24 June 2021 at 9:41 am #7282
I’ve been researching the 1852 Flood on and off for over 5 years and, despite my best efforts, there are still a number of things that remain a mystery — it’d be great to be able to solve them! I’ll create a numbered list that I’ll keep adding to…
1) The available evidence points to Samuel Greenwood‘s birth surname being “Midgley”. His marriage and burial records use “Midgley” whilst the census returns and newspaper reports of the flood use “Greenwood”.
- Why did he adopt the surname Greenwood? There are criminal convictions for “Sam(uel) Midgley”s — can we link them to him?
- Was he actually born at Heptonstall (1851 Census) and when/where was he baptised? The village of Midgley isn’t too far away from Heptonstall so it’s feasible he came from there.
2) Was the body of Joseph Marsden (aged 18) ever found? It was still regarded as missing in the summer of 1852. Also, it’s not 100% clear yet who the mother of Joseph and Joshua was, although it seems likely it was Eliza Marsden.
- I’m not convinced by this, but one vague possibility is that Joseph and his younger brother Joshua (aged 16) were similar enough to be mistaken for each other, the body of Joseph was misidentified as Joshua, and Joshua’s body was the one found “in the shop of Mr. Wood, grocer and draper, Town Gate” and subsequently buried as “unknown boy” at St. John’s, Upperthong. The evidence against that is that a) the body of Joshua was identified by his cousin Frederic, b) the age of the unknown boy was estimated as 11, and c) the Marsden brothers were apparently well known in the area (Joseph was a Sunday School teacher at Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel). I guess the flip side is that we need to account for who the “unknown boy” actually was since he can’t be matched to any of the known victims.
3) Where was Ellen Wood buried? It seems her mother didn’t take the body back to Shepley for burial. Did Jonathan Sandford’s father pay for Ellen to be buried with the Sandfords at Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel?6 February 2022 at 6:01 pm #7736
4) Was the body of Emor Charlesworth ever recovered/identified?
- Emor’s father (John) was still recovering from the flood on the first day of the inquest (Fri 6 Feb) and he wasn’t there to identify any of the bodies. The newspaper reports are contradictory, but it looks like there were two male bodies that remained undefined in Honley inns that were then identified after the inquest jury had left (as we know that there were three “unknown”s who were buried and they didn’t include the two Honley bodies). The ages of the two match up with Charleworth children (John & Emor), but there’s no mention of Emor being buried in newspaper reports nor any burial records. Emor’s name also seems to drop off the list of the still missing. In newspaper coverage on 14 Feb, John said that Emor “is the name of one child not yet found” and a description was issued. Was Emor’s body ever found (if so, seemingly not reported in the press and where is the burial record?) or was he forgotten about?
- TO DO: Small project to collate the newspaper coverage of which inns bodies were taken to, which were definitely identified on 7 Feb, and which appear to have been identified afterwards. The coverage of 7 Feb suggests that the bodies of 5 or 6 children remained unidentified but only 3 were buried as “unknown”s.
5) The flood babies
- Again, newspaper reports are contradictory, but there are reports of a new-born baby being found dead at Hinchliffe Mill and also reports of a new-born baby being found with (or near to) Hannah Bailey at Thongsbridge. Some reports suggest the latter was Hannah’s baby, although her husband makes no mention of her being pregnant or having recently given birth. It was also suggested that the Hinchliffe Mill baby had “been purposely placed there since the accident at the reservoir, by some unnatural mother to conceal her shame”. There are no mention of either baby at the inquest, nor can I find any burial records (caveat: Hinchliffe Mill Wesleyan burial records are lost).
- The Leeds Intelligencer (14 Feb 1852): “There was also found on Tuesday [i.e. 10 Feb], at Hinchcliffe, the body of a child unknown, which, from certain appearances which it exhibited, the medical gentlemen who have examined it, and with whom we have conversed, have declared must have been born in the water.”
- Huddersfield Chronicle (14 Feb 1852): “We may mention here, as rumours have obtained currency, as to the unfortunate sufferer being drowned whilst in the pains of labour, that if this is [Hannah Bailey’s] child, it bears evidence of not only having been born, but dressed, and is to all appearance of the age stated [i.e. a few days old].” The body was at the Rose & Crown, Thongsbridge.
- One oddity is that lack of coverage of the Hinchliffe Mill baby in the Huddersfield newspapers — the majority of references are in non-Huddersfield papers, so may not be accurate.
- My working theory is that the Hinchliffe Mill baby was indeed placed there after the flood and that the reports of a baby became conflated with the finding of Hannah’s youngest daughter Martha. The testimony at the inquest [6 Feb] seems to make it clear that the infant was taken to the R&C and that Aner Bailey identified the body as being his youngest daughter.
- Huddersfield Examiner (14 Feb 1852): “John Moorhose Woodhead, joiner, of Holmfirth, said, whilst he and some other parties were going to look at a number of houses at Thongsbridge on Thursday morning, about half-fast two o’clock, they discovered the bodies of Hannah Bailey and an infant supposed to be hers. They found the body of Hannah Bailey a little above Thongsbridge, about twenty yards from the bridge on the southeast side in Wooldale; the child [I doubt they would use the world “child” for a new-born baby] was about ten yards above; she had no covering on, but the child had part of a night-dress fastened round its neck. Both the bodies were taken to the Rose and Crown Inn, Thongsbridge. Enor Bailey said he had lost his wife and two children; the youngest was about two years old, and the eldest was aged four years; he had seen their bodies at the Rose and Crown. He (Bailey) was stunned by being thrown on one side by the water. The wife and he were standing on the floor, and the children were playing on the bed, when the flood came, and swept them all away. He was the only one that was saved out of the four.”
- Can we unravel the curious story of the Horbury Flood Foundling? From the Examiner (24 Mar 1914):
“Ariel,” in his weekly chat, made an interesting allusion the other week to the octogenarian novelist, the Rev. S. Baring-Gould. It is recorded that in the fifties and sixties he was curate-in-charge of Horbury Bridge. At the Holmfirth flood there was a tremendous flow of water at Horbury Bridge, and the “flotsam and jetsam” included a baby girl in the water. The foundling was rescued and adopted by a Horbury family. The village parson published the “Penny Comequicks,” in which a foundling baby in a flood was a conspicuous character. The real flood baby settled in Horbury for life, and it is only a year or two since she died, the romance of her babyhood having been attached to her throughout her life.
…who was she? The story feels intertwined with Baring-Gould’s books.
6) What was William Exley‘s relationship to the Mettrick family?
2 November 2022 at 4:27 pm #8530
- the 1841 Census lists William Exley and also Sarah Exley (aged 15) residing in James Mettrick’s house — was Jane William’s sister (if so, where is her baptismal record?) or possibly even his young wife (if so, was she James Mettrick’s daughter and, if so, where is their marriage record?)
- the 1851 Census lists William Exley as being James Mettrick’s son-in-law — this would tie with Sarah Exley being James’ daughter (if so, where was she in 1851?) or perhaps William was in a relationship with James’ married daughter Betty (whose husband Enos had left for American in 1846)
I’ve not been able to locate exact dates of birth for several of the victims, so copies of birth certificates will need to be ordered (all registered at Huddersfield):
- John Charlesworth — Q1 1848 v22 p296
- Emor Charlesworth — Q4 1845 v22 p205
- Ruth Charlesworth — Q1 1851 v22 p366
- Joseph Mettrick — Q3 1850 v22 p344 (needed to confirm parents as mother was “Brown”)
- Jane Mettrick — Q3 1849 v22 p318 (needed to confirm parents as mother was “Brown”)
- Abel Earnshaw — Q3 1844 v22 p306
- Alfred Ashall — Q2 1850 v22 p357 (mother was “Haworth”)
- George Hartley — Q1 1852 v09A p249
- Elizabeth Healey — Q4 1843 v22 p312
- Turns out the above Joseph & Jane Mettrick were separate/unrelated to the Joseph & Jane who died in the flood. Instead, they were the children of Thomas & Mary Ann Mettrick and it’s just an odd/curious coincidence that the Joseph & Jane who died in the flood were born around the same time and were given the same names.
- Alfred Ashall’s birth certificate confirms mother’s maiden name was Haworth… but can we trust the details given on the birth certificate if the story that Alfred’s father and mother were unmarried and had eloped are true?
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Dave Pattern.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.