Public Ground

There are several Public Areas within the Cemetery, The Manchester General Cemetery Transcription Project were the first to discover that burials identified on the Manchester City Council burials website by a long number, is the burial date in reverse, i.e. 18640821 - 21/08/1864 and are Non Conformist, (though an odd one for Consecrated burials has been entered)  this is because the burials register for the Consecrated burials from 2nd December 1848 to 26th March 1886 no longer exist. The location from the photo above is the large area of Consecrated Ground at the back of the Cemetery and at the moment it is separated by a wire fence.
The project has discovered that the Workhouse had been granted an area of land in the Cemetery for use of the board, part of the land would be consecrated and part unconsecrated so the guardians would be able to meet the conscientious scruples of persons, whilst we have an idea of where this roughly is until we have 100% proof, we cannot confirm the area.  

In addition, the Manchester City Council Online Burials website doesn't always give full information about the grave numbers.  For example, grave number Consecrated 1702 on the Online Burials shows nine people buried in that grave.  Upon further investigation and checking there are in fact two or three graves numbered Consecrated 1702, one/two public and one private situated in different parts of the Cemetery.  The two graves are indicated in the Burial Registers by a series of letters after the grave number, in this case the public grave is Consecrated 1702hcg. Therefore Consecrated 1702 in a private grave containing three burials whilst the public graves, Consecrated 1702hpg contains the remains of six unrelated people.

To further complicate matters, the Manchester City Council Burials website often shows a large number of burials against one grave number.  For instance, Consecrated 123 shows 40 burials but when checking the Burial Registers the grave numbers are shown as C123, C123a, C123b, C123c, C123hpg.  There are in fact six different graves although the website leads us to believe there is one grave.  C123hpg is located behind the wire fence.  C123, C123a, C123b, C123c will all be adjacent to each other but could be located in any of the Church plots and unless the gravestones have survived, we will be unable to identify the exact position of the grave in the Cemetery.

The Public Ground section in the photographs contains public/common graves.  There may or may not have been a payment for a burial in this area as any public/common grave could also contain the remains of paupers. It has also been found that later private burials encroched on the public graves ground. 

Aerial photo Manchester General Cemetery Public Section behind the fence taken in 1934

©Britain From Above


A common/public grave was a general term for a grave belonging to the owners of the cemetery in which no private burial rights existed.  Common graves were filled over the course of a few days with the bodies of unrelated people who died during that period and who could not afford a private grave (although there would have been a payment for a burial in a common grave).  Sometimes (but not often) there would be a simple inscription (name, date of death and age) on a gravestone. This would depend on what the family could afford at the time.

Any common grave would probably contain some paupers as well.  A pauper was defined as a penniless person and the cost of their burial was borne by the Board of Guardians (i.e. public expense). The term "paupers grave" was never used officially and they aren’t identified as such in the burial registers.  A plot section in 1848 was provided for the Board of Guardians for their internments and was used into the 1850's.   

We haven’t been able to work in this section as yet due to the prevalence of Japanese knotweed.

Its also worth mentioning that some of the people buried in this area have been commemorated on memorials on family plots in the Non Conformist and Consecrated sections of the Cemetery.  Presumably when the person who was buried in Public Ground died, the family were unable to afford a private grave but when this was purchased  in later years, family members buried in common graves have been remembered on the headstone of the private grave even though their remains are buried elsewhere in the Cemetery.