Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives and have made available, online, a large collection of Church of England parish registers which span 1541 – 1930. The collection includes over 6,000,000 names recorded during baptisms, marriages and burials at Anglican churches in the Diocese of Manchester.

Before the introduction of civil registration in 1837 the births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials recorded in parish registers were often the only official record of people’s lives. They’re  an invaluable resource for family historians.

The collection contains some fascinating and intriguing entries – the parish registers for Weaste, St Luke document the marriage of Emmeline Pankhurst (née Goulden).

Entry for marriage of Emmeline Goulden & Richard Marsden Pankhurst
Ref L136/1/2/1

As you can see from the record Emmeline Goulden marries Richard Marsden Pankhurst on 18 December 1879.  You’ll also notice that Emmeline is listed as full age as she is over 21.

Lydia Becker, the founder of the Women’s Suffrage Journal was baptised on 20 November 1827 in, Hollinwood, St Margaret.

Lydia Becker baptised on 20 November 1827

Her birth date, 24 February 1827, is recorded as are her parents names and place of residence.

Manchester is the birth place of the Academy Award winning actor Friedrich Robert Donat who starred in Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Count of Monte Cristo and Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. He was baptised in the  parish of Withington, St. Paul on 9 April 1905.

Baptism of Friedrich Robert Donat

Samuel Bamford, a witness to the Peterloo Massacre and a radical politician who campaigned both for parliamentary reform and the repeal of the Corn Laws,  was baptised in Middleton, St Leonard on 11 April 1788. The entry lists him as ‘Samuel son of cotton spinner’.


Interestingly there are numerous entries for ‘Samuel Bamford’ between 1785 – 1789 – with identical parent names, Hannah and Daniel Bamford, and occupation, cotton spinner,  with all events (baptisms and burials) occurring within the same parish – we have chosen the baptism entry which correlates with his birth date.

Free access to is available in all Manchester City Council libraries.