Ellen Ann Hartley and Ann Bailey
18 November 2020 at 11:43 am #367Dave PatternKeymaster
I’ve been researching the 1852 Flood on and off for nearly 5 years now. I’m sure I’m not the first person to ponder the question “was the body of Ellen Ann Hartley misidentified?”, but I feel that I’ve now got enough evidence to put forward a reasonably strong case to support the following statements:
The body of an unknown girl that was buried on 9 Feb 1852 at St. John Upperthong was that of Ann Bailey, daughter of Aner Bailey. The body that was initially identified as Ellen Ann Hartley but then subsequently claimed by Aner as being Ann was in fact Ellen Ann.
There are a few reasons why I feel this matters, despite it being 168 years since the two bodies were buried:
- The “official” death toll of the flood was 81. This was reached by combining the number of known named victims (78) to the three unidentified bodies of children that were buried as “unknown”s. If the above statements are true, then that figure becomes 80.
- The 175th anniversary could include the placing of memorials to the victims, particularly to commemorate those who were buried in unmarked graves. Descendants and others may also wish to pay their respects and to know where the coffins were buried.
- Ellen Ann’s parents and four of her siblings died in the flood. The actions of Aner Bailey resulted in Ellen Ann’s body not being laid to rest with the rest of her family and the two grave sites are 2.5 miles apart.
First of all, these are the details of the two girls:
Ellen Ann Hartley
Born 23 Oct 1849, the youngest daughter of Sidney (or Sydney) Hartley and his wife Mary Ann (née Lodge). At the time of the flood, the family was living at Mill Hill, Holmfirth — this is the area of land between Town Gate and the river where Holmfirth Mill once stood, and is now a small car park and home to Holmfirth Post Office. On the day of her death, Ellen Ann was aged 2 years and 3 months.
The following description of her was issued shortly after the flood: “light-coloured hair, very much turned up in front”. The latter is a reference to the distinctive cow-lick hair that all of the Hartley daughters had.
Born 30 Oct 1847, the eldest daughter of Aner Bailey and his wife Hannah (née Crookes). At the time of the flood, the family was living at Upper Bridge — this is an area to the SW of the Greenfield Road & Woodhead Road junction and on the northern side of the river (see holmfirthhistory.org.uk for more details). On the day of her death, Ann was aged 4 years and 3 months.
The following description of her was issued shortly after the flood: “not tall, but stout; thick and dark hair about 2½ inches long; a little scorbutic eruption on one eye; and had on a light linsey night-gown”.
For the purpose of this discussion, I’m going to focus on three of the bodies of young girls that were recovered:
This was recovered from the area between Honley and Armitage Bridge and was one of two children (a boy and a girl) who “were found dead above the Golden Fleece Inn, one of them on the water side, and the other had been washed into a tree near by. They were both conveyed to the Golden Fleece Inn.” (Huddersfield Chronicle 7 Feb).
The body was initially identified as one of the daughters of James Mettrick — presumably Jane Mettrick aged 2 years 7 months. Four of James’ children survived the flood, so would have been able to confirm that the body wasn’t that of Jane Mettrick. I mention this initial mistaken identification because it perhaps implies the estimated age was nearer to Ellen Ann Hartley (2 years 3 months) than to Ann Bailey (4y 3m).
At the formal inquest, the body was identified as Ellen Ann Hartley by her sister, Hannah Hartley (aged 10 years 6 months). The following is from Reynold’s Newspaper (15 Feb):
When the jury visited the bodies lying at Bury Brow, a little intelligent girl, daughter of Sidney Hartley, one of the deceased, came forward to identify an infant as the body of her sister Ellen. She was asked how she knew it, and replied, because it was “calf-licked” like herself, pointing to a peculiarity of the hair on the forehead, so denominated in Yorkshire.
At the inquest, Aner Bailey “deposed to having lost his wife and two children”. The Leeds Intelligencer (14 Feb) reported that Aner “believed the eldest of his children [i.e. Ann] had been buried in the New Churchyard at Victoria Bridge”. Although not reported, I think we have to assume that the Coroner would have informed Aner that none of the bodies had yet been released for burial. At that point, Aner had already located the bodies of his wife (Hannah) and youngest daughter (Martha) who had both been found at Thongsbridge.
According to the Minter’s book “On the Trail of the Holmfirth Flood 1852“, Aner (misnamed “Enor”) was the man seen in distress shortly after the flood waters subsided:
At about a quarter to two a.m., soon after the water level had dropped, a man was seen stumbling among the debris in this area tearing his hair and shouting that all his family were lost. Although the man was not identified, he is likely to have been Enor Bailey as he is the only one so bereaved whose movements or whereabouts at that precise time cannot be deduced from the reports. His was perhaps the first overt demonstration of the outpouring of grief that Holmfirth would experience in the days and weeks to come.
Aner had been swept out of his house by the flood, along with his family, but he “grasped hold of a beam which was floating down the stream, and by a sudden sweep he was brought safely to the left bank of the river, and scrambled out into the turnpike road” (from “The Holmfirth Flood“). It seems likely that Aner was the one who then tried to locate the bodies of his family in the days between the flood and the formal inquest. It was also reported that he “had some difficulty in identifying his wife, owing to the changed features through drowning, and that he only became assured of her identity by a particular mole upon her person” (“The Flood Came and Took Them All Away“).
So, to recap — before attending the inquest, Aner was under the impression that Ann had already “been buried in the New Churchyard at Victoria Bridge” and, as he had located the bodies of Hannah and Martha, he could account for his entire family. Although we don’t know when or why he was under that impression, it may help explain why he wasn’t looking specifically looking elsewhere for Ann’s body.
Following the inquest, Aner went to the Golden Fleece and claimed the body as being that of his missing daughter. It’s clear from contemporary newspaper reports that this occurred after the inquest and seemingly went unchallenged. At this point, it’s worth noting again the age difference between Ann Bailey and Ellen Ann Hartley, and the difference in descriptions of the two girls (particularly Ellen Ann’s distinctive “cow lick”).
If we ignore the Oddfellows Arms at South Crosland (where the body of 39 year old Rose Ann Charlesworth had been laid out), the Golden Fleece was the furthest inn from Holmfirth where bodies had been laid out. Given that Hannah and Martha had been found at Thongsbridge, perhaps Aner made the assumption that Ann might be found in that area and hastily made his way down the Holme Valley after the inquest, quickly visiting the inns to view the bodies. Arriving at the Golden Fleece, perhaps he believed that Ann’s body had to be there. We know that he had struggled to recognise the body of his own wife — perhaps in a grief-stricken state, he convinced himself that the body of this older girl with darker hair must be Ann?
On 9 February, Aner buried his wife (Hannah) and youngest daughter (Martha) at Lane Congregational Chapel. However, on the very same day, he buried the body he’d claimed as being Ann at St. John’s Church, Upperthong. I can only think of two explanations:
- Aner and his wife attended separate churches. If so, we should note that both of his daughters were baptised at Lane Congregational Chapel on 2 May 1851 and it is therefore rather odd that he chose not to bury Ann with her mother, even if he did attend St. John’s. However, all the evidence seems to point to the Bailey’s attending Lane Congregational Chapel and it was where Aner’s own parents had him baptised on 3 June 1812.
- Aner knew (or quickly came to realise) that the body he had claimed was not his daughter. His conscience wouldn’t allow him to bury the stranger with his own wife and daughter but perhaps guilt over his actions wouldn’t allow him to return the body to the Golden Fleece. Instead, he decided to pay for her burial at the nearest graveyard. He may even had been aware that the bodies of two “unknown” children were to be buried there that day and therefore it was suitable that the girl be buried there too.
This was one of three bodies (2 girls & 1 boy) that remained unidentified after the inquest and were buried as “unknown”s. The following is from the Huddersfield Examiner (14 Feb):
John Shaw, of Upperbridge, Holmfirth, said he found the bodies of Joe Mettrick, and a girl unknown, that were taken to the Waggon and Horses Inn. He did not know either of them himself. The girl was found about nine o’clock on the Thursday morning, in Victoria Street. She was never owned, and was buried at Saint John’s Church, Upperthong.
Other newspaper reports give the girl’s age as 4 or 5. Unfortunately, none of the reports give a detailed description of the body. However, the reported age is similar to that of Ann Bailey. We should perhaps note here that Victoria Street is downriver from the Bailey’s house, but upriver from the Hartley’s house.
The body of a young girl, aged between 2 and 3, was recovered in the Thongsbridge area and taken to the Royal Oak. Although the age is a good match for Ellen Ann Hartley, we should note that the surviving Hartley’s visited the Royal Oak where they identified the body of Elizabeth Hartley (aged 3 years 2 months). Although we have no evidence that Aner Bailey visited the Royal Oak to inspect the bodies, we should note that his wife and youngest daughter were found at Thongsbridge and taken to the Rose & Crown, which was situated a few yards away from the Royal Oak.
The body remained unidentified and was buried on 9 February at All Saints, Netherthong. Presumably this church was chosen as being the nearest to the Royal Oak and it may be that the body was recovered from inside the boundary of the township of Nethethong.
So, let’s look at each of the three bodies and consider how likely it is that they were Ann Bailey or Ellen Ann Hartley…
This was formally identified as Ellen Ann Hartley at the inquest by her older sister Hannah. The Coroner pushed Hannah as to why she believed it to be Ellen Ann and then praised her for providing such calm testimony under the circumstances. There is nothing to suggest the Coroner doubted the identification.
We can probably assume that Aner Bailey was present at the inquest at that time and offered no objection. It was only after the inquest (i.e. after he learned that Ann Bailey hadn’t been already buried) that he “claimed” the body as being his daughter. Aner’s actions in then burying the body at Upperthong (rather than at Lane Congregational Chapel) are, at best, suspicious and require an explanation.
On the balance of evidence, it seems highly likely this body was correctly identified as Ellen Ann Hartley.
As this body was found in Victoria Street (i.e. upriver from Mill Hill) it would be highly unlikely that it was Ellen Ann Hartley. The Hartley’s lived close to the Waggon & Horses, where the body was taken, and it would seem probably that a) the surviving Hartley’s viewed the bodies there due to the close proximity to their home, and/or b) the landlord would have recognised the body as being one of the Hartley girls.
Instead, the reported age matches Ann Bailey and the Bailey’s lived upriver from Victoria Street. If the body was indeed Ann’s, why wasn’t it identified? It seems Aner viewed the bodies by himself, so may not have had time to visit every inn or may not have been aware that any bodies had been taken to the Waggon & Horses — most of bodies located in the Victoria Bridge area were taken to the White Hart (the only other taken to the Waggon & Horses was Joseph Mettrick). Aner’s wife and other daughter had been found at Thongsbridge, so he may have assumed that Ann would be found in that area rather than so close to his home at Upperbridge.
Also, as he was under the impression that his daughter Ann had been buried “in the New Churchyard at Victoria Bridge”, he simply may not have even been looking for her body. Is it possible that someone had recognised the body found in Victoria Street as being Ann and that word had been sent to Aner to let him know, and that Aner had somehow misinterpreted this to mean the new churchyard?
If we assume that Body A was Ellen Ann Hartley, then the balance of evidence suggests this body was that of Ann Bailey.
The reported age is a close match for Ellen Ann Hartley but we know that the Hartley’s visited the inn at Thongsbridge where body was laid out. It seems likely that Aner Bailey would have also visited the inn, since his wife and younger daughter were laid out at the other Thongsbridge inn, only a short distance away.
Therefore, it seems unlikely that this body was either girl.
I’m unable to suggest a possible identity, as all of the other named victims who were young girls can be accounted for and were formally identified by surviving relatives. All we can say is that the girl lived upriver from Thongsbridge and was seemingly not recognised by anyone who viewed the body.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.