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The Manchester Genealogist

Unfilmed 1851 census of Manchester, Salford And Districts
Transcription Work at the Public Record Office, London

Report No. 1

This work has been undertaken by a small group of volunteers since April 1991, and many members will wish to know about the progress of this important project.


Many hundreds of returns covering parts of the following districts in and around Manchester were severely damaged by floodwater many years ago, and consequently were deemed unsuitable for microfilming or issue to the public. Many members have spent hours peering through the gloom of those returns that have been filmed; those being worked on at the present time are in a much worse condition with many parts completely unreadable. The districts involved are as follows:

(HO 107/)
2220 Chorlton on Medlock
2221 Hulme
2222 Pendleton & Pendlebury
2223 Greengate
2224 Regent Road
2227 Deansgate
2228 London Road
2230 St George's
2232 Harpurhey
2233 Ashton under Lyne
2240 Oldham-below-Town

Volunteers commenced work in April 1991, concentrating on the returns for Chorlton on Medlock and Greengate. For the majority of returns, two transcriptions are done and crosschecked by a third person. An amended copy is then re-checked against the originals to produce a final version. It was soon apparent that the task would be extremely onerous, with constant use of a magnifying glass to read those entries that were just about visible. Some were better than others; the Greengate one produced on average a 75-80% recapture rate. Those for Chorlton produced only 127 names from 350 pages - less than 2%. In an average :3 hour session, approximately 7 to 10 pages of returns are transcribed by each volunteer. Up to the end of January 1993, over 2,500 hours have been spent on this work.

Chorlton on Medlock Returns

350 pages from folios 1107 to 1298 of HO 107/2220 have been transcribed. The area covered extends in the east to Oxford street, in the west to Upper Wilmott Street, in the north to Chester Street and in the south to Devonshire Street and Lower Chatham Street, as well as all other streets within these boundaries. This work has been extremely difficult due to the returns being very faint and almost unreadable. 127 names have been identified, but other details such as addresses, age and place of birth are unlikely to be available. It is hoped to publish a list of names found in the near future.

Greengate Returns

The returns for some of the Enumeration Districts for Greengate have been microfilmed and are covered in Volume 11 of the Surname Index (published in 1985), but it was decided to carry out one full transcription of these returns in order to identify those entries unreadable on the microfilm. This exercise has produced a further 320 names in addition to those shown on the surname index. These will be included in the next edition of volume 11.

We have now completed all transcription work for the area which is bounded by the River Irwell to the north, west and east and Chapel Street to the south. Streets in this area include:

Adelphi Street, Bury Street, Cannon Street, Cleminson Street,
Gravel Lane, Greengate, King Street, Peru Street, Ravald Street,
St Stephen's Street, plus all other streets, courts, buildings
etc within the boundaries mentioned.

The 2,185 transcription sheets contained an original population of 34,726 people, of which we have recaptured approximately 26,000. In a minority of cases the returns are comparatively clear, with a 100% recapture rate. But the majority of originals are badly damaged at the top of the sheet and only legible for the last few entries at the bottom.

The first 1,400 of the transcription sheets are now being input into a computer database. In turn this material will be published as a full transcript (similar to the original return sheets). We hope to have the first volume ready for -publication towards the end of the year. The remaining sheets are being crosschecked and will be sent for inputting in April.

Hulme Returns

800 pages of returns for the Holy Trinity Ecclesiastical District of Hulme accounted for over 10,700 people on census night. The returns covered the area bounded by the River Medlock in the north; Medlock Street, Upper Wilmott Street, Boundary Lane, Ruby Street, in the east; Upper Jackson Street and Great Jackson Street in the west. Streets within these boundaries include:

Chester Street, Clarendon Street, Duke Street, George Street,
Leaf Street, River Street, Silk Street, Stretford Road, Upper
Duke Street, Welcomb Street, plus all other streets, courts,
buildings etc in the above area

700 pages have already been transcribed once, and the remainder should be ready for computer inputting by April. Unfortunately the quality of these returns is extremely poor, with all Hulme returns being covered in a grey mist making transcription work exceedingly tedious mid very slow. In some cases, the returns are so bad that is just not worth spending time on a second transcription. We shall be lucky to find much more than 30% of the population of the district, and there is no guarantee that complete 'across-the-line' entries will be available.

Future Work

Our next batches of returns for transcription work will be those 392 pages covering the unfilmed parts of Deansgate (HO 107/2227). These consist of (renumbered) folios 414b to 566d and 846 to 890. Both sections are in St Matthews Ecclesiastical District and the missing sections from Volume 6 of the Surname Index. We shall follow this by transcribing HO 107/2240 Oldham-below-Town where approximately 300 returns need transcribing. These are in a very poor condition and we shall be lucky to recapture more than 30% of the entries shown. This will take us well into the autumn and at our present rate of strike it will be at least another two years before we shall have finished all the work.

In conclusion may I ask that if any members wish to help in this vital task, will they contact me on 0442 68395 to discuss their possible involvement. We are seeking those who can spare preferably three or four days each month - continuity is essential - either on a Wednesday or a Thursday. The work has to be done at the Public Record Office in Central London and the Society will pay modest travelling expenses to those who volunteer.
* Ray Hulley, 1851 Census Project Co-ordinator.


It must be stressed that the material being worked on by the PRO team is unavailable for general release to the public. Searches of the original returns are not allowed by the PRO due to their delicate and fragile nature. However, Ray Hulley is prepared to do a limited search of the areas the team has covered so far (provided a name and address is known) for a £5 donation to Society funds.

When the transcription work is completed, all material found will be made available in the Library at Clayton House, the PRO, and the Local Studies Unit at Manchester Central Library, as a full transcript.
* John Coupe, M&LFHS Projects Co-ordinator.

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