed  treatment of the infirm and the sick."

The paper went on describe that the Test-house could provide accommodation for 230 person and that generally the two unions could generally find enough suitable case to fill it. Each day apart from Sundays the men were require to break seven hundredweight of stone, or to pound a hundredweight and a half of granite, or to work nine hours at wood chopping, corn grinding, mattress making or cleaning. The women performed their tasks in the laundry or the wifery. The inmates  were provided with the standard "No2" Local Government Board breakfast of six ounces of bread, a pint and a half of porridge and a third of a pint of milk. Dinner; four ounces of meat, twelve ounces of vegetables and four ounces of bread. Supper or tea; seven ounces of bread and a pint and a half of porridge. It was claimed that this "test" system coerced the lazy back to the ordinary labour market by making pauperism  so distasteful to them as it was  to the unfortunate poor. The Test-house was wholly cleared of its inmates four times a year.

The Casuals chargeable to the two unions, as well as the able-bodied poor, were provided for in the new buildings. The Test-house and the Casual Wards covered an area of about two and a half acres. There were nine different blocks, three pavilions for male casuals, two pavilions for the female casuals, two Test-houses for males, one Test-house for females, with the administrative building and the receiving block, with officers' quarters attached. Include in the area was the usual 50 ft gap between the pavilions. The site was bounded on the north by Harrison St, Stone St on the east an Tame St on the south and Kennedy St and the branch canal on the west. The entrance to the Casual Wards was on Tame St and that to the Test-house on Harrison St. When the Joint Committee came into existence as stated earlier the premises were an old mill and a serious fire meant that a building programme was almost a continuous operation. As the mill gradually disappeared inmates and tramps moved into the newly constructed buildings. By 1905 the old mill has disappeared apart from  the 70 ft yard and  the boiler house and the chimney which were incorporated into the commodious premises. In building the new premises there had been no waste upon ornamentation, but there was a lot of window space so that every room had a great deal of light. It was thought that for sanitary reasons no plaster should be used but instead lime washed. There were thirteen baths for the casuals and six or eight for the inmates. A fire escape for each pavilion was provided. The accommodation provide was for 1450 casuals and 230 inmates of the Test-house.

When bad weather occurred the Test-house was usually full. On 1st April when State dole was paid out to old soldiers numbers in the Test-house dropped dramatically. This was the time for spring cleaning to begin. It also meant that other more interesting work than the stone breaking and corn grinding work could be carried out. Much excellent work was carried out by the joiner who was only in the Test-house because he had eight children and was unable to maintain them outside. His children were looked after at Styal and it was felt by the paper that the ratepayers had made a rather good bargain.

The women inmates were largely employed in the laundry where all the washing was done by hand. It was thought that labour saving devises were out of place in an Institution where there was a difficulty in keeping all hands sufficiently occupied. When the had finished their tasks they gathered in a dayroom, the men in one and the women in another. In the  Manchester Guardian's opinion the "casual" problem was the insoluble problem of the Poor Law. It had so far been impracticable for the system to regard him as a an individual  but as one class. The class was nearly hopeless - "a labourer" who had not done any regular work for years, of indescribable habits, wantonly mischievous, a centre for bad example. The honest out-of-work who made an appearance in this class needed to be pitied. Every time a man appeared in a casual ward he was, as a general rule, doomed to two nights and a day to the unavoidable company of savages. This was the most serious hardship of the casual system and it was enough to embitter a respectable working man.

However, at Tame Street they were doing their best to discriminate. for the previous 12 months it had been possible for a genuinely out-of-work man to go in the casual ward in the middle of the day, perform a modified task, and leave the next morning. The Joint Committee had also given the Master the power to excuse men from their tasks if they had some immediate chance of getting employment, and on average 8 per cent of the casuals had been discharged under this discretion on the morning after their admission. Respectable men who wanted to work alone were allowed to in the stone-breaking cells (unlocked), which were really intended for the isolation of casual who may have corrupted others, and sometimes they were given separate sleeping accommodation. The casuals were regularly visited by chaplains.

The admission and discharge procedures were as follows. Every evening when the casual arrived, the men and women were immediately separated. The women were booked in  separately by women officers. After the men were booked in their pockets were emptied, and their matches, tobacco and so forth were put away till the day after the morrow. They were then given their supper consisting of six ounces of bread and a pint of oatmeal gruel. After this there was a bath parade, and one thing about the regular tramps is that they were usually the cleanest to be admitted into the casual wards. The men's clothes were then taken to the disinfection chamber, where they remained till the following morning. After their bath the men were given a flannel night gown, two rugs and a pillow. Their beds were  raised board which placed on the floor of a general dormitory, which in cold weather was artificially heated. Breakfast, the same rations as supper, was served about five o'clock. At six o'clock the allotted tasks were begun - the breaking of seven hundred weight of stone (784 lbs or about 355 kilos), or the pounding of one and a half hundredweight of granite, or nine hours' work at corn grinding or wood chopping. A break at noon was taken for dinner, which consisted of eight ounces of bread and one and a half ounces of cheese. The third and last meal of the day called tea or supper, the same food as at breakfast was taken at half past four. By half past five or a quarter to six the casuals were sent to their dormitories to go to bed. A very early time which many would consider to be the middle of the day, but this freed the officers to book in a fresh batch of casuals. Finally the second nighters were given their breakfast the following day and then turned out to look for work or perhaps to go to a similar shelter.

The chief purpose of the casuals' tasks was not to produce something but to keep an abnormal class of men occupied with the least inconvenience to the labour market. Stone breaking had never been well paid, but the inconvenience of that sort of task was all the workhouse yards in the country were overrun with broken stone. Another problem with stone breaking was that a regular casual could complete his task by noon. Granite pounding was introduced because its relative advantages. It takes more time than stone breaking and much less storage room and there was a ready market for pounded granite. The pounder worked in a cell (which was not necessarily locked) with a 9lbs pounding hammer. The granite was place on an iron plate set into the floor. The task was to break the stone into small enough pieces to fit through a  grid or hopper which opened on the inside of the cell. The hand corn mills were similarly fixed though in open compartments not cells. The wood chopping was carried out by eight men who worked a circular saw. The wood was sold whole to the trade and not direct to the customer. Sometimes an inmate of the test house or a casual would buy a shillings' worth and set himself up as a hawker.

The female casual were not as numerous as the men, but they were generally  of a more degraded class. Protection for respectable individuals was even more required in the female area than the male area. There were separate cubicles available for those considered vulnerable. There were also special cubicles for women with babies, containing a bed for the mother and a cot for the child.

There was a special washhouse where casuals - men and women at different times - could wash their clothes. A clean shirt was enjoyed in every condition of life, and the washhouse was made use of to its utmost capacity.

In April 1930 in Manchester the public assistance Committee took over the responsibility of running the Tame Street Institution. The following is an extract from the minutes of what I think is the first meeting of the Public assistance Committee.

The Tame Institution, which extends over two acres, consists of eight blocks, together with a recreation room for inmates.

The accommodation is as follows:


  Accommodation Number Maintained 19th April 1930
Able-bodied Male Inmates 250 205
Male Casuals 480 476
Female Casuals 60 37
Children 5 -


The inmates are able-bodied men whose destitution has caused them to require assistance in a Poor Law Institution and they remain chargeable, if they so desire, so long as they continue to be destitute.

Able-bodied men are also sent to the Institution for definite periods by order of the Relief Sub-Committees, and in such cases out-door relief is only granted to the wives and families of such men, so long as they remain at the Institution during the period of the Sub-Committee's order. During the year ended 31st December last, 25 men of this class were admitted to the Institution.

The inmates are employed on work of a miscellaneous character,the principal occupation being the making of firewood which is sold to the public or transferred to other establishments belonging to the Corporation.


The Casuals, who are destitute wayfarers or wanderers, remain in the Wards for two nights and are discharged on the morning of the second day following admission and are given a task to perform, which is generally of a miscellaneous character, the majority of the men being employed in firewood making.

The Casuals may be divided into the following Classes:

Young men (17 - 21) who have never done a day's work, probably because they have not had the opportunity.

Men who began travelling in search of work but who generally degenerating into Casuals.

Habitual Vagrants, men and women.

Aged, Sick and Infirm, as many as can be persuaded are transferred from the Casual wards to the Institution and become ordinary inmates.

Genuine Work seekers.

A man is treated as a work seeker and discharged without task early in the morning following his admission if he is in possession of ether:

An unexhausted travelling card issued by a local office of the Ministry of Labour;

An Insurance Card showing that he has worked during the last month or has been in regular work during part of the last six months; or

A Way Ticket issues by a Master or Superintendent of a Casual Ward. The Way Ticket is given to a man who is not only a genuine work-seeker, but has a destination to which he wishes to proceed as quickly as possible.


Separate Dietaries for Casuals and Inmates are prescribed in the Public Assistance Order, 1930

16th January 1931

During the past six months the general discipline and moral tone in the House and the Casual Departments has been good.

Many alterations and improvements have been completed and others are in progress. The completed work of the Male Casuals Dinning Room and the Female Casuals Bathroom being the most important, whilst the work in progress is the building etc of the Pump House, the Outside Painting, alterations of Lavatories and Central Heating.

The New Draft Order for Casuals will cause us to consider many additions and alterations...

The total number of Casual admitted during the half year and corresponding period of last year is as follows:


1930 Men 32942 Women 1688 Children 22 Total 34652
1929   25232   2020   71   7329
Increase   7710            
Decrease       332   49    

The most satisfactory feature in the above return of figures is the decrease of women and children, but the increase in the number of men is more than usual [probably] caused by the continued depression in trade and the forcing to the roads of many men, by the Labour Exchanges, to travel in search of work and by the gap period in the payment of the "Dole".

An innovation has been made by the North Western Casual Poor Assistance Authority during the past six months which ought to prove a boon to the Young Casuals and the results of which we shall watch with great interest. It is the provision for the young casual to be admitted to the Wayfarer's Hostel, Heckmondwike, Yorkshire to be trained for places of service etc. Up to the present time we have sent 6 cases from this Institution.

15th January 1932

The total list of Casuals admitted during the last six months and the corresponding period last year


  Men Women Children Total
1931 27166 1375 12 28553
1930 32942 1688 22 34652
Decrease 5776 313 10 6099

The decease in the total number of admissions is accounted for by the transfer of many of these men to the House Side of the Institution and also the strict supervision of men who were suspected of abusing the privilege of using the Casual ward.

Discipline has been well maintained in each department and again much credit is due to the staff for the tactful manner employed in dealing with both Inmates and Casuals. Only one case of Refactory Conduct has been met with during the six months and it was in this case necessary to prosecute the man who was very obstinate and refused to perform any task at all. When we consider that we have a population many times 800 to 900 men this is a matter for congratulation.

The new Hot Plate is in use in the Casual Department, the new disinfector has been installed, the Continuous Dryer has been been fixed in the Casual's Laundry and the Casuals Washing Lavatories have been reconstructed during the last six months. The Central heating has also been completed during this period and this is providing more efficiently for the Institution and at the same time promises to reduce the costs for Coal and Water.

The firewood business promises in every way to be as successful as last year, the sales have been quite up to the average and very satisfactory.

It will be necessary during the next six months to take down the WCs near to the Front Entrance and transfer them to the rear of the Firewood Shed. This I have provided for in the Building and Renewal Estimate for 1932-33 and we are not asking for any Extraordinary Expenditure during this period.

20th January 1933

The total list of Casuals admitted during the last six months and the corresponding period last year

  Men Women Children Total
1932 321010 1441 24 33566
1931 27166 1375 12 28553
Increase 4935 66 12 5013


There has been a slight increase in the number of Casuals and I should think that the change in the law is the main cause of this increase. Undoubtedly many more have been forced to use the Casual Wards on account of the tightening of the Ministry of Labour Regulations.

Good discipline has been maintained in each department during the past six months and it has not been necessary to prosecute any Inmate or Casual for Refactory Conduct throughout that period, in fact, it is over two years since it was necessary to take anyone before the Magistrates for that offence and when it is remembered that during the two years we have had an average of 250 inmates in the House and have admitted 122,955 persons into the Casual Ward it is more marked still and speaks well for the tact and good management of the Staff.

During the past six months the Wireless Room has been turned into a Dormitory accommodation for a further 33 beds and the 9 stone breaking cells into bedrooms (as we have no use for the cells as places of punishment). The new lavatories have also been completed and those near to the lodge removed, leaving more space around the Engineers and Joiners Workshops.

The Firewood business has not quite reached expectations and I feel sure this is on account of so many gas and electric fire being fixed in new property which is being built in various parts of the City.

17th July 1935

The total list of Casuals admitted during the last six months and the corresponding period last year


  Men Women Children Total
1935 20957 764 16 21737
1934 30357 1328 7 31692
Increase     9  
Decrease 9400 564   9955

The numbers in the Casuals' Ward are still decreasing but I feel sure the lowest point has almost been reached and the future decreases, if any, will be far less marked. You will notice the decrease for the two months of June and July is only 1049 and for the previous two months 4680.

I think that the time is opportune for the Committee to consider the introduction of the Inmates' dinner in lieu of the present Casuals' dinner for all admissions into the Casual Wards. Although the Manchester Guardians followed by the Manchester Public Assistance Committee have been in the forefront in recommending this course to the Ministry of Health and have fought very strenuously for many years to accomplish this, and although permission was granted to any Authority to do this, it was not thought to be a wise move to put the improvement into practice at Tame Street, because firstly the permission was only granted by the Ministry for 12 months, at a time uo to last year, when the Ministry decided to give permission for an indefinite period.

Secondly, up to 12 months ago, to put the charge into effect it would have cost about �200 for plant for cooking and the services of additional cook, but at the present time this is not necessary. The cooking arrangements in the Institution are such that with the present numbers and also the numbers to be expected in the Winter time no extra plant is necessary and no additional help required. The only difference is the additional cost of slightly less than one penny per meal (being the difference of cost between the two dietaries) this would be an average of under �5 per week and a yearly average increase of about �240. For this you would be the same footing as the other Wards in the North Western Area and be catering in a better way for the unfortunate men and women who are forced to use the Casual Ward by providing an improved and more varied diet.

The daily diet for Casuals for the seven days is at present:

8 ozs of bread, 2 ozs of cheese, 20 ozs of corned beef, 4 ozs potatoes and 4 ozs of vegetables.

The Inmates diestary is :

For 3 days 4 ozs of meat, 12 ozs of potatoes and 4 ozs of vegetable.

For 1 day 4 ozs of bread and 1 and a half pints of soup.

For 1 day 8 ozs bread, 2 ozs of Chesses, 1 oz margarine and 1 pint of coffee

For 1 day 4 ozs of bread, 1 and a half pints of hot-pot.

For 1 day 1 and a half lbs of meat pie.

The saving on provisions owing to low numbers in the Institution and the Casual Wards would provide for any increased cost without to ask for a supplementary estimate for the same.

Discipline has again been fully maintained and no prosecutions for Refactory conduct have been necessary which is the seventh consecutive half year that it has been possible to report this and during that time over 270,000 men and women have passed through the Casual Wards alone, not including the large numbers in the House portion.

In June 1940 Tame Street was used as a reception centre for refugees mainly from the Channel Islands (1142) but also from Great Yarmouth and other coastal towns.

December 1942 the closure of Tame Street Institution was considered.

September 1943 Tame used as a billet for 67 workmen.

March 1944

The Tame Street Institution is a self contained establishment, built and used (with the exception of a period during the War of 1914-18 solely for the accommodation of able-bodied inmates and casual it is not suitable, except under the pressure of the circumstances, for the housing of the sick or aged and infirm persons.

In normal times, the casuals and inmates are kept entirely separate, but as a war time measure the Casual wards have been closed and casual poor persons are accommodated in the Institution.

Viewing the establishment from the Harrison Street entrance, the buildings on the left are set apart for male casuals and those on the right for both male and female inmates and also female casuals. The centre portion of the establishment contains the Administrative Offices and Officers' quarters. During the time there was extreme pressure on the casuals' accommodation...

July 1944

Tame Street Institution

Reception and Maintenance of Aged and Infirm cases. Plans by City Architect to convert part of the building for the above purpose

Casual numbers increase after end of War.

June 1947

Casual Wards to be up-grade and re-opened for the reception of 160 casuals in the casuals section of the Institution.

10th September

The name "Mayfield House" used.

5th July 1948

The National Assistance Board take over. More to follow.



The above schools were also run by the Manchester Board of Guardians. Manchester was one of the first Poor Law Unions to open a separate institution designed for looking after pauper children in 1846. It was not an industrial school in the same way as the Manchester and Stockport Industrial Schools, but rather a home and a refuge for pauper children. The correct name for the institution was The Manchester Union Moral and Industrial Training Schools. The term "schools" was used to indicate that it consisted of nursery, infant and junior establishments. The main schools closed in September 1927. The able bodied children were transferred to other establishments. The Roman Catholic girls were transferred to Hollymount, Bury. The Roman Catholic boys were sent to Buckley Hall, Rochdale. Most of the other children went to Styal Cottage Homes.

The records at Lancashire Record Office indicate that the school was open until 1938. Having had a good look at the registers for 1927, they do confirm that the majority of the children were transferred as described above. About 40 "Defective Children" remained in the register, and further admissions and discharges were recorded up to1938. A printed document I found in the register state that this was the Swinton home for Defective Children. The main registers were used for this section of the school. Archive material at Manchester Archives (GB127.M66/85/1/4/6/) indicate that the hospital was built as a reception centre for the children of the Swinton Schools in 1913. It is thought that this was the forerunner of what was to become the Swinton Hospital.

The main school buildings were demolished in 1933 to be replaced by Swinton Town Hall which opened in 1938. In 1974 this became the Salford Civic Centre...the administrative hub of the then newly formed Salford Metropolitan Borough Council.

List of children sent to the schools from 1846 to1865 and a boys' logbook from March 1919 to September 1927 are held by Manchester Archives.

I also have access to the more comprehensive records which are at Lancashire Record Office. They have the Institution Admissions and Discharges Registers from 1846 to 1848 and from 1850 to 1938. They also have the Industrial School Admission and Discharge Books from 1892 to 1926. There is an index for the period 1848 to 1927.


The above information and many other facts which are included in the Minutes of the Manchester Board of Guardians, had led me to believe that Manchester was one of the more progressive Unions. I think the information below may indicate the same or even better.



A meeting of the principal officers and several ex-officers of the Manchester Board of Guardians was held at the Poor Law Offices, New Bridge Street on Saturday, for the purpose of presenting to Mr Harrop a testimonial of his retirement from the Office of Clerk to the Board. The testimonial consisted of a timepiece and a silver inkstand, bearing suitable inscriptions, together with an illuminated address, to which were appended about 150 signatures. Mr G Macdonald, who has been appoint to succeed Mr Harrop, presided; and in opening the proceedings said that when Mr Harrop intimated that it was his intention to retire from the Clerkship there was an unanimous feeling amongst the officers that he should be invited to accept some mark of their esteem. A subscription was proposed, and cheerfully responded to, with a view to a suitable present. The address, after being read by Mr Roberts, assistant Clerk, was presented by the Chairman on behalf of the subscribers. Mr Leppoc, Chairman of the Board of Guardians, in a brief address, said the high character which that Board enjoyed, and the fact of its being looked up to as the first Board in the kingdom, was attributable to Mr Harrop's efficient management. Mr Simpson, formerly Headmaster of the Swinton Schools, also spoke. Mr Harrop, in thanking the subscribers, said he had ever found a willingness on the part of the officers to support him in the discharge of his duties. There had been seasons of extreme difficulty. Amongst these to be remembered was the Irish Famine, and the great fever epidemic, when no fewer than 1,000 patients were under the charge of the Medical Officers at one time. During the course of that epidemic Dr Noble attended 5,000 cases. The Medical Officers did their utmost � as they never failed to do � to meet that emergency. The working of the Poor Law in Manchester was regarded by the the Poor Law Board (now the Local Government Board) with great confidence. So efficiently was the Law administered here that, many years ago, Earl Russell, in a letter which was received from him, said that if it had been administered with equal satisfaction elsewhere there would have been no necessity for the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. He would thank the officers for their kindness, and bid them all farewell. The proceedings then ended.

The following document (MS 339 M13) which refers to the above is held by Manchester Archives.










Dear Sir,

We the undersigned,

Officers & Ex-Officers

of the Board of Guardians of the Poor


Township of Manchester,

being desirous of presenting you with a Testimonial on your retirement, this day from the responsible Office of


you have held for the last twenty six years, beg your acceptance of the accompanying tokens of our Respect, and of the high estimation in which we have always held you.

DURING the period of your Official connection to the Board, commencing as it did about the time of the introduction of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 into the Township of Manchester, many changes have been been witnessed, and many improvements effected in the arrangements for the Relief of the Poor. The Workhouse accommodation has been extended from about 900 to nearly 4,600 inmates, by the erection of the Swinton Schools and the Workhouse at Crumpsall. A building (the "House of Industry") has been erected for the reception of Wayfarers and Vagrants; and the system of affording Relief in kind has been brought into operation.

MANY periods of pressure and severe distress have been passed through, amongst which may be mentioned those of the Irish Famine of 1847; the Cholera Epidemic of 1849; the commercial depression of 1857-8; and lastly the unparalleled crisis caused by the Cotton Famine of 1862-3, when upwards of 40,000 persons were at one time in receipt of Relief from the Guardians.

ON all these trying occasions your services, as the principal Officer and adviser of the Board, have been invaluable; and many of us who have worked with you during periods of distress, can bear testimony to your zeal and devotion to duty.

WITH respect to the manner in which you have discharged the ordinary duties of the important Office you have filled so long , it is hardly within our province to speak; but we cannot refrain from recording our sincere satisfaction with the terms of the Resolution passed by the Board of Guardians in accepting your Resignation, and with the opinion therein expressed as to the able and conscientious manner in which those duties have been performed by you.

NOR have the acknowledgements of your services been confined to the Guardians. It is admitted on all hands that the high position which the Manchester Board has so long held in public estimation has been due in no small degree to your great administrative abilities, and to your determination to uphold the principles of the Poor Law: and the Local Government Board, departing from their usual course of procedure in such cases, have within the last few weeks, in a letter referring to your retirement, (a copy of which by the kind permission of the Chairman of the Board of Guardians is apprehended to this Address) expressed their sense of the value of your services, and your qualifications as a Poor Law Official, in terms as flattering as they are well merited.

IN conclusion, we beg to express our great regret that failing health should have compelled you to retire from the services of the Board , and our sincere hope that the leisure you are about to enjoy, will have the effect of restoring you to health and strength.

WE beg most respectfully to thank you for the kind and courteous manner in which you have treated us upon all occasions; and hoping that you will be spared for many years to reap the rewards of your labours.

We beg to subscribe ourselves,

Your obliged and faithful servants,

signed by George Macdonald and one hundred and and fifty other people.


No45,606 B


Local Government Board

Whitehall SW

28th October, 1871


The Local Government Board have received a communication from Mr John Harrop, informing them that he has resigned the Office of Clerk to the Guardians of the Poor of the Township of Manchester, such resignation to take effect on the 30th December next. The Board direct me to express their regret upon finding that the Guardians are about to be deprived of the valuable services of so experienced and able a Poor Law Official as Mr Harrop who for so many years has possessed, and fully merited, the confidence which the Guardians have reposed in him.

I am Sir,

Your obedient servant,

H Heming,



H J Leppoc

Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the Township of Manchester




Poor Law Inspector

Stanton Woodhouse

29th December 1871

My Dear Sir,

Having been present at the last meeting, at which Mr Harrop will attend as Clerk to the Guardians of the Poor of Manchester, I am unable to allow him to retire from their service without bearing testimony to the great ability with which he has at all times discharged the important and onerous duties that have devolved upon him.My own engagement in the Public Service has lasted even longer than Mr Harrop's. It has at various times brought me into communication with almost all of his colleagues, and thus it has enabled me to say that amongst a body of Public Officers of great efficiency, the manner in which the duties have been performed by Mr Harrop has not been excelled. I myself, and all the Inspectors who have preceded me in this District, must acknowledge with sincere thankfulness the great assistance which Mr Harrop has always so heartily rendered them, and feel that his uniform courtesy, unflagging attention, and thorough knowledge of all questions to the Relief of the Poor, have contributed in no small degree to the successful administration of the Laws relating to the subject in the Town of Manchester.

I remain, My Dear Sir,

Your very faithfully,

R. Basil Cane

Poor Law Inspectors


H J Leppoc Esq

Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the Poor of Manchester.


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Manchester Archives and Local Studies have a collection of signs that were displayed in this workhouse. Below are some examples. I think that they give an insight into the conditions.





From and after 1st NOVEMBER, 1879, the sick and infirmed

inmates of the Workhouse will be allowed to be Visited



From 1st April to 30th September between the hours of 2 and 6 p.m.

From 1st October to 31st March between the hours of 2 and 4-3o p.m.

No visits to exceed half - an - hour's duration.


7th October 1879                                                                                  Clerk to the Guardians






NO VISITING will be allowed to

Inmates of this Establishment on


The Visiting Day for January 1881 will be on

the SECOND Saturday instead of the first of that month.








Whoever discovers an outbreak of Fire must at once report it to

the Man on duty at the Boilers, who will sound the alarm.


The Porter at the main Entrance Lodge will at once phone 

for the Town Fire Brigade.


The sounding of the Steam Fire Alarm is at all times to be

 regarded as an imperative call for the immediate

attendance of Officers for Fire Duty, or Practice, except that

at 11a.m. ON SATURDAYS, which is to test the efficiency

of the apparatus, and is not on such occasions to be regarded

as a call.


At the sound of the Fire Alarm all Officers, Male

and Female, and as many from the Epileptic Wards as

can be spared, must promptly parade for Fire Duty at the

Workhouse end of the Glass Passage, and the Nurses must

all go to their own Wards. Any Officer failing to do so

must, as soon as possible, give an explanation to the master.


Having reported themselves for Fire Duty, the Male Officers will

at once proceed to the nearest Hydrant to where the Fire

has broken out, attach the Stand - Pipe, run out the hose

and play on the Fire until the arrival of the Town

Fire Brigade, or the Fire is extinguished, while the

Female Officers, and Nurse must marshal such inmates

and Patients as may be liable to danger, and conduct

them, without panic or disorder, to a place of safety.




The Night Officer on duty, or whoever discovers an

outbreak of fire, is to immediately connect up the nearest

Hydrant, and SEND to warn the man on duty at the

Boilers, who will sound the alarm.


The Night watchman at the Main Entrance Lodge will

telephone to the Town Fire Brigade, and report as soon as

possible to the master that there is an outbreak of Fire.


The Clerk of Works' messenger will at once be sent to

warn the Clerk of works.

By Order,

                                                                                        F. CASSWELL (Captain)

MANCHESTER WORKHOUSE, CRUMPSALL,                                       MASTER

October, 1910







be permitted in the

Wards during the

following hours only:

MORNING - 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

NOON-          1p.m. to 2 p.m.

NIGHT-        6 p.m. to 7 p.m.





                                        BY ORDER





A new Prestwich Union workhouse was built at Crumpsall in around 1868. After the unification of the Prestwich Union and the Manchester Union in 1915 it was known as  Crumpsall Infirmary Annexe. In 1918 it was renamed Delaunay's Road Institution, which later became Delaunay's Hospital, which in turn became part of North Manchester General Hospital in 1972. Records of inmates of the Prestwich Union have not survived. Some records of the Guardians of The Poor of Manchester Unions and Prestwich (1837-1948) have survived. 

I have included below a copy of the Prestwich Union  Standing Orders of the Board of Guardians.

1 That at the Meetings of the Board, every Guardian addressing such Meeting shall rise from his seat, and whilst speaking remain standing.

2 That whenever amendments are made upon original proposition, no second amendment  shall be taken  into consideration until the first amendment is disposed of.

3 That if the first amendment be carried, it displaces the original question, and becomes itself the question whereupon any further amendment may be moved.

4 That if the first amendment be negatived, then a second may be moved to the original question under consideration; but only one amendment shall be submitted to the Board for discussion at one time.

5 That no guardian shall speak more than once on the same business or question, unless in explanation of what has previously fallen from him, if misconstrued, or in answer to a personal call, and  in that case shall confine himself strictly to the requisite explanation; or unless the attention of the Chair be called to a point of order. The mover of every original resolution, but not of any amendment, shall in all cases be entitled to a final reply, immediately after which the question shall be put from the Chair.

6 Any member of the Board may simply second a motion and be entitled to to speak to the question at any time during the debate before the reply of the mover of the question.

7 Any Guardian intending to bring forward any subject not connected with or arising out of the business of the Board, shall give notice thereof at a previous meeting.

8 That these standing orders shall be read over at the  annual meeting of the Board immediately after the minutes of the preceding meeting, and whenever any Guardian,  rising to order, shall call upon the Clerk to read them; and shall in no case be suspended at any meeting, unless by the votes of two-thirds of the members present thereat.

Well I am sure that the residents who lived in the area covered by the Union, slept more soundly in there beds, in the knowledge that the Guardians were operating within the confines of these standing orders.


Built in 1908 it was originally the general hospital of the Prestwich Union. The Manchester and Prestwich Unions amalgamated in 1915. During the First world war is was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers. After this period it  became a children's hospital.

Records available; Admissions Register 1938-1955: Summary of Admissions 1956-1966: Creed Registers 1909-1945: Mortuary Register 1942-1948 and other assorted register.


The first Chorlton Union Workhouse was on Stretford New Rd and catered for 300 inmates. As the population grew it became inadequate and a new workhouse had to be built. The Chorlton Union Workhouse at Nell lane opened in 1855. The site also included a cemetery which also served the area as well as the workhouse until 1920. The cemetery was formerly closed in 1970 and the remains removed and re-buried in Southern Cemetery. Some remains had been removed earlier  in 1921 when a major project was carried out around the Nell Lane /Princess Road  area and later in the 1970's when some other work was necessary. Manchester Archives have a  graphic collection of images which recorded the removal of graves from St Augustine's, Granby Row in 1909 (see here). Included in this collection is a very gory image of the exhumation of remains from the Board of Guardians Burial Ground Withington Hospital as a result of Road No 12 Town Planning Scheme B. The photograph is dated March 23rd 1921. The remains were placed in makeshift boxes which look as though they designed to be carried by four men. Many sets of remains appear to have been put into one box (GB127.BR f 718.094273 Ma1).

 A record of the memorial inscriptions on the headstones removed to Southern Cemetery can be seen on film at the National Archives on film number RG 37/98 . I have now obtained a copy of this document. It consists of a letter from the Medical Officer of Health of Manchester City Council to the Registrar dated December 1971 and the transcriptions from three memorial stones.

The letter states that from 16th February, 1971 to 19th October, 1971 that experienced grave diggers from Manchester Corporation Cemeteries Department  removed human remains from the portion of of the old workhouse Burial Ground which was consecrated in September 1875.  A total of 4,422 human remains were removed from unidentifiable poor persons graves. The remains were placed in 149 strong wooden boxes and re-interred in Southern Cemetery. They were placed in the consecrated ground of Section M and a suitably engraved stone was laid flat  to indicate the location of the mass grave. In addition the identified remains of nurse Grace Jones, Martha-Thenun and the cremated remains of Mrs. Fanny Howell were exhumed and placed in new coffins.  The coffins were buried in Section G of the non-conformist section of Southern Cemetery. The original headstones, from which the transcriptions were taken, were re-erected on the graves. Mrs. Howell was a former matron of the workhouse and the MI for Martha-Thenun states that she was a Sister of the Poor from All Saints.

The remains were removed in accordance with Section 18(7) of the Manchester Corporation Act, 1967 - Part IV. The exhumations were necessary so that a major road improvement scheme at Princess Rd could go ahead. During the First World War the Institution was used as a Military Hospital.

Withington Workhouse Courtesy of Manchester Local Image Collection


Records available: Birth Registers 1857-1920; Death Registers 1857-1959; Death Register indexes 1907-1949; Admission Registers and Discharge Register 1870-1884; Creed Registers 1869-1916; Registers of Inmates 1914-1946; Register of Patients 1930-1948; Interment Registers 1898-1951; Cemetery Reference Book 1857-1891; Chaplaincy Registers of Baptisms 1849-1924; Auxiliary Hospital Admission and Discharge

Register 1940-1948 and the Register of Paying Patients 1926-1948. There are some medical records available some of which have restricted access. Records are available of the children sent overseas by this Union and again some of these records have restricted access (see below).

The Interment Registers, depending on the year, can be a fabulous source of information. Not only do they record the burials of people who were buried in the workhouse or the area later reserved for their bodies in Southern Cemetery, but they record the details of those buried elsewhere and name where there were buried. There are also some records of people who died elsewhere and whose bodies were brought to the workhouse to be dispatched. Other details that can be available are the names and addresses of the next of kin and the name of the Undertaker. Manchester Archives has a collection (M218) of records kept by one local Undertaker (of  Funerals) which include Funeral Books from 1894 to 1933.

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The Manchester Board of Guardians was dissolved on 31st March 1930, by the Local Government Act, 1929 and its functions transferred to the Public Assistance Committee, later the Social Welfare Committee, of Manchester. The National Assistance Act 1948 and National Health Service Act 1946 came into effect from 5th July 1948 and brought the end of the Poor Law. Public Assistance Committees ceased to exist and their functions were transferred to various Government and Local Government Departments.

Some minutes of the Public Assistance Committee, 1930-1939 (4 volumes) and the Social Welfare Committee, 1937-1948 (7 volumes) are available for consultation at Manchester Archives. However advance booking is necessary in order to see them.

Government attitude towards the institutions had gradually  been changing over the previous years. After 1904 the birth certificate of a child born in a workhouse should not state that a birth took place in a workhouse, giving instead the street and number as the place of birth, for instance, 123 (later 223) Crescent Road (Crumpsall Workhouse) or Nell Lane (Withington Workhouse). Alternatively a euphemistic name might be used such as Twyford Lodge for Willesden Workhouse Infirmary. This was an attempt to recognise the fact that most  women giving birth were not inmates but patients and this was to reduce any stigma that may have been attached to the institutions. Similar guidance relating to deaths was issued much later, in 1919 and at the same time the often used practice of putting a letter W in the margin of the entry was also discouraged.


This register covers the period 1892 - 1947. The Manchester Archives reference is GB127.M4/60/2. The register is named indexed and Manchester Archives will do searches in the restricted sections on a request subject to certain conditions. Although the register title suggests that all the children were sent to Canada, a few of the children were sent elsewhere. There are details relating to children who had been at Styal Cottage Homes. For images of the Cottage Homes see here. The records can be a bit patchy in the quality of information, but others give quite a lot of detail. Below is an example of one of the better entries that I was allowed to study.

Name of Child: John Henry JONES. Date of Birth: 1896. Particulars re Parentage etc: Blank. School or Institution in which Child was Chargeable prior to Emigration: Styal Cottage Homes. Date of Discharge from School or Institution: 16/03/1905. Name and Address of Society under whose auspices the Child was Emigrated: Manchester & Salford Refugees. Date of Sailing: 06/04/1905. Destination: Ontario. Name and Address of Employer: J E Stephens, Hastings P O, Ontario.

General Remarks: Good report from Canadian agent sent by Mr Ackroyd, received 09/11/1905.

Unfavourable report received 30/08/1906. Boy is said to be untruthful.

Poor report of boy's physical condition and capacity for work from Mr Boyce Smart dated 26/10/1906.

Improved report from B S [Refuge]  received 15/10/1907.

Good report received dated 24/10/1907 K T Henry.

Good report received dated 30/06/1908 Mr Ackroyd.

Good report received dated September 1908  Mr Ackroyd.

Report dated 28/04/1908 received 05/11/1908 says boy leaving Stephens K J Henry.

Name and Address of (new) Employer: Mr J Howes, Blessington. General Remarks: Good Report received 11/02/1910 Mr Ackroyd.

Good report dated 04/09/1909 R W Hillyard.

Good report dated 02/03/1910 received 17/08/1910 K J Henry.

Good report received 09/09/1910 Mr Ackroyd received 13/10/1910.

Good report received 01/11/1911 dated 07/08/1911.

Name and Address of (new) Employer: C H Weise, P O Belleville, Hastings, Co Ontario. general Remarks: Bad report 07/06/1911 received 22/12/1911.

Special report received 28/02/1912 dated 14/02/1912.

Report (boy missing) received 28/06/1912 dated 23/01/1912.

Report (boy missing) received 28/06/1912 dated 14/02/1912.

Report (boy missing) received 08/11/1912 dated 10/07/1912.

Report (boy missing) received 19/05/1913 dated 23/01/1913.

Report received 09/06/1915 dated 08/05/1915. Boy doing well.

Name and Address of (new) Employer: (06/08/1915) Arthur McFarland, Shannonville, Ontario. General Remarks: Report received 06/06/1917 killed in action April 11th 1917.

Report received 14/06/1917 & letters. See file.

Report again received killed in action April 11th 1917 dated 07/05/1917.

For other general information and images see links page and click on link for Styal cottage homes. Manchester Children's' Services, hold some admission registers 1903-1956 for the Styal cottage homes.



Another important source for children's records in the City of Manchester, or homes or orphanages run by the Council is The Together Trust.

The Manchester and Salford Boys and Girls Refuges, later known as The  Boys and Girl Welfare Society is now know as The Together Trust. The records that The Together Trust have responsibility for are mostly in the custody of Manchester Archives and have only recently been catalogued. Much of the material is closed but as long as certain requirements are met by the person enquiring into the records,  including the relationship to the  child who is being researched, information may be released.  The full catalogue and a history of the administration of children's homes can be seen here.

One section of this collection can be a fantastic source of information for trying to seek out relatives who were housed in children homes who then emigrated, mainly but not exclusively to Canada. An index of names of those children who emigrated from 1882 to 1926 can be seen here. An example of the material i.e. a box containing separate wallets which hold records on boys being emigrated to Canada in 1895-1896. Each wallet contains various reports, and some letters, that have been compiled up to the year of 1906. Also contains two indexes for the years 1895 and 1898.

You might wish to visit The Together Trust Blog. I like piece about deep storage.


Children Adopted by the Guardians under provisions of The Poor Law Act, 1927 Section 78, who were under the control of the Guardians on 1st January 1929. The information given is : history sheet number; name; date of reaching 18 years; religion; date adopted; names of parents. The Poor Law Act, 1927 Section 78 (ref M4/20/1).

This collection is limited to restricted access and contact should be made with Manchester Archives for permission to view it. The index is in alphabetical order with some children being listed twice or even three time under different surnames. In some cases details of persons allowed to visit the children are recorded.  to someone. Although  a small collection it could be of vital importance There are approximately 350 children on this index.






The records  for Prestwich Asylum are split between Lancashire Record Office and Greater Manchester County Records Office. The registers for 1851 to 1890 are held at LRO. The registers for 1891 onwards are held at GMCRO and in most case there are images of the patients. The Asylum Admission Registers for 1851 to 1901 have been indexed and copied to disc available from the local FHS. Most of the admission records at GMCRO have images of the patients, sadly only those admissions records from about May 1890 at LRO have images. There are one or two earlier admission records that do contain images, the earliest one I spotted was from December 26th 1889 for a Henry Yates.

My great grandfather, Charles Lodge had the dubious pleasure of being an inmate in this Institution. His records can be seen at the Lancashire Record Office. Fortunately for him, he was only in there for a few months. The medical records make quite sombre reading. He is described as being a Pauper Lunatic. He was certainly ill, but if he was a lunatic, he was cured without a lot of treatment. These records contain a lot of interesting material.

It was the strangest feeling reading the two reports about my great grandfather. The first was his Medical Case Book which described the symptoms of his ailment. The reception order was also very interesting to read. Although most of it was pre printed it was still fascinating to read. Charles appeared  before the County Police Court, Strangeways, Manchester on 7th Nov 1889. He had been committed to Prestwich Asylum by a Justice of the Peace on 19th Oct. The court on the 7th Nov declared him to be a "Pauper Lunatic", which I  thought was somewhat strange as he was a man of some property. The court charge The Chorlton Union with the sum of �1 17s 6d for expenses in and about the examination of the said Pauper Lunatic and bringing him to court. The court also ordered the Union to pay the Asylum the sum of �1 2s 2d for lodging, maintenance, medicine etc. In addition the Union had to pay the weekly sum of 8s 2d until his death or release.

A Form of Medical Certificate had to be issued by a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, or as in this case a man from the RCS & P in Edinburgh. It stated that he was of unsound mind and needed to be detained under care and treatment. Charles was observed to be restless and talking in a silly incoherent way. He had difficulty in articulation and walking with an impaired memory. So with this Medical Certificate and the signature of two JPs he was committed. When my great  grand father was admitted the Medical Record described him as a beer house keeper married with 7 children and a pregnant wife. He was said to be epileptic and suicidal. He was 50 and had suffered fits for about a month. His ailments were possibly caused by the fits or drink.

His family history was summarised under the headings:

Insanity Drink and Phthisis.

Insanity - Brother, 2 paralytic strokes
Drink - No
Phthisis [any disease that causes wasting of the body, especially pulmonary tuberculosis] - Father
State on Admission- Average height, very thin, grey hair, childish expression. Very poor body condition but no injuries, fowl tongue (the colour not the language). weight 8st 7 lbs(119lbs). Diagnosis - Organic dementia. Prognosis - Hopeless

The next main heading on the register was:


Oct 22nd Has been very restless at night, untidy and inclined to refuse food. PRESENT MUTUAL CONDITION: Increasing dementia and unable to answer the simplest question, cannot tell where he is, has no idea as to time etc. Gets out of bed at night constantly and rambles about in an aimless way. Is much better in the daytime but at times insists on undressing himself. His speech is thickened and there is a marked loss of expression.
Nov 18th Slightly stronger. MUTUAL CONDITION: No change.

Jan: Very much improved, no fits.

Feb22nd 1890 Discharged: Recovered
Weight on Discharge 10 st 5 lbs (145lbs)

He seems to have made a remarkable recovery. In four months he went from being "hopeless" to "recovered". He lived for another twenty years. My grandfather was killed in 1917 and my grand mother fell out with her in-laws, so there have been no stories about the old boy passed on down to me. It was a bit of a shock but no I don't really feel upset. Often these asylums were used as a convenient places to get people out of society, sometimes for life...but maybe that's another topic. When I read the medical records my thoughts were that Charles was suffering from the DTs (delirium tremens ). It was certainly possible, as he was in the licence trade, he could easily have been sampling too much of his own product. These thoughts are somewhat back up by the fact that in previous times the DTs were referred to as being a temporary form of madness.

Until recently I was slightly perturbed by the fact that Charles was referred to as being a "pauper lunatic". However in the guide to the collection GMCRO states that the term refers to those patients whose upkeep was charged to there local Poor law Union as opposed to fee paying patients. Some other patients were referred to as Private Patients, the majority of these were criminals and their upkeep was paid for by the Government after the Home Office became responsible for prisons. The term "Pauper Lunatic" was later replaced by "Rate Aided Patient".


One of these Private Patients was Tom Brooke, patient number 322. The register entry states  that he was admitted September 14th 1895. He had been committed for trial on August 9th 1895 "charged with wilfully murder of his girl child - cut her throat at London Road  Railway Station, Manchester. Certified insane September 2nd 1895". This entry does reveal the bare facts of the case, but it does not give any insight into the reasons behind the crime. Little snippets like this always leave me asking for more details, and in this case more details can be discovered by looking at the report in the Manchester Guardian from August 8th 1895. The report being in the typically embroidered  journalistic style of the times.

A terrible murder  was committed  at London Road  Railway Station, Manchester late last evening, when a girl called Mary Ann Brooks, aged 15, daughter of Tom Brooks, a labouring man,  was  killed by her father. Brooks is said to be a native of Worcestershire, where he has several relations. He has been living apart from his wife for some time, his wife Mrs. Brooks having come to Manchester, where she has friends. She has since the two separated, lived at 89 Edensor Street , Ashton New Road. On Bank holiday the man Brooks, who is just passed middle age, came up to Manchester, and stayed  for the night at Woods lodging house in Whitworth Street. He appears to have gone the next day to his wife's house to endeavour "to make it up" with her and induce her to live with him again. She, however, refused to have anything to do with him, as he was apparently under the influence of liquor and somewhat violent in his demeanour. Later in the day he went to the house again, and repeated his visit again yesterday morning. He then said that he should return to Stourbridge, Worcestershire, by the 9 20 pm train, and asked his wife, with the daughter, who was their only child, to go with him to the station. They accompanied him to London Road Railway Station, and got there about half an hour before the time fixed for departure of the train. All three sat down on one of the seats on the departure platform and entered into conversation. Brooks suddenly said that he he dropped his "railway pass" in the lavatory, and suggested that the girl should help him find it. She did so, and the mother followed a little way off. Suddenly the mother heard the daughter scream "Oh dad!  dad!  dad!". She ran to the lavatory, and reached it just in time to catch her daughter in her arms. A terrible wound had been inflicted on the girl's throat. Brooks himself went out of the lavatory by the opposite door, and was observed by a cabman in the station to throw away a large butcher's knife on which was blood. The cabman followed the man down the station approach until he met a policeman, and then gave Brooks into custody. The girl was at once taken to the Royal Infirmary, but she died in about half an hour. As a possible motive for the crime it is said that Brooks was some time ago sent to the Worcestershire Lunatic Asylum, and that he had the belief that his daughter had something to do with his confinement there...


Another good source of information are Asylum Death Books (July 1891 to 1960 with some gaps) They contain the following information: Age; occupation; address; next of kin; poor law union from where they were sent (or if a private patient); hospital number; name of deceased; date of entry, person present at death; date and time of death; date of record entry and apparent cause of death. If the inmate died unexpectedly, the results of the inquest were also recorded. In the records I was inspecting, the deaths of people who died at Rochdale Workhouse were recorded.

Patient Records Include: Patient Casebooks ; Private Patients Casebooks - Men , Women , Index; Chronic Patients Casebooks - Males, Females ; Notice of Death Books ; Registers of Deaths ; Death Books Addresses of Relatives and Friends ; Admissions Registers ; Civil Registers - Certified Male Patients, Certified Female Patients, Voluntary Patients, Temporary Patients; Registers of Removals, Discharges and Deaths; Discharge Registers ; Registers of Departures, Discharges and Transfers ; Registers of Departures, Discharges and Deaths; Register of Patients Discharged to Friends; Escape Books; Index Books ; Index Books, Transfers to Rochdale Workhouse (Females). Not all years are covered, so consult the GMCRO website for dates. An insight into life inside the asylum can be seen here.

The Census References for the Asylum are listed below:

1851 - Recently released images.

1861 - RG 9 2976  folio 135 - 140 (Initials only for patients)

1871 - RG 10 4067 folio 162 - 184

1881 - RG 11 4033 folio 93 - 96 (Mostly staff with a few patients, initials only)  RG 11 4033 folio 99 - 122 (Initials only)

1891 - RG 12 3272 folio 65 - 86 (Initials only)  RG 12 folio 89 - 98 ( about two thirds staff, patients initials only)

1901 - RG 13 3799 folio 72 - 138


There were many small missions, asylums, refuges and the like run by other organisations on a subscription basis. Sadly not many records from these places survive. The above was one of these such places. The institution was located at 99 Embden St, Greenheys. Its previous home was in Rusholme Rd, Chorlton on Medlock. It was run by two committees, a Gentlemen's Committee and a Ladies' Committee. The asylum was a safe haven to women and girls who had "fallen from grace".

The following is an extract from the  Gentlemen's Committee  "Minutes of Examination of Girls previously to their Admission into the Institution". In other words it's a description of the circumstances of the girls and women wishing to enter the institution on a permanent basis.

Committee Meeting 25th June 1873

No 77 Eliza NEWBOLD. Age 38, no parents, is a widow - Husband died two years ago. has two sons aged 18 & 20. Has been 10 years in Manchester. Husband was a Sergeant in the Army - Native of Leicestershire - Brought up in the Church of England. Can read & write, worked at serving - Has been in the house 12 weeks.

No 23 Jane FERRIS. Age 15 next March, Father and Stepmother living in Hulme, former works at Sharps, the latter keeps a mangle. Worked at mill. Can neither read nor write. Very unhappy life through the parents drinking - which led to her going astray - continued so for three weeks only. Came to the house 3 months ago of her own accord having heard of this place from one of her companions - Promises to amend and abide by the rules.

The following is a typical advert that would have have appeared in most of the local papers. It sends a chill down the spine.


For Idiots and Imbeciles of the Northern Counties,


Under the Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen




The Most Hon. The MARQUIS of RIPON K. G.

The Right Hon. EARL of  SEFTON

The Right Hon. EARL of  BECTIVE, M. P., Esq, J. P. Ashton Hall, Lancaster

The Right Hon. LORD of MUNCASTER

Chairman of the Central Committee - The Right Hon. LORD WINMARLEIGH

Vice Chairmen of the Central Committee - EDWARD LAWRENCE. Esq. J. P., Liverpool


Vice Chairmen of the House Committee - THOMAS STOREY Esq., J. P., Westfield, Lancaster


Chairman of the Finance Committee - HENRY GARNETT Esq., J. P., Wyreside Lancaster

Chairman of the Lancashire Committee - J. T. HIBBERT Esq., M. P.

Manchester District Treasurer - EDWARD S. HEYWOOD, Esq., Light Oakes, Manchester


General Treasurers - LANCASTER BANKING COMPANY, Lancaster

General Secretary - JAMES DIGGENS, Lancaster

Resident Medical Superintendent - GEO. E. SHUTTLEWORTH, B. A. (Lond.), M. D.


THE ROYAL ALBERT ASYLUM has been established for the care, education, and training of Idiots and Imbeciles belonging to Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, and Northumberland.

THE ASYLUM is about a mile from Lancaster, and the Estate upon which it is erected consists of about ninety-seven acres of excellent land, in a charming and salubrious situation, commanding fine views of Morecambe Bay and the Lake Mountains. Accommodation has been provided for 600 inmates, exclusive of staff, and the arrangements comprise every convenience for the specific treatment of idiots and imbeciles. The system of training pursued in the Asylum is designed to secure, by special means, the physical, mental, and moral improvement of the patient, and is under the immediate of a Medical Superintendent. It includes gymnastic training, school education of a suitable kind, and instruction in a simple handicraft or other useful occupation. There are now 530 inmates. The Rodgett Infirmary, an excellent and well-furnished building, has recently be provided by the munificence of a Subscriber.

Two classes of patients, of both sexes, are admitted into the Asylum:-

Free patients, between the ages of Six and Fifteen, whose friends are proved to be unable to meet the lowest payment. They are elected by the votes of Subscribers, and received for Seven years.

Paying patients admitted by the Central Committee, without Election, and at any time. The charges vary from 25 to 200 Guineas per annum, according to the requirements and circumstances of the friends of the applicants. All patients not belonging to the Seven Associated Counties must be paid for  at the full rate of 60 Guineas an upwards per annum.

Applications must be addressed to the General Secretary, from whom all the necessary information may be obtained. The general Committee will institute inquiries to ascertain if there be a reasonable probability that the candidate will be benefited by the system adopted in the Asylum, and decide the terms on which they ought to be admitted.

Epileptic, Paralytic, and Insane persons are NOT eligible for admission; and idiocy complicated with blindness or deafness, is also a disqualification.

The Central Committee, whilst gratefully acknowledging the generous support which they have hitherto received, earnestly APPEAL for DONATIONS and ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Legacies are invested, under rule 36, for the permanent benefit of the Institution. 

Reports, Pamphlets, Regulations of Admissions, Application Forms, and other information will be gladly supplied by:

JAMES DIGGENS, General Secretary


Royal Albert Asylum, Lancaster.

Exchange Chambers, Bank Street, Manchester.


*This coincides with these areas being included in the Chorlton Registration District






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Last update: 14th February 2017