Huddersfield England Irish Community mid 19th Century
There were over 1000 Irish born immigrants living in the County Yorkshire, Huddersfield area in 1851 when the census was conducted. Of those records that documented specific places of origin in Ireland, the Connacht Counties of Galway, Roscommon, Mayo and Sligo had the greatest numbers with Dublin having significant representation as well. Despite the fact that concentrations of Irish immigrants were heavier in some districts than others, they were surprisingly well distributed throughout all 39 districts. Huddersfield was a rapidly growing area in the early 19th century in part due to the developing Textile Industry. According to the book Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 by Hilary Marland, "The Population of Huddersfield grew by over 30% in every decade between 1801 and 1851." (Marland, 1987, p. 9).
The Irish began to trickle in around the 1830's and 1840's. The question is what brought all the Irish to this particular area? Was it the Woolen Industry where there were many opportunities for spinners, carders and other jobs associated with the industry? There were coalmines spread over the area that provided opportunities for work. The development of the canal system in and around Huddersfield in the early 19th century led to accelerated economic activity as well. The close proximity of Liverpool and its extensive shipping and transportation may have been incentive for their relocation here but that is only a guess. Immigrants such as my Great Grandfather Martin worked as a laborer to make passage for their trip to America that likely took place out of Liverpool.
When new machinery (for spinning, carding and finishing) was introduced in the early 19th century it revolutionized the textile industry, but the economic livelihood of many in this area was depressed because of it resulting in considerable unrest. The Irish began arriving on the tails of these changes and no doubt there was tension. Fortunately the Irish proved willing to do some of the heavy manual labor that made them valued members of this community. (Brook, 1968, p. 128). St Patrick's Church was constructed in 1832 and many Irish immigrants have valuable records in their ledgers. My great grandparents Martin Brennan and Catherine Corcoran were married there on Nov 26, 1849. I requested their marriage certificate from the GRO office in England and it is a treasure I never counted on finding! There is some microfilm available on St Patrick's Church via the Family History Centers of the LDS church here in the U.S. however; it only covers the early years of 1828 to 1840. The microfilm number for the St Patrick's Church records for this period is FHL film 828132 item 5 and 1482443 item 10. I found two great resources for doing research in St Patrick's Church Records, The Huddersfield and District Family History Society and The West Yorkshire Archive Service.
My great grandparents lived on Windsor Court, an area heavily populated by Irish immigrants. I took great interest in Hilary Marland's descriptions of what conditions were like on Windsor Court, Castlegate and other areas where some of Huddersfield's Irish lodging houses were located in her book "Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870." She referred to the slum like conditions which prevailed in some of the areas such as "Huddersfield's Hell Square (at the junction of Upperhead Row and Westgate), Windsor Court and Castlegate, all notorious for their appalling conditions and as sites for serious outbreaks of epidemic disease." (Marland, 1987, p. 35). Huddersfield had 15 different lodging houses with a total of 80 beds according to her book. One report claimed that 67 incidents of typhoid fever were documented in these residents. (Marland, 1987, p. 344). Huddersfield also had a bad cholera outbreak in 1849. With the inadequate water supply, drainage, crowding and general substandard living conditions that our Irish ancestors found themselves living in, it is a wonder that they or the many Irish children that were born there survived at all.
I intend to take a closer look at the Huddersfield Irish Community as it developed between 1841 and 1871. I will use the England Census Records to look at where the Irish lived, their occupations and specific place of origin if documented. I am currently documenting the Irish families in early St Patrick Church microfilm that is available here in the United States. I would love to make the journey to Huddersfield England to take a closer look at the St Patrick's Church records only available there, but for now this will have to suffice! In the following sections I will begin documenting the Huddersfield Irish immigrants listed in the England Census records. The numbers are substantial. I am going to try to document all of the Irish families in the 1851 census (39 districts), as this was probably more reflective of departures just after the peak of the famine. In the later years I am going to limit my documentation to Irish families from the Connacht Counties of Mayo, Sligo, Galway and Roscommon. Be patient this is a huge endeavor!