Joshua Marsden (c.1836-1852)

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.

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


He was born in the township of Austonley and was reportedly the illegitimate son of Eliza Marsden.[1]

Together with Joseph Marsden, who was presumably his older 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 Joshua was employed as a piecer at a local woollen mill.

His aunt Mary died on 4 August 1851 aged 52.[2]


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.

John Kennion (or Kenyon) of Liphill Bank found the body of Joshua Marsden at the side of the river near to Dyson's Mill. The teenager was wearing "shirt and trowsers". The body was taken to the Elephant and Castle Inn where it was identified by his cousin, Frederick Marsden.[3]

Joshua Marsden was buried on Sunday 8 February at Hinchliffe Mill Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

In historic reports of the flood, Joshua is sometimes mistakenly referred to as being named "Joseph".

The body of his older brother Joseph was never recovered.

In Methodism in Huddersfield, Holmfirth, and Denby Dale (published 1898), Joel Mallinson noted that Joshua was "a bright, sharp lad, and ringleader in fun and frolic yet not insensible to duty." The same book also stated that his older brother, 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."

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 Joshua during research.
  2. No burial record for Mary was found during research.
  3. Frederick 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.