Grace Hirst Shackleton (1847-1852)

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.

Grace Hirst Shackleton was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852.


She was born on 20 June 1847, the daughter of joiner Richard Shackleton and his wife Tamar (née Green), and was baptised on 11 July 1847 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth. She was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Grace Hirst.

By 1851, the family were living at Mill Hill in Holmfirth.


With the exception of her eldest sister (who resided with Tamar's parents), the Shackleton family was killed in the early hours of 5 February 1852 when the Bilberry Reservoir burst its embankment.

The Huddersfield Chronicle reported on the destruction at Holmfirth Mill (Mill Hill):[1]

Immediately adjoining four cottages are swept down, and twelve lives lost. In the first house, occupied by Mr. Firth Thewlis, the family are all saved, as also the family in the second house, tenanted by Mr. John Tate ; but in the third house, occupied by Mr. Sidney Hartley, his wife, and family of nine persons, the whole of the inmates are lost, excepting four sons, who escaped on a portion of the roof left standing. The fourth house, occupied by Mr. Richard Shackleton, has suffered serious damage, and Mr. Shackleton, his wife, and three children are all drowned.

The bodies of her mother and two siblings were recovered and buried on 9 February at St. John's Church, Upperthong. However, Grace Hirst remained missing and the following description was issued:

Grace Hirst Shackleton, 4½, Holmfirth ; small child of her age, dark brown hair, and a slight scar from a burn on the side of her neck.

Her body was found at around 3pm on Friday 20 February. According to reports, she was found in an upright position and buried up to her armpits in mud at Lower Mytholm Bridge dam.[2] She was interred the following day at Upperthong.

Notes and References

  1. "Awful Catastrophe and Fearful Loss of Life at Holmfirth" in Huddersfield Chronicle (07/Feb/1852).
  2. "Recovery of the Bodies of Mr. Jonathan Sandford and Grace Shackleton" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Feb/1852).