Stories 1


Fatal Explosion of a Kitchen Boiler 1862

Sunday 19th January at 7.30pm a Police Officer was passing the Britannia Buildings on Bury New Road when he heard a loud explosion from the house of Mr William R Taylor.  Entering the property  he discovered the kitchen boiler had exploded, the brickwork on both sides of the stove was missing a good twelve inches and the chimney piece was thrown down, the force of the explosion also affected the adjoining property  -  the fire place was blown out and caused considerable damage, both houses had several windows broken.  The heated grate and burning coal and ashes had been thrown into the middle of the kitchen almost completely covering Harriet Jane Taylor aged 7 years, who had been sitting before the fire at the time of the explosion.  She was taken to the Royal Infirmary suffering from terrible scalding and burns but sadly died from the injuries.

An inquest was held 22nd January at the Infirmary, the principal witness William R. Taylor father of the deceased and occupier of the property owned by Mr Evan Mellor.  Mr Taylor had complained to Mr Mellor of the leakage of water from the burst pipe which supplied water to the boiler from the cistern at the top of the boiler two months previously.  Mr Mellor sent some workmen to repair the pipe, but within a week it had burst again.  He again complained and Mr Mellor Junr., who advised him to turn off the tap as this was the only way to keep the kitchen dry.  This was done resulting in the explosion.  The coroner asked Mr Taylor if knew what ‘the consequence would be of turning off the tap’ to which he replied ‘certainly not – I acted on the advice of Mr Mellor’s  Son.’ Mr Taylor was asked how often did he ask Mr Mellor for the repair to be done . Mr Taylors answer was ‘within six weeks I have complained to Mr Mellor or his Clerk at least half a dozen times. ‘

The Coroner asked Mr Robert Longridge, Chief Engineer of the Steam Boiler Insurance Company to examine the boiler and he stated ‘it was one of a small size, made of cast iron, it had been blown completely out of its fittings by the explosion.  The material it was made from was completely inferior. Instead of being at 3/8 inch thick it was 1/8 inch thick.  The accident arose from the exclusion of water from the boiler by turning off the taps, but a boiler of this description should never have been fitted with taps of any kind.  There was no safety valve and as steam was continually accumulating the explosion was only a question of time.   Mr Mellor stated the boiler was fixed in the property before his possession and denied that so many complaints were made by Mr Taylor, he promised to remove all such dangerous boilers from the properties under his supervision.  

The Jury returned a verdict of ‘accidental death’ but severely censured Mr Mellor Junr., for the advice he gave to Mr Taylor and to Mr Mellor’s Clerk for not paying more attention to the complaints made respecting the defective piping.

Harriet Jane Taylor was buried in Manchester General Cemetery on 25th January 1862 in a public unmarked grave.


The family tragedy continues in our next story ...........

A Manchester Tragedy
The inscription reads:-

“In Memory of Mary Hannah Taylor, aged 11 years; Hannah Maria Taylor, aged 6 years; William Robert Taylor, aged 4 years. Forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. These poor innocents were found dead on 16th May 1862 and to avoid a paupers grave, Mr B Lee received in a few hours from upwards of 300 persons of all classes and sects voluntary contributions sufficient to provide a respectable funeral and purchase of this monument. One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

This inscription reveals a terrible tragedy which started with a boiler exploding in a rented property in Strangeways resulting in the death of Harriet Jane Taylor, sister of the above children and who was buried in an unmarked grave nearby.  The children’s father, William Robert Taylor and his wife Martha Ann went to the offices of Evan Mellor, a Manchester property agent and their landlord, in the city centre and stabbed him repeatedly with a butcher’s knife as they believed him to be responsible for the death of Harriet Jane.  Mr and Mrs Taylor were duly arrested and when the police went to his home at Great Ducie Street  they found the bodies of three more of their children, who had been dead for some days, either poisoned (possibly with chloroform) or suffocated.  The police found notes with the children’s names and ages and also the following: “We are six but one at Harptry lies, thither our bodies take.  Mellor and Sons are our cruel murderers but God and our loving parents will avenge us.  Love rules here.  We are all going to our sister to part no more.”   William Taylor was tried and found guilty of the wilful murder of Evan Mellor and publicly hanged outside Kirkdale Prison on 13th September 1862, his wife and the children’s stepmother, although charged as an accessory to murder, was acquitted.  The coroner ruled that the children did not die of natural causes but there was no positive proof as to how and by whom their deaths were caused.  William Taylor refused to say how his children had died except “Mellor murdered them”.

The funeral took placed on 19th May 1862, the arrangements for which were carried out by Mr L Ogden, an undertaker from Long Millgate.  The coffins were of oak and each bore a plate engraved with the name and age of the child and Mr Copeland from Victoria Market (who later planted the grave with shrubs) provided a large bouquet of flowers to decorate the coffins.  So great was the public sympathy, that Mr Lee had people queuing at his house to donate to the funeral and monument fund.  Hundreds of people lined the route to Harpurhey and on arrival at the Cemetery there was a delay as the crowd was so immense the gates had to be cleared to allow the hearse to pass through.  Crowds also gathered in Queen’s Park adjacent to the Cemetery to watch the funeral.

The monument,  was commissioned from local stonemason, William Grimshaw, to a design supplied by Mr B Lee.  The monument comprised of three foot square base on which was mounted a rectangular obelisk which was in turn topped by a Latin cross.  This stood at the head of the grave which was surrounded by kerbstones topped with iron palisading decorated with crosses to match the main cross on the obelisk.  The grave was then planted with shrubs provided by a Mr Copeland of Victoria Market.  Beneath the inscription a bunch of lily of the valley flowers was carved.  Lily of valley symbolises purity and innocence.  Today only the base and rectangular obelisk has survived.

The gravestone marking the burial place of the three Taylor children who were found dead on 16 May 1862.  Their sister Harriet Jane, who died in a boiler explosion earlier in the same year is buried in a unmarked grave nearby.


Back of the

Gravestone of the three Taylor Children

Another Manchester Tragedy
(research courtesy of MGCTP team members Beannie and BarbaraH)
41 year old, Martha Ann Carr was found dead at her house in Harpurhey on July 5th 1912.  She had been strangled.  When the police arrived, they found her husband, who they believed committed the offence, sitting in a dazed state staring at his wife who lay on the rug in front of the fire.  Two of the couple’s children, who were in the house at the time, raised the alarm by their screams.  It seems that her husband, James, had been in poor health and unemployed for some time.  Financially they were desperate and his former colleagues at Cawley’s bleach works in Blackley had made a collection which had raised more than £8.  Just before Martha Ann was found dead, a workmate was on his way to the house to give them the money. James Carr, a finisher’s labourer, aged 44, was subsequently charged with murder.  Evidence was given that he was a sober, industrious man who had lived happily with his wife, however, he had been out of work for some time and suffered from depression.  When the case came to Crown Court in November 1912 the jury was dismissed as Mr Carr had been certified insane and had been sent to an asylum.  Martha Ann was interred at Manchester General Cemetery on July 11th 1912.

First Church of England Burial

The inscription reads:-“Kate, daughter of Christopher and Sarah Eliza Sweeting of Manchester who departed this life December 2nd 1848, aged 18 months.  First interment in this consecrated ground.”Whilst Manchester General Cemetery opened in 1837 and the first burials were those of a still born child and Margaret Segate Watt on September 7th 1837, it wasn’t until 1848 that the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend James Prince Lee consecrated part of the cemetery for Church of England burials.  Kate Sweeting was the first person to be interred in this consecrated ground.

Manchester General Cemetery's Oldest Residents?

Until recently William Draper (Consecrated 3536)

held the record as being the Cemetery's oldest resident. 

He was 101 years old when he died in 1903. 

A resident of Northen Grove, Didsbury, born in London

and came to Manchester in 1827. For 40 years a traveller

in the Manchester Trade, he retired from aged business 70 years.

This has now been beaten by Mary Walker who was buried on 14th December 1862.  She was aged 106 years and a resident of Lamb Lane, Collyhurst.  It was reported in the local press that "she had never been compelled to resort to the use of spectacles".  Apparently until the last two years of her life, she always fetched her own water from the well and always fetched the 5s 6d per week allowed to her by the Guardians.  Mary Walker was interred in a public grave (Unknown 18621214) and as far as we know there is no gravestone.

We also have discovered more centenarians buried in the Cemetery -

Margaret Flevill buried 28th May 1847 aged 100 years,

John Ainsberry buried 22nd September 1849 aged 100 years,

Jane Davies buried 30th July 1850 aged 100 years,

Margery Dawson buried 22 Feb 1872 aged 101 years,

Hannah O'Neil buried 30th October 1879 aged 100 years.

William J. White buried 4th December 1946 Aged 101 years.


At around 12.00 noon on October 23rd 1868 at Boggart Hole Clough, Moston, William and two friends left the nearby construction site where they were employed on their break and came across the opening of the sewer which was around 17 feet in depth.  One of the boys wanted to show off his athletic ability descended into the sewer and came out again safely.  Not wanting to be beaten, the second boy did the same.  William Slack followed but on his way out, he missed his footing and fell.  Seeing what had happened, one of his friends wanted to raise the alarm and bring help but the other boy cautioned against it thinking it would be better to say nothing, so they left him there.  It wasn’t until around 10.00 p.m. that guilt got the better of one of the two boys and he confessed what had happened to his older brother who raised the alarm and called the police.  William Henry Slack was found dead at the bottom of the sewer.  At first the police thought his death was suspicious and was as the result of foul play but after an enquiry it was found to be an accident.  The cause of his death was an injury to the head.

“Killed in a Main Sewer”
From time to time the MGCTP team come across a gravestone inscription with gives a small clue as to the what caused the death of the deceased person and quite often there is a story to tell.  In the case of William Henry Slack, the nature of his death and the story behind it is a tragic one.

The inscription on the gravestone on Non Conformist 1650 reads:-
“William Henry, beloved son of Matthew and Hannah Slack, who was killed in a main sewer at Moston. Octr 23rd 1868, aged 14 years and 6 months ”

A main sewer seemed a very unusual place to die so it warranted further investigation. A search of the newspapers told the story of a tragic accident. 



Some of the earliest burials in the Cemetery

Hannah Warde (1791-1837)
"Hannah Warde, Wife of Mr. Saml Warde, who departed this life Octr 17th 1837, Aged 46 years......"

Hannah Warde, the wife of Mr Samuel Warde bookkeeper of the Mosley Arms Coach Office, Manchester.
This is the earliest Non conformist Gravestone recorded in the Cemetery by the MGCTP Team. Hannah's burial entry in the Cemetery's burial Register was No. 6.


Alice Godwin (1784-1837)
"Alice, Wife of John Godwin, who died Novr 4th 1837, Aged 53 years...."
The second earliest Non Conformist gravestone recorded by the MGCTP Team. Alice's burial entry in the Cemetery's burial Register was No. 9.
Alice and John Godwin lived on Rochdale Road

Samuel Perkin (1765-1837)
"In Memory of Samuel Perkin who departed this life Novr 11th 1837, aged 73 years ......"

The first burials at Manchester General Cemetery took place just two months before Samuel Perkin was buried. We believe Samuel Perkin was baptised at the Collegiate Church  of St Mary, St Denys and St George (which became Manchester Cathedral in 1847) on 17th February 1765 and was the son of Thomas and Martha Perkin



More Buried Stories

Lavinia Howard (ca1828-1876)

Lavinia Howard (formerly Lavinia Dearden) was the 48 year old wife of  Manchester broker, Samuel Howard, and in 1871 was the mother of five children.   They were married at St John’s Church, Manchester in 1853.  She died on Wednesday 22nd November, her certificate recorded the cause of death as “consumption aggravated by excessive drinking” certified by the surgeon,  a Mr Evans,  who had attended her for more than a year.  However, on the day of her burial Saturday 25th November 1876 at Manchester General Cemetery, the City Coroner, Mr Herford, received a letter which apart from defamation of her character and that of her husband and one of her daughters, also alleged that her death had been caused by violence inflicted by her husband.  After an investigation and and post mortem examination on the body which had been exhumed an inquest was opened.   No evidence could be offered to support the contents of the letter nor could the author of the letter be identified.  The inquest jury therefore returned a verdict that Lavinia’s death had indeed been caused by consumption and as the deceased was addicted to drink, this aggravated her illness. Lavinia was buried in a Church Grave in the cemetery and is not recorded in the burial register.

Explosion of the Boiler on the Locomotive Engine “Irk”
George Mills, William Stones and William Alcock were killed by the explosion of the boiler on the locomotive engineer, “Irk”, on the Manchester and Leeds Railway on 28th January 1845.  The inquest  was controversial as the jury recorded a verdict of accidental death but also said there was some negligence.  From the evidence presented, they believed the ordinary valve was closed to facilitate the pressure of steam and that for some unknown reason the safety valve did not work.  There was also a fault on the copper plate and fire box which coupled with the build up of pressure resulted in the explosion which killed Messrs. Mills, Stones and Alcock.  The remains of George Mills and William Alcock were interred at Manchester General Cemetery whilst the body of William Stones was taken to Bolton for burial


Mary Mitton (1803-1869) and her son, Thomas, (1846-1869)
The following inscription led to a newspaper search to discover how Mary Mitton and her grown up son, Thomas, had died on the same day:-

"...... Mary Mitton, his wife, who died February 22nd 1869, aged 66 years ....... Thomas Mitton, son of the above Daniel and Mary Mitton, who died with his mother February 22nd 1869, aged 23 years ....."
Their deaths were extensively reported in both the local and national newspapers.  They lived at 445 Rochdale Road where they ran a retail business selling lamps and paraffin oil.  At about 10.00 p.m. a fire broke out and it was initially believed that both the occupants had escaped.  However after extensive enquiries were made they couldn’t find them so they searched the premises.  They found mother and son in the front bedroom over the shop.  It was believed they suffocated from the fumes of burning oil and spirit and that the cause of the fire was the leaking of a lamp containing benzoline spirit.  It would appear from the inquest report that Thomas Mitton at another house further down the road when the fire broke out but went back to try to rescue his mother.  He was seen at the bedroom window and was encouraged to jump but said something about his mother and went back into to the room.  The coroner returned a verdict of accidental death.

Building Collapse Resulting in the Deaths of Three Children
The inscription reads:

“Sacred to the Memory of William Harry, aged 7 years and 7 months, and Frank Albert, aged 4 years and 4 months, sons of Henry and Ann Wilkinson who were killed by the falling of a building in Queen’s Road on May 22nd 1868”
The accident, which resulted in the death of three children and injury of a man, was well reported in the local newspapers and an inquest was heard by the City Coroner, Mr Herford.  The property which collapsed was known has Hamilton’s Buildings and was owned Thomas Chesters, an Ardwick brewer, who was having the site cleared for the construction of a public house.  The demolition was being undertaken by Hulme building contractor, Mr David Rowland.  The inquest heard that as the work progressed the gable was left standing in an unsafe state without support.  The gable gave way burying the three children: brothers, William and Frank Wilkinson and Charles Edward Roberts.  All three children were dead when they were pulled from underneath the debris.   The coroner returned a verdict of accidental death.  A passer-by, William McCormick was knocked down when the building collapsed. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary and his injuries were not serious.

The Wilkinson children were buried in a family plot at Manchester General Cemetery.  The third child, Charles Edward Roberts, aged 4 years, was buried at Cheetham Hill Wesleyan Cemetery.  He was the son of Francis Roberts of Market Place, Queen’s Road.


Mary Ellen Baker (1872-1884)
Mary Ellen Baker was aged just 11 years and 6 months when she was tragically killed in unusual circumstances.  She was a pupil at the Board School, Harpurhey when just before 2.00 p.m.the school bell, which was being rung for afternoon lessons, fell from a height of 50 feet and struck her on her head.  She died instantly from a fractured scull.  She was buried in Non Conformist 2287 at Manchester General Cemetery.  The grave is a private grave situated in Non Conformist Plot 2, however there is no gravestone.


Died from Loneliness
“Also Henry Lamont, beloved son of  Charles H Cooper and Clara M Cooper died Dec 14th 1946 aged 39 years”
Henry Lamont Cooper was the son of Charles Henry  and Clara Maud Cooper (formerly Lawson) who were married in 1906.  Their son was born in 1907.  His tragic story was discovered following the death of his mother in October 1946.  Up until the age of nine years, Henry Lamont Cooper had attended school regularly.  His mother then removed him from school and the education authorities forgot about him.  He was hidden  for 30 years and since that time he had never spoken to anyone apart from his mother and had never left the kitchen of his home.  He was discovered after neighbours reported that Mrs Cooper hadn’t taken in the milk for several days.  The authorities entered the house and found that Mrs Cooper had passed away and they found her son, crouched and terrified in the kitchen.  He could only talk baby talk and was unable to dress or feed himself.  The welfare officers removed Henry to an institution to be taken care of but after six weeks the police said he had died from loneliness.  Henry Lamont Cooper was buried with his parents  at Manchester General Cemetery.

The Strange Story of Jane Shakeshaft Sweeney - An Unsolved Mystery

In March 1866 a death occurred in Angel Street, Manchester and was registered in the name of Jane S Sweeney, aged 24 years, but all was not as it seemed because Jane didn’t actually die.  Somebody else did and was buried in her place.

This is the account which was told to Mr Herford, the City Coroner for Manchester at the inquest held  on 6th April 1866:

In February 1866, a man and a woman rented a house in Angel Street, which is located off Rochdale Road in the Harpurhey district of Manchester.  They lived as man and wife and were known by the name of Sweeney.  The woman was about 24 years old.  Within a few weeks the woman became very sick and was tended by the landlady who made her gruel.  Mr Sweeney added sugar to the gruel and fed it to his wife.  She became much worse and on 30th March 1866 she died.
The following day, Easter Saturday, Mr Sweeney travelled to Toxteth Park, Liverpool to visit a
Mrs Hill who was his wife’s sister to inform her that he had fallen in love with Jane Shakeshaft, they had subsequently married and now Jane Shakeshaft Sweeney was lying dead in Manchester.  That very same day, Mr Sweeney wrote to his wife’s and Mrs Hill’s mother, who lived in Blackpool, and also called upon another of his wife’s sisters to inform them of Jane’s death.  The bereaved family comprising Mr Sweeney, his mother-in-law and his two sister-in-laws all travelled to Manchester on the following Monday for Jane’s funeral and burial at Manchester General Cemetery.  Prior to the burial the family members viewed the body and according to the newspaper reports at the time didn’t recognise her as their relative.  However, they presumed her illness had changed her appearance so didn’t take the matter any further. The burial proceeded as planned and afterwards the family returned back to the rented accommodation in Angel Street at which point Mr Sweeney disappeared.  On the Monday evening, Jane’s mother and sisters returned to Liverpool.  Shortly after their arrival, Mrs Hill was shocked by the appearance of Jane at her home, the sister who she believed she had just buried in Manchester.  Jane, having heard rumours of her death, had decided to visit her family to put their minds at ease.  Meanwhile, the surgeon in Manchester who had attended the death had been asked at the time, by Mr Sweeney, to guarantee the cost of the funeral and other related expenses and was now being called upon to repay the debt.

The body which had been buried in Manchester General Cemetery was exhumed and the cause of death was confirmed as “effusion of blood on the brain”.  The remains of the unknown woman were re-buried but her identity has never been discovered and so remains a mystery.

Thomas Barton (1774-1855)
Thomas Barton of Miles Platting died on July 12th 1855 and was buried at Manchester General Cemetery on July 17th 1855, grave number Unknown 28.  He was known to be the oldest deaf and dumb person in the area.  He had no education at all but brought up a large family upon the precarious earnings of his trade – hand loom weaving.  His funeral was attended by adult members of Deaf and Dumb Society.

William Bradbury (circa 1804-1855)
An unusual funeral took place at Manchester General Cemetery on May 8th 1855.  William Bradbury was a lamplighter who died of heart disease on May 3rd 1855, aged 51 years.  He died in Blackburn at the home of his son having gone there the previous week due to ill health.  His funeral procession was described as “singular” and comprised of 38 of his fellow workers who walked two by two dressed in white with black caps and black gloves, a crepe sash and a band of crepe on the left arm.  They formed a procession at the lamp office in Clarence Street and proceeded to Naylor Street, Oldham Road, the home of the deceased from where they followed the hearse and three mourning coaches to the Cemetery.  He had worked for the Corporation for 20 years and he was survived by his widow and six children who were left unprovided for.

Unexplained Fire Kills Two Boys, 1930                                                                                                                   An unexplained fire at Messrs. W. H. Pownall Ltd., Daisy works, Stockport Road Manchester, Manufacturers of Cotton and Art Silk Goods, killed two boys John Henry Jones aged 18 years of Eliza St, Collyhurst and John Stringer aged 16 years of Clarendon St, Manchester on 6th November 1930.  

Suddenly around mid-day a fire started in the wooden ‘fluff box’ (a timber building) adjoining the napping room of the mill. Periodically the fans in the cyclone are stopped to allow a boy to enter the box to remove and collect the fluff.  John Stringer was removing the fluff when the outbreak of the fire took place.  It is not understood why John Henry Jones (a joiner’s assistant) was in the fluffing box at all. When the alarm was raised the Manager of the department Mr Norman Wood made vain efforts to break open the door to enter the room but the door was locked and flames were raging among the highly flammable fluff, eventually he was overcome by fumes.            The Manchester Fire Brigade arrived in fifteen minutes and with the works brigade had the flames completely subdued. The door was forced open and key found on the inside. Identification was possible by means of articles found on the bodies.  John Henry Jones was the Son of John and Beatrice Jones and was interred in Manchester General Cemetery on 13th November 1930 

Murder in Hightown, 1903

Tuesday 1st September the bodies of a man and woman were found by two men going to work in a gully between Elizabeth Street and Broughton Street.  Both victims had wounds to their throats and the woman bore evidence of a struggle. Police were fetched and the bodies examined, both pronounced dead. A razor was found in the pocket of the man. The bodies were taken to the mortuary and identified as Josiah Bowler aged 60 of Garnett St, Hightown, a shoemaker and Sarah Annie Parker aged 49 of Stanley St, Cheetham Hill.

An inquest was held, John Parker of Cedar Street, husband of deceased informed the inquest he had not lived with his wife for a year, but she had visited his home lately when he was absent. Mr Bowler would visit also, and on occasion found is wife drinking and playing cards with Bowler. There had been on occasions altercations between himself and Bowler and he had warned his Wife to change her ways or Bowler would be the end of her as he was strange and had a desperate temper. Bowler’s daughter informed the inquest that her Father was queer in the head, not worked lately, seemed very excitable, would lose his senses on occasion and had frequently quarrelled with Mrs Parker.

Coroner evidence found that Mrs Parker had been attacked with savage ferocity by a madman. A Jury’s verdict was of “Murder and Suicide” Josiah Bowler was interred in a public grave in Manchester General Cemetery on 3rd September, the funeral went directly from the Police Mortuary on Derby St and his departure was watched by crowds of people.

Accidental Fatal Duel On Stage 1891

A performance of Romeo and Juliet by some amateurs in the Cathedral Schools and missions saw an ‘extraordinary accident’ during a performance.  Upon reaching the scene where ‘Mercutio’ and ‘Tybait’ duel with swords, Romeo parts them. Mercutio played by Thomas Wilson Whalley, aged 19 years, falls to the ground after his final lines. Blood was seen flowing from his nose and mouth when it was realised something was wrong.  Thomas died on his way to hospital. ‘Tybait’ played by Ernest Thompson had not realised he had struck or wounded Thomas. Accidental death was ruled.

The funeral took place 4th April at Manchester General Cemetery it was attended by a large number of those he was associated with.  After leaving Thomas’s home, the procession went to the Cathedral where hundreds of people attended, a service took place by Rev. Minor Canon Elvy and the Rev. Minor Canon Winstanley. The service was concluded by the playing of the Death March from ‘Saul’ by Mr Maclure, Son of the Dean, on the organ. Closing rites were conducted by Rev. W. Armour at the Cemetery, Thomas’s coffin was covered with floral wreaths. Thomas was interred in Consecrated 3135, a gravestone no longer exists on the grave.

Murder in Ancoats 1890

Matthew Hayes, aged 30 a ‘knocker-up’, charged with the murder of

his younger brother William Hayes, aged 29 a ‘knocker-up’  that had

taken place 10 November.  The two brothers lived with their

Mother at Grime Street, Ancoats, The brothers had a close

relationship and went out drinking together.  William when drunk

tended to be argumentative and aggressive and

tormented his brother.  On arriving home William was intent to

picking a fight with his brother Matthew, they went onto the

Street as William was shouting, when Matthew asked him to stop,

William went back into the house and started breaking the furniture. 

Matthew went back into the house to stop him, as their mother

was asleep in bed.  A struggle ensued, a razor which was close at hand,

and in a fit of fury, Matthew grabbed the razor and lashed out, cutting William’s throat. William collapsed to the floor and Matthew panicked and ran from the home.  Police found Matthew at a neighbour’s and was taken into custody. As he was under the influence of drink it was later that day before he was charged.  

At court witnesses attested to William’s behaviour when drunk. A Police Constable stated William was known to him for being drunk, fighting and knew him to be quarrelsome more so than Matthew.  As Matthew had shown ‘terrible remorse’ at what he had done, and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, provocation being taken into account, a sentence of 10 years penal servitude was given.

William Hayes was interred in the Manchester General Cemetery 13 November, a large crowd gathered outside of the family home and many more were at the Cemetery. William was interred in the family grave after a service conducted by Rev. Thomas Grant.  Matthew died 1909 and was also interred in the family grave, though later names have not been added to the gravestone.


Husband Murders Wife 1895

William Henry Beaumont, was charged with the wilful murder of his wife on 15th August. William Henry Beaumont, Labourer of Cheltenham Street, Collyhurst, came home unexpectedly to find his wife of eight years Elizabeth Beaumont with Thomas Maddocks from Nelson, Maddocks left the house hurriedly after a fight.  Witness Mrs Eyeres heard shouts and sounds of assault from deceased bedroom.  Next morning a doctor was fetched to find the Mrs Beaumont deceased. Police made enquiries with Mr Beaumont giving two different accounts firstly stating his wife was drunk and fell down the stairs twice as he assisted her to the bedroom later finding her dead by his side in bed and then saying he accused her of infidelity and he struck her. Asked to give an account of his wife’s injuries he replied with a long rambling statement, he was then taken into custody.

Their daughter Elizabeth Alice aged 11 years (witness) said she heard her mother crying and swearing on the night. In the morning she saw cuts on her Mother’s face and her father sent her for the Doctor saying her mother was dead. She had never seen her mother tumble down stairs when drunk and her father was generally kind to her mother though she had seen her father strike her Mother once or twice. William pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to penal servitude for seven years.

Elizabeth was interred in Manchester General Cemetery 21st August in a public grave.

The burial register shows above her place of abode – murdered.  

Richard Cronshaw - Drowning

Richard Cronshaw, aged 40 years of Stanley Street, Hulme died 13th August 1856 leaving a widow and one child, by drowning, in the River Mersey at Jackson's Boat in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.  Mr Cronshaw a warper at the silk mill of Messrs. George Smith & Sons of Mosley Street of Manchester,  was also the drummer of the City Brass Band. 

He and six colleagues from the mill went for an afternoon excursion in the country, where Richard and a friend got into the river to bathe.  With recent heavy rain the river current has become very strong and

a small boat sculled by a boy who was trying to ferry a man across the river, when the current rapidly carried it away despite those on board trying to stop it.  Mr Cronshaw tried to assist by following it and trying to hold on to it, exposing himself to the strong current.  Tiring very quickly he disappeared below the surface and was swept away.  On printing of the newspaper article hope was they would find Mr Cronshaw's body the next day down stream. 

Boiler Explosion on John Dalton Street

On Monday 30th October 1916, a boiler explosion killed three members of the same family, Henry Caldwell aged 41 years, assistant caretaker/stoker,  and two of his Children -  Richard, aged 10 years and Hilda May, aged 8 years.  The building,    Prince’s Chambers on John Dalton Street, had two boilers in the basement to supply hot water to the offices, they were installed and supervised by Messrs. E. Hatton & Co., Manchester Engineers.   On 19th October boiler No. 2 had a small leakage, this was stopped by filling a hole with engineers cement by the engineers of Messrs Hatton who informed Mr Caldwell not to light the fire under that boiler until Monday or Tuesday of the following week when they would return to open the values and test the boiler.  On Monday 30th October Mr Caldwell arrived later than usual for work and lit the boilers.  About 9am his two children arrived it was another half hours when the boiler exploded.   An electrical engineer – Mr Hopkins who had an office in the building heard the explosion and went to the cellar, he found Mr Caldwell and lead him to safety and re-entered the cellar to find the children.   The Caldwell’s were taken to the Manchester Royal Infirmary with severe scalding, where they each died of their injuries.   An inquest was held 28th & 30th March 1917 and a verdict of accidental death was given by the jury, the Coroner expressed the sympathy of the court to the widow.  A fund by the tenants of the building had raised £120 for the widow. Whilst the court acquitted all parties of blame, except Messrs. Hatton & Co., though not responsible for the explosion it was said that if a safety value had been fitted the accident would not have happened.  

The funeral took place at Manchester General Cemetery Saturday 4th November Father and children buried together in grave Church 281

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Memorial Postcard


S.S. Lusitania

Margaret Jane Butler aged 40 years, and her husband William were passengers on the S.S. Lusitania, the Cunard Ocean liner that was sunk by a Germany Submarine on the 7th May 1915, 11 miles off the southern coast of Ireland during World War 1.  A total of 1,198 crew and passengers were killed.  Margaret, the daughter of William & Margaret Travis, she was one of seven children who lived on Collyhurst Road, Manchester. Margaret Jane married William Fletcher Butler 1905 at the Methodist Chapel, Collyhurst, Manchester.  We believe Margaret and William lived in Canada and were travelling back home. It must have been devastating for Margaret Snr to lose her husband and daughter within 3 months.  Margaret Jane’s name was placed on the family gravestone in Memoriam.

A Fatal Accident on Oldham Road.

William Powell Jnr., aged 13 years died on Saturday 10th October 1869 at the Manchester Royal Infirmary from the effects of a kick from a horse which took place the same day.  William Powell Snr of Ancoats Street was accompanied by his son on Saturday morning who sat to his right on the front part of the lurry. As it turned from Oldham Street to Great Ancoats Street the horse for no known reason reared.  The horse threw its feet over the shafts and kicked William on the temple and cheek, his father took him to the Royal Infirmary where he died that evening.              

An inquest was held on Monday 11 October Mr Herford, City Coroner returned a verdict of accidental death.   

William was buried in Manchester General Cemetery on Thursday 14th October in a Non Conformist public grave.


©manchester libraries

Killed by the falling of a wall

On 9th October 1869, five year old William Nield Stoddard, was playing with some other lads at the junction of Ryder Street and Teignmouth Street, Collyhurst when he was killed by the falling of a wall. There were two or three holes in the wall, one of which the boys were making bigger by throwing bricks at it. The bricks fell one by one until they reached the top of the wall when all at once a large portion of the wall fell together with a quantity of bricks which were stacked behind it. William’s body was found underneath the rubble “quite dead” by labourer, William Withers, who had been employed to clear the street. John Chaples, a builder and the owner of the property said that when he had bought the property six weeks earlier he had knocked a hole in the wall to get it level with the street. He noticed the hole had been getting bigger and presumed it was by the local children and reported the matter to the police at Livesey Street station however the police superintendent, Charles William Godby, 


                                                                             said he did not think it was the duty of the police to guard such property. A verdict of accidental death was ruled by the City Coroner, Mr Herford.


William Nield Stoddard was buried in a Consecrated 1206, the Stoddard family grave at Manchester General Cemetery. His name does not appear in the burial registers as the Church of England registers prior to 1886 have not survived.

Thomas Kelshall

Private Thomas Kelsall -3rd Manchester Rifle Volunteers

Private Thomas Kelsall aged 19 years, of the 3rd Manchester Rifle

Volunteers, son of Joseph & Catherine Kelsall died 17th July 1862.

He was interred in the Manchester General Cemetery on

Sunday 20th July 1862 with Military Honours. 

A large procession headed by a twelve man firing party chosen

from the same company which Thomas was a member of,

were followed by the Regimental Band playing the

“Dead March in Saul”  preceded by four of his comrades

carrying his coffin followed by one hundred men of the

3rd Regiment, lead by Captains Ellis and Smith, Lieut. Hillkirk,

Ensign Manley, Dr Dean of the 3rd Regiment and Dr Armstrong

of the Ardwick Regiment.  The morning coaches with the parents and relations

followed by the Rev.  A. B. Clarke,  Superintendent Mr Elliot and the Scholars and Teachers

of the Schools. The Rector of Collyhurst read the funeral service and spoke very highly of

Thomas’s moral character and attainments.  The Sunday School Scholars sung a hymn at the grave side, after this the firing party commanded by Quartermaster Sergeant Heaton fired the usual volleys in the air.  That same evening the Rev. A. B. Clarke gave a funeral sermon at St Oswald’s Church, Collyhurst to a large congregation where  Thomas was member for almost ten years, asking them to follow the example set forth by the deceased, followed by Rev. Mr Busfield of St George’s Church alluding to Thomas’s religious writings and Biblical knowledge.   Thomas is buried in the Church section of the Cemetery, as his death pre dates 1886, there are no records of his burial place in the Cemetery.  The Project has located his grave and a gravestone marks his grave.