James Mettrick (1794-1852)

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 Mettrick was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, along with several members of his family.


He was born in 1794 in the Township of Upperthong, the son of Joseph Metrick and his wife Martha (née Chatterton?), and was baptised on 31 August 1794 at All Hallows, Almondbury.

The family surname is recorded variously as Metrick, Metterick and Metternich in the historical records and newspaper articles.[1]

His siblings included:

  • George Mettrick (1801-1874)[2]
  • Joseph Mettrick (1809-1857)[3]

His first marriage was likely in November 1817 to Mary Sykes (born c.1798) who died in June 1837. As a widower, he married spinster Mary Hirst, daughter of mason Eli Hirst, on 9 April 1843 at All Hallows, Almondbury.

The following are his known children from the two marriages:

  1. William Mettrick (c.1821-1852)
  2. Thomas Mettrick (1822-1824)[4]
  3. Martha Mettrick (c.1826-1827)[5]
  4. Betty Mettrick (c.1827-1852)[6]married Enos Earnshaw (son of Joshua Earnshaw) and they had one son, Abel, before Enos went to America
  5. James Mettrick (1828-1902) — survived the flood after being washed into the Bottom's Mill dam
  6. Samuel Mettrick (1830-1852)[7]
  7. Firth Mettrick (1834-1887)[8]
  8. Wilson Mettrick (1836-1902)[9]
  9. Alfred Mettrick (1843-1852)[10]
  10. Mary Ann Mettrick (1846-1880?)[11]
  11. Jane Mettrick (1849-1852)[12]
  12. Joseph Mettrick (1850-1852)

There may also have been a daughter named Sarah (c.1826-?) who married William Exley prior to 1841 Census, however no other details were found for her during research.

The 1841 Census records him as a 45-year-old woollen clothier residing on Water Street, Hinchliffe Mill, Holmfirth, next door to Joshua Earnshaw. Also living with him are six of his children, as well as Sarah and William Exley.

By the time of the 1851 Census, he had married Mary, and they had several children together. In total, 14 people were living in the property, 9 of whom perished in the flood the following year. William Exley was named as James' son-in-law.


James Mettrick, and several members of his immediate family, died when a torrent of water flooded the Holme valley in the early hours of 5 February 1852. His son, also named James, gave the following statement to the Huddersfield Chronicle:[13]

There were twelve of us in the house on Wednesday night when the flood broke in upon us. My father, James Metterick, was a sizing boiler, and that night he had been out collecting money, and it was late when he came home. Some time about midnight he awoke us and told us that the flood was coming. I jumped up, and after looking out of the window, pulled a pair of trousers on, and came down stairs. I met my mother at the bottom of the steps, and we thought to get a child which was sleeping in the kitchen, but we could not, and we called of my father to comp upstairs. The water was rushing in at this time, and before my father could come to us he was smothered. We had intended to escape by the door, but a “roll” of water came down and forced us back, and my mother and I ran up into the chamber, and looked out of the window. At this time the water was the height of the wall in the street, and immediately afterwards the house fell, carrying eight of us who were in the room, and one in another chamber asleep, into the river. My brother Wilson Metterick had made his escape before the flood came down. I do not remember being struck with anything, and when I recovered myself I was in Harpin’s dam, amongst a lot of wood.

His naked and badly decomposed body was eventually found in the River Aire near Castleford on Friday 2 July 1852, five months after the flood. After his son James identified the remains, they were returned to Holmfirth where James Mettrick was laid to rest on 5 July with the other members of his family who died in the flood.[14] Mettrick was a member of the Holmfirth Old Sick Club and a large number of the society's members turned out for the funeral.[15]

A number of newspapers reported that Metterick had £20 or £30 on his person at the time of the flood and speculated that the corpse had been robbed of the money and clothes.[16]

Notes and References

  1. James was illiterate, so it is uncertain which spelling he would have used. For the purposes of this web site, "Mettrick" has been adopted as the preferred spelling for James and his descendants.
  2. By 1851, George had moved to Derbyshire and then settled in Stalybridge.
  3. Born 19 September 1809 and baptised 20 October 1809 at the Holmfirth Wesleyan Chapel. Was in the Huddersfield Infirmary at the time of the 1841 Census. Died January 1857 and buried 8 January at St. John the Evangelist, Upperthong.
  4. Born 1 August 1822 and baptised 29 September 1822 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth, Holmfirth. Buried 15 Feb 1824 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth.
  5. Baptised 26 November 1826 and buried 19 April 1827 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth.
  6. Baptised 26 November 1826 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth, Holmfirth.
  7. Born 19 May 1830 and baptised 4 July 1830 in Holmfirth.
  8. Born 11 October 1834 and baptised 2 November 1834 at Kirkburton. Was in Wakefield Prison in the 1881 Census. Died 1887.
  9. Born 17 August 1836 and baptised 02 October 1836 at Kirkburton. Died 1902.
  10. Born 30 November 1843 and baptised 18 February 1844 at Kirkburton.
  11. Following the death of her parents and siblings, she moved in with her maternal grandmother, Nancy Hirst.
  12. Baptised 2 September 1849 in Holmfirth.
  13. "Metterick's Statement" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1852).
  14. "Discovery of the Body of James Metterick" in Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (10/Jul/1852).
  15. "Funeral of James Metterick" in Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Jul/1852).
  16. "The Flood at Holmfirth" and Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser (24/Jul/1852), which notes that the body of Joseph Marsden (aged 19) was the only one now missing.