Mary Mettrick (1814-1852) née Hirst

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.

Mary Mettrick was a victim of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852, along with several members of her family.


Mary Hirst was born on 14 October 1814 in the Township of Upperthong, the daughter of mason Eil Hirst and his wife Nancy (née Thewlis), and was baptised on 11 November 1814 at Holmfirth Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

She married widower woollen clothier James Mettrick, son of Joseph Metrick and his wife Martha (née Chatterton?), on 9 April 1843 at All Hallows, Almondbury. James had nine children from his first marriage and the couple had a further four known children:

  1. Alfred Mettrick (1843-1852)[1]
  2. Mary Ann Mettrick (1846-1880?)[2]
  3. Jane Mettrick (1849-1852)[3]
  4. Joseph Mettrick (1850-1852)[4]

By the time of the 1851 Census, 14 people were living in the property, 9 of whom perished in the flood the following year.


Mary Mettrick, and several members of her immediate family, died when a torrent of water flooded the Holme valley in the early hours of 5 February 1852. One of the surviving sons named James, from her husband's first marriage, gave the following statement to the Huddersfield Chronicle:[5]

There were twelve of us in the house on Wednesday night when the flood broke in upon us. My father, James Metterick, was a sizing boiler, and that night he had been out collecting money, and it was late when he came home. Some time about midnight he awoke us and told us that the flood was coming. I jumped up, and after looking out of the window, pulled a pair of trousers on, and came down stairs. I met my mother at the bottom of the steps, and we thought to get a child which was sleeping in the kitchen, but we could not, and we called of my father to comp upstairs. The water was rushing in at this time, and before my father could come to us he was smothered. We had intended to escape by the door, but a “roll” of water came down and forced us back, and my mother and I ran up into the chamber, and looked out of the window. At this time the water was the height of the wall in the street, and immediately afterwards the house fell, carrying eight of us who were in the room, and one in another chamber asleep, into the river. My brother Wilson Metterick had made his escape before the flood came down. I do not remember being struck with anything, and when I recovered myself I was in Harpin’s dam, amongst a lot of wood.

Mary's body was not found straight away and the following description was issued:

Mrs. Mary Metterick, 38, wife of James Metterick ; rather tall, moderately stout, slightly pockpitted, lost all her front teeth on the top side except one, and a blue mark over one eye.

Her body was eventually located at "Armitage Mill" — most likely having been washed into the mill stream that branches off to Armitage Bridge Mills from the River Holme — on Saturday 14 February 1852, and was buried at Hinchliffe Mill Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on Monday 16 February.

James Mettrick's naked and badly decomposed body was eventually found in the River Aire near Castleford on Friday 2 July 1852, five months after the flood. After his son James identified the remains, they were returned to Holmfirth where James Mettrick was laid to rest on 5 July with the other members of his family who died in the flood.[6] Mettrick was a member of the Holmfirth Old Sick Club and a large number of the society's members turned out for the funeral.[7]

The only child to survive from her marriage to James was Mary Ann Mettrick who was then raised by her maternal grandmother Nancy Hirst.

Notes and References

  1. Born 30 November 1843 and baptised 18 February 1844 at Kirkburton.
  2. Following the death of her parents and siblings, she moved in with her maternal grandmother, Nancy Hirst.
  3. Baptised 2 September 1849 in Holmfirth.
  4. Baptised 17 November 1850 in Holmfirth.
  5. "Metterick's Statement" in Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Feb/1852).
  6. "Discovery of the Body of James Metterick" in Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (10/Jul/1852).
  7. "Funeral of James Metterick" in Huddersfield Chronicle (10/Jul/1852).