Walter Sykes (1807-1885)

Perhaps best described as a local character, Walter Sykes was the Court Leet appointed constable and pinder for the ancient township of Meltham Half from the 1860s until his death.


He was born on 27 January 1807, the son of William Sykes and his wife Sarah (née Pearson), and baptised on 29 March 1807 at St. Bartholomew, Meltham.

He married Betty Taylor of Netherthong on 9 September 1832 at All Hallows, Almondbury. The couple had 3 known children:

  • William Sykes (1833-?)[1]
  • Ruth Sykes (c.1839-1927)[2]
  • Sarah Sykes (c.1843-?)

Betty died aged 33 in December 1844, and was buried on 16 December at St. Bartholomew's.

From as early as 1861, he was appointed to the historic role of pinder and constable for the ancient township of Meltham Half, which was selected at the annual Almondbury Court Leet. It is believed he remained in this role until his death. In his later years, he was assisted by Sidney Sykes (c.1823-1900)[3], who may or may not have been his nephew — at the 1885 Almondbury Court Leet, Sidney caused laughter by denying that he was Walter's nephew, but then confirmed that Walter was indeed his uncle!

It is believed that he kept the Lucky beerhouse in Meltham.

He died aged 78 and was buried on 7 November 1885 at St. Bartholomew's.

At the 1887 Almondbury Court Leet, it was simply noted that Walter had "blown his light out" and Joshua Froggatt was appointed to assist Sidney Sykes in his duties as town pinder.

Census Returns

  • 1841 — clothier (aged 30) of Lane Bottom, Meltham
  • 1851 — widower general labourer (43) of Town Street (South Side), Meltham
  • 1861 — labourer at stone quarry (54) of Mill Moor, Meltham
  • 1871 — pinder and [...?] law man (64) of Mill Moor, Meltham
  • 1881 — woollen weaver (74) of Mitchell's Buildings (near Mill Moor Road), Meltham

Notes and References

  1. Married Ellen Haigh on 24 August 1856 at All Hallows, Almondbury.
  2. Married carder Abraham Wood on 6 April 1861 at All Hallows, Almondbury.
  3. Born the illegitmate son of Anne Sykes of Greensend, Meltham, and baptised 25 August 1823. Died February 1900 and buried 18 February at Meltham.