The Manchester Genealogist
Irish Immigrants in the unfilmed 1851 census returns for Manchester and district
Elsewhere in this edition (pages 250-1) I report
on the progress made by the project team at the Public Record Office,
London in transcribing the unfilmed parts of Manchester and district.
This work is vital to many family historians because the 1851 returns
are the earliest ones to show family relationships, exact ages,
occupations and, most importantly, precise birthplaces.
Unfortunately, in the case of Irish-born inhabitants,
an entry showing the town or even the county of birth in Ireland
is normally the exception rather than the rule. This has arisen
simply because the enumerator has followed instructions not to show
counties of birth for Irish, Scottish and Welsh inhabitants in English
census returns. There were exceptions, however, the most notable
of which are the returns for Salford Barracks shown in HO 107/2224
Book 4B, transcription pages 279-330. Almost all Irish-born soldiers
have their town and county birthplaces shown. Out of a total population
of 988, 445 (45%) were bon in Ireland.
Another area of comparatively high density Irish
settlement is the first two Enumeration Districts (EDs) IG and 1H,
transcription pages 1-122 in Portland Place Ward, Ashton under Lyne
town. 20% of the 1,963 population were from Southern Ireland. In
the other ward - Market Street Ward - the overall Irish contingent
of 738 people comprised 12% of the total population. Clearly, Ashton
under Lyne had become an Irish settlement area by 1851 with over
1,300 Irish people in the Portland Place and Market Street Wards
in addition to those already shown in the filmed returns. The outlying
area of Knott Lanes had an Irish population of 53(1%) and Oldham
below Town had 90 Irish out of a total population of 5,706, less
than 2% of the total. Members will have read the interesting article
on 'Irish Migrant Settlement in Early Nineteenth Century Manchester',
written by Mervyn Busteed which appeared in volume 32, no 1, edition.
The area in question, Irish town, lay on the western side of Rochdale
Road and stretched as far as the River Irk. The project team has
almost completed transcription work on the St. George's sub-district
and the EDs on the eastern side of Rochdale Road have proved to
be a mirror image of their opposite neighbours, at least in terms
of the Irish population shown on the returns.
The table below shows the Irish population in each
of the 7 EDs located on the western side of Rochdale Road, nearest
to its southern end adjacent to Swan Street. The average is even
greater than the 44% of Irish-born, or bon elsewhere to two Irish
parents, in Irish town. The transcribers were able to easily identify
almost all the birthplaces shown as Ireland, mainly because the
supervisors' check was made with a waterproof wax crayon that had
been used to identify all Irish-born people. Unfortunately, these
returns are amongst the most badly damaged ones. Although it was
easy to identify the place of birth (if Ireland), other parts of
each entry were indecipherable and the recapture rate is very low,
less than 25 % in the worst of the EDs. One consolation to researchers
is that we managed to identify all addresses to the provision of
large-scale maps by Manchester Local Studies Unit and have listed
male and female entries (taken from the age column) together with
all Irish-born inhabitants.
Table 1: Showing the Irish population
in each of the 7 EDs located on the Western side of Rochdale Road,
nearest to its Southern end adjacent to Swan Street.
||% including dependents
To sum up, if you are wondering whether your Irish
ancestors are in the unfilmed 1851 returns, then you should check
Salford Barracks, then the Ashton under Lyne town returns in books
2B and 2C. Finally, the St George's returns (lA to 1L) may be worth
a check, when they are published. If you still draw a blank, and
you have already checked the published returns for Greengate and
Hulme, then the only ones left are the 90 entries in Oldham and
the 53 in Knott Lanes.
We shall begin Salford - Pendleton and Salford Pendlebury
transcription work next year and will highlight the numbers of Irish-born
inhabitants in those areas. Because they are on the western side
of Manchester, there is a strong possibility that there will be
a large Irish presence in many of the EDs.
* Ray Hulley, Project coordinator.
Copyright © 2000-2022 Ray Hulley. All rights reserved.