Joseph Marsden (c.1834-1852)

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.

Joseph Marsden was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852.


He was born in the township of Cartworth and is believed to have been the illegitimate son of Eliza Marsden.[1][2]

Together with Joshua Marsden, who was presumably his younger brother, he lived with his mother and her spinster sisters Mary and Nancy Marsden. The family is believed to be descended from Joseph Marsden, a Cartworth millowner who died in 1824 leaving debts, forcing the sale of the family's home and assets.

By 1841, they were living in at Hinchliffe Mill. At the time of the 1851 Census, the Marsdens were living on Water Street, Hinchliffe Mill, where the three spinster sisters worked as dressmakers and Joseph was employed as a woollen hand loom weaver.

His aunt Mary died on 4 August 1851 aged 52.[3]


The occupants of the Marsden household were killed when a flood devastated the properties on Water Street in the early hours of 5 February 1852 after the embankment of the Bilberry Reservoir failed.

In the aftermath of the flood, Joseph's body remained unfound and the following description was issued:

sandy hair, fresh and good looking

His body was seemingly never found. In July 1852, the Huddersfield Chronicle noted that only "one of the eighty individuals who were swept down by the flood in February last is still unfound", which was a reference to Joseph.[4]

In Methodism in Huddersfield, Holmfirth, and Denby Dale (published 1898), Joel Mallinson stated that Joseph was a Sunday school teacher at the Holmfirth Chapel and "was a promising young man, who had attended the Sunday School from his youth". The same book also stated that his younger brother Joshua was "a bright, sharp lad, and ringleader in fun and frolic yet not insensible to duty".

Notes and References

  1. See "Appendix: List of the Bodies Found" in The Flood Came and Took Them All Away: A Sermon on the Holmfirth Flood (1852) by Rev. Joshua Fawcett. No baptismal record was found for Joseph during research.
  2. Frederick Marsden stated at the inquest that Joshua and Joseph's mother had also died in the flood, which confirms that the mother was either Eliza or Nancy.
  3. No burial record for Mary was found during research.
  4. "Funeral of James Metterick" in Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Jul/1852).