Manchester was created a diocese in 1847, carved out of the Diocese of Chester in response to the huge upsurge in population in the North West of England as a result of the Industrial Revolution. This being the case, the Cathedral is a comparatively recent one. Externally the Cathedral building is easy to miss, situated at the northern extremity of the city centre, overshadowed by high rise tower blocks and offices. The building is small scale for a cathedral, and the exterior stonework is for the most part Victorian, giving the impression to the passer-by of a large parish church.
It is not until one passes over the threshold of the south porch that one is struck by the age of the building, the gloriously rich woodwork, and the history behind it. There is evidence for the presence of an Anglo-Saxon church on or near the site, in the form of an ancient carved stone bearing the image of an angel, discovered amidst infill rubble within the south wall during the 19th century restoration of the church. Around 1220, a large stone-built parish church was erected on the site.
Two centuries later, however, the church was dramatically raised in status. The twelfth Baron of Manchester, Thomas de la Warre, petitioned for the parish church to be appropriated and formed into a collegiate church. The Baron was himself a priest, having been sent into the church as a younger sibling, not expected to inherit the title. The ancient parish of Manchester was some sixty square miles in area, and included thirty townships other than Manchester itself. Thomas de la Warre, as one of two priests serving the parish, understood the need for more priests to administer the cure of souls in Manchester, and gained first Papal, then Royal approval for the founding of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George at Manchester in 1421. The college comprised one warden and eight fellows, as well as two chaplains, four singing men and six singing boys. The Baron gifted his Baronial Hall to the college for the accommodation of the members of the foundation. The site was reconstructed as cloisters around a quadrangle on the north side of the church, and the buildings remain to this day as Chetham's Library and Chetham's School of Music, one of the finest surviving examples of collegiate church buildings.
The church, too, was enlarged and embellished as befitted a collegiate church during the 15th and early 16th century. The choir stalls, containing some of the most exquisite mediaeval misericords in Europe, date from this period. It was this church, then, "th'owd church", as it became affectionately known, that in the mid-19th century was the obvious candidate for elevation to become the seat of the new Bishop of Manchester.
Just as the Cathedral has been unjustly overlooked in the past, so too have its archives. The Cathedral archives date predominantly from the 16th century onwards, although there are several charters from the foundation in 1421, and the earliest item is a title deed from 1361, discovered in 2006 in a 'miscellaneous box'. The archives are housed on site at the Cathedral in a purpose built strongroom above the north porch.
In 2003, the Cathedral formed a partnership with Chetham's Library to gain heritage lottery funding for the cataloguing of the Cathedral's archives. Over the past three and a half years, the Cathedral archives have been fully catalogued for the first time to the International Standard of Archival Description. Prior to 2003, the last serious attention the archives received was in 1948 in the aftermath of the Second World War, when Dean Garfield Hodder Williams invited Albert Hollaender, Keeper of Manuscripts at the Guildhall Library in London, to come to Manchester to inspect what archives had survived the damage inflicted on the Cathedral by the Luftwaffe in 1940. Hollaender produced a summary listing of the archives at a high level, covering approximately one third of the material now assembled.
The new full catalogue is now available on A2A (www.a2a.org.uk), and the Archives of Manchester Cathedral are for the first time made accessible for serious research. The documents here provide a cross-section of the collection, illustrating some of the most important functions of the Collegiate Church through a most interesting period of its history.
There is a natural division in the material comprising the Cathedral collection, as reflected in the
cataloguing, between Parochial and Capitular material; that is the records of the Parish as against
those relating to the Chapter, i.e. the records of the warden and fellows of the Collegiate Church
or their successors, the dean and canons of the Cathedral.
On the Capitular side, the central records are the minutes of Chapter meetings. The online collection includes the first two surviving Chapter Registers containing the Chapter minutes from 1635 to 1870 (MS 21/1-2). The minutes cease during the English Civil War. At times, the minutes recorded can be dry accounts of appointments of fellows or choristers to the foundation and the appending of the common Chapter seal to leases of land; at other times, the minutes represent a very full record of correspondence received, debates within the Chapter on various issues, and disciplinary action taken against members of the College. The Chapter minutes should be the first resource to be explored on any subject.
One of the main concerns of the Chapter was the administration of the Chapter Estates from which the foundation derived its income. Manchester and Durham are the only Cathedral Chapters to retain the administration of their ancient endowment estates. The Cathedrals Measure of 1931 required the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to make schemes for the compulsory transfer to them of the endowments of all Cathedrals in return for a monetary consideration. Manchester and Durham were exempted, perhaps because their estates were professionally managed at the time.
The original Chapter Estates comprised land in the parsonage area of Manchester, where the original rectory had been before the foundation of the College, together with the township of Kirkmanshulme (which translates as 'Churchman's Meadow'), also known as Newton Detached, in Longsight; the whole of Newton Heath and Miles Platting, and also some smaller areas of land in Rusholme and Salford. The Kirkmanshulme land is recorded as belonging to the Church in the Domesday Book, whilst the Newton Heath land appears to have been added in the 12th century.
For the next five centuries, these lands remained purely agricultural, and were let on short leases to farmers and others by the warden and fellows of the Collegiate Church. When the Industrial Revolution broke upon England in the latter half of the 18th century, however, the extraordinarily rapid wwwelopment of Manchester brought the land at Newton and Kirkmanshulme within the orbit of demand for building land. wwwelopment of such rapidity after centuries of an almost stationary agricultural economy was something which could not possibly have been foreseen and for which the whole country was unprepared. The warden and fellows found that their powers of leasing were inadequate for the new demand, and it was not until the middle of the 19th century that adequate powers were obtained.
The power to grant 'building leases' with forty-year terms was obtained through Parliament in the 1750s, following rewwwelopment of the parsonage land for the building of a new sister church, St Mary's. Later in the century the first ninety-nine year leases were granted, and for several decades considerable wwwelopment took place on building leases of that length. In 1861 powers were obtained to grant leases of 999 years, and from that date onward, practically all the building leases granted were for that term. In the 1960s, by reason of the expiry of the ninety-nine year leases granted between 1795 and 1861, the Chapter managed some estates in hand. In some cases, 999 year leases were granted, but mostly the Chapter took the properties over and managed them because of their age and poor state, which restricted interest in buying or leasing them.
In more recent years, the ground rent from properties on 999 year leases became more expensive to collect than it was worth because of the effects of inflation. The majority of the ancient endowment was therefore sold off and the profits mostly invested in the stock market. In the turbulent market of the 1990s, the Chapter turned again to property and new properties were purchased in areas outside Manchester.
The Cathedral Archives, therefore, contain a detailed picture of changing land use in the centre of the world's first industrial city, and the attempts of the church as a prominent landowner, to deal with unprecedented change in demand for land. Detailed accounting survives from 1761, and, for the hundred years from 1850 to 1950, the whole accounting system is preserved, from annual statements of account down to individual receipts.
The online collection contains the first six volumes of annual accounts, 1761-1874 (Annual accounts or statements of receipt and disbursement (1761-1874) covering the period of greatest change (there are some gaps in the series). These form an excellent resource for tracing both the income and expenditure of the College. It is possible through this source to trace, for example, the rate of extraction of coal from the 'Bradford Colliery', Newton Heath, which was let out as a mining interest by the warden and fellows separately from the surface land.
Alongside the accounts, the online collection includes an Abstract Book of Leases, 1672-1869, (Abstract Book of Leases, 1679-1869), and a Boundaries Book for Chapter Estates in Newton, Kirkmanshulme and Rusholme from circa 1760 (Boundaries Book of Newton, Kirkmanshulme and Rusholme, c.1760), containing coloured plans in pen and ink with descriptions giving name of plot/field, with statute and Lancashire measures of acres, roods and perches. For later comparison included are three estate plans, showing Newton Heath, Kirkmanshulme and Deansgate, from the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century (Estate Plans (Newton Heath, Kirkmanshulme, Deansgate). The plan of Kirkmanshulme illustrates inter alia the wwwelopment of Belle Vue Zoo.
Two series of title deeds have also been included in the online collection to serve as examples of the wider holdings of title deeds (Chapter Estate Records). One series involves a property known as "Jefferson's" on Deansgate in the centre of Manchester, whilst the other is for a farmstead at Kirkmanshulme, known as "Kenyon's". Each series stretches from the 1670s into the 19th century, thereby covering the period of greatest change from rural backwater to urban centre.
The Deansgate property remains virtually unchanged from 1679 to 1717, on a rent of 4 shillings per annum. Suddenly in 1724, the rent doubles to 8 shillings, and then trebles to £1, 4s in 1760, increasing to £1, 18s in 1767. By the 19th century, the premises are identified as number 90 Deansgate and are being used as a public house called "The Golden Lion".
The Kirkmanshulme property tells the same story of sudden ground rental inflation in the 18th century, leaping from £1, 8s per annum in 1765 to £3, 18s, 9d in 1772, and £60, 11s, 4d in 1806. 'Kenyons' is described as including several named fields, with an area of between 21 and 23 acres. As the 19th century drew on, the property was split up into many smaller plots for building upon and was sublet. Materials to be used in the buildings to be erected are specified, as well as the required rental value. The intrusion of the railways across the premises is documented with compulsory purchases and settlements, as is the building of roads. The life of the "Crown Inn" is also plotted through these deeds. The final surrender of the premises in 1881 records 27 different plots of land (being only part of what formerly comprised "Kenyon's"). This is fairly typical of what was happening to all the former farmsteads on the Chapter Estates.
Alongside the College's land ownership, the Chapter also had possession of the Lordship of the Manor of Newton and its members (which, in effect, included all the tenants of the College, whether in Newton or elsewhere). This was a mesne manor within the Manor of Manchester. Regular Courts Leet and Baron were held by the warden, or by his steward, at which the officers for the year would be appointed, presentments made, and fines handed out for failing to attend the court or failing to obey the court's orders.
Two surviving volumes of Manor Court books have been included, covering a period from 1775 to 1914 (Manor Court Books for Newton, 1775-1837 & 1843-1914). These volumes record the proceedings of the manor court sessions. There were two court sessions per year, (one at Easter and one at Michaelmas) and each one is described as "The Court Leet and View of Frankpledge with the Court Baron". The volumes list amercements for non-attendance, for encroachments, for not maintaining rights of way, and for other offences such as putting geese onto the common without a "yoak". The following officers were elected each October: constables, bylaw men, miselayers, and pinders. The 'Call Book' list of residents is copied into the book after each court session.
These two volumes are useful both for tracking residency patterns in Manchester, and also for
studying the maintenance of roads and bridges in a rapidly wwweloping city. The first volume was
described as "missing" in 1904, when an edition of the earlier manor court papers was prepared by
H.T. Crofton (Chetham Society vol 53, 1904). The Manor Court Book was discovered in 2006
amongst the contents of a tin chest in the Muniments Room alongside other legal papers,
presumably having been deposited by the Cathedral solicitors later in the 20th century.
On the parochial side, the intention has again been to convey an overall impression of the workings of the Cathedral by giving a sample slice through the collection.
The main holdings on the parochial side are the parish registers of baptism, marriage and burial, from 1573 to the present. This is the largest series of such registers in the country (for a single parish). This is because of the geographical area of the ancient parish (sixty square miles), not in itself untypical for the north west of England, combined with the sudden massive increase in population during the Industrial Revolution. The Collegiate Church also retained a virtual monopoly over the licence for marriages. Couples could be wed at a Chapel of Ease, but would pay fees twice over, once to the Chapel and once to the Collegiate Church. The result was that people would travel from miles around to be married at the Collegiate Church in Manchester. At the peak, in 1837, there were 7285 baptisms, and in 1834, there were 3157 marriages.
This remained the case until 1850 when the Manchester Rectory Division Bill was passed, and the ancient parish was divided, leaving the newly created Cathedral with a residual parish of only one square mile in the centre of the city. The effects of the Act were delayed, however, as the minor canons then in post were allowed to continue to receive the second fees until their retirement. Consequently, there was not a significant drop in numbers being baptised and wed until the very end of the 19th century. Burial had ceased by the middle of the century because of lack of space for interments.
A series of parish registers has been microfilmed previously by the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The parish registers included in this online collection, however, have never before been microfilmed as these are the neat parchment versions of the registers, which were discovered only in 2006, hidden behind a wooden chest. These had been overlooked in the 1948 listing by Albert Hollaender. Amazingly, a separate series of neat copies of the registers was recorded on parchment well into the second half of the 19th century, showing the pride taken by the church-wardens and parish clerks of Manchester in recording these record numbers of ceremonies. The neat registers chosen give full coverage for baptisms, marriages and burials between 1809 and 1821.
Another previously overlooked resource included in this online collection is the Banns Books, 1733- 1928 (Banns Books (1733-1928). Often it is the case that banns books would be discarded once they had been completed, being seen as nothing more than superfluous duplications of the marriage registers. Luckily, this is not the case at Manchester Cathedral, where the banns books survive from 1733 to the present. In the past the banns books have been ignored and, whereas many of the parish registers were rebound in the early 20th century, the banns books were left to decay on the shelves. Equally, when it came to the microfilming of the parish registers by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the banns books were not considered.
The Manchester banns books do not deserve to be ignored, however, as they document another very interesting phenomenon, which is not mentioned in the marriage registers. It appears that as many as one in five of the banns read in church did not result in a marriage, and very often the reason is recorded, eg: the under-age bride or groom not having the required parental consent, the objections of a clerk from a different parish (missing out on his fee), or the red-handed capture of a bigamist. The volume of objections to banns can be gauged by reference to MS 20, the Banns Objections Register for 1815-1836. This lists all the marriages against which objections were raised, and gives a cross reference to the page in the relevant banns book. A thesis is waiting to be written on this topic. These banns books are also useful to the family as well as social historian during a particular period (5 Feb 1849 to 20 Oct 1850 and 20 Jul 1851 to 1878) when the volumes record the length of residence of the bride and groom at their given addresses, not found in the marriage registers.
Also included among the parochial records in this online collection are the Chaplains'/Minor Canons' and Clerks' Fees Books, in four volumes, 1844-1898 (Chaplains'/Minor Canons' and Clerks' Fees Books). These record the daily numbers of churchings, burials, licences, banns askings, and marriage lines, with itemised fees, and weekly totals. They also detail which chaplain performed these duties. The later volumes record also the clerks' fees for searches, certificates and completing the registers. Along with the Summary Marriage Registers 1838-1847, (Baptism, Burial, Marriage, Summary Marriage and Banns Objections Registers) these are an excellent resource for tracking the huge numbers of ceremonies carried out at Manchester Cathedral during the 19th century, by a comparatively small number of people. Two successive chaplains, Joshua Brookes and Cecil Wray, claimed to be the most prolific baptisers, marriers and buriers in all Christendom.
Finally, the workings of the churchwardens are made apparent through this collection, both as administrators of charities, and as the people responsible for the day-to-day running of the church. A sample period has been selected covering 1814-1815.
Churchwardens' vouchers, 1814-1815, contains 109 receipts for expenditure by the churchwardens in running the church, including receipts for laundry, communion wine, clock winding, bell ringing, materials for altar cloths and vestments, stationery, maintenance, the parish organist's salary, parators' salaries, printing, solicitors' fees, fine port and spirits for the clergy/churchwardens. The period selected is a fairly typical example, but also includes some out of the ordinary elements, such as the re-casting of the tenor bell (receipt nos. 45, 91-93 and 102); building a wall at the new burial ground, Walker's Croft, consecrated in 1815 (receipt nos. 49-51); and work on Roman cementing the interior of the church by Robert Hughes (receipt no. 66), a process which damaged the fabric of the building to such an extent that, by the middle of the 19th century, the whole Cathedral was in danger of collapse and had to be restored, stone by stone.
Strangeways Charity Vouchers, 1814-1815 represents the expenses claimed by one of the churchwardens, Thomas Salter for that same year, for the administration of the Strangeways Widows Charity. This charity was founded in 1711 by Catherine Richards to help the 'widows of decayed tradesmen of Manchester' and to educate and apprentice out their children. These receipts are typical of the series, including: receipts for John Thornton's quarterly salary for teaching the School; a receipt for £6 rent to Lord Ducie for the school in Tipping Court; ten widows' signed (or marked) receipts for their charity payments of £2, 10s on the 10th November and the 10th May; three receipts for £1, 5s paid for the funeral expenses of some of the widows.
The Strangeways Charity School was not the only school administered by the churchwardens. In documents relating to charities are two volumes of accounts for the Collegiate Church Charity Schools. These were set up in 1762 after several meetings of the clergy and churchwardens of the Collegiate and Parish Church of Manchester. The schools were to be supported by money from the Offertory and governed by the warden and fellows or the churchwardens, who could appoint and suspend a master, mistress, and the scholars. Only children of parishioners were allowed to attend.
All the scholars (60 boys and 60 girls) were supplied with a 'complete suit of wearing apparel' and to 'encourage the ... industry and frugality of their parents', each child was to pay 1d per week towards the cost of their clothes. The children were expected to attend for at least a year, or else forfeit their clothes, and the parents were expected to provide apprenticeship places for their children when they reached the age of ten.
The two volumes of accounts illustrate the financial management of the endowments of the schools by the churchwardens, and describe the patterns of expenditure, 1762-1893. The first volume also includes copies of invoices received for materials for uniforms, and accounts of offertories received (including numbers of communicants at services) 1762-1780.
Finally, a volume of the accounts of the Corles Charity has been included. This was not
administered by the churchwardens, but by the chaplains or minor canons. Corles Charity dates
from the 10th July 1732 when a widow, Jane Corles, left £55 to be invested in the names of the two
chaplains of the Collegiate Church as trustees. The interest was to be distributed in bread or
money, as the chaplains thought fit, at Christmas, to poor persons regularly attending divine service
at the Collegiate Church.
Min Can 1/Corl/1 documents the dealings of this charity for the period
1848-1919, initially recording details of the recipients as follows: name, age, birth date, and address.
The aim of this online collection is to illustrate the workings of a collegiate church during a period of immense change. The Cathedral Church of Manchester has been at the centre of the city of Manchester's history and yet has been unjustly overlooked in the past. As a result of the Cathedral's archives having been comprehensively catalogued for the first time in their history, exciting new resources have come to light. Much of this material has never been studied before, and the time is now ripe for fresh research. It is hoped that this online resource will safeguard this historic collection for the future, whilst also broadening access for researchers to an untapped mine of information.
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Hartwell, C. The history and architecture of Chetham's school and library. London: Yale University Press, 2004.
Harvey, P.D.A. Manorial records. Rev. ed. (Archives and the user; no. 5). London: British Records Association, 1999.
Messinger, G.S. Manchester in the Victorian Age: the half-known city. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985.
Raines, F.R. with Renaud, F. (ed.). The fellows of the Collegiate Church of Manchester. (Chetham Society new series ; vols. 21 & 23). Manchester: Chetham Society, 1891.
Raines, F.R. with Bailey, J.E. (ed.). The rectors of Manchester and the wardens of the Collegiate Church of that town. (Chetham Society new series; vols. 5-6). Manchester: Chetham Society, 1883.
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Contents of the Online Collection
Includes: CE 1/Kirk/1/16) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting the Stockport Road, containing 2083 sq.yds.(1851), CE 1/Kirk/1/17) Title deeds relating to a plot of land containing 532 sq. yds. in Kirkmanshulme, adjoining property belonging to Robert Chadwick (1851), CE 1/Kirk/1/18) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting the Stockport Road, containing 545 7/9th sq.yds.(1852), CE 1/Kirk/1/19) Title Deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmansulme fronting the Stockport Road, containing 534 8/9th sq.yds.(1852-1862), CE 1/Kirk/1/20) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting the Road to Crowcroft, containing 2528 sq.yds.(1852), CE 1/Kirk/1/21) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme adjoining the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, containing 1512 8/9th sq.yds.(1853), CE 1/Kirk/1/22) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting the Stockport Road, containing 550 sq.yds.(1854), CE 1/Kirk/1/23) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme adjoining the Manchester to Birmingham Railway, containing 1762 8/9th sq.yds.(1854), CE 1/Kirk/1/24) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme adjoining the Manchester to Birmingham Railway, containing 1565 2/3rd sq.yds.(1854), CE 1/Kirk/1/25) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme between the Manchester to Birmingham Railway and the Stockport Road, containing 5178 sq.yds.(1855), CE 1/Kirk/1/26) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting Kay Street, containing 399 sq.yds.(1855), CE 1/Kirk/1/27) Abstract of the Title of the Trustees of Mr John Siddall to a Leasehold Estate called "Kenyons" in Kirkmanshulme, 1856, 14ff, CE 1/Kirk/1/28) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting Burnage Lane, containing 1094 sq.yds.(1859-1877), CE 1/Kirk/1/29) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting Burnage Lane, containing 1082 sq.yds.(1859-1885), CE 1/Kirk/1/30) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme bounding on Platt Brook, containing 1100 sq.yds.(1865), CE 1/Kirk/1/31) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting on Slade Lane, containing 1541 sq.yds.(1867-1869), CE 1/Kirk/1/33) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting on Slade Lane, containing 1530 sq.yds.(1869-1879), CE 1/Kirk/1/34) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting on Slade Lane, containing 1136 sq.yds.(1869), CE 1/Kirk/1/35) Title deeds relating to a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting on Slade Lane, containing 590 sq.yds.(1870), CE 1/Kirk/1/36) Title deeds and property related papers for a plot of land in Kirkmanshulme fronting on Slade Lane, containing 647½ sq.yds.(1870-1897).
To cite this resource:
Christopher Hunwick (2007) Ecclesiastical, court and land records in the Manchester Cathedral Archives : an introduction to the British Online Archives edition, https://boa.microform.digital/collections/19/view. Last updated: 7 August 2009.