Ann Bailey (1847-1852)

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.

Ann Bailey was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, together with her mother and younger sister.


She was born on born 30 October 1847, the daughter of tailor Aner Bailey and his wife Hannah (née Crookes), and was baptised on 2 May 1851 jointly with her younger sister Martha at Lane Independent Chapel, Upperthong.

The 1851 Census lists the residing at Upperbridge, Upperthong, with Aner's mother, widow shopkeeper Martha Bailey (aged 73).[1]


Ann died in the early hours of 5 February 1852 when a devastating flood swept through the area. All of the occupants of the house were swept downriver by the flood, with only Aner Bailey surviving:[2]

At Upperbridge, a house occupied by Aner Bailey was swept away, and, in spite of all his efforts to save them, he saw his wife and two children carried away by the flood, and the furniture was served the same fate. Bailey himself 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.

The bodies of Hannah Bailey and Martha were found by John Moorhouse Woodhead and taken to the Rose and Crown, Thonsbridge, where they were identified by Aner.[3]

With her body unfound, the following description of Ann was issued:[4]

Ann Bailey, 4, Upperbridge ; 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.

The report of the inquest carried in the Leeds Intelligencer (14/Feb/1852) states that Aner mistakenly believed that Ann had already been buried in the grounds of the Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel:[5]

Hanmer [sic] Bailey deposed to having lost his wife and two children, younger of which would have been two years of age in the month of March next, and the other about nine. He believed the eldest of his children had been buried in the New Churchyard at Victoria Bridge. The witness was the only person who escaped in the home, having been cast out, he supposed, by the force of the water. His other child was found at Thongs Bridge, along with the body of his wife.

Although not explicitly stated in the newspaper articles, almost certainly the Coroner would have then informed Aner that none of the bodies had been released for burial prior to the inquest.

Since Hannah and Martha had been found downriver at Thongsbridge, it appears that Aner then set off in haste down the Holme Valley in an attempt to locate Ann's body. At the further inn — the Golden Fleece on Woodhead Road, near Berry Brow — he claimed a body of a young girl as being that of his missing daughter and removed it for burial. However, the body had already been formally identified at the inquest as being that of Ellen Ann Hartley by a surviving sister.[6]

On the balance of available evidence, it is much more likely that the body of Ann Bailey had in fact been found in Victoria Street and was never formally identified:[7]

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.

Aner buried his wife and daughter Martha at Lane Independent Chapel, Holmfirth, on 9 February, but then buried the child he had claimed as Ann separately at St. John the Evangelist, Upperthong, on the same day. His decision not to bury the claimed body with Hannah and Martha at the family's place of worship suggests that Aner knew it was not the body of Ann.

It therefore seems likely that the body of Ann Bailey was the one taken to the Waggon and Horses Inn, Holmfirth, where it remain unidentified. Together with the body of an unidentified boy[8], it was initially taken to St. David's, Holmbridge, for burial. However, the burial grounds there remained partly flooded and both were taken to St. John's, Upperthong, for burial on 9 February. The bodies of both children were placed in plot B.1.7.

Holmfirth Flood - unknown burials at St. John Upperthong.png

Notes and References

  1. Aner's mother, Martha Bailey, died on 10 June 1853, aged 75.
  2. The Holmfirth Flood (1910).
  3. The Chronicle mistakenly reported that the bodies had been identified by "Ann Bailey".
  4. "Bodies Missing up to Thursday" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1852).
  5. "The Inquest" in Leeds Intelligencer (14/Feb/1852).
  6. The newspaper description of Ellen Ann Hartley is notably different to that of Ann Bailey and it seems highly unlikely that the two girls could have been mistaken for each other. According to the newspaper reports, the Coroner had taken great care over the identification of the body by the surviving sister (Hannah aged 10) and her evidence was delivered in a compelling manner.
  7. Huddersfield Examiner (14/Feb/1852).
  8. Found by Inspector Joseph Brier "in the shop of Mr. Wood, grocer and draper, Town Gate".