Glossary of South Lancashire Dialect

Scope and Content

Holograph manuscript of A Glossary of Some Words and Phrases In Use Amongst the Rural Population of South Lancashire. Noted down by Samuel Bamford, 1843. On the verso of the title page Bamford notes: 'All words in red ink or those marked (r) have been added since Jan. 24th 1852 and are not in the printed edition of 1850'; nor are many of them in the second edition of 1854. Inserted is a letter from Edwin Waugh [(1817-1880), poet] to his father-in-law John Butterworth regarding The Weaver Boy.

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Bamford (1788-1872), radical and dialect writer, was born in Middleton, Lancashire, on 28 February 1788. After private tuition Bamford was sent to the Manchester grammar school, from which he was withdrawn by his father, who refused to let him study Latin. He learned weaving instead, and was then employed as a warehouseman in Manchester. He married in 1812. The onset of Luddite unrest prompted Bamford's political consciousness. Bamford helped found the Hamden Reform Club, Middleton, in 1816, and represented the club at a reform gathering in London that year. His reformist activities led him to be charged with treason in March 1817, although he was acquitted. He chronicled this in his Account of the Arrest and Imprisonment of Samuel Bamford (1817).

On 16 March 1819 Bamford led the Middleton contingent to St Peter's Fields, where they witnessed the Peterloo massacre. Bamford was charged with treason and sentenced to a year in Lincoln gaol for inciting riot. Upon his release he returned to weaving, but writing took up an increasing amount of his time. In 1819 he published The Weaver Boy, or, Miscellaneous Poetry, but to little critical success. By 1826 he had discarded weaving to become Manchester correspondent for the Morning Herald, although he continued to hold a series of other jobs as well. By 1839 Bamford abandoned full-time journalism in order to devote himself to writing the autobiographical works Passages in the Life of a Radical(1840-44) and Early Days (1849), as well as Homely Rhymes (1843), Walks in South Lancashire (1844), and Tawk o'seawth Lankeshur (1850). His last radical tract was a poem on the acquittal of Queen Caroline entitled The Queen's Triumph (1820). In 1846 a private subscription was raised to assist Bamford, and in 1851 he moved to London to take up the post of messenger in Somerset House. Here he published his Life of Amos Ogden (1853) and The Dialect of South Lancashire (1854).

He returned to Manchester in 1858 and attempted to survive on the proceeds from public readings of his poetry. In 1864 a group of Manchester Liberals became aware of his near destitution and raised an annuity, which supported him until his death at Harpurhey on 13 April 1872.

Source: Peter Spence, 'Bamford, Samuel (1788-1872)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Presented to the John Rylands Library by G. Whittall esq., of Reddish near Manchester, in May 1944.


Description compiled by Jo Humpleby, project archivist, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Samuel Bamford.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1937-1951 (English MS 969).

Related Material

Manchester Archives and Local Studies hold four volumes of Samuel Bamford's diaries, 1858-61 (ref.: GB 127 MSS 923 2 B99 ) and letters from Bamford to John Harland, 1840-66 (ref.: GB 127 Harland I & II).

The JRUL holds 14 letters from Edwin Waugh to John Howard Nodal (ref.: GB 133 JNH/1/125). Manchester Archives and Local Studies holds a diary of Edwin Waugh, 1847-51 (ref.: GB 127 MS Q 928 28 W87), letters to Waugh, c 1843-84 (ref.: GB 127 L183), and 23 letters to Dr Samuel Buckley, 1880-90 (ref.: GB 127 M56). Rochdale Local Studies Centre holds four volumes of Waugh's correspondence, literary manuscripts and papers (ref.:   GB 128 F/8/4/WAU).


See Tim Bobbin's Dialect of South Lancashire; or, Tim Bobbin's Tummus and Meary revised and corrected : with his rhymes, and an enlarged and amended glossary of words and phrases chiefly used by the rural population of the manufacturing districts of South Lancashire, by Samuel Bamford (Heywood: John Heywood, 1850).

For further information on Samuel Bamford, see W.H. Chaloner (ed.), The autobiography of Samuel Bamford, 2 vols (London: Cass, 1967); also Robert Poole and Martin Hewitt (eds), The diaries of Samuel Bamford (Stroud: Sutton, 2000).

Geographical Names