Unearth the roots of your family tree: Manchester given access to almost 500 years of ancestry records

By Glen Keogh

Curious Mancunians could uncover fascinating family history facts dating as far back as 1538 after Manchester Libraries released more than six million parish records.

The data, which details baptisms, marriages and burials that took place at Anglican churches in the Diocese of Manchester from the 16th century until the 20th century, can now be viewed online for free at Manchester Libraries.

A launch event for the newly digitised collection will be held on Thursday February 14 between 11am and 2pm in the Manchester Room at the City Library on Deansgate

Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We have made 450 years of Manchester’s history accessible to anyone who wants to discover more about their family heritage free at any Manchester library.

“By searching our digital archives, people with Mancunian roots could uncover fascinating facts about their family history.”

Mancunians could discover that their distant ancestors were married in Manchester Cathedral rather than more conventional parish churches as complicated fee laws of the time often made it cheaper for working-class couples to get married in the grand building.

The records were digitised by family history website and have received nearly 400,000 hits since going live on February 7.

Miriam Silverman, UK Senior Content Manager at, said: “Spanning nearly half a millennium, these fascinating parish records track the progression of the North West across a period of great industrial, political and social upheaval.”

The Manchester Parish Registers contain information from 1541 to 1985, making it one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind available online.

As well as including records of famous names like Emmeline Pankhurst and Thomas De Quincey, the collection covers times of key historical events, including the Industrial Revolution and the Lancashire Cotton Famine.

The launch event for the collection held on Thursday February 14 will be attended by staff as well as volunteers from the Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society who will be on hand to help people as they search the records for their family members.

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