John Earnshaw (c.1826-1852)

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.


John Earnshaw (not to be confused with the Holmfirth police constable of the same name) was the son of Jonathan Earnshaw and his wife Mary, and was baptised on 29 October 1826 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth.

By 1841, the family was living at Hill House, Cartworth, and 15-year-old John was working as a wool piecer.

He married Ann Cartwright, the daughter of John and Mary Cartwright, on 25 December 1849 at All Hallows, Kirkburton. Their daughter Mary, named after Ann's mother, was born in August 1850.

At the time of the 1851 Census, the Earnshaws were living at Burnlee and John's occupation was recorded as "woollen weaver".

By early 1852, Ann was pregnant with their second child.

Following the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, it seems that Ann's mother Mary probably moved in with them. Mary's house had been flooded and the "fright had such an effect upon her that she never was well afterwards". Perhaps out of work after the flood, John was soon "employed in the recovery of salvage for his master, Charles Bashforth" and was "working in the ruins of Mytholmbridge" when he contracted typhus fever which led to his death — probably on 18 March 1852.[1] Mary Cartwright too died after contracting the fever.[2][3]

Since John's death was attributed to the flood, his daughter Mary was officially declared a "flood orphan". When Ann subsequently gave birth to her second daughter, she too was declared a flood orphan.

Notes and References

  1. It is believed that John's death is referenced in "Holmfirth: Typhus Fever" in Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (20/Mar/1852) — "the head of another family died of the malady on Thursday last". If so, he died on 18 March.
  2. Huddersfield Chronicle (22/May/1852).
  3. Burial records for John Earnshaw and Mary Cartwright were not found during research, which suggests they may have been buried at Lane Independent Chapel.