Start your tree

This guide was last updated in 2009

It is important to begin and the beginning and write down everything you already know about your textile-worker ancestors. 

Start with any tales that survive in the family memory, and moving on to the basic genealogical sources of birth, marriage and death certificates, census returns and parish records. Through building your family tree and putting every brick in the wall, you may be able to discover how many members of your family – and how many generations – were working in textile production.

From census returns you can see what kind of accommodation they were living in, at what age the children were working and whether they were in the heart of an industrial revolution town, with everyone in neighbouring streets and houses doing exactly the same thing.

Death certificates will tell you something about the mortality rate in your family, and will alert you to common illnesses and fatal accidents that may have occurred at work. And as you move back through the generations, you may discover where your ancestors came from to get to the Lancashire textile industry: can you locate them as agricultural labourers, either in Lancashire or elsewhere in the country? Were they swept into the industrial revolution, moving to the towns in search of work, and abandoning the way of life that their forebears had known for generations?

By examining more recent records, you can also discover if and when your ancestors left the textile industry and how they subsequently made their living.

Basic genealogical sources, or indexes to them, are available at:

A growing collection of parish records is also available online at

Manchester and Lancashire textile workers
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