The Church of England and social change in Manchester, 1635-1928

Ecclesiastical, court and land records in the Manchester Cathedral archives

Ecclesiastical, court and land records in the Manchester Cathedral archives

The Cathedral Church of Manchester has been at the centre of the city of Manchester's history and the Cathedral Archive contains a detailed picture of changing land use in the centre of the world's first industrial city
Christopher HunwicFormer Manchester Cathedral Archivist

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Manchester's development and the nature of marriage, from 1635 to 1928

Manchester Cathedral is one of only a handful of Anglican cathedrals that hold their own archives on site. Dating from 1361 to the present day, its archives cover the parish functions of both the Cathedral and its predecessor, the Collegiate Church, founded in 1421, as well as of the capitular workings of the church. The collection contains the largest series of parish registers in the country, because of the peculiar coincidence of a very large parish with a huge population increase during the 18th and 19th centuries. At times of peak demand, more than a hundred couples would be wed in a single day, married in batches of 20-30. Yet not all would-be couples were married, as the Cathedral's apparently unique series of banns books starting from the Georgian period shows. These volumes provide unique insights for historians into the proportion of engagements that failed, what objections were raised, and by whom, as well as allowing detailed statistical analysis of residence and mobility in Victorian England. The Capitular Archives record the management of the Chapter Estates comprising considerable land holdings from the 17th-20th centuries in what became the world's first industrial city. Again it is possible to chart the effects of the Industrial Revolution on land use and property values in one of Britain's most important urban centres, as farms and fields were converted to roads, railways, homes and factories. Accessible through a full and detailed online catalogue of the entire fonds (Access to Archives), the materials chosen for publication include highlights from across the major collections. Each document selected serves to illustrate the parochial duties of the Chaplains and Churchwardens, including charity distribution and the daily management of the church and its fabric, as well as the land and financial management of the Warden and Fellows of the Collegiate Church. Taken altogether they reveal how the established church tried to cope not just with spiritual, but also with social and economic change on an unprecedented and massive scale. Accompanied by an online guide to the collection by Christopher Hunwick, formerly Manchester Cathedral Archivist.


The Church of England and social change in Manchester, 1635-1928...

Containing 26,047 pages belonging to 16 documents housed in 9 volumes...

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Manor court books for Newton

Comprises the Cathedral's two surviving volumes of manor court books, covering the periods 1775-1837 and 1843-1914. These volumes record the...

Chapter estate records

Includes; title deeds for areas of Deansgate and Kirkmanshulme, an Abstract book of leases, 1672-1869, and a Boundaries Book for...

Annual accounts or statements of receipt and disbursement, 1761-1874

Listing annually the itemised receipts and disbursements of rents, revenues and sums of money, presented for audit during the period...

Estate plans (Newton Heath, Kirkmanshulme, Deansgate)

Three estate plans, showing Newton Heath, Kirkmanshulme and Deansgate, from the latter half of the 19th century and the early...


  • The Manor Court was a lowly local court which could only punish minor offences. The Manor Court books for Newton in Manchester reveal which causes a person could be tried for and which verdicts could be given.
  • Estate plans for Newton Heath, Kirkmanshulme and Deansgate show each house's location. The plans for Newton Heath and Kirkmanshulme date from the 1860s; the Deansgate plan was drawn between 1910 and 1920.
  • The Cathedral held the local baptism, marriage, and burial records during the first half of the 19th century. Those records now form part of this collection, alongside summary marriage registers and banns objections.
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