Amelia Fearns (1828-1852) née Thorpe

This page is part of the Holmfirth Flood Project which aims to make content available to researchers in advance of the 175th anniversary of the 1852 Flood which will be commemorated in 2027.

Amelia Fearns was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, together with her two children.


Ameila Thorpe was born on on 21 August 1828 in the Township of Cartworth, the daughter of carpenter Daniel Thorpe and his wife Lydia (née Kaye). In newspaper reports of the 1852 Flood, her name was also given as "Emily" and "Milly".

It seems likely that she appears in the 1841 Census as the 15-year-old servant of farmer Joseph Bottomly of Dobroyd, Shepley.

Her illegitimate son Charles was born in April 1849.[1]

At the time of the 1851 Census, she was living with her maternal uncle, "grocer [&] corn dealer's shopman" John Kaye on Hollowgate. Her occupation was given as "house servant".

A month after the census was taken, Amelia married clothier and hand loom weaver Matthew Fearns of Under Bank, son of clothier James Fearns and his wife Sally, on 21 April 1851 at All Hallows, Kirkburton. At the time of the marriage, she was already several months pregnant and Lydia Ann was born in July 1851.


On the night of the flood, their house reportedly collapsed in the torrent and all of the occupants were washed out into the river. According to The Flood Came and Took Them All Away (1852):

[John Kaye] was driven by the force of the current into Victoria Square, on the opposite side, and a little lower down the street. He was espied floating on the water by the landlord of the Rose and Crown Inn, who at once stretched out a pole to the drowning man, and rescued him from almost certain death.

Matthew Fearns was rescued by Joseph Barraclough of South Lane, Holmfirth, who gave the following testimony at the inquest in which he mentions seeing the body of Amelia:[2]

At a quarter before one, I was awoke by my wife : she asked me what that rush was? I said it was the wind, but I was not quite awake. I put my clothes on, and made the alarm that the water was up to my door-stone : that was at one o’clock. I then went out, turned my attention to the churchyard, and saw a man just drowning — the water was about four feet deep ; Matthew Fearns was his name. I dragged him out, and took him into my house, and left him there, and then went to see after my daughter living at Nathan Littlewood’s, Ribbledon Road, and on my way back I tumbled over the wife of the above Matthew Fearns, dead on the road. The thought struck me, I must not stay with the dead, but try to save the living, so I left her just where she was.

Amelia's body was reported recovered by Joseph Clegg and taken to the Shoulder of Mutton where it was identified George Shore.

She was buried on 8 February at St. John's, Upperthong, together with her two children. The Ancient Order of Druids (Crown Hotel) paid £4 towards the burial costs.[3]

Notes and References

  1. The baptismal register of Holy Trinity, Holmfirth, reads "Charles illegitimate son of Amelia Thorp" and no father is named.
  2. "Mr. Joseph Barroclough's Statement" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1852).
  3. "Relief Afforded for the Interment the Dead by Benefit Clubs" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1852).