William Dearden

The local poet and writer, William Dearden, was born in Heptonstall, the son of John Dearden of The Hollins, Warley.

He was baptised at Heptonstall Church [20th November 1803].

He wrote under the pseudonym of William Oakendale. He was known as the Bard of Calderdale or the Bard of Caldene.

He was educated by a Mrs Utley, and then by Rev Joseph Charnock at Heptonstall Grammar School, and then at a private school in East Yorkshire.

He taught at

He published and edited Dearden's Miscellany, a magazine of literature and science, which appeared in 1839, under the editorship of the Rev H. Alford MA, later Dean of Chichester.

Around 1842, he challenged Branwell Brontë to a poetry-writing contest which was to be held at the Cross Roads Inn between Haworth and Keighley, and judged by his associate, J. B. Leyland. Dearden recorded the event in a poem entitled A Retrospect.

He was a friend of Frederick Cronhelm and dedicated some of his work to him. In 1840, he wrote a poem on the death of Cronhelm's daughter, Catherine.

He was an acquaintance of the poets Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey, who property which his wife's family had owned.

His poems include:

On 6th July 1818, he married (1) Susanna Sim [1793-1866] at Kirkby Thore, Westmorland.

Susanna came from Maryport.

He inherited property at Keswick. by Susanna



  1. William Coultherd [1831-1831]
  2. Sarah Susanna [1832-1852]
  3. William

On 17th July 1866, he married (2) Elizabeth Bates [1832-1923] at St Michael's Church, Mytholmroyd.

Elizabeth was the daughter of George Bates

Child: 3. Amelia Marian [1867-1917] who married Charles  Louis Royer

The family lived at

Living with them in 1851 were his father John, sister-in-law Mrs Eliza Sim [aged 48] (retired principal of a boarding school), niece Susannah Sim [aged 23] (assistant in a boarding school), and boarder/scholars William Hanson [aged 13] and George P. B. Wigglesworth [aged 13].

He died at Warley Grammar School House [24th January 1889].

He was buried at Heptonstall Church [27th January 1889].

Probate records show that he left a personal estate valued at £298 11/7d. The will was proved by his widow Elizabeth.

Elizabeth died at 15 Mayfield Terrace, Halifax, the home of her son-in-law Charles Louis Royer [28th September 1923].

Probate records show that he left effects valued at £159 1/5d.

Probate was granted to James Clay Bates (retired woollen manager)  and Sarah Elizabeth Smithies (widow) 


The following obituary was published in the Bradford Observer (?) 

Death of Mr Wm. Dearden
Many of the older generation of Bradfordians will hear with regret of the death, on Thursday last, of Mr Wm. Dearden, at his residence, Warley, near Halifax, where he had been master of the old Grammar School for the past twenty-eight years.

Mr Dearden had previously been principle of the King Street Academy, Huddersfield, and of the Hollins Boarding School, near Halifax, and also for many years was known in a similar capacity in Bradford.

By profession a schoolmaster, the deceased gentleman was also well known as a poet and author of considerable merit.

His two principle poems, the "Star Seer" [1837], and "The Vale of Caldene" [1844], show him to have been possessed of much poetic power and feeling, and a style that was chaste and elegant.

He was proprietor and for some time editor of Dearden's Miscellany, a magazine of literature and science, which appeared in 1839, under the editorship of the Rev H. Alford, M. A., afterwards Dean of Chichester. Mr Dearden was also a frequent contributor to the local papers, as well as to the London magazines.

In 1861, he contributed a long article to this journal on the death of the Rev Patrick Brontë, the incumbent of Haworth, with whom he was intimately acquainted, as he was with the rest of the Brontë family, and at the appearance of Mrs Gaskell's "Life of Charlotte Brontë" was instrumental in getting a great deal of objectionable and erroneous matter relative to Mr Brontë expunged from the future editions of that work.

During the residence in Bradford, Mr Dearden was an occasional lecturer at the Mechanics' Institute. &c., and always drew large and appreciative audiences.

He was president of the Huddersfield Literary and Philosophical Society, &c., and during his eighteen years residence in that town (1830-48) and subsequently in Bradford was always a powerful and welcome friend in the Conservative interest at political gatherings.

In the days before railways Mr Dearden had travelled extensively, the English Lake District being a favourite rendezvous, and for some time a residence, of his, and he was a friend and visitor of the poets Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, Christopher North, Mrs Harman &c., of whom he had many interesting remembrances.

For the last twenty years he had practically retired from active public life, and ended his days, after a short illness, as before stated, at Warley, at the ripe age of 85.

He was a native of Hebden Bridge and twice married, and leaves a son, the Rev Wm Dearden, M.A., R.N., and one daughter. The funeral takes place on Wednesday next, at Heptonstall

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 16:12 / 18th March 2024 / 10743

Page Ref: X305

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