Friday, 3 February 2017

Beyond the Home

Our case files that sit at Manchester Archives take up around 11.5 linear meters in space. Each case file, which exist from 1886, contains details of every single child that entered one of the Manchester Refuges’ Homes. These can vary in content for the genealogist searching for details on their ancestor’s past. Some contain only an application form. To many this is the most important find, as it details previous addresses, family members and circumstances leading up to admission. Other files can be bursting at the seams with documents pertaining to that individual’s life. 

Envelopes for case files

 One such file which was pulled out of the archive recently, contained many documents around an individual's work placement after leaving the Refuge. We’ve blogged about employment within the 19th century before. Many of the girls were trained in the homes for domestic duties. The boys either went to work in jobs around Manchester or were apprenticed into the charity’s own workshops.

Clements Letterhead
This individual however, travelled down to Watford in 1906, to start an apprenticeship in a drapery store. Clements and Co. was the first purpose-built department store in Watford, and had been opened in 1898 by Albert Clement. The organisation had agreed to take two boys from the Refuge on a 5 year apprenticeship. Here they would be given boarding and lodging and would be paid the following:
  • £5-0-0 per annum for the first two years
  • £10-0-0 per annum for the third year
  • £15-0-0 per annum for the fourth and fifth years.
The file contains a number of letters on the boy’s conduct, money he owed and various incidents which had occurred. As a lot of genealogists find, the more colourful past your ancestor has had, the more information can often be available. If they lived a very middle class existence, went to work, never got into trouble, there will largely only be the census returns and birth, marriage and death certificates to work from. Find an ancestor who’s been in prison, lived in a workhouse or emigrated abroad however, and suddenly many more documents can come to light. For their ancestors, being 'a bit of a character' can open a world to their past. 

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