Eliza Marsden (1807-1852)

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.

Elizabeth "Eliza" Marsden was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852.


She was born on 14 November 1807, the daughter of manufacturer Joseph and Elizabeth Marsden of Cartworth, and was baptised Elizabeth Marsden on 30 November 1807 at the Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel. It is believed this was the Joseph Marsden recorded by local historian Alan Brooke as being linked to Choppards Mill, Cartworth, in 1815.[1]

Her father died in May 1824, having previously been declared bankrupt.

By 1841, she was living in at Hinchliffe Mill with her spinster sisters Mary and Nancy, along with Joshua Marsden and Joseph Marsden. Although no baptismal records were located for the two brothers, it is believed that they were the children (possibly illegitimate) of Eliza.[2]

At the time of the 1851 Census, the Marsdens were living on Water Street, Hinchliffe Mill, where the three spinster sisters worked as dressmakers.

Mary died on 4 August 1851 aged 52.[3]


The occupants of the Marsden household were killed when a flood devastated the properties on Water Street in the early hours of 5 February 1852 after the embankment of the Bilberry Reservoir failed.

Eliza’s body was found by Thomas Haigh taken to the Rose and Crown Inn at Holmfirth, where it was identified by her cousin Fredrick Marsden.

The inquest into the flood was formally held over Eliza's body and Haigh was reported to have given the following testimony:[4]

I am a tailor, and live at Upper-bridge, Holmfirth. Eliza Marsden was no relation of mine. She lived in Water-street, Hinchliffe-mill. There were herself, her sister, and two children. Her house was entirely swept away with the flood, and she was lost. I was stood on the Higgin-bridge, ordering the men to take the wreck of the bridge, between three and four in the afternoon of the 5th. After they had removed some of the wreck I saw an arm, and I told them to be cautious. After they had removed a portion of the rubbish the body floated away, together with a cart wheel. On being recovered, I recognised the body to be that of Eliza Marsden. We put a plank to the wreck, and she was taken to the Rose and Crown.

The verdict of the jury at the inquest was recorded as “We find that Eliza Marsden came to her death by drowning, caused by the bursting of the Bilberry Reservoir.”

She was buried on Monday 9 February at Hinchliffe Mill Wesleyan Methodist Chapel together with her sister Nancy. Joshua had been buried on the previous day.

The body of Joseph was still reported missing in July 1852 and was possibly never found.

Notes and References

  1. Alan Brooke: A Catalogue of the Textile Mills and Factories of the Huddersfield Area C.1790-1914.
  2. In The Flood Came and Took Them All Away: A Sermon on the Holmfirth Flood (1852) by Rev. Joshua Fawcett, the author states that Joseph (and presumably also Joshua) was the son of Eliza.
  3. No burial record for Mary was found during research.
  4. "The Holmfirth Catastrophe: Official Enquiry" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Feb/1852).