Ann Sykes (1852-1933) née Earnshaw

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 Earnshaw was one of the 1852 Flood Orphans.


She was born during the third quarter of 1852, the daughter of the late John Earnshaw and his wife Ann (née Cartwright).

Her father had died in March 1852 after contracting typhoid fever whilst assisting with the salvage operation after the Holmfirth Flood of 1852. Her maternal grandmother Mary, who "had a very narrow escape from drowning" when the flood waters entered her house, was left weakened by the experience and also succumbed to the fever that killed John.

The United Committee of Huddersfield and Holmfirth — "appointed for the collection and management of the funds for the relief of the sufferers by the bursting of the Bilberry Reservoir" — had appointed a subcommittee to investigate the circumstances of those orphaned by the flood. Due the the family's circumstances, the committee designated the unborn Ann as one of the eleven orphans and she was awarded 4 shillings per week until she reached the age of 16.

In 1855, her mother married widower coal agent Edward Goldthorp of Shepley on 15 February 1855 at All Hallows, Kirkburton.

Ann married Tom Sykes on 15 June 1876 at St. John, Upperthong. On the same day, her sister Mary married Tom Battye Hinchliffe.

At the time they married, Tom was the organist of the Holmfirth Parish Church. He was appointed organist "by the Kirk Session of Penpont" in Scotland in 1879:[1]

Mr. Tom Sykes, of Netherthong, and organist at Holmfirth Parish Church, having lately been appointed organist by the Kirk Session of Penpont, in Scotland, [...] and who will shortly be leaving the neighbourhood to enter upon the duties of his new sphere, a few of his friends and brother musicians met him at the house of Mr. Joe Hoyle, the Queen's Arms Inn, Netherthong, last Friday, to congratulate him on his appoint, and to wish him success in leaving.

The couple had two known children:

  • John Edward Sykes (c.1877-?) — born Netherthong[2]
  • James Archibald Sykes (1884-1959) — born 22 October 1884 at Penpont, Dumfriesshire[3]

Tom Sykes of 122 Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth, died in aged 79 and was buried on 3 May 1933 at St. John, Upperthong.

Ann Sykes died just over a month later in June 1933 and was buried on 12 June at St. John, Upperthong. She was probably the last surviving orphan of the 1852 Flood.

Notes and References

  1. "Holmfirth: Musical" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Mar/1879).
  2. Listed in the 1921 Census at Rose Cottage, Upperthong Lane, Holmfirth, and working as a cotton agent.
  3. James was the landlord of the Rose and Crown in Almondbury at the time of the 1921 Census.