Thomas William Woodhead (1863-1940)

Thomas William Woodhead, Ph.D., M.Sc., F.L.S., was a local biology teacher, museum curator, historian and author.


He was born in Holmfirth in 1863, the son of local shoe maker James Woodhead and his wife Mary Ann.

At the time of the 1881 Census, the family had moved to Lockwood, where 18-year-old Thomas worked as a warehouseman. By 1891, he had moved to Blacker Road North, Fartown, where he gave his occupation as "commercial traveller in woollens". The 1891 Census shows him continuing to live with his parents, who had now moved a short distance to Arnold Street.

Thomas Woodhead had become a biology teacher by the time of the 1901 Census.

He married Annie Louisa Haigh (1866-1923), daughter of William Henry and Betsy Haigh, in 1901. By the time of the 1911 Census, they were living at 99 Townend, Almondbury.

Annie Louisa died in 1923, aged 57.

He married again on 17 December 1926 to nurse Mary Hannah Holye (1874-?), daughter of Lister Hoyle, at the Queen Street Wesleyan Methodist Church. According to their marriage certificate, Mary Hannah had been his next door neighbour.[1]

He contributed a section on the Tolson Memorial Museum to The Huddersfield County Borough Directory, published in 1937.

Thomas William Woodhead died on 8 March 1940, aged 76.[2]

Mary Hannah Woodhead died in Blackpool on 20 December 1957, aged 83.[3]


He was also the author of several publications for the Tolson Memorial Museum:

All of the titles are now in the Public Domain.


Thomas William Woodhead, Master of Science honoris causa of Leeds University and Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Zurich, was a distinguished member of that band of highly individualistic seekers after knowledge which the Pennine valleys have produced.

Born at Holmfirth, he entered the rough school of life at eleven as a Huddersfield half-timer, and acquired his enthusiasm at a Mechanics’ Institute. His passion was the study of plants, and his nature studies led him to ecology, the relation of things to their environment, and thus to archaeological studies.

He conceived a method of museum presentation at the Legh Tolson museum, Huddersfield, as attractive as it was stimulating. His planning of this museum, and his pollen-analysis in relation to prehistoric studies were his two greatest achievements. He was buried on his seventy-seventh birthday — his physique wearied but his enthusiasm undimmed.


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Notes and References

  1. Thomas William was living at 35 Longley Road and Mary Hannah next door at number 33.
  2. Probate was granted to his widow, Mary Hannah, on 30 April. He left effects worth just over £3,828.
  3. Probate was granted to Marjorie Worden, Lily Amanda Smith and Harry Norman Smith (husband of Lily Amanda). She left effects worth just over £1,766.