Daniel Frederick Edward Sykes was a Huddersfield-born solicitor, teacher, newspaper editor and author.
Today, he is best known for his books on the history of the Huddersfield district, although he also wrote several works of fiction.
He was born 2 May 1856, the son of solicitor Edwin Sykes and his wife Eliza. He was baptised on 4 June 1856 at Holy Trinity Church, Highfields.
He appears to have excelled as a student at Huddersfield College before studying law at the University of London. After graduating, he began working for his father in the firm of Edwin Sykes and Son of 33 Market Street, Huddersfield.
He married Mary Louisa Curry in 1878 in the Glanford Brigg district of Lincolnshire. They had two sons:
In December 1879, the Huddersfield Chronicle described Sykes as "a young and rising solicitor, an extreme Radical in politics, and a speaker who believes that moderation is a sign of chicken-heartedness, and political chivalry a survival of mediæval darkness and superstition."
In June 1880, an unusual circumstance occurred at the weekly Huddersfield County Court — there was not single case to be heard. Borrowing a tradition from the criminal courts where such events were known as a "maiden session", Sykes was called upon to present a symbolic pair of children's white gloves to sitting judge, J.W. de Longueville Giffard. As with the presentation of white gloves at a wedding, they represent purity, innocence and clean hands.
In October 1880, following the retirement of Councillor T. Midgley, Sykes was successfully put forward as the Liberal candidate for the Almondbury and Newsome Ward in the upcoming Municipal Elections.
The 1881 Census listed him as a "Solicitor, Bachelor of Laws of London University" living on Arkonley Lane, Almondbury, with his wife and first son, and 24-year-old servant Emily Hanson.
The St. John's Cricket Club hosted a match between the Solicitors and the Accountants. The Chronicle praised Sykes for his "agility in fielding", but the solicitors were soundly beaten by 223 runs to 126.
He was the editor and proprietor of the Northern Pioneer, a radical Huddersfield newspaper which ran from October 1881 to July 1883. Frederick William Coard, who had worked as a sub-editor on the Northern Pioneer was charged with embezzling Sykes' money. It was claimed Coard had forged Sykes' signature on cheques. The judge felt that this case was "a quarrel between two men" that had escalated and threw the case out.
He delivered a lecture on "The Coming Democracy" to the Meltham and Meltham Mills Liberal Association at the Oddfellows' Hall, Meltham, in February 1884. According to the Chronicle, Sykes "denounced the House of Lords" and wanted to "disestablish and disendow the Church of England." They also noted that "some of his remarks were not relished even amongst a Liberal audience." The same month, he announced his intention to be the Radical Liberal candidate for West Staffordshire, opposing the Conservatives Messrs. Staveley Hill and F. Monckton.
By May 1885, he was bankrupt which, together with the failure of the newspaper, appears to have led to Sykes becoming an alcoholic. At the end of the month, a decision was made to wind up Sykes' estate. A warrant was later made out for his apprehension after he failed to attend the bankruptcy hearing in June 1885 — it seems he left the district to escape his creditors.
By 1891, he was working as a "Teacher of Classics & Science" at Gainborough Grammar School and residing at 160 Trinity Street, Gainborough, Lincolnshire, with his wife and sons. However, it seems he soon lost his job and his wife temporarily left him.
In 1893 he was sentenced to two months' hard labour for "neglecting his children" and for spending "all his money on drink". The prosecution was brought by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (N.S.P.C.C.). The Aberdeen Evening Express reported that Sykes' children went without food for three days, and at other times his children had eaten food intended for rabbits and "mutton which was so bad that the dog refused to touch it."
He was briefly an inmate of Saint George's Workhouse, Mint Street, London, twice in April 1896.
In July 1896, he was charged at Lincoln City Police Court with having stolen a coat worth 30 shillings from James Thorpp. Sykes had pawned the coat for 5 shillings. The Court was informed that Sykes was an alcoholic and he was fined £1 5s. or 14 days' imprisonment.
By 1897, he had returned to the Huddersfield area and became involved in the temperance movement. By 1899, he was the Organising Secretary of the Huddersfield and District Federated Temperance Council.
His return to the district saw further attempts by his creditors to claw back money they had lost in connection with the Northern Pioneer. Chartered accountant E.A. Beaumont prepared accounts which claimed Sykes owed a total of £3,631 8s. 7d. to his creditors. In June 1898, Sykes offered to apply to the Incorporated Law Society to once again become a solicitor in Huddersfield and for his income over £150 to be paid to trustees so that he creditors could be repaid.
In October 1900, he appeared before Huddersfield magistrates on a charge of "being drunk and incapable". Police Constable Smith had found Sykes lying on the pavement. In his defence, he claimed that he had been suffering from rheumatism and that he had "got some whisky, which had affected him."
In March 1903, he was fined 16s. 6d. at Huddersfield Borough Court, "for being drunk and incapable."
By 1911, he was residing with his wife at Royd House, Almondbury, where he gave his occupation as "author".
Mary Louisa Sykes died 7 July 1951, aged 93.
Under the current terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the copyright of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works in the United Kingdom expires at the end of the period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. Authors who died prior to 1925 were not eligible to have copyright on their works extended under the Duration of Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations 1995, and their works were protected for a period of 50 years.
As Daniel Frederick Edward Sykes died in 1920, copyright on his works expired at the end of 1970 and was not restored by the 1995 amendment.