John Ashall (c.1821-1852)

John Ashall who perished in the Holmfirth Flood of 1852. It was later claimed that his real name was John Spencer.


The 1851 Census lists currier and leather seller John Ashall (aged 29) residing at Hollowgate, Holmfirth, with his wife Margaret (25) and son, Alfred (11 months). According to the Census return, both John and Margaret were born in Kirby Longsdale, Westmorland.

Newspaper reports stated that he worked for Mr. Crawshaw of Huddersfield.

The Ashall's neighbours included grocer and corn dealer John Kaye, whose nephews Richard and Charles Thorpe were residing with him.


All three members of the Ashall family killed when a devastating flood passed through Holmfirth in the early hours of 5 February 1852. According to an eyewitness, the family "were observed standing at the windows [...] and crying out for help" shortly before their house collapsed and was "carried away by the torrent."

John Ashall's body was found by Charles Roebuck and Margaret's by John Earnshaw. Both were taken to the Crown Hotel, where they were identified by James Cockrane.

John and Margaret were buried at St. John the Evangelist, Upperthong, on Sunday 8 February.

Alfred Ashall's body was found at Stanley Ferry, near Wakefield, some thirty miles downstream. The body was identified by Police Constable Clegg of Holmfirth.[1] Alfred was buried at Upperthong on 17 February.

Towards the end of March 1852, a woman arrived into Holmfirth and claimed to be John Ashall's real wife. Her story, which was apparently confirmed as true, was that his real name was John Spencer and that he had eloped with her cousin in 1845, leaving her behind in Bacup, Lancashire, with two children. The veracity of the story remains uncertain, as only one newspaper article containing the story has been found, however it does help explain the lack of other genealogical records for the Ashalls.[2]

Notes and References

  1. "Inquest on the Body Found Near Wakefield" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/Feb/1852).
  2. "The Flood at Holmfirth" in Morning Post (29/Mar/1852).

John Ashall (c.1821-1852)


Drowned | People | Victims of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852
This page was last modified on 23 January 2016 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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