Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1930 & 39

Elizabeth Little (1836 - 1930)

Miss Elizabeth Little is Weaste Cemetery's link with Salford's New Bailey Prison and was present at the gaol when the Manchester Martyrs were hanged there on 23 November 1867.


Elizabeth was born in 1836 at Little Corby near Carlisle. She came to Salford in 1854 at the age of 18, to become Wardress at the New Bailey Prison in Stanley Street. When Strangeways Prison was opened in June 1868, she transferred there and rose to the position of Matron First Class, a position she held for nearly 30 years. She introduced the Laundry System, which trained female inmates to become first class Laundresses and upon their release they were able to obtain "honest work". Elizabeth retired in 1899, at the age of 63 and she lived in Oldfield Road to the ripe old age of 93. Her funeral service took place at St. Philip's Church, on Wednesday 8th January 1930, followed by burial at Weaste Cemetery.


The Salford Reporter recalls that one day, Miss Little found that a Warder had been murdered in her house! A long-term convict had been sent to repair a leak in the roof of her house and whilst he was there he evolved a plan to escape. He made a large hole in the roof, then went downstairs to check if it was all clear. The Warder who was guarding him was in the kitchen and the convict decided to stun him. Taking the hammer he had been working with, he crept upon the unfortunate man and hit him on the head, but he used too much force and killed the Warder. He fled upstairs to get through the hole, but Miss Little saw him and suspecting something was afoot, raised the alarm and he was captured.


Of more importance was the case of the Manchester Martyrs: three Irish men who were hanged in the New Bailey Prison in 1867. They were Fenians, fighting to rid Ireland of British rule. Two of their comrades were in custody and being transferred by police van from Manchester Court to Belle Vue Goal. The three men: Michael O'Brien, William Philip Allen and Michael Larkin took part in a rescue attempt in which a policeman was shot and killed. It was not known if the fateful shot came from any of the three men, but the vengeful authorities wanted to punish someone. All three protested their innocence of the crime, but they were found guilty and hanged at New Bailey Prison on 23rd November 1867.