Martha Bailey (1850-1852)

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.

Martha Bailey was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, together with her mother and older sister.


She was born on born 25 March 1850, the daughter of tailor Aner Bailey and his wife Hannah (née Crookes), and was baptised on 2 May 1851 jointly with her older sister Ann at Lane Independent Chapel, Upperthong.

The 1851 Census lists the residing at Upperbridge, Upperthong, with Aner's mother, widow shopkeeper Martha Bailey (aged 73).[1]


Martha died in the early hours of 5 February 1852 when a devastating flood swept through the area. All of the occupants of the house were swept downriver by the flood, with only Aner Bailey surviving:[2]

At Upperbridge, a house occupied by Aner Bailey was swept away, and, in spite of all his efforts to save them, he saw his wife and two children carried away by the flood, and the furniture was served the same fate. Bailey himself grasped hold of a beam which was floating down the stream, and by a sudden sweep he was brought safely to the left bank of the river, and scrambled out into the turnpike road.

Martha's body was found by John Moorhouse Woodhead at around 2:30am on the day of the flood, a little upriver from Thongsbridge. The body had "part of a night-dress fastened round its neck". Woodhead also found the body of Hannah Bailey about 10 yards downriver. Both were taken to the Rose and Crown Inn where they were subsequently identified by Aner Bailey.

In some newspaper reports of the flood, it seems that the finding of Martha (aged 22 months) was conflated with the discovery of the body of a new-born infant at Hinchliffe Mill.

Aner buried his wife and daughter Martha at Lane Independent Chapel, Holmfirth, on 9 February.

Notes and References

  1. Aner's mother, Martha Bailey, died on 10 June 1853, aged 75.
  2. The Holmfirth Flood (1910).