Firth Mettrick (1834-1887)

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.


Firth Mettrick was born on 11 October 1834, the son of clothier James Mettrick of Park Head (Upperthong) and his first wife Mary, and was baptised on 2 November 1834.

His father, step-mother (Mary), three of his siblings (William, Betty and Samuel), and three half-siblings (Alfred, Jane and Joseph) all perished in the Holmfirth Flood of 1852. Although he was residing with his father at the time of the 1851 Census, it is uncertain if he was in the house on the night of the flood.

Given his later mental decline, it may have been Firth who broke down at the burial service on Sunday 8 February at Hinchliffe Mill Wesleyan Methodist Chapel:[1]

A young man named Mettrick began to talk very incoherently in the chapel during the burial ceremony and it was necessary to remove him from the place; his reason had been affected by the awful events he had witnessed and the bereavements he had sustained.

By 1861, he was working as an agricultural labourer and residing at the house of "cotton loom manager" Henry Mettrick of Waterside Front Street, Hadfield, Derbyshire. This appears to have been his paternal first cousin.[2]

At the time of the 1871 Census, he was a labourer boarding at a house in Padfield, Glossop.

Firth married widow Hannah Harrison, daughter of miner Enos, in 1871 at Whitfield, Derbyshire. At that time, he was a labourer residing at Hadfield, Glossop.

Following his wife's death two years later, Firth's mental and physical health appears to have deteriorated and he spent much of the rest of his life in Crosland Moor Workhouse, or in prison for being an uncooperative inmate.

In October 1879 he was charged with being a "disorderly pauper creating a disturbance" and spent nearly two weeks in Wakefield Goal. In 1880 he was found guilty of assaulting workhouse visitor Ishmael Redfern, as well as two other inmates (Charles Wood and John Garside) and was described as being "a man of very excitable disposition."[3] In 1881 and 1882, he was a "disorderly pauper refusing to work" and it was noted "he had been suffering from fits".[4][5] At the time of the 1881 Census, he was in Wakefield Goal. In 1884, the charge was "refusing to go into proper [workhouse] ward" and he spent Christmas in Wakefield Gaol.

Firth Mettrick died in 1887 aged 54 and was buried on 2 August (probably at Hinchliffe Mill Wesleyan Methodist Chapel).

Prison Records

The following records are all for Wakefield Gaol.

Charge Date Sentence Length or Release Date
"Disorderly pauper. Disorderly conduct." 19/Jun/1879 02/Jul/1879
"Disorderly pauper. Creating disturbance." 08/Oct/1879 21/Oct/1879
"Disorderly pauper. Refusing to work." 01/Mar/1881 21/Mar/1881
"Disorderly pauper. Creating a disturbance in the Workhouse." 01/Mar/1881 11/Apr/1881
"Disorderly pauper. Creating a disturbance." 30/Apr/1881 28/May/1881
"Disorderly pauper refusing to work." 21/Apr/1882 20/May/1882
"Disorderly pauper. Refusing to go into pauper ward." 11/Dec/1883 31/Dec/1883
"Assaulting Workhouse master." 11/Dec/1883 31/Jan/1884
"Disorderly behaviour in a workhouse." 22/Dec/1884 2 cal. months

Notes and References

  1. Quote from On the Trail of the Holmfirth Flood 1852 (1996) by Gordon and Enid Minter.
  2. Henry's father George was the brother of Firth's father James.
  3. "Huddersfield Borough Police Court: A Disorderly Pauper" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Oct/1880).
  4. "Borough Police Court: Disorderly Paupers" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Dec/1881).
  5. "Huddersfield Borough Police Court: Refractory Paupers" in Huddersfield Chronicle (08/Apr/1882).