Case Studies

Brief History, Access to Returns, Unfilmed Census, Recovering Lost Souls

History, Methods, Publication and Statistics

Manchester, Chorlton, Salford, Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham

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Elizabeth Gaskell
Samuel Bamford



The cases set out below relate to prominent Mancunians. They illustrate both copybook successes based on use of the index and a household which perhaps represents the limit of what might be achieved.

Samuel Bamford
The political radical and writer Samuel Bamford was born in Middleton, Near Oldham, Lancashire in 1788. He was a weaver and later a warehouseman. He married Jemima Shepherd in 1812. He moved from Middleton to Harpurhey, where he died in 1872. His whereabouts in 1851 are uncertain and he cannot be found in the published census returns.

A search of the index to the unfilmed returns produces results for both Samuel and Jemima (spelt Jamima) in the Prestwich, Cheetham and Harpurhey returns, Samuel at the bottom of one page and Jemima at the top of the next. The household as shown at Blackley in schedule 94 of the recovered returns is as follows:

Sch. Street etc.      Name                   Relation St Age Occupation                         Birthplace
94    Charlestown   Samuel BAMFORD Head      M 62   Author Of Various Literary * Lancaster Middleton
94    Charlestown   Jamima BAMFORD Wife      M  62                                            Lancaster Bagslate
* (publications)

Observations: Many of the households have been recovered in their entirity. The return for the Bamford household falls within a large section of the census which has virtually no lost information.

Elizabeth Gaskell
The novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (nee STEVENSON), author of Cranford and North and South, was born in Chelsea, London in 1810 and married Unitarian minister William Gaskell in 1832. William had been born in Latchford, near Warrington in 1805. They moved to Plymouth Grove in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester in 1850 and were living there when the census was taken in 1851. This street falls within the area covered by the damaged census returns.

A search of the index for Elizabeth GASKELL proved unsuccessful but using Elizabeth's distinctive birthplace to search the transcribed records, a family can be identified in schedule 13 of the recovered returns as below:

Sch.  Name      Relation Status   Age  Occupation      Birthplace
13     ...ESH...   Head    M          43    ... ... Of 6 ...    Cheshire Latchford
13     DITTO     Wife     M          40                          Middlesex Chelsea
13     DITTO     Dau      U          14                           Lancashire Manchester
13     DITTO     Dau      U            8                           Lancashire Manchester
13     DITTO     Dau      U            4                           Lancashire Manchester

This is clearly one of the most badly damaged pages and the surviving information might initially be considered worthless. The street name has been lost, but the previous page relates to Plymouth Grove. The surname has been substantially lost and the small surviving portion has been misinterpreted. Nevertheless, the ages and birthplaces of the Head and Wife fit closely (though in the case of the head the age is a little adrift) with what we know about William and Elizabeth. Although the names of the three daughters are also lost, their ages would suggest that they are: Margaret Emily ("Meta") who was born in 1837, Florence Elizabeth, born 1843 and Julia Bradford born 1846. The two totally unreadable lines would possibly have contained details of house servants. The fragment of occupational detail may have originally read "Minister of Religion", the "6" being a misinterpretation of a partial "R".

Observations: Not every entry can be found using the index. Some entries are very badly damaged but families might be recognised if some distinctive details have survived. Although very great care was taken, errors may be made in the interpretation of fragmentary words.

Edward Riley Langworthy
Edward Riley (or Ryley) Langworthy (1797-1874) is best known as a Salford alderman and as mayor of that city for two terms 1848-50. He was associated with establishing the first free public museum (at Peel Park), and later in 1850, the first free public library in the country. Although he is closely associated with Salford, and it might be expected that he would be found in the damaged returns for that district, he is actually found living in the prosperous Victoria Park area of the Chorlton district. His large household appears as below:

Sch. Name                                Relation St Age Occupation                         Birthplace
150  Edward Riley LANGWORTHY Head     M  54 Merchant And Cotton Manuf. Middlesex London
150  Sarah LANGWORTHY           Wife      M  53                                          Middlesex London
150  E. J. HEAVEN                       Sister    U  47 Annuitant                            Middlesex , London
150  Ann WYLIE                         Visitor    U  20 Annuitant                            Lancashire , Liverpool
150  Ann BLACKLOCK                  Servant  U  30 House Servt.                       Dumfries Annan
150  Charlotte PRINCE                 Servant  U  26 House Servt.                      Flintshire Overton
150  Eliza BROWN                       Servant  U  27 House Servt.                      Yorkshire Leeds
150  Charles KERRISON               Servant  M  36 Coachman                         Middlesex London
150  Sarah KERRISON                 Servant  M  37 Wife Of Coachman              Hampshir, Headley
150  Ann KERRISON                                     14 Scholar                              Lancashire Livepool
150  Georgina KERRISON                                8 Scholar                             United States New York

Observations: This is another section of the returns which has been only slightly damaged and which has been recovered in its entirety. It is also a reminder that a family may be found in a completely different district to that with which they had even recently been associated.

Other Prominent Residents
Also to be found in the returns are Manchester poets John Critchley Prince (1808-1866) in Ashton-under-Lyne and Edwin Waugh (1817-1890) in Hulme. Josiah Slugg, author of "Reminiscences of Manchester Fifty Years Ago" is another Hulme resident and the Physicist James Prescot Joule (1818-1889) appears with his family in the Regent Road district of Salford.

Last modified 17 August 2009