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The Manchester Genealogist

Unfilmed 1851 census of Manchester, Salford and Districts
Report No. 8 (Final)

This is the final report concerning the 1851 census recovery project in which Society members have been involved initially at the Public Record Office (PRO) and latterly at The National Archives (TNA) in London.

It all started as far as I was concerned in the Local Studies Library at Manchester in July 1989 when I came across a verbatim account of the Insolvency Hearing of Robert Churchman Hulley MD held at Lancaster Assizes in December 1851. He was described as formerly of 25 St John Street and late of 49 Great Jackson Street Manchester. I found him living at St John Street on the filmed census returns for the Deansgate sub-district but I was interested in finding out more about the Great Jackson Street address. The returns for the western side of Great Jackson Street were complete but those for the eastern side were missing and I was informed by the staff that they had been lost. This was a big disappointment and it wasn’t until 1991 that I helped to correct this situation.

The related events between 1983 and 1991 have been fully covered by Frances de Courcy in her account in Volume 41 No. 3 edition of the Manchester Genealogist and I don’t intend to repeat them. In March 1991 I joined an expectant group of several London-based society members at a meeting held at the Public Record Office Chancery Lane when John Coupe the Society’s editor of the 1851 surname index books and the redoubtable Susan Lumas of the PRO explained the background and proposed modus operandi of the transcription project. We were not allowed to use any form of artificial light and reliance on natural daylight was our only means of reading the badly damaged returns. I volunteered to co-ordinate the London end of the work and so the project began.

Older members will remember the regular reports that I submitted to the Manchester Genealogist which covered the (slow) progress of the work from March 1991 to December 1996 and its transfer to Kew in January 1997 as a result of the closure of the Chancery Lane building. At Kew, the team was under the general supervision of the Conservation Department whose Head Mario Aleppo went out of his way to assist us. He introduced us to the latest ultra-violet (UV) scanning equipment and we entered a brand new world of text recovery! We had tried UV light previously at Chancery Lane but the equipment was positively archaic compared with that at Kew. Our recovery rates improved so much that we decided to re-examine those returns previously transcribed to increase the numbers recovered. This exercise produced the following improvements:

 
Chancery Lane results
Kew results
Improvement
District
No. recovered
%
No. recovered
%
Additional entries
%age
Hulme
12,428
60
18,391
88
5,963
+28%
Salford Greengate
20,153
57
30,055
85
9,902
+28%
Salford Regent Road
9,696
87
10,902
98
1,206
+11%
Ashton under Lyne
16,289
87
18,106
96
1,817
+9%
Oldham below Town
4,377
77
5,642
99
1,265
+22%
Total
62,943
65
83,096
86
20,153
21%

Did I find the entry for 49 Great Jackson Street, Hulme?   I am pleased to report that it was recovered in full and can be seen on folio F173 of  the Hulme CD. Robert Churchman Hulley must have moved out of St John Street after 30 March 1851 and moved into No 49, where Edmund Fleming and his 3 children, a visitor and 2 servants had resided on census night. 

Further progress was made at Kew and I reported on the transcription of St George’s (HO 107/2230 part), Harpurhey, Prestwich and Blackley (HO 107/2232) and Pendleton and Pendlebury (HO 107/2222) in vol. 33 No. 4 in Oct 1997; and Chorlton upon Medlock (HO 107/2220) and Ardwick townships (HO 107/2219) in vol. 39 No. 1 January 2003.  These showed the following results:

Township or District
Total population in damaged returns
Recovered entries
Recovered %age
St George's
11,780
10,433
89%
Harpurhey Prestwich etc
8,987
8,226
92%
Pendleton and Pendlebury
16,886
8,805
52%
Ardwick
15,793
11,805
75%
Chorlton upon Medlock
25,537
15,020
59%
Total
78,983
54,289
69%

The above results for Chorlton upon Medlock do not include 10,021 missing returns for streets within the area of the township bounded by Rosamond Street West in the north, Oxford Street (now Road) in the east, Boundary Lane and Greenheys Lane in the west, and the township boundary with Rusholme in the south. Since the report issued in January 2003, the team of volunteers at Kew have been transcribing some particularly difficult returns and other means of recovering the faded entries have had to be employed. The areas covered are listed below.

Deansgate sub-district (HO 107/2227)

The first 15 enumeration districts (EDs) of this area were not transcribed because the original returns are quite clear and easy to read on the microfilm. These returns covered the area from Liverpool Road to Bridge Street which lies between Deansgate and the River Irwell. 13,798 persons were recorded on the returns.

The remainder of the sub-district held the returns of 19,390 persons in 22 EDs and its boundaries were as follows:

From the River Irwell at its junction with the River Medlock north along the River Irwell to South (aka Lower) Irwell Street; South Irwell Street to Water Street, Water Street to Liverpool Road, Liverpool Road to Deansgate, Deansgate to Brazennose Street, Brazennose Street to Cross (aka Pool) Street, Cross Street to Princess Street, Princess Street to Bond Street, Bond Street to David Street, David Street to Brook Street, Brook Street to the River Medlock at Brook Street Bridge, west along the River Medlock to the River Irwell.

8 of the EDs were unfilmed because of severe damage to the originals but were transcribed in 1989 and the results shown on microfiche. This produced about 200 more names but many entries were incomplete. A tissue lamination had been previously applied to all these returns to conserve the original paper but this process made reading the text much more difficult. After discussions with the Conservation Department it was agreed that the lamination could be removed by Conservation staff from a number of returns to establish whether this would improve the recovery rate of the entries. In a sample population of 5,321 an additional 1,513 entries (28%) were recovered so it was agreed that where necessary other returns could be delaminated to improve recovery rates. Eventually the returns for 12,287 persons (63%) were delaminated. The work of transcribing the entries for 19,390 persons started in August 2003 and took the team, now reduced to 5 volunteers, 11 months to produce the following results:

Sub-district
Total population in damaged returns
Recovered entries
Recovered %age
Deansgate
19,390
18,439
95%

The CD of this sub-district was published in December 2005 (bookshop reference 1641).

London Road sub-district (HO 107/2228)

The returns for this sub-district were also a mixture of filmed and unfilmed originals. Books 3D, 3E and 3F had been filmed by the Mormons, surname-indexed by the Society in 1986 and published as volume 3. These held the returns for 16,148 persons, 51% of the sub-district total. Books 3A, 3B and 3C were very badly water-damaged and had not been filmed because of their fragility. The Society partly transcribed these last 3 books in 1989 and the results published on microfiche. This only produced a small number of names and even fewer complete entries.

The areas of London Road sub-district covered by the unfilmed returns were as follows:

Book 3A – the area bounded on the south by the River Medlock from Ardwick Bridge to Brook Street Bridge; on the west by Brook Street from the River Medlock to Granby Row; on the north by Granby Row, Mason Street, Pump Street (part of), Minshull Street (part of), and Brook Street to London Road; on the east by London Road from Brook Street to the Ardwick Bridge.

Book 3B – the area bounded on the south by Brook Street, Minshull Street (part of), Pump Street (part of), Mason Street, Granby Row to Brook Street; on the west by Brook Street and David Street from Granby Row to Portland Street; on the north by Portland Street from David Street to Piccadilly; on the east by Piccadilly and London Road from Portland Street to Brook Street.

Book 3C - this had two separate areas, the first one was the area bounded on the south by the River Medlock from Mayfield Street to Ardwick Bridge; on the west by London Road from Ardwick Bridge to Ashton Street; on the north by Ashton Street from London Road to Holbrook Street; on the east by Holbrook Street, Cross Street, Boardman Street, Travis Street, Fairfield Street to Mayfield Street.

Some of the returns in this area were almost completely unreadable and no entries have been recovered from the 771 population in ED 1P. The following streets were in this ED: Buxton Street from Berry Street to Boardman Street; Boardman Street from Buxton Street to Catherine Street; Catherine Street; Back Catherine Street; Charles Street; Print Street; Edwin Court; Back Charles Court; No. 1 Court Berry Street; and Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Passages Buxton Street.

The second area of unfilmed returns in Book 3C comprised the following: bounded on the north east by Great Ancoats Street from Chapel Street to Travis Street; on the south east by Travis Street from Great Ancoats Street to Baker Street; on the south west by Baker Street, Heyrod Street (part of), Church Gate Buildings, Long Street (part of), Portugal Street; on the north west by Chapel street from Portugal Street to Great Ancoats Street.

We approached the transcription of these returns in the same way as those for Deansgate. If the removal of the tissue lamination would aid the recovery of more entries then the Conservation Department were happy to help us. However in many cases even if this was removed the underlying text was still very difficult to interpret into names especially surnames. First names get quite repetitive – especially after reading 200,000 of them – but surnames pose serious difficulty. Ages, occupations and birthplaces were less problematic due to the repeating nature of many of them and the mark made by the supervisor when checking the entries. It was noted that all persons whose birthplace was not in Lancashire had a --- check mark at the end of the line, thus aiding the transcriber in determining the individual’s birthplace. If the actual location could not be read then the entry remained blank.

The transcription of many surnames in the London Road returns was the most difficult part of the work at TNA. Many of the originals of the unfilmed returns were practically unreadable without UV light. Even the use of this facility only showed up swirls and whirls, hoops and loops of letters through the water damage. There are faint images on the pages, but it is extremely difficult to identify full words. We even contacted another government agency with wide experience in the type of work that we were doing at Kew and who had access to specialist scanning equipment costing 1,000s of £s. Several samples of damaged returns were scanned with this equipment but the results were no better than what we had achieved using our experience and UV light.

The problem was eventually partly solved with the assistance of two useful sources of information for names and addresses in the centre of Manchester - the 1851 Poor Rate Books (PRBs) and the 1850 Trades Directory (TD) which are held at the Local Studies Library, St Peter’s Square. Most of these had been micro-filmed and were available for reference purposes to the public. The PRBs and TD only listed the householder’s name and address but this was at least a start in deciphering the words on the returns. If it is known what surname may be there, then this makes deciphering faint entries that much easier. In all cases just because a PRB or TD entry has for example John Hardcastle living at 23 Grosvenor Street, then that is not necessarily the census entry. We always rechecked the original entry on the damaged page and examined it to establish that the actual entry - or 80% of it - does read John Hardcastle. By going to this additional effort many more entries have been recovered than otherwise would have been. If there was still a doubt about the entry, it would be left blank or part-blank.

The results of our transcription of the London Road unfilmed returns are as follows:

Book No.
Total population in damaged returns
Recovered entries
Recovered %age
3A
4,922
4,262
86%
3B
5,013
3,740
75%
3C
5,807
3,783
65%
Total
15,742
11,785
75%

The CD for this sub-district is in course of preparation and will be published later this year.

Rusholme, Gorton and Openshaw (HO 107/2219)

These townships were part of the Ardwick sub-district of Chorlton district which included Ardwick township. The latter has been separately transcribed and published on CD reference 1633.

All these 3 townships had been filmed and surname indexed – see volume 9 – and an examination of the microfilm confirmed that folios 1 to 200 were readable and did not require transcribing. These covered Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Withington, Didsbury, Burnage and Levenshulme, with a total population of 6,168 persons, 34% of the total.

Many of the remaining 700 pages were difficult to decipher due to water damage affecting the bottom 5 or 6 entries, hence it was decided to transcribe the originals to produce a satisfactory set of returns. These returns had been laminated and Conservation Department staff attempted to remove the material. Unfortunately this proved impossible without further damage to the actual returns and had to be abandoned. Whereas previous laminations were made from paper tissue, these were made from fine silk and were firmly attached to the paper and any attempt at removal destroyed the text. This was a slight setback to the recovery process but had to be accepted. We continued to use other sources as a means of identifying what may be shown in the badly damaged areas of the returns but in all cases unless at least 80% of the word could be identified the entry remained blank or part blank. The work was extremely tedious and it took about one hour to transcribe each page.

The locations of the 3 townships are shown in surname index volume 9 and the following additional places have been found in the damaged parts of the returns:

  Rusholme    
    Banff House Moss Lane Corner
    Brick Fold Farm Cottage Moss Lane East End
    Brick Cottage Regent House
    Brighton Grove Lodge Stein's Terrace
    Heald House Farm Summer Place
    Kingthorpe Grove The Elms
    Monmouth House  
  Gorton    
    Canal Bridge Longsight Coach Houses
    Chapel Houses Inn Longsight Terrace
    Green? Works ..ts Houses Midway Farm
    Gorton Toll New Midway
    Hall Cottage New Midway Inn
    Higher Cats Knowl Farm Ryder Brow
    Hope Farm Cottage  
  Openshaw    
    Cornwall Inn St Ann's Walk
    Moss Lane Tuley Buildings
    Orrells Buildings Whyatts Farm Yard
    Springfield  

The transcription work started on 12 April 2005 and was completed on 8 November 2005. The team had been reduced to 4 volunteers by this time, thus delaying the completion. Results are shown below:

Township
Total population in damaged returns
Recovered entries
Recovered %age
Rusholme
3,749
3,748
100%
Gorton inc Gaol
4,476
4,328
97%
Openshaw
3,759
3,213
85%
Total
11,984
11,267
94%

The CD for these townships is in course of preparation and will be published later this year.

Conclusions

This completes the transcription work on the unfilmed and/or damaged 1851 census returns. The original list comprised Salford Greengate and Regent Road, Pendleton and Pendlebury, Hulme, Prestwich and Harpurhey, St. George’s, Ashton under Lyne and Oldham. All the others were added during the course of the project in response to members’ experiences in trying to read other damaged returns and to create a readable set of census returns for future researchers. The project has been long and sometimes arduous, but as far as I have been concerned, never dull or boring. The other volunteers and I have spent a large part of the past 14½ years in recovering information laid hidden for over 150 years, information that helps to bridge the gap between the start of general registration from 1837 and the use of parish registers for a given location. I am sure that the results will be of vital use to family historians and others in their researches and that all members will recognise the project has been well worth the time invested in the work.

May I take this opportunity to thank most sincerely all the volunteers who have worked either at Chancery Lane, Kew, Clayton House or even at home for all their sterling efforts and their devoted determination in the transcribing, inputting, and CD preparation work of this important project.

Overall results

These are shown by Census District, Sub-districts and Townships. Some sections of these were quite readable and have not been transcribed. The figures shown below relate to the work undertaken on the unfilmed and/or damaged sections of the returns.

DISTRICT and Sub-district
Township or Place
Total population in unfilmed or damaged returns
Recovered entries
Recovered %age
CHORLTON  
 
 
 
Ardwick Rusholme
3749
3748
100
  Gorton
4476
4328
97
  Openshaw
3759
3213
85
  Ardwick
15793
11805
75
Chorlton upon Medlock Chorlton upon Medlock #
25537
15020
59
Hulme Hulme
20798
18391
88
# excludes 10,021 missing returns  
 
 
 
SALFORD  
 
 
 
Pendleton Pendleton
14136
6994
50
  Pendlebury
2750
1811
66
Greengate Salford, part of
35216
30055
85
Regent Road Salford, part of
11097
10902
98
MANCHESTER  
 
 
 
Deansgate Manchester, part of
19390
18439
95
London Road Manchester, part of
15742
11785
75
St. George Manchester, part of
11780
10433
89
Blackley Harpurhey and Blackley
3937
3745
95
Prestwich Prestwich, Great, Little Heaton
5050
4481
89
ASHTON under LYNE  
 
 
 
Knott Lanes Knott Lanes
6047
5871
97
Ashton Town Ashton Town #
12754
12235
96
# excludes 4,737 missing returns  
 
 
 
OLDHAM  
 
 
 
Oldham Oldham-below-town
5706
5642
99
GRAND TOTAL
 
217,717
178,898
82%

 

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