The Red Memo Book of George Hirst (1833-1923)

Holme Valley Families - the Red Memo Book of George Hirst

These web pages provide a transcript and interpretation of a fascinating and unique document.  Known as the "red memo book", it is believed to have been written by  Mr George Hirst, a grandson of John Hirst of Digley Mill, who was one of the pioneers of woollen cloth manufacturing in the Holme Valley and who built the first "Digley Mill" which was one of the many properties destroyed in the calamitous Holmfirth Flood of 1852.

The memo book provides an extraordinary handwritten record of the family relationships of over 1500 individuals descended from the Barber and Firth families of the upper Holme Valley and who were mostly born over the period 1760 to 1910.

George Hirst was born in 1833, died at the age of 90 in 1923 and was an eye-witness of the Holmfirth Flood of 1852. He appears to have written the book at a late stage of his life, as some of the people listed were born 1912 or later, but it seems likely it will have been compiled over many years and drew upon the recollections of many members of the families documented.

There are at least two known copies of this book, both compiled carefully in the same handwriting, but with some minor differences. The copy which has been used for this web publication was kept by the Barber family, and another is with Mrs Kathleen Bell of Marsh, Huddersfield, who is a descendant of the Hirst family and who knew George Hirst as a young child.

On its own, the red memo book is a slightly frustrating document, as it gives no dates for the births & marriages of the people included in it.  However, over several years I have been researching the families included in it, and am now able to publish my own details of these people, along with images of the original handwritten text and a transcript of that text.

The links on the left give access to a gallery of images of the original handwritten text.

Below this, there are links to web pages with transcripts of the text, plus a summary of my research on each family. To keep file sizes manageable, the text is split up as follows:


Pages 1-15

Descendants of John Barber of Holme (part 1), fully researched

Pages 16-17

Transcript only. These pages are a list of marriages, which are  featured on other pages.

Pages 18-39

Descendants of John Barber of Holme (part 2), fully researched

Pages 40-59

Descendants of John Barber of Holme (part 3), fully researched

Pages 60-85

Descendants of John Firth, fully researched, Note that the first entries for John Firth's descendants started on page 59.

Pages 86-92

Transcript only. These pages are a list of marriages, which are  featured on other pages.

I am also providing a full printable booklet of the whole of the red memo book which can be downloaded. This is a large .pdf file,  about 1.1 Mb in size, so please allow time for it to download. It is available here.

Please note that I have much more information on many of these families, so please contact me if you have any specific queries.

Important Note

Whilst I have taken great care to ensure that the data presented here is as accurate as possible, please note that I cannot guarantee its accuracy and you should make your own checks before relying on it. In particular, I have made reference in the text to the dates of many civil BMD registrations, including death registrations. Please note that this does NOT mean that I have viewed the original registration documents. Instead I have simply identified what I consider to be a "best fit" for the particular event.