Elizabeth Hartley (1848-1852)

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 Hartley was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, along with her parents and four of her siblings.


She was born on 17 November 1848, the daughter of mill engineer Sidney Hartley and his wife Mary Ann (née Lodge), and was baptised 3 December 1848 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth.

The 1851 Census listed the family residing at Mill Hill, Holmfirth, along with an apprentice woollen carder, 16-year-old Henry Dearnley of Wooldale.

In the early hours of 5 February 1852, the Bilberry Reservoir embankment failed, unleashing a torrent of water down the Holme Valley. With the flood waters rising in their property, the Hartley family attempted to escape by breaking through the roof. David Hartley recounted what happened next:[1]

When we were in bed early in the morning we heard a noise as if the slates were falling off the house. I got up and cleared away a number of slates so that I was able to get out on to the thack. I then pulled up my sister Ann beside me ; after that I managed to get John, my brother, up and also the apprentice boy. I tried long and hard to pull brother James up but had to give up the attempt or we would both have been dragged down together. While we were standing on the roof we saw many persons with their heads a little above the water struggling and crying for help. We could see into the chamber where my mother was lying but it was impossible to reach her, the water had risen so high. We saw her look towards us and heard her say farewell and then she was swept away.

George Brook, a constable of Huddersfield, found the body of Elizabeth early on the afternoon of Thursday 6 February "in the mill bottom belonging to Wimpenny and Woodhead, at Thongsbridge" (i.e. Albion Mill) where "it had been washed under the floor of the mill." The body was taken to the nearby Royal Oak Inn where it was formally identified by David Hartley at the inquest.

With the exception of Ellen Ann Hartley, Elizabeth and the other members her family who died in the flood were buried on Sunday 8 February at Christ Church, New Mill.

Her surviving siblings were:

Notes and References

  1. On the Trail of the Holmfirth Flood 1852 (1996) by Gordon and Enid Minter, page 34.