A Brief History of Manchester and its Vicinities


Manchester was proclaimed a city in 1853. It stands on the rivers Irwell, Medlock, Irk, and Tib.

The ancient history of Manchester may be traced as far back as the year 79 A.D. Julius Agricola fortified several military stations, of which Mancunium was one, and a castle was built on the site of what is now called "Castlefield". In 426 Mancunium reverted to the possession of its original owners, who invited the Saxons from Germany to assist them against the Piets. These allies in turn became masters, and possessed themselves of nearly the whole of Southern Britain; and Mancunium, called by this people Mancestre, was occupied by them as a favourable position.

In 672 the inhabitants were converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paulinus, a missionary employed by Gregory I, and a Christian church was built and dedicated to St. Michael.

In 1134 the first fair was held annually on St. Matthew's day, and the day before and after, and in 1865 it was held on the first of October.

On 14 May, 1301, a charter was granted which constituted Manchester a free legiate body. John Huntingdon was the first warden; and, as he presided 37 years, from 1422 to 1459, it is probable that the greater part of the church was completed during his lifetime. The building of the new church occasioned the erection of several houses in its vicinity. In the beginning of the 16th century, Hugh Oldham founded the grammar school. In 1579 the manorial rights and privileges were sold to John Lacye who re-sold them in 1596 to Sir Nicholas Mosley. These privileges of the markets, fairs, tolls, etc, are now vested in the corporation of Manchester. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Manchester is stated to have had 10,000 parishioners, and when the Spaniards threatened to invade England, the town was ordered to furnish 38 men for musketeers, 38 men for archers and 144 for billmen and pikemen.

On the 29th of November, 1745, Prince Charles Edward and his army reached Manchester. The Prince took up his quarters in Market-street-lane.

On the 10th of October, 1851, Queen Victoria visited the city, having arrived the day previously at Worsley Hall. On the route from Worsley Hall the cortege passed along the range of terrace-like seats on which the children were assembled, they sung the National Anthem, the voices of the children producing a singularly pleasing and novel effect. Her Majesty conferred the honour of knighthood upon John Potter, the then-Mayor. The illuminations at night throughout the city was on a scale of splendour rarely (if ever) before witnessed.

In 1352 the manufacture of "Manchester Cotton," a kind of woollen cloth, made from the fleece in an unprepared state, was introduced. At about the same period numerous Flemish artisans settled in the town. Finding every facility and advantage, they brought the woollen manufacture to a considerable degree of perfection, and laid the foundation for its becoming (as it subsequently was for centuries) the staple trade. Fustians formed one of the earliest articles of the cotton manufacture here. It was not, however, until about the year 1750, that the cotton trade assumed any remarkable claim to consequence. In 1760 cotton goods, which until then had been made only for home consumption, found a market on the continents of Europe and America. In Manchester, the power-loom was tried and established succcessfully in 1806.

The Manchester workhouse was erected in 1892 and subsequently enlarged. Having proved too limited, another of larger dimensions was erected at Crumpsall. The poorhouse was situated at Withington.

In 1862 the city of Manchester comprised the townships of Manchester, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, Hulme, Ardwick, Newton, Cheetham, Beswick, Bradford and Harpurhey.

In 1737 the first newspaper, The Manchester Magazine, was established by R. Whitworth.

Manchester Royal Infirmary and Dispensary was instituted in the year 1752. Repeated alterations and improvements were made; amongst the most important was the erection of the south wing in 1847, on the site where formerly stood the Lunatic Asylum, which was removed to Cheshire. Many other hospitals and dispensaries minister to the suffering poor; and a penitentiary opens its doors to the erring female. The Schools for the Deaf and Dumb, and the Asylum for the Blind are situated on Stretford Road.

The market places of Manchester are numerous. Provisions of all kinds are sold every day except Sunday, but the regular market days are four: for manufacturers - Tuesday and Friday; for corn - Tuesday and Saturday; for cattle - Wednesday; for provisions and general produce - Thursday and Saturday. The most important market is Smithfield, Shudehill. The other important markets are the London Road for fruit and vegetables and the Victoria meat market. The fish market is also on Victoria Street. A cattle market is held on Tuesday in Cross Lane Salford.

In 1851 the parish of Manchester comprised 34,193 acres with a population of 451,754. In 1861 the population was 529,245. The township on those dates numbered 186,986 and 185,410, respectively.

The borough of Manchester in 1851 had 316,213 inhabitants and in 1861 357,979 inhabitants. In 1851 the municipal borough numbered 303,382 and in 1861 338,722.

In 1851 the borough of Salford contained a population of 85,108 and in 1861 102,449. The township in 1851 numbered 63,423 and in 1861 71,002.

From the 1865 Slater's Directory

12 Feb 1996 - Information provided by Melanie McCluskey