Great Sheffield Flood of 1864

Great Sheffield Flood of 1864

Today Marks 150th Anniversary


Many of us have a connection or at least an interest in Yorkshire.   Some may be loyal devotees of Downton Abbey, the most watched series ever on PBS.   Genealogists and historians may be interested in its adjacency to Derbyshire, where we know that Joseph Hawley once owned land.   March 11 is the 150th anniversary of the Great Flood in Sheffield.  Sheffield is a bit over thirty miles from Parwich, known to be the location of Joseph’s lands.

Dale Dyke was built of earth creating the Bradford reservoir near Sheffield, one of four dams planned to support the growing industrialization of the area.   About midnight March 11, 1864, the dyke was breached during a storm, creating a gap 110 yards wide and 70 feet deep through which 650 million gallons of water flowed inundating the valley and flooding Sheffield.

Mills, grinding wheels, warehouses, pubs and homes were destroyed.   There were 240 reported deaths with over four thousand homes flooded.   Coincidentally, one of the flooded homes was owned by a Joseph Hawley.  This disaster resulted in one of the largest insurance claims of the time totaling nearly three hundred thousand pounds.
Yorkshire genealogist Ian Marson has created a database of the claims from the disaster for Sheffield Hallam University.    When searching for the name Hawley, seven results are given.    For more information or to research the claims, visit

flood claims

  • April 8, 2017 - 11:45 am

    C. Michael Anderson - I have been researching my family’s genealogy and have found that my great, great, great, grand uncle, John T. Pearce founded the Newtown Bee. He had his paper located above Sanford and Hawley’s store in Newtown, CT. He named his youngest son Marcus Clinton Hawley Pearce and I’m trying to find why he would name his son after Marcus C. Hawley and came across this site. To add to that, in 1983 I bought my first house in Naugatuck, CT from a woman who’s father had built the house in 1895, one of the objects she sold to me was a large framed, had written and drawn rather long poem about the Sheffield Flood. I have not taken the time to transcribe it, it’s all hand written and in most places hard to read, but I’ve never seen anything like it and I found the family was originally from Sheffield, England, their name was Needham.
    Thank you fo r your time.ReplyCancel