Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A name and a clue to a family from Little Italy in Ancoats in 1881


Your name is a very important part of your identity and for some people in some parts of the world it is an immediate clue to where the family originated from.

So in the case of our Italian family the name suggests two hot spots, one in the north of Italy and the other in the south around Naples.

And that is pretty much spot on, for while they and some of the extended family live outside Milan they come from Naples.

But what if the name is difficult to read as it so often is on old official documents?  Well in my case I have some experts on hand to help out, but sadly the jury is still out on the verdict and so I have to go with my guess.

The name is Fuski and they lived at 43 Gun Street in the heart of Little Italy* in the spring of 1881.  This much I know, and while I cannot be certain of the spelling, there is much I do know about them.

Joseph and his wife Carolina were from Naples and they arrived in Manchester sometime around 1877, with their two daughters.

Now I can be fairly sure about the date because their third child Mary was born in Manchester in 1877.

He was a musician and seems to have attracted other musicians to him.  This may have had a lot to do with the fact that he rented number 43 Gun Street, and as things go found room for three of his cousins in the family home.

But he also found space for another ten people of which six were also musicians, one who worked as a General Servant and two were children.

All but two of this additional large group were also from Naples and both of these like Mary Fuski were children.

It makes for one of those insights into how people settled in a new country.  Here and in three other houses on the street could be found all the Italians, mostly from either Naples or Genova, choosing  to live with people they knew and could rely on to help them out.

In the case of young Joseph Fuski aged just two who was born in Scotland it is a hint that his parents may either have settled first across the border or were performing there when the boy was born and then travelled south to live with their cousin.

Now the Fuski family lived on that stretch of Gun Street which runs from Blossom Street to George Leigh Street and in 1881 it consisted of 20 houses and 125 people.  Of these just over 32% were born in Italy with 43% from Manchester and the rest from Ireland, and other parts of Britain.

This was a young community where over 37% were under the age of 16 and just 5% over 55.

And the degree of its youthfulness is even more marked when you single out those from Italy.

 For here there was no one over the age of 46 and all but 9 were between 20 and 40 years of age.

I guess those in the know would point to this group being the most likely to seek a new life and new challenges in a new country.  Few were married and even fewer had children.

And it follows that most of these young Italians were destined to live as sub tenants in what looks to be very overcrowded conditions.  Of the four Italian households, the numbers recorded in each were 23, 16, 14 and 7, in properties which contained just four rooms.

Not that the level of overcrowding in some of the houses was much better, but that as they say is another story for another time.

As for the Fuski family they disappear from the records but that may at present just be because I have the name wrong, and so I eagerly await help which may allow their story to grow.

*Little Italy is the area behind Great Ancoats Street, and was defined by, Jersey Street, Blossom Street, Georhe Leigh Street, running north and Gun Street, Henry Street and Cotton Street which crossed them on an east west line.  Here from 1865 there was a growing vibrant Italian community.


Pictures; Gun Street by A Bradburn, 1904, m11342, surviving houses on Gun Street, 1962 by T Brooks, m11344, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Councildata taken from 1881 Census, Enu 4 Ancoats, Manchester, Lancashire


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