James Booth (c.1792-1852)

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.

James Booth was a labourer who was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, together with his wife Nancy.


He is believed to have been born circa 1792, based on his reported age at death.

The 1851 Census records his birthplace as "Buxton" or "Burton" in Yorkshire, which may mean Buxton in Derbyshire or possibly West Burton in North Yorkshire. However, there is a baptism of James, son of clothier Jonas Booth of Totties, Wooldale, on 12 February 1792 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth.

His age varies in the records which can be confidently attributed to him. The 1851 Census appears to give his age as 55, whilst local newspaper articles about the flood consistently gave his age as 60.[1]

The 1841 Census records him aged 45 and residing at Hinchliffe Mill as a labourer, along with George Booth (aged 10) who was presumably a son by his first marriage. This may be the George Booth who was born 20 July 1830, the son of Holmfirth labourer James Booth and his wife Sarah, and baptised 17 October 1830 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth.[2]

He may be the widower farmer James Booth (aged 48) of Burnlee[3], son of clothier Jonas Booth, who married spinster Nancy Taylor, daughter of farmer John Taylor, on 1 January 1845 at All Hallows, Almondbury.[4] This Nancy Taylor was likely the one born 28 December 1807 and baptised on 10 January 1808 at All Hallows, Almondbury.[5]

By the time of the 1851 Census, he was a labourer living with his wife at Fold Gate, Hinchliffe Mill. Also residing in their house was lodger William Healey.


On the night of the flood he was killed together his wife Nancy and their lodger Healey:[6]

The Booths and Healey lived in a house one storey high, which yet stands although completely gutted. They were found reclining in bed, and undressed. The situation of the house is such that it is very doubtful whether they would have escaped, even though they had been aroused.

James' body was recovered and identified by Jonathan Roberts, and taken to the New Inn, Hinchliffe Mill, where the inquest was held.[7]

He was buried with his wife at Lane Independent Chapel, Holmfirth, on Monday 9 February 1852.

William Healey was buried on the same day at St. David, Holmbridge.

Notes and References

  1. Census enumerators, particularly in 1841, would sometimes write down an estimated age to the nearest 5 years if the person's exact age was unknown.
  2. There is a marriage recorded at Almondbury on 2 July 1820 between James Booth and Sarah Howarth. The groom was able to write his own name, whereas in the later marriage mentioned to Nancy Taylor, Booth marked his name with a "X".
  3. Most likely the Burnlee in Holmfirth.
  4. Although James' occupation is slightly inconsistent with him being a labourer in the Census records, the age difference between him and Nancy matches the 1851 Census of the James Booth of Hinchliffe Mill.
  5. Nancy's mother is named as Susannah Kinder.
  6. "The Inquest" in Leeds Intelligencer (14/Feb/1852).
  7. "List of Bodies Found, by Whom Found, and by Whom Identified" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1852).