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Going Back To Our Roots

TibalPages-The Crolla Family

Italy, Manchester - 1800's-2008

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"Ancoats Little Italy"    

My Grandad Bernard Crolla abt 1922


Bernard Crolla [above] is my grandfather born about 1884 in Ancoats Manchester and died at Crumpsall General Hospital on the 24/10/1934 from Diabetes.

Bernard worked most of his youth first selling Ice Cream from the Crolla family cart 'Hokey-Kokey' style, then in his fathers Confectioner/ Bakery on George St Hulme making bread until 1904. In 1904 his father Antonio Crolla and Margaret left for Connecticut Pennsylvania USA taking their daughter Philimina with them to live with his daughter Teresa Parella (nee Crolla) and family who settled there the previous year in 1903.

On 23/10/1907 Bernard married Mary Foster and they lived at 26 Addington St Ancoats. Bernard started working at Smithfield Fish Market as a Porter in Manchester(below) and worked there until he died in 1934.

Bernard left Mary for a now widowed Eugenia Panetta [nee Colletta] living on Gun St Ancoats Manchester with her 5 Panetta children some time around 1921. From 1923 Bernard Crolla and Eugenia added 5 more children to the family on Gun St. My dad Anthony Crolla was 3rd born in 1927.



Smithfields Fish Market Manchester 1924


Male Ice Cream Vendors Picnic Ancoats


Manchester Shop Window 1900


Bostocks Boots Market St 1896 Manchester


Marks and Spencers Penny Bazaare Market St 1896 Manchester


Piccadilly Manchester 1895


Street Artist 1895 Albert Square


Antonelli Barrel Organs Gun Street 1895


Manchester Brick Layers 1900


Cotton Street facing east.


Cotton Street facing west.


Cotton Street facing east.


1904 Henry Street steps leading to Messrs McConnells premises.


1910 Ancoats Maria Street Passage to Royal Oak Inn Jersey Street.


Victorian Links

London&Manchester England -

Italian Musicians-Street Life in London 1877
HalfPennyIces-StreetLifeInLondon1877
CityOfShadows-19thCenturyLondon
TheVictorianWeb-ManchesterIn1844
IceCreamLegacies-Manchester
NationalArchives-Naturalisation
NationalArchives-Leaflets
Victorian Manchester
Origins UK- Manchester
The Annotico Report Italians Influence in Manchester
Irish Community in Ancoats
Spinning the Web-The Cotton Industry
Who Do You Think You Are-Ancestry.co.uk
Recalling the sights and sounds of our Little Italy
YouTube-Memories of Ancoats
The Glasgow Story- Crolla's

Santina's Genealogy

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The History of Italian Immigrants in the UK

Italians came to the Uk to escape poverty and starvation in Italy when their farming communities were tore apart by war and famine. Their journey was supposed to take them to America but they liked it just fine here so quite a few families stayed in the UK. The first wave of arrivals was in the early 1800's the second wave around the early 1870's. Upon arriving in London they worked their way up north using two trades usually selling ice cream in the summer and musicians in the winter when the ice cream trade was at a low. Barrel organs were hired from skilled organ builders like the Antonelli family on Jersey Street in Ancoats Manchester. I didn't realise it was the Italian organ grinders that introduced the monkeys that danced on top of the organ and would accompany them in their daily routine. My great grandfather Antonio Crolla came from a family of Master Organ Grinders and also manufactured&sold ice cream. Along with those trades of course they also had Terrazzo Tilers,Clock& Barometer Makers, Figurine Makers, Artists and Sculpters, the bird women Fortune Tellers,Punch and Judy, Magic and Circus Acts&also the Barrel Organ Makers responsible for the organs that churn out the fair ground music we have today. Most Italians in Manchester in the late 1800's were either listed as a Musician or Ice Cream Trader but they usually did both enabling them to have a constant anual source of work. Apparently they used to fight over a certain area claiming that 'that was their patch' as they still do today. Only the richer folks could afford ice cream so getting your patch in a prosperous area would have been very important to them. They used to use licking glasses for ice cream to start with which was washed and re-used for the next customer. As hygene was stepped up they started making the horn shaped wafer that we still use today which was first made in Old Trafford Manchester at Antonio Valvona's biscuit factory. I think Benedetto Valvona who moved to Scotland and partnered up with Alphonso Crolla(not related to our Crolla´s) to set up the famous deli 'Valvona and Crolla' could be the brother or cousin of Antonio Valvona. When the Barrel Organ business dried up around the 1930´s the Antonelli family also went into developing biscuits, wafers&ice cream and are still trading today. My father Anthony Crolla& brothers were to change the family trade from ice cream years later when they went to work at Conways Terrazzo Tiles in Manchester during the 50´s&60´s.



Map Picinisco Italy


Antonio Crolla born Italy about 1857

Our great grandfather Antonio Crolla b-24/03/1857 came from a mountainous region called Picinisco in Italy between Naples and Rome. After his father Carlo Beniamino Crolla born 10/12/1825 [a farmer] died in Italy, he came to England around 1876 with his Mother Gracinta Pecchia (aka Juanita & Cindis)b-abt 1837 Latina Campodimele, and brothers Michael Angelo b-09/05/1854, Giovanni b-14/01/1862, Almerico (aka Meyrick)b-05/04/1864 & sister Maria(aka Mary)b-17/10/1858 all born in Picinisco Italy. When they arrived in Britain they left Antonio in London whilst they walked on like many romans before them by foot to Manchester where they settled in the 'Little Italy' district of Ancoats.

Antonio Crolla's sister Maria Melaragni (nee Crolla)


Left to Right: Maria Melaragni (nee Crolla)aged 16yrs in Italy 1876, Maria Melaragni (nee Crolla) in her 50's taken in 1911 Liverpool and Maria Melaragni(nee Crolla) seated on the right and the Melaragni family taken in 1901 Ancoats Manchester. Maria's husband Crescenzo Melaragni was not in this picture as he was in New York when this picture was took. The men in the picture are beleived to be Crescenzo's brothers,one of their wives seated on the left and children. I'm not too sure which exactly are Maria's children, but they're most likely the ones sat closest to her.



Antonio's story is quite confusing but as with many immigrants hardly unique with conflicting documentation. This could be put down to him being foreign, unable to speak English and illiterate and not a biggomist as it seems.

Antonio lived in the 'Little Italy' district in Clerkenwell Holborn London. He then married Chiara Antonelli(b-1852) on 11/09/1876 at St Peters Italian Church in Holborn Middlesex *see 5 on London map and there they had a child called Carmela in 1877.

Antonio was then listed in the April 1881 census as a bachelor living at 11 Fleetrow in Holborn Middlesex. I can only assume that either Chiara died or went back to Italy. On the 12/05/1881 Antonio married Donata Marino(b-1865) at St Peters Italian Church in Holborn Middlesex. Donata was our great grandmother. She was the mother of Teresa b-1882, Bernard b-1884 & Joseph b-1887. I'm not sure if Teresa & Bernard were born in London or like Joseph at 84 Henry St Ancoats Manchester.

In 1890 Donata was in Manchester heavilly pregnant and was arrested for begging. She died before her trial around ten days later on 29/01/1890 at 84 Henry St Ancoats from septasimia during childbirth. The baby also named Donata Crolla died about 1 wk later. Antonio a widow then met Belfast born Margaret Hamilton(b-1865)and they lived at 41 Cotton Street Ancoats. She is listed as his wife in the 1891 census at that address but I'm not sure if they officially married on paper. They had his children Carmel(14), Teresa(9), Bernard(5) and Joseph(3)living with them. Their daughter Philimena was born just after the 1891 census on 13/08/1891. Philimina turned out to be the only child Margaret had ever given birth to.

Seeing that Antonio had a daughter Carmela born in London in 1877 and she was neither Margaret's nor Donata's daughter who were both too young at that time, I can only conclude that she was from his first marriage to Chiara Antonelli. What I think has happened in this case is that maybe Chiara also died in child birth (it was not that uncommon back then with homebirths) and that's why Antonio had his daughter Carmela living with him. He then left Carmela with his older brother Michael Angelo(b-1856) Italy and their widowed mother Juanita Crolla (but her real name was Gracinta) (b-1833)Italy in Manchester at 9 Lees St Ancoats. Michael Angelo Crolla is listed as the head of the house and Carmela Crolla (3)is listed as his niece on that census (*see Lees St 1881 census).

Antonio must have been moving from London & trying to find a house with Donata to settle in Manchester during 1881. By 1891 Carmela was back living with her father Antonio at Cotton St.

I ordered the records from The National Archives for Donata Crolla and her arrest for begging and it said she was wrongfully arrested, and all though they were not accepting responsibillity for Donata's death that they would compensate Antonio Crolla £25 as a compassionate gesture of which Antonio accepted.


Click here for all Census listed below
Holborn 5 on London Map
9 Lees St 1881 Census
41 Cotton St 1891 Census
62 George St 1901 Census
Parella 72 Gun St 1901 Census
Old Ancoats Maps

Ancoats was known as a slum district of Manchester 1899
Ancoats was known as a slum district of Manchester 1899


By the 1901 census Antonio & Margaret had moved to 62 George Street a Confectioners/Bakery in Hulme Manchester (*see 62 George St 1901 census). Their sons Bernard & Joseph were bread Makers/Assistants and daughter Philomena was a scholar.Daughters Carmela & Teresa had left home by this time and were married. Carmela living at 25 Deane St/Port St Ancoats married Giovanni DeMarco (son of Carmine DeMarco) 7 Jersey St on 22/08/1893 & they had a daughter Mary DeMarco in 1900. Teresa married Fortunata Parella and lived at 72 Gun st Ancoats (*see Parella 72 Gun St 1901 census).

Antonio Crolla Emigrated to America 1904

On the 24/06/1903 Teresa Parella(nee Crolla)& her children boarded a boat from Liverpool to New York (*see Ship Transcript 1) & her husband Fortunato [aka Francesco] had travelled there seperate on an earlier boat. They lived in the "Little Italy" district at 142 Mulberry Street New York. This was a street lined with Italian restaurants & Deli´s, but was better known for the New York Italian Mafia & Mullberry Street features in many Holliwood Movies. One year later Antonio Crolla and Margaret boarded a boat called the Patricia on 12/06/1904 from Liverpool and took 11yr old Philimina with them via Ellis Island to live with daughter Teresa in New York (*see Ship Transcript 2). The journey took 5 wks.

Patricia on 12/06/1904
Ancoats was known as a slum district of Manchester 1899


The two families all later settled in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in the same house and can be seen in the US 1920 census (*see US Parella 1920 census). Anthony is a widow in that census which mean´t Margaret Crolla(nee Hamilton) must have died between 1904 and 1920. Philomina married Mario Benvenuto around 1907. Their grandson in New York has been intouch & told me they had 8 children. In the 1930 census Antonio is not living with the Perella family, this means he must have died between 1920 & 1930(*see US Parella 1930 census).. Pittsburgh is where they all would have died I would think. At this moment I don't know where any of them are buried.


Antonio Crolla's daughter Philomina Benvenuto (nee Crolla) taken in 1940 New York USA.


Left to Right: Philomina Benvenuto (nee Crolla) enlarged from photo on the right,Philimina's daughter Annunziata Lauro (nee Benvenuto), daughter Rose Benvenuto,grandaughter Phyllis Lauro, Philimina Benvenuto (nee Crolla)age abt 51yrs, and youngest daughter Ruth Benvenuto.

Click here for all Census listed below
Parella Ship Transcript 1
Crolla Ship Transcript 2
US 1920 Parella census
US 1930 Parella census
DeMarco/Crolla 1911 census 81 Silk St

Bernard Crolla´s Life in Ancoats 1907-31

Bernard Married Mary Foster in 1907 Manchester and they lived on 26 Addington Street Ancoats. I found his brother 23yr old Joseph on the 1911 census living with sister Carmela DeMarco (nee Crolla), her daughter Mary and Aunt Amelia Crolla at 81 Silk St Ancoats (*see DeMarco/Crolla 1911 census). Amelia Crolla (nee Wardle) was the second wife of Antonio´s brother Michael Angelo Crolla b-1854 whom he married in 1904 Manchester. I beleive his first wife Caroline died in 1902 aged 43. In early 1912 Joseph and Alice Mackerall had a baby daughter out of wedlock called Mary Angela Crolla. She was adopted out to a family called Glennan. Mary Angela(aka Maria) Crolla, married James Sutton in 1931, She lived at 22 Henry Street Ancoats. Mary Angela's descendants are living in Australia. Later in 1912 Joseph Crolla & Alice Mackerall married and went on to have 8 more children: Theresa 1915, Anthony 1918, Joseph 1919, Elizabeth 1920, Annie 1921, John 1924, Sylvester 1926 & Phyllis 1929. These were all my dad Anthony Crolla's cousins,I'm glad my dad Anthony had lots of cousins living close by.

Bernard Crolla's brother Joseph Crolla was in the Army Manchester Regiment in WW1 & I have his Full Army records. Here's some of the details from the record: Manchester Regiment Joseph Crolla discharged 21/02/1916. Wife: Alice Mackerall married in 1912. They lived at 48 Loom Street off Oldham Rd Ancoats. Children: Teresa Crolla b-11/08/1915 Manchester


Our grandfather Bernard Crolla was in the Army. He was a Driver in the Royal Field Artillary in W.France WW1 25/08/1915. He received 3 Medals for his services. I have no further information other than his Army Medal Roll of Honour Card.

Bernard was in the Royal Field Artillary in France WW1 25/08/1915



WW1 Soldiers Royal Feild Artillary.

WW1 Soldiers Royal Feild Artillary



WW1 Soldiers Manchester Regiment.

WW1 Soldiers Manchester Regiment



Heres what Cousin Mary told me about Bernard Crolla's life with Eugenia Panetta[nee Colletta].

"Bernard apparently swept Grandma off her feet. They loved to dance together. She had 5 children and was a widow when she met him. He worked at the Smithfield market in Manchester as a fish monger. Mum said he used to bring fish home. (Don't know about you but I love fish.) He loved Grandma very much but unfortunately he was a drinker. It caused terrible rows when he came home drunk. Grandma could not stand a drinker. As well, he drank the money he earned. My Mum and the other kids used to see him coming home and knew there would be a big fight. My Mum used to grab the smallest kids and take them outside until it was over. Grandma broke every dish in the house throwing them at him. My Mum said they had no dishes left. There was a particular occasion when he came home drunk and Grandma grabbed a china figurine off the mantel piece which he had given her and he said, "no Ginny not that one". She smashed it anyway. For all that, he was a gentle man. He used to try to explain to her when he came home he was so thirsty, but she just went mad. It was hard for her with 10 kids to keep. She went out everyday pushing an ice-cream cart pregnant or not to make money for her family. Imagine what it must have been like having a drunkard for a husband. Anway, when Bernard got sick and was in the hospital my Mum and Grandma used to visit him. The doctors allowed Grandma to bring in beer for him - I guess because he was an alcoholic by then. They used to take it in a jug. He used to tell Grandma he was so thirsty when he came home drunk - now we know that is one of the signs of Diabetes - which is what he had but never knew, nor did anybody else. They were told this when he was in the hospital dying. My Mum said that's why he drank, no one knew he was sick. My Mum said he suffered in the hospital. He had a huge abscess or tumor at the back of his neck which my Mum said the size of which you could put your fist in. My Mum and Grandma were with him when he died. We always thought he died from diabetes and the tumor.

When I realised Grandma had 2 Surnames I asked my Mum about it. She was always evasive. I believe he had another wife and left her for Grandma. He used to call Grandma his Brazilian bombshell - because of her temper. She had red hair and was born in Brazil. Don't know if you knew that or not. That is about all I know of their life together. I know they really loved eachother despite the terrible fights. Also, Grandma was almost blind from cataracts which she never had corrected. That's why she looks a little funny around the eyes. She was marvelous at crocheting even though she could not see.

I mentioned my Dad was born 1906 on Jersey St. He had a friend called Philip Crolla (they also worked together at Conway's) and he lived on Gun Street. Philip had 2 brothers Joe and John. My brother is named after Philip Crolla. I asked Dad if he remembered Bernard Crolla and he said yes but knew nothing about him other than that he was a marvelous deboner of fish and used to bring lots of fresh fish home. He said he worked at the market starting at 5 am and finished at noon. Dad said the pub was just around the corner and that was where he went when he finished work. Too bad. You know there is one thing about the family. Everyone had a sense of humour. All the Panettas and all the Crollas had it. I don't know whether that's an Italian trait or not. But it's nice when people can laugh through the hard times and still see the funny side of things. It was never miserable at Grandma's house. There was always music or someone was joking around. That's why I loved to go into the house on Freme St as a kid. love Mary"


The Crolla children Mary mentioned above were possibly my grandad Bernard Crolla's distant cousins. Although I'm not sure which uncle or cousins family they belonged to yet.


The next chapter in Bernard Crolla's life is with his children on the main page.



Murray Mill Manchester
Murray Mill Manchester

Street Scene Ancoats Manchester
Street Scene Ancoats Manchester

Cross Street 1901


Textile Mill at Hollinwood, Oldham 1901

The Crolla Family Tree



My dads Paternal line is:

Beniamino Crolla b-abt 1825(my g-g-grandad)
+Gracinta b-1833(nee ?)

...Michael Angelo Crolla b-abt 1854
...Antonio Crolla b-abt 1856(my g-grandad)
...Mary Crolla b-abt 1861 m-1884
...Meyrick Crolla b-1860 m-1882
...Giovanni Crolla(aka John) b-abt 1862 m-1882 d-1912

Antonio Crolla b-abt 1856 d-?(my g-grandad)

+Chiara Antonelli(wife 1)b-1852 m-1876 d-?

......Carmela Crolla b-1877
+Donata Marino(wife 2 my g-grandmother) b-1864 m-1881 d- 29/01/1890
......Teresa Crolla b-1883
......Bernard Crolla b-1884 d-abt 1931(my grandad)
......Joseph Crolla b-15/09/1887

+Margaret Hamilton(wife 3)b-1865 m-abt 1891 d-?
......Philomena Crolla b-13/08/1891 d-1968


Bernard Crolla b-1884 d-abt 1931(my grandad)

+Mary Foster(wife 1) b-1885 m-23/10/1907 d-?
+Eugenia Panetta[nee Colletta](my grandmother) b-07/12/1892 d- 05/07/1972

..........Bernard Crolla b-1923 d-1968
..........Vincent Crolla b-1925 d-1959
..........Anthony Crolla b-1927 d-1971(my dad)
..........Anunziata Crolla b-1929 d-2005(aka Nancy)
..........Michael Angelo Crolla b-1930 d- 2004




My dads Maternal line is:

Sylvester D'Agostino b-abt 1845(my g-g-grandfather)
+Rosina D'Agostino[nee?]b-abt 1845(my g-g-grandmother)

...Anunziata D'Agostino b-1862 d-22/07/1936(my g-grandmother)
...Marietta D'Agostino b-?


Augustine Colletta(my g-grandad) b-abt 1862 d-abt 1896
+Anunziata D'Agostino b-1862 d-22/07/1936(my g-grandmother)

......Eugenia Colletta b-1891 d-1971(my grandmother)
......Louigi Colletta b-abt 1895



Michael Angelo Crolla(Distant Crolla Cousin) b-abt 1879 d-20/01/1942

+Anunziata Colletta[nee D'Agostino] b-1862 2nd m-02/10/1899 d-22/07/1936(my g-grandmother)

......Sylvester Crolla b-1901(Eugenia and Louigi Colletta's brother)


Antonio Panetta b-abt 1891 m-1910 d-1919
+Eugenia Colletta b-1891 d-1972(my grandmother)

..........Joseph Panetta b-1910
..........Agustino(Gus)Panetta b-1912
..........Rosalia(Rose)Panetta b-1914
..........Luigi Panetta b-1916
..........Maria(Mary)Panetta b-1918



Bernard Crolla b-1884 d-abt 1931(my grandad)
+Mary Foster(wife 1) b-1885 m-23/10/1907 d-?
+Eugenia Panetta[nee Colletta](my grandmother) b-07/12/1892 d- 05/07/1972

..........Bernard Crolla b-1923 d-1968
..........Vincent Crolla b-1925 d-1959
..........Anthony Crolla b-1927 d-1971(my dad)
..........Anunziata Crolla b-1929 d-2005(aka Nancy)
..........Michael Angelo Crolla b-1930 d- 2004








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