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- Mary Barton — The eponymous character, a very beautiful girl.
- Mrs Mary Barton — Mary's mother, who dies early on.
- John Barton — Mary's father, a millworker, active member in trade unions.
- George Wilson — John Barton's best friend, a worker at John Carson's mill.
- Jane Wilson — George Wilson's wife, short-tempered.
- Jem Wilson — Son of George and Jane, an engineer and inventor who has loved Mary from his childhood.
- John Carson — Wealthy owner of a mill in Manchester.
- Henry Carson — Son of John Carson, attracted to Mary.
- Alice Wilson — George Wilson's sister, a pious old washerwoman, herbalist, sick-nurse.
- Margaret Jennings — Neighbour of Alice, blind, a sometime singer, a friend to Mary.
- Job Legh — Margaret's grandfather, a self-taught naturalist.
- Ben Sturgis — An old sailor, who looks after Mary during her stay in Liverpool.
- Will Wilson — Alice's nephew (Jem's cousin), whom she raised after the death of his parents. A sailor, he falls in love with Margaret.
- Esther (last name unknown) — Sister of Mrs Mary Barton, she is a fallen woman and on the periphery for most of the story.