Joseph Brook (1819-?)

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.


Joseph Brook was born on 22 July 1819 in Netherthong, the son of cloth dresser George Brook and his wife Hannah, and was baptised by Abel Dearnaly on 19 August 1819 at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on St. Mary’s Road, Netherthong.

He married Lydia Booth, daughter of clothier Thomas Booth and his wife Hannah, on 30 August 1841 at All Hallows, Almondbury. They had one known daughter:

The 1851 Census listed Joseph and Lydia as hand loom weavers, residing on Water Street, Hinchliffe Mill.

Holmfirth Flood of 1852

According to contemporary newspaper reports, Joseph and Lydia slept downstairs whilst Hannah slept upstairs. On the night of the flood, Hannah had been woken by the sound of water and ran downstairs to wake her parents. Joseph had jumped from the bed and, realising the danger, called for Hannah and Lydia to follow him upstairs. Within seconds water was flooding into the house and Joseph realised they had not followed him — Hannah had instead run to her mother, who was still in bed, and the pair drowned.

The following account was given in The Flood Came and Took Them All Away: A Sermon on the Holmfirth Flood (1852) by Rev. Joshua Fawcett:

The cottage occupied by Joseph Brook, wife, and child, was perfectly inundated. The wife and child were lost, but Brook was saved. Brook gives a most affecting account of the loss he has sustained, and of his own narrow escape. He says that he and his wife slept “in the house,” and his little daughter up-stairs. The child awoke about half-past one o’clock and came down stairs, exclaiming, “Father, father, I am frightened by the wind.” The father at once leaped out of bed, hearing a strange, unearthly sort of noise. He ran to the window, and the next moment exclaimed, “It’s not the wind, its water, and the water is on the door-stones ; run up-stairs.” He says he did not know but that they were all running up-stairs ; but when he got in the chamber he found himself alone. In a moment he heard the water rush through the door of his house, his daughter gave a shriek, he heard a few sighs, and all was still. He then got into the lobby, went to a window, and cried out for assistance. Some men brought a ladder and he escaped, with no other article of clothing save his shirt. When the water subsided, his wife and daughter were found in the bed, and it appeared as though the poor child had run to her mother for safety.

The bodies of Lydia and Hannah were found in the house and identified by Jonathan Roberts, and then taken to the New Inn, Hinchliffe Mill. They were both buried on Monday 9 February at Lane Independent Chapel.

Later Life

Before the end of the year, widower Joseph Brook had married spinster Martha Moorhouse (aged 25), daughter of labourer Joseph Moorhouse, at All Hallows, Almondbury, on 25 December 1852.

The couple had two known children, the first of whom was named after his deceased first wife and daughter:

  • Lydia Hannah Brook (1854–1878)[1]
  • Wilson Brook (1857–1867)[2]

Wilson Brook died on 12 June 1867. He had been gathering sticks in a local wood with two other boys and it was alleged that the other boys had indulged in horseplay. Wilson “was of a weak constitution, and was subject to palpitations of the heart, and soon frightened at anything” and it was alleged that the other boys’ behaviour had caused his subsequent death. At the inquest held at the Millers Arms Inn, surgeon Mr. Trotter stated that there was no evidence of injury and that “the cause of death had been disease of the heart, and of the left lung”.[3]

Joseph was possibly the Joseph Brook of Austonley who was fined “for being in a state of inebriation and creating a row at Upperthong” on 24 June 1871.[4]

By 1881, Joseph and Martha were residing at Hinchliffe Mill, having outlived their two children.

It is uncertain what happened to the couple next, although they may have moved to Glossop.[5]

Notes and References

  1. Born 24 June 1854 and baptised 30 July 1854 at Holy Trinity, Holmfirth, She died in March 1878 and was buried on 31 March at St. David's, Holmbridge.
  2. Born 19 April 1857 and baptised 1 November 1857 at Christ Church, New Mill. Buried 15 June at St. David's, Holmbridge.
  3. "Holmfirth: Inquest" in Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Jun/1867). Wilson's name is incorrectly reported as "William".
  4. "Holmfirth" in Huddersfield Chronicle (08/Jul/1871).
  5. The burial of a Martha Brook (aged 59) from Glossop took place at St. David's, Holmbridge, on 18 November 1886. If this was Joseph's wife, then he was not also buried at St. David's.