DETECTIVE work by Messenger readers and a vicar has shed light on the background of a 200-year-old headstone found dumped on a dirt track in Partington.

And the trail has led to a nineteenth century Salford graveyard.

Messenger reported last week how the tombstone, which dates back to 1801, was found by a dog walker lying on a verge in the Heath Farm Lane area, and is now being stored at nearby St Mary's Church.

Readers turned into internet sleuths in a bid to find out where the memorial, dedicated to the Little family, came from.

The Rev Peter Geddes, from St Mary's Church, followed up the information in a bid to pinpoint the graveyard.

A number of readers - including notably members of the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society - found parish records that list the family.

The burial register reveals that the family's funerals were at New Windsor Chapel, Cross Lane, Salford.

Listed there are Peter Little, who died in 1810, and his wife Jenny, who in 1828, daughter Elizabeth, who died aged two in 1808, and her twin William, who died just a few weeks later.

Other records show that Peter, who was a dyer, was born in 1774, at Darwen. He married twice.

Jenny was his second wife. His married his first wife, Ann Greenleaves, in 1793 but she died three years later. He married Jenny just three months later.

Baptism records for Grosvenor Street Chapel, Piccadilly show that the couple had other children - Hannah, born in 1799 and Thomas, born in 1803.

Peter was a businessman, with the Scholes directory for Manchester 1797 listing his company of woollen dyers, Little and Whiteley. He was also a partner in two other firms during his life. He left £140 in his will.

The Windsor Chapel closed for funerals in 1836 and no longer exists.

Vicar Mr Geddes went to the former site of New Windsor Chapel on Cross Lane to look for clues, but there is no longer any sign of a church there.

He discovered the road was redeveloped after World War Two. Residents in the area believe that when the church site was developed people were able to simply remove headstones.

Mr Geddes said: "I am surprised and delighted by the interest shown in this."

* The Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society is holding an open day on February 25, between 11 am and 3 pm, at Clayton House 59 Piccadilly (opposite Portland Street), Manchester M1 2AQ. All welcome.