Explore 5 million Manchester records – new at FindMyPast


26 May 2023
Manchester c.1902. Copyright Tuck DB Postcards
Trace your Manchester ancestors with a huge new online record release covering two centuries’ worth of taxpayer records.

Greater Manchester rate books

4.9 million new records have been added to this existing collection, taking the total number of records to 13 million. ‘Rates’ were taxes collected to support local services, such as poor relief and roads, so you should find details of your Manchester ancestors paying the required rates. You’ll see their name, address, and even the name of the person who owned the property they occupied, meaning these records are also useful for house history research.  

How to use rate books for family history

Rates were local taxes. The money collected was used for the upkeep of the churches, water supply, gaols, roads and hospitals. The Poor Law Act of 1601 introduced rates for the maintenance of the poor. Rate payers were also entitled to vote for committee members who oversaw the distribution of poor relief.

The amount payable was based on the value of the property and was collected at Midsummer (June), Michaelmas (October) and Christmas (January). Rate books are arranged by street and the images can be used to discover who was living on a street when your ancestors were there.

These records can also be used to trace house histories and to learn the names of previous generations who lived in your home.

The records usually record the following detail:

• Name of Occupier (head of household)

• Name of Owner

• Description of the property (house or business)

• Street Address/Township/Parish

• Rate to be paid (e.g. poor rate, water rate)

• Amount to paid

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• Date paid or any default on payment

Every fifth year’s rate books are indexed to coincide with census years for parts of the following boroughs:

• Bolton 1916-1936

• Manchester 1706-1941

• Oldham 1841-1936

• Rochdale 1826-1921

• Stockport 1886-1921

• Tameside 1846-1936

• Trafford 1836-1931

• Wigan 1806-1936

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