A Complete History of The Great Flood at Sheffield
by Samuel Harrison
Web Page 37


A public meeting was held in the Town Hall, Sheffield, on Tuesday March 11th, for the purpose of considering and adopting measures to relieve the distress and suffering occasioned by the flood. The Mayor (Thomas Jessop, Esq.,) presided. The Right Honourable Earl Fitzwilliam, the Honourable Lord Wharncliffe, and nearly all the gentry of position in the town and neighbourhood, were present, including--J. S. Stanhope, Esq., Ald. Brown, T. Dunn, W. F. Dixon, W. Butcher, S. Butcher, H. Vickers, T. W. Rodgers, H. Rodgers, J. W. Hawksworth, H. Wilson, J. N. Mappin, Ald. Matthews, R. J. Gainsford, H. Unwin, C. Atkinson, Ald. Jackson, H. Harrison, M. J. Ellison, Revs. Dr. Sale, Blakeney, Newman, Aldous, W. Wilkinson, C. Wilkinson, Loxton, &c. The meeting was crowded.

Earl FITZWILLIAM, who was received with loud cheers, moved -- "The fearful inundation which has caused such awful loss of life and such immense destruction of property, necessarily occasioning wide-spread misery and desolation, calls upon the inhabitants of this borough and neighbourhood, and all who sympathise with the sad event, at once to subscribe so as to alleviate as far as possible this great distress, and that a subscription be now commenced." On such an occasion as this, said his Lordship, it affords me the very deepest gratification to perform a duty at once so pleasing and so melancholy. A subscription has already been commenced; noble sums have already been subscribed to alleviate the sufferings caused by this dreadful calamity. We must bear in mind that the first thing to be done is to alleviate those whose all has been taken from them. (Applause.) I fear that to a very large extent this will be found to be the case. Not only have persons, but families, been swept away. Those who we are accustomed to call the "bread winners" have been swept away in many cases, leaving fatherless families. These are the cases which must first call for our attention, and to these cases our subscriptions must be first directed. (Cheers.) That there is other wide spread distress no doubt is true, and that I hope can in time be alleviated. But the first must be alleviated, and that immediately. (Cheers.) I do not know whether any kind of subscriptions are yet made known, but I wish, on behalf of myself and family, to subscribe' £1000. (Protracted and reiterated cheers.) To the Mayor and gentlemen who will form the acting committee, I must be allowed to say that I hope what I give will be most speedily placed to the use of those who most need it. (Loud cheers.)

Lord WHARNCLIFFE, who was greeted with loud cheers, said: Yesterday I addressed a meeting in the Council Hall, and I ventured on that occasion to recommend the people of Sheffield to make such a subscription as should be worthy of the town, and I am happy to find that the few words I said on that occasion have borne some fruit. (Hear, hear.) The Mayor informs me that the sum of £6000 is available for the purpose of relieving the distress occasioned by the inundation. I have often occasion to sit in the place in this court where your worthy Mayor now sits, and although my duties on those occasions are sufficiently melancholy in their nature, yet these only refer to evils which we may hope in the course of time to extirpate altogether; but this is one of the calamities which no human means by any possibility can totally and thoroughly alleviate. (Hear, hear.) It is a calamity involving not only the loss of fortune and happiness, but involving also the loss of life, which is the thing that touches us most nearly. The example which has been set us by the highest in this room, ought to be followed down to the lowest. I believe we shall find that the whole of England will rally to the assistance of the people whose homes are desolate in the same way as we have rallied to the relief of their distress in every other part of the country when any calamity has fallen upon it. We need not refer to the Holmfirth or the Hartley catastrophies, or to the more extended calamity which prostrated the whole of Lancashire. I hope we shall find the whole of England will meet together to render assistance to us in the time of need; but, as I said yesterday, we must first set our own shoulders to the wheel--we must set the example. (Cheers.) That we did yesterday to some extent; don't let us fail to day in doing our part. I have great pleasure in seconding the resolution proposed by the noble Earl. (Loud cheers.) The resolution was carried.

The proposition was then put and carried unanimously.

Rev. Dr. SALE moved:--

"That a Committee be appointed, consisting of the following Gentlemen William Fawcett, Esq., Edward Vickers, Esq., William Butcher, Esq., Town Collector Alderman Matthews, the Rev. Canon Sale, D.D., Thomas Sorby Esq. Henry Newbould, Esq, Thomas Dunn, Esq., Alderman Francis Hoole, Alderman John Brown, John Firth, Esq., J. H. Barber, Esq., John Jobson Smith, Esq., Alderman William Fisher, Charles Atkinson, Esq., William Moore, Esq., Alderman George Lemon Saunders, Alderman John Webster, Robert John Gainsford, Esq., Robert Leader, Esq., Alderman Henry Vickers, Councillor William Harvey, Thomas William Rodgers, Esq., Henry Watson, Esq, Henry Wilkinson, Esq., Councillor Alexander Robertson, Michael .J. Ellison, Esq., Rev. George Sandford, Henry Harrison, Esq., Councillor John Parkin, Alderman John Beckett, Joshua Moss Esq., Marcus Smith, Esq., Bernard Wake, Esq., Alderman Robert Jackson, Councillor Robert Thomas Eadon, Samuel Mitchell, Esq., Rogers Broadhead, Esq. Councillor Henry John James Brownhill, Rev. David Loxton, Rev. Brooke Herford, Rev. James Breakey, Rev. W. Ashberry, Rev. Canon Fisher, Rev J. H James Rev. J. Gutteridge, with power to add to their number, to arrange and collect Subscriptions and the distribution of the same."

He was deeply thankful to see those who were the ornaments of the neighbourhood so nobly come forward as had Lord Fitzwilliam and, Lord Wharncliffe. (Cheers.) Their munificent examples would not be lost. Yesterday he saw the Archbishop of York on another matter, and learnt from him that he had forwarded a subscription of c£50. His Grace said that he had been so much affected by the description which he had read of the calamity that it had kept him awake all night, and that if he had not had two important meetings in York to day nothing would have prevented his being at the meeting to show his sympathy with the sufferers.

Mr. DUNN said it had often been his lot to address them from that place; but never with feelings such as now weighed upon him. The dark side of the picture had been alluded to. It was wisely ordered by Providence that the darkest picture of this life should have its bright side. The committee comprised men of all parties and grades, all, he believed, equally anxious to aid in this good work. The business of the committee would be to distribute the munificence of the public in the relief of that distress.

The proposition was carried unanimously.

Alderman BROWN moved that the Mayor be requested to act as treasurer. (Cheers.)

Alderman VICKERS seconded the resolution, stating that the Town Trustees, at a meeting held this morning, had voted £500 towards the subscription. (Cheers.)

Mr. JAMES DODWORTH suggested that the working men of the town should give up one day's wages for the relief of the sufferers. By that means the sum of at least £10,000 would be raised and constitute the working mens' contribution, He had named the matter to the men in his employ, and they had agreed to it, and even more if it was necessary. He had no doubt that if proper organisations are set on foot working men generally would respond in the same way. He should be glad to give £25. (Cheers.)

Mr. HENRY LEVY said 2,894 pennies had been dropped into a box placed outside his premises in High street. He proposed to continue the box there for some time longer, being satisfied that a handsome sum would be thereby realised towards the subscription.

The proposition was carried unanimously.

Mr. W. F. DIXON moved the appointment of Mr. Yeomans (the Town Clerk,) Rev. J. Aldous, Mr. D. Doncaster, and Mr. Thomas Chambers, as honorary secretaries.

As it was found Mr. Doncaster was unable to accept the office, the Committee subsequently requested Mr. Plimsoll to take his place.

Mr. T. W. RODGERS seconded the proposition. God in his inscrutable wisdom had permitted a great calamity to fall upon us. It was our business to mitigate the suffering to the utmost of our power, which he had no doubt would be done. He suggested that persons should form themselves into small committees, and examine into cases of distress in their districts, and report them to the committee.

W. S. STANHOPE, Esq., of Cannon Hall, expressed his intention of promoting the calling of a meeting at Barnsley in aid of the distress fund. Such meetings would no doubt be held throughout the length and breadth of Yorkshire.

Earl FITZWILLIAM moved a vote of thanks to the Mayor for the able way in which he had occupied the chair.

Lord WHARNCLIFFE seconded the resolution.

Mr. J. H. SALES said he should not like it to go forth that the people of Sheffield had not done their duty, as was imputed by Mr. Harvey. He believed Sheffield had done its duty most nobly. He announced that his warehouse in Pepper alley was open for the reception of old clothing for the use of the distressed. (Hear, hear.)

The vote of thanks to the Mayor was carried with acclamation. In responding, his Worship said he was a Sheffield man, he had lived nearly all his life in the town, and he knew what the working men could do. They raised large amounts for Lancashire, but here the distress was at their own doors. He was satisfied that an adequate amount of money would be raised, and he would do all in his power to ensure that it should be properly and judiciously distributed. (Cheers.)


A meeting was held in the Council Hall, Sheffield, on Friday night, March 18, Mr. J. Dodworth in the chair, to take steps to promote the movement amongst the working men of the town, to give one day's wage to the fund for the relief of the sufferers. There was a good attendance, but the meeting was merely preliminary to a public meeting on Tuesday. The representatives of the workmen of many firms attended, and stated that their fellow workmen had determined either to give a day's wage or to make a subscription, but the feeling appeared to be strongest in favour of giving a day's wage. An appeal was made to employers to aid their men in doing this.

On Tuesday night, March 22, a meeting of the working classes was held in the Temperance Hall, Sheffield, to support the movement to contribute one day's wage to the relief fund. The Mayor presided, and about 300 persons were present. Many of them were present in the capacity of delegates from the manufactories in which they were, employed.

The MAYOR, in opening the proceedings,, said they were all aware of the nature of the calamity which had befallen the town. He appealed to the working men of Sheffield, one of whom he had himself been, for he was proud to say he had toiled himself, and in his intercourse with working men of Sheffield, with whom he had been associated all his life, he had ever found them full of sympathy, open hearted, and ready and willing to assist their fellow workmen when in distress. (Cheers.) He knew what the poor did for each other. He knew how the poor helped the poor. He could appeal to their benevolence, and he was sure that a more well disposed body of men 'than the working men of Sheffield did not exist. He knew they would come forth nobly to relieve the distress of their fellow creatures. He did not think that the giving of one day's wage was asking them to do too much. He was sure there were few men that would feel it a hardship to do that. He would remind them what a large sum would be realised in this way from a large and industrious population. The merchants of the town had come out well and nobly to assist the sufferers by this unfortunate circumstance. (Hear, hear.)

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