Manchester City Council

Manchester City Council

Court and Prison Records

Prison Records

Hyde Road prison D wing 1881

As the borough of Manchester had no gaol in 1839, agreement was made with the county magistrates of Lancashire that persons sentenced for up to 6 months should be housed in New Bailey Prison, Salford, while longer term prisoners went to the County Gaol at Lancaster. Manchester Archives holds the following records for New Bailey Prison:

  • General Registers (Male), 1859-1869; Nominal Register (Small Debts - Male and Female), Sep 1863-19 Nov 1864, 28 Aug-29 Oct 1868; Female and Male Register, 1847-1872; Female Register, Aug 1862-July 1867; Female Description Books, 1859-1867

The records of Lancaster Prison are held by the National Archives, but Lancashire Record Office hold microfilm copies of these.

Belle Vue Prison (or Manchester Borough Gaol / Manchester City Gaol), Hyde Road, West Gorton was opened in 1849 by the Borough of Manchester. It was a short term Jail, but it proved inadequate and some prisoners were still sent to the New Bailey. It was demolished in 1892. The majority of prisoners were tried at the Manchester Magistrates Court or the Manchester Quarter Sessions (see above). Manchester Archives holds the following records for this prison:

  • General Registers (Male and Female), 1850-1880 (some gaps)

Strangeways Prison in Southall Street, Manchester was built to replace New Bailey prison in Salford which closed in June 1868. It acted as the County Gaol for the Hundred of Salford (south-east Lancashire). It was renamed Her Majesty's Prison, Manchester in the 1990s. Manchester Archives holds the following records for this prison:

  • Female Registers, 1868-1875; Female Description Books, 1867-1879; Male Registers, 1869-1879 (with gaps); Male and Female Register (Small Debts), Dec 1878-Dec 1881.

We also hold a "Felony Register - Bolton and Salford Sessions & Manchester Assizes (Male) Jan 1863-Dec 1872" (ref: M600/4/1). This is probably for New Bailey Prison and Strangeways Prison.

No other records are known to have survived. A full catalogue for our prison records can be viewed on our on-line catalogue or in our search room (ref: M600).

If you find an ancestor in Strangeways do not automatically assume they would have been tried at the Manchester Quarter Sessions. The Manchester Quarter Sessions only covered the City of Manchester and Strangeways Prison took prisoners from all over south-east Lancashire. It is more likely that they that they would have been tried at the Assize Court (see above) or if it was a short custodial sentence at their local or magistrates or Quarter Session Court.

Further information

Contact or visit Manchester Archives and Local Studies

How to contact Manchester Archives and Local Studies in person, by post / email, or by by telephone.

Court and Prison Records at the National Archives

Research guide on how to trace 19th and 20th century criminals at the National Archives.

Manchester Guardian Digital Archive

Newspapers are a good way to trace details of a trial. The Manchester Guardian can now be searched on-line. Free access to this digital version is available in Manchester Central Library or any Manchester City Council library. We hold microfilm copies of local newspapers, but only the Manchester Guardian is indexed.

British convict transportation registers 1787-1867

This database has been compiled from the British Home Office (HO) records. You can find details for over 123 000 of the estimated 160 000 convicts transported to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries - names, term of years, transport ships and more.

Manchester Family History Research

This web site contains a lot of good information about prison records, court records, the Manchester Martyrs and also includes a list of Manchester and Lancashire strays in Millbank Prison, London.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913

The Old Bailey is England's most important crown court. The court can try crimes from any part of the country.

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