Sunday, 25 August 2019

Just how do you discover the life of Sarah Judge ………………. killed at Peteroo?

The simple answer is that it is not easy, for Sarah like so many of the casualties at Peterloo, was never likely to fall into official documents.

Remembering Sarah and the others, August 2019
She was born and died before the State made it compulsory to register births, deaths, and marriages, and it would be another twenty-two years before census returns included names, occupations and places of both of those living in a property.

But she is important, because along with thousands of others she was in St Peter’s Field’s on August 16th, 1819, when the Manchester Yeomanry charged the assembled masses.

And she died from wounds sustained not from a saber but a police truncheon.  This we know because she appears in the lists of casualties which records, she was “severely beaten on the head, and much bruised by constables' truncheons. SUSPECTED DEAD”.*

Now a search of the records so far shows no reference to a burial for Sarah, but I think we can be pretty sure she died of those injurious.

But we know where she lived, which was 96 Silk Street, which was off Cornwall Street in a complex of streets bordered by Great Ancoats Street to the east, George Leigh Street to the south, Oldham Road to the north and an arm of the Rochdale Canal to the west.

Silk Street, with Sarah's possible home marked in red, 1851
It is still there today, although Cromwell Street is now Bengal Street and it has lost most of its buildings and looks pretty ripe for development, with two car parks, some open land and a couple of industrial buildings, all of which  may follow the properties at the western end which are now city apartments.

But if you are curious and go looking for it, you will find a narrow street which in the 19th century consisted of back to back properties, with more than a few closed courts which were accessed by tiny alleys off Silk Street.

Sarah’s house was at the western end just a few doors from the corner of Poland Street and today is a car park.

Silk Street was developed very quickly, so while in 1793 there appears few buildings along it stretch, by 1819, it was fully built up, and by 1850 there a was mill close side.

Sadly, I can find no reference to Sarah in the Rate Books for Silk Street, and as yet all the official records are blank.

All of which is to be expected.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Remembering Peterllo, 2019, from the collection of David Harrop, and Silk Street, in 1851 from Adshead’s map of Manchester, 1851, of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

*Records of the Manchester Peterloo Witnesses and casualties, 1819, findmypast, www.findmypast.co.uk

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