Hannah Bailey (1824-1852) née Crookes

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.

Hannah Bailey (née Crookes) was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, together with her two daughters.


Hannah Crookes was born on 22 May 1824 in Sheffield, the daughter of silversmith Thomas Crookes and his wife Mary, and was baptised on 20 June 1824 at Sheffield Cathedral.

She married tailor Aner Bailey[1], son of Abraham and Martha Bailey, on 24 October 1843 in Sheffield. They had two known children:

The 1851 Census lists the couple living at Upperbridge, Upperthong, with Aner's mother, widow shopkeeper Martha Bailey (aged 73).[2]


Hannah and her daughters died in the early hours of 5 February 1852 when a devastating flood swept through the area.

The bodies of Hannah and one of her daughters — presumably Martha, although not specifically named in newspaper reports — were found by John Moorhouse Woodhead and taken to the Rose and Crown, Thonsbridge, where they were identified by Aner Bailey.[3]

According to a report in the Halifax Guardian (14/Feb/1852), Hannah's body "was much bruised" and she was "quite naked".

In the aftermath of the flood, a number of newspaper articles reported that the body of a newly-born baby had been found, with some linking it to the Bailey family. However, at the inquest, Aner Bailey made no reference to the baby or to his wife having recently been pregnant. The reports appear to have conflated the discovery of an infant at Hinchliffe Mill with the finding of 22-month-old Martha's body near to Hannah:[4]

There was also found on Tuesday, at Hinchcliffe, the body of a child unknown, which, from certain appearances which it exhibited, the medical gentlemen who have examined it, and with whom we have conversed, have declared must have been born in the water.

Ann Bailey was initially reported amongst the names of those still missing and it seems that her body had not been recovered or identified when the inquest began, as it was reported that Aner "believed the eldest of his children had been buried in the New Churchyard at Victoria Bridge", which implies he thought that someone else had already buried Ann's body at the Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel. Aner also "had some difficulty in identifying his wife, owing to the changed features through drowning, and that he only became assured of her identity by a particular mole upon her person".[5]

... Bailey deposed to having lost his wife and two children, the younger of which would have been two years in month of March next, and the other about nine. He believed the eldest of his children had been buried in the New Churchyard at Victoria Bridge. The witness was the only person who escaped in the house, having been cast out, he supposed, by the force of the water. The other child was found at Thongs Bridge, along with the body of the wife.
Leeds Intelligencer (14/Feb/1852).

The body of a young girl was initially identified at the inquest as Ellen Ann Hartley by her surviving sister, Hannah, due to the distinctive "cowlick" hair. However, newspaper reports then stated that an "Abraham Bailey" had subsequently claim the body as his daughter Ann and taken it for burial — this is presumably a misreporting of "Aner Bailey".

If the newspaper descriptions of Ellen Ann Hartley ("light-coloured hair, very much turned up in front") and Ann Bailey ("thick and dark hair about 2½ inches long; a little scorbutic eruption on one eye") are accurate, it raises the distinct possibility that Aner had incorrectly claimed the body of Ellen Ann Hartley as being his missing daughter. In reality, it is much more likely that the body of Ann Bailey was found in Victoria Street and was never identified:[6]

John Shaw, of Upperbridge, Holmfirth, said he found the bodies of Joe Mettrick, and a girl unknown, that were taken to the Waggon and Horses Inn. He did not know either of them himself. The girl was found about nine o’clock on the Thursday morning, in Victoria Street. She was never owned, and was buried at Saint John’s Church, Upperthong.

If, prior to the inquest, Aner believed his daughter Ann to have already been buried at Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel, this could explain why he failed to locate her body if it was indeed the one found in Victoria Street.[7]

Aner buried his wife and daughter Martha at Lane Independent Chapel, Holmfirth, on 9 February, but then buried the child he had identified as Ann separately at St. John the Evangelist, Upperthong, on the same day — this act seems to support the suggestion that Aner knew the girl was not in fact his missing daughter.

Following his wife's death, Aner Bailey settled at New Fold and he died in July 1895, aged 83. He was buried at St. John the Evangelist, Upperthong, on 26 July. The Chronicle noted that Aner had never remarried, and had become a recluse.

The ruins of Aner Bailey's house, which was next to the bridge in Holmfirth known as Upperbridge, "a portion of which had been carried away by the great flood", collapsed in the early hours of Wednesday 1 September 1852 with a "loud and terrific noise resembling a hurricane."[8]

Notes and References

  1. Born 8 April 1812 and baptised 03 June 1812 at Lane Chapel, Upperthong. Died 24 July 1895, leaving effects worth £1,203 18s. 8d. Buried 26 July at St. John, Upperthong.
  2. Aner's mother, Martha Bailey died in 1853, aged 75.
  3. The Chronicle mistakenly reported that the bodies had been identified by "Ann Bailey".
  4. "Holmfirth, Tuesday, Feb. 9" in Leeds Intelligencer (14/Feb/1852).
  5. The Flood Came and Took Them All Away: A Sermon on the Holmfirth Flood (1852) by Rev. Joshua Fawcett.
  6. Huddersfield Examiner (14/Feb/1852).
  7. The alternative scenario — that the Victoria Street body was that of Ellen Ann Hartley — is much less likely since firstly Victoria Street was upriver from the Hartley's house and secondly the Waggon & Horses Inn was situated close to the Hartley's house.
  8. "Falling of a Building" in Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (04/Sep/1852).