Bridget Mate was an Irish-born woman who was reduced to poverty and was found drowned in a mill dam goit at Armitage Bridge Mills in February 1878.
She was born around 1811 in Ireland, and reportedly told others that she was from Dublin. Her 1859 marriage certificate appears to give her father's name as "Brian Kerley".
Little is known of her early life, except that she married a man named Anderson.
The 1861 Census showed the couple living on South Lane, Wooldale. Five other people resided in the same property, which was described at the inquest into her death as being "a tumble-down cottage", two of whom were from Ireland, and it seems likely all were paupers. According to Annie Booth of Holmfirth, "Bridget hawked needles and thread, and John went round with cinders."
John died in 1867, aged 80. She then found employment as a housekeeper to butcher William Hinchliffe who resided in the Shoulder of Mutton Yard off Ribbleden Road, Cartworth. By the mid-1870s, it appears that Hinchliffe had been admitted to Deanhouse Workhouse and Bridget returned to the "tumble-down cottage" on South Lane.
In the weeks before her death, she was seen in the Holmfirth area and also on the road between Lockwood and Berry Brow in the early hours, "worse for liquor and badly dressed". Joe Ratcliffe of Holmfirth saw her near the police station and "she appeared to be in a dilapidated state".
On Saturday 2 February 1878, a woman answering Bridget's description was seen leaving the Rock Inn at Smithy Place, Honley, heading for Huddersfield, where she sometimes stayed at the Model Lodging House on Chapel Hill.
A week later, at around 2:30 in the afternoon, John Sunderland, assistant engineer at the Armitage Bridge Mills, found her body in "the stream connected with the water wheel" at the mill. He alerted the local police and the stream was then drained. Police Constable Mark Balmforth and County Constable Hawksby retrieved some canvas and used it to wrap the body, which was taken to the Big Valley Hotel.
The inquest into her death was held on 11 February by local coroner William Barstow. Jane Berry gave evidence that she helped to lay out the body and it "took four hours to wash [the body] properly." The deceased was wearing stockings on her feet, but was unclothed below the waist. Her body showed some signs of bruising, but no bones were broken.
Despite several people being able to identify her body, none were able to give an accurate age other than estimating her to be "from 60 to 70 years of age."
The jury returned a verdict of "found drowned" but could give no account as to how she came to be in the stream. The most likely explanation seemingly being that she fell into the river at some point above Armitage Bridge, drowned, and was washed into the mill stream.
Bridget was buried at Holy Trinity, South Crosland, on 12 February 1878. Her age was noted in the burial records as "inbetween 60 and 70", presumably based on age estimates given at the inquest.