Our Archives

Are you interested in exploring the history of Manchester families throughout the generations? Or learning how areas of Manchester owned by the Cathedral developed over time? Perhaps you'd like to explore how the Industrial Revolution affected Manchester residents as populations boomed? If so, Manchester Cathedral's Archive is a rich store to investigate.

The records cover both the Collegiate Church (1421 to 1846) and the Cathedral (1847 onwards), and are divided into two main parts.

The first are the so-called Capitular records, which are about how the Collegiate Church and Cathedral were governed and the decisions they made.

The Capitular records also include the legal records of land and property holdings by the Cathedral, including leases from which income was derived. There are records about the care of the fabric from 1756 onwards, Precentors' registers (including daily music settings) from 1863, service sheets and printed ephemera from 1832, and a photographic collection from around 1850 to the present day.

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The second main part are the Parish Records, with more than 450 leather and vellum bound volumes from 1573 to the present day, covering baptisms, marriages and funerals. Like other places in the North West, the ancient Parish of Manchester was huge, covering sixty square miles, including thirty townships.

When Manchester changed from being a rural parish to the centre of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, the sharp increases in population meant overwhelming volumes of baptisms and marriages took place. As the Collegiate Church had a virtual monopoly over licenses, it would require a fee even when a ceremony took place at one of the parish's outlying chapels. This stranglehold on income came to a stormy end with the Manchester Parish Division Act of 1850, leaving Manchester Cathedral with only a residual parish of a square mile in the city centre. You can watch this process in the changes to the parish records as they took place.

Get In Touch

If you want to know more about the Archives, or have ideas about how you and your community would like to use them, please contact Manchester Cathedral's Research and Editorial Officer Cathy Hirst.