Yorkshire Chess History
1865: 1st Redcar Chess Meeting
14th to 16th September 1865, Royal Hotel, Redcar, North Riding of Yorkshire (now Cleveland)
(Retrospectively labelled 1st Annual Meeting of the North Yorkshire & Durham Chess Association,
and even the 1st Annual Meeting of the Counties Chess Association.)
The Reverend Arthur Bolland Skipworth had become vicar of Bilsdale, in the Cleveland Hills, in 1860. He had prior experience of running chess meetings at Caistor, in 1851 and in 1854. He may well have first got the idea from the popularity of the meetings of the original Yorkshire Chess Association.
Since those Caistor meetings, the YCA had become from 1853 the Northern and Midland Counties Chess Association, and then from 1857 had become the Chess Association (later British Chess Association). However, after the British Chess Association’s chess congress of 1862, in London, the near-annual series of congresses (18 in 22 years), run under the name of one organisation or another, had ground to a halt, with no congress in 1863 or 1864, and nothing apparently on the cards for 1865 (none in three years). Meanwhile, however, the spirit of original Yorkshire Chess Association had been revived in the form of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, which had been holding annual meetings since 1856, without missing a year. Thus everything was rosy in West Yorkshire, but those outside West Yorkshire had no chess event to call their own.
The Rev. Skipworth decided to try organising a chess meeting in the North Riding, run primarily for local players, like the meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, but differing in being held over a number of days and featuring an all-play-all tournament, like that adopted by the (British) Chess Association, rather than a knockout competitions of the West Yorkshire Chess Association.
The places suitable as a venue, nearest to his home, were Middlesbrough and the holiday resort of Redcar, further along the coast to the east. The latter was the one he chose as the venue for his latest enterprise, more specifically the Royal Hotel. The presence of former Bradford chess-player Dr. James Heaton Bennett in Redcar may have influenced the choice of Redcar rather than Middlesborough for the venue. Skipworth enrolled Bennett as a secretary in 1865 (along with Bodington from further round the coast at Saltburn), and Bennett may have been administratively involved in 1865.
The date was set as 14th to 16th September 1865.
Competitors in the only formally-organised competition appear to have been intended to be limited to residents of the North Riding of Yorkshire and of County Durham. With the exception of Skipworth himself, those competing were, overall, second class players as compared with the non-competing players listed as attending. For the results table see below.
A surprising absence from the tournament list was Thomas Semple of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham. He was listed as attending the event, but didn’t play in the tournament. Perhaps he was unavailable for the full three days.
That no tournament was organised among the “First Class” non-local players, who were present in force, could be seen as deference to the inert British Chess Association to whom organising such a tournament would be seen to fall. Those not competing in the local all-play-all tournament could have formed a separate, stronger tournament had such a tournament been arranged.
We have to assume that the usual more-informal chess activity took place among the stronger players not playing in the formal tournament. You’d expect some players to take the opportunity to play an informal mini-match. Some stronger players might take on a consulting group of weaker players. Some strong players might give what we now call a simultaneous display, simultaneously playing separate games against a number of individuals.
In Caistor, Skipworth’s family was part of the landed gentry, and so the attenders of the chess meetings held there were largely local gentry and clergyman (though Skipworth was not himself a clergyman back in 1851 and 1854). Many of those at Caistor, one suspects, had minimal day-top-day contact with chess. Most of those at Redcar, however, were recognisable as chess players, being a blend of big names from outside the immediate area and local amateurs.
Heading the list of dramatis personae as regards social rank was “Lord Benholme”, which was the title of a Scottish judge. (It might seem surprising that Hercules James Robertson, Lord Benholme, who was resident in Edinburgh, showed interest in the event, but the Chess Players’ Quarterly Chronicle, 1868-69, on page 85, spoke more explicitly of “Lord Benholme (Edinburgh)” in connection with the 1868 event.) No clear connection with North Yorkshire makes itself obvious. Heading the list of dramatis personae as regards chess rank was Howard Staunton.
The following is a list of those reported as attending by Staunton in Chess World, 1866, p.194, or in reported tournament results, along with the writer’s interpretation of their identity, county etc of residence, and occupation (fuller detail lower down):
(NRY, WRY and ERY = North, West and East Ridings of Yorkshire respectively; CoD = County Durham.)
The Reverends Drew, G.B. Morley, Salter and Wayte were all at Cambridge University for periods which to some extent overlapped that of Skipworth, and so may have been known to Skipworth from Cambridge days. The above attenders are described more fully below.
An analysis of
occupations shows such chess events were still limited primarily to those in
the professions, or the simply rich:
The Middlesbrough Weekly News and Cleveland Advertiser of 25/09/1865 gives results in the all-play-all tournament, on the basis of which the final table would appear to have been as follows:
An apparent schedule of three games per day was apparently too tight, and some games which wouldn’t affect the prize places appear not to have been played, an organisational problem which was not uncommon in those days before the introduction of clocks.
The Rev. Skipworth was in a class of his own, winning all his games. Second-placed Walter Grimshaw, though he did apparently win a game from Skipworth once (and even beat Steinitz once), was by comparison second class; indeed in the following year he was playing in the second class tournament. Nevertheless, Grimshaw’s second place looks well-earned, with an excusable loss to Skipworth, a draw with former Bradford player James Heaton Bennett, and six wins.
The prizes were the usual Staunton chess sets and books. First prize was a larger set of Staunton chessmen, second prize was a smaller set of Staunton chessmen, while the third prize (split between Dr. Bodington and Rev. Lynn) was a set of books by Staunton.
The first Redcar chess meeting was a sufficient success for Skipworth to decide to organise a second Redcar chess meeting in 1866, when he chose to dignify his enterprise as being that of the North Yorkshire and Durham Chess Association, and top hold both First and Second Class tournaments.
Bailey, Rev. Charles
The Rev. Charles Bailey was at the time vicar of Marton-in-Cleveland, now part of Middlesborough and famous as birthplace (East Marton) of Captain James Cook. He was born 1823/24 at Kirkleatham, the son of Dr. Charles Bailey (born 1793/94, London) and Susan(na) (born 1793/94, Boston, Lincs.). (Venn suggests the father was called Charles Richard Bailey and died 23/08/1853, but there seems no obvious supporting evidence.) The 1841 census found the family of 47-year-old parents and 17-year-old Charles junior living at Turner’s Hospital, Kirkleatham, where Charles senior was house surgeon. Charles junior was admitted as pensioner to St. Catharine’s, Cambridge, on 07/02/1842, matriculating Michaelmas 1842, getting his BA in 1848, and MA in 1854. He was ordained a deacon in 1848, and a priest in 1849. He was curate of Stainton, Yorks., in 1849, then vicar of Marske from 1850 to 1860. At some time from about 1845 to 1851 he married Elizabeth. In time the couple had at least two children, Charlotte E. Bailey (born 1855/56, Coatham, at the west end of Redcar) and Charles R. Bailey (born 1857/58, Marske). The 1851 census found Charles junior, vicar of Marske, living with wife Elizabeth at the Marske vicarage. Meanwhile his parents were living at Brotton, two miles SE of Saltburn, with two servants; Charles Bailey was a “consulting surgeon, M.R.C.L.A.” A Charles Bailey whose death was registered in the first quarter of 1856 was probably that of Dr. Charles Bailey. The Rev. Charles Bailey was then vicar of Marton-in-Cleveland from 1860 to his death, and was sometime Rural Dean of Stokesley. The 1861 census found the Rev. Charles Bailey in his new post as vicar of Marton-in-Cleveland, living with wife Elizabeth, two children and three servants, at Marton vicarage. Meanwhile the 68-year-old widowed Susan Bailey was living as an annuitant, with a “cousin”, 23-year-old Mary Nicholson, and three servants, at The Green House, Kirkleatham. The family of the Rev. Charles Bailey is elusive in the 1871 census. The Rev. Charles Bailey died on 03/09/1877, aged 53, at Marton-in-Cleveland, leaving effects of “under £18,000”. [Venn, etc]
Batty, Rev. Benjamin North Rockley, (Redcar)
The Rev. Batty was at the time a clergyman without cure, having effectively retired, resident at Leatham, 5 miles SE of Redcar.
For more see Rev. Benjamin North Rockley Batty.
Beckett, Rev. Wilson, (Heighington)
William Beckett was at the time vicar of Heighington, Co. Durham, 2 miles SW of Newton Aycliffe, and 6 miles NW of Darlington.
For more see Rev. Wilson Beckett.
Benholme, Lord – see Robertson, Hercules James, Lord Benholme, below.
Bennett, Dr. James Heaton, (Redcar)
Dr. James Heaton Bennett was at the time a general practitioner in Redcar. He was born in Almondbury, two miles SE of the centre of Huddersfield. After obtaining medical qualifications at Edinburgh he practiced in Bradford, where he was a founder member of Bradford Chess Club, then practised in Haxby, Lincolnshire, finally moving to Redcar to practice medicine there. For more see James Heaton Bennett.
Bodington, Dr. George Fowler, (Saltburn)
Dr. Bodington was at the time (or was shortly to become) a surgeon at the recently established (1860) North Riding Infirmary, at Middlesborough, 8 miles SW of Redcar. His time at Cambridge overlapped with that of Skipworth. For more see Dr. George Bodington Fowler.
Cadman, Robert, (Leeds)
Robert Cadman was one of Yorkshire’s strongest players in his day, and was one the West Yorkshire players who seem to have been keen supporters of Skipworth’s chess enterprises. For more see Robert Cadman.
Deas, Dr. Peter Maury
Dr. Peter Maury Deas was a son of Dr. Matthew Ross Deas, who worked at Kirkleatham hospital. Peter Maury Deas had spent part of his childhood at Kirkleatham. That he played in the Redcar tournament in 1865 suggests he was at the time between getting his qualifications and embarking on his career in earnest. It may be that he was helping his father at Kirkleatham hospital for a while before moving on. For more see Matthew Ross Deas / Peter Maury Deas.
Drew, Rev. Francis Robert, (Malvern)
The Rev. Francis Robert Drew’s time at Cambridge to a small extent overlapped that of Skipworth, so they may have known each other from those days. He was born 24/12/1830, in London, son of Lieutenant William Drew, some time of Bradninch (8 miles NE of Exeter, and not the “Brandninch” quoted by Venn), Devon, a paymaster in the Royal Navy. He went to a Royal Naval School in Brighton. He was admitted as a pensioner to Sidney College, Cambridge, on 15/12/1854, matriculating Lent 1855, getting his BA in 1859 being 36th wrangler, and his MA in 1862. He was admitted to the Inner Temple on 05/05/1862, but didn’t take up law. From 1865 to 1881 he was an assistant master at Malvern College, and from 1881 to 1883 was at Leamington College. He died 03/06/1883 at Beaufort House, Leamington. [Venn &c]
Fieldsend, Thomas, (Bradford)
Thomas Fieldsend was the more prominent of two Hull-born
players whose chess-playing careers were based in Bradford.
Grimshaw, Walter, (Whitby)
Walter Grimshaw was a Dewsbury-born pawnbroker who was best-known as a chess problem composer. He was for many years resident in Whitby, and president of Whitby Chess Club of which he was a founder member. For more see Walter Grimshaw.
Hamel, Sigismund, (Nottingham)
Sigismund Hamel was a German merchant who became a United States citizen but by 1861 had settled in England, more precisely Nottingham, as a lace merchant, and became one of the stronger provincial players of the day. For more see Sigismund Hamel.
Without any initials, identification from scratch is difficult. The surname may be Headlam, a common enough name in the general area. (Thomas Emerson Headlam was an executor of the will of Rev. Thomas Wilson Morley, rector of Birkby.)
Kidson, Henry Edwin, (Liverpool)
Henry Edwin Kidson was a Leeds-born pawnbroker and art dealer who settled in Liverpool and became best-known as a chess problem composer rather than a player, though he did play chess as well. For more see Henry Edwin Kidson.
Lynn, Rev. George Goodenough, (Coniscliffe)
The Rev. George Lynn Goodenough was at the time the vicar of Coniscliffe, Co. Durham, 4 miles W of Darlington. (His father spent the last 30 years or so of his life at Gad’s Hill near Rochester, and after his death the property was sold to Charles Dickens.) For more see Rev. George Goodenough Lynn.
Morley, Rev. George Bentley, (Cambridge)
Rev. George Bentley Morley was a son of the Rev. Thomas Wilson Morley, rector of Birkby, Northallerton, and his wife Henrietta. He was born at Middleton Tyas, a mile east of Scotch Corner, and baptised on 11/10/1829. He attended school with Dr. Kennedy’s at Shrewsbury. He was admitted as a pensioner at St. Johns College, Cambridge, on 17/06/1848, matriculating Michaelmas 1848. The 1851 census found 21-year-old Middleton Tyas-born George B. Morley residing as a student at All Saints [?!], Cambridge. He got his BA in 1852 and MA in 1855. He was a fellow of St. Catharine’s 1854-57. He was ordained a deacon (Ely) on 12/11/1854, and a priest on 11/11/1855. He started out as a schoolmaster rather than as a parish priest, being second master at St. Andrew’s College, Bradfield, Berkshire, three miles SW of Pangbourne, and nine miles west of Reading, 1857-69. [Venn loses him at this stage.] In 1861 he’d been living with his brother, Thomas Wilson Morley, junior, and the latter’s wife, at 16 [something] Place, Brightin, Sussex. He exchanged the job of schoolmaster for that of a parish priest, becoming rector of Coton, three miles west of Cambridge. The 1871 census found the unmarried 40-year-old Middleton Tyas-born George B. Morley, Rector of Coton, living at Coton with two servants. Our man married during the next ten years as the 1881 census found our man living with Rosa Evelyn Morley (born 1849/50, Lambourne, Berks.) and three servants. The 1891 census found George and Rosa at Carlton, Holdenhurst, a village near Bournemouth. George was described as a clerk in holy orders, rather suggesting he was now without cure. The 1901 census found George, explicitly a retired C. of E. clergyman, and wife Rosa, living at Bassenfell [or Bassenfall], Marlborough Road, Bournemouth, with George’s 78-year-old unmarried sister Elizabeth Morley living on her own means, and three servants. The 1911 census found George, a clerk in holy orders, and Rosa still at Bassenfall [or Bassenfall], with three servants. Probate records record that the Rev. George Bentley Morley of Bassenfall [or Bassenfell], Marlborough Road West Bournemouth, clerk, died 21/07/1917. Probate was granted to James Wycliffe Headlam, gentleman, and the Rev. Morley Lewis Caulfield Headlam, clerk, and James Henry Vant, gentleman. He left effects of £32,148 18s 9d.
Morley, J. W. Morley, (Birkby Rectory)
The Rev. Thomas Wilson Morley was rector of Birkby from 1828 to his death on 29/12/1866. He had at least three sons, Thomas Wilson Morley jun. (barrister), Andrew Morley, and Rev. George Bentley Morley, each of whom went to Cambridge University. One guesses that J. W. Morley of Birkby rectory was another son.
Newton, Rev. John Farmer, (Kirkby in Cleveland)
The Rev. John Farmer Newton was vicar of Kirkby-in-Cleveland, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, two miles SE of Stokesley, and about seven miles from Skipworth’s residence. He was born in 1791 at Devynock, Breconshire to the Rev. Samuel Farmer and Mary Fendall Farmer. He was educated by his father, whom he followed to Cambridge. He was admitted as a pensioner to Jesus College on 19/10/1807, matriculating lent 1809, getting his BA in 1816, being ordained as a deacon in 1817 and a priest in 1818. He was perpetual curate of Whorlton, five miles SW of Stokesley 1827-55, and vicar of Kirkby-in-Cleveland 1841-80. On 02/04/1812 (or 1811) he had married Elizabeth Kent, daughter of William Kent, at Little Bedwyn, Wilts., but by 1851 she had died. The 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses all found widower John F. Newton, vicar of Kirby, living in Kirby (in 1871 specifically the Rectory). He died 23/11/1880 at Kirkby vicarage. His will was proved by Harriet Newton, widow, of Potto Grange, Potto, five miles SW of Stokesley, so either our man had re-married, or he had a widowed daughter-in-law or sister-in-law. [Venn &c.]
Owen, Rev. John, (Hooton, Cheshire)
The Rev. John Owen (1827-1901) was at the time vicar of Hooton, Cheshire. He was one of England’s strong chess-playing clergyman, and even once managed a win over Paul Morphy meeting Morphy’s 1. e4 with 1. .. b6, which defence is now known as Owen’s Defence.
Park, W. (West Hartlepool)
Besides participating in this event, he was also involved in the Northumberland and Durham Chess Associations meeting of 1866, and well as the 1868 and 1869 meetings of Skipworth’s “Yorkshire Chess Association”. For more see William Park.
Rhodes, John, (Leeds)
John Rhodes, stockbroker of Leeds, was in his day regarded as the strongest player in Yorkshire, though he was at this time past his best.
For more see John Rhodes.
Robertson, Hercules James, Lord Benholme
Hercules James Robertson was a Scottish judge resident in Edinburgh. Quite why he was inclined to get involved in Skipworth’s chess meetings is unclear. He ventured from Edinburgh to both Redcar and York. For more see Hercules James Robertson, Lord Benholme.
Salter, Rev. David Mede
Rev. David Mede Salter was at the time rector of South Fambridge, Essex. He was contemporary with Skipworth at Cambridge, so was presumably present for that reason. He was born 1832/33 at Coton, three miles west of Cambridge, son of the Rev. Henry George Salter, rector of Gorleston, Suffolk. He was educated at King Edward the 6th Free School (established c. 1550), Bury St. Edmunds, 1849-1851. He was admitted as a pensioner to Jesus college, Cambridge, on 03/07/1852, matriculating Michaelmas 1852. He got his BA in 1856, was ordained a deacon (Salisbury) in 1856, was ordained a priest in 1857, and got his MA in 1859. He was curate of Ramsbury, Wiltshire, 1856-58. He was rector of Fambridge, Essex, from 1865 to 24/06/1871, when he “availed himself of the provisions of the Clerical Disabilities Act (1870)” [Venn]. The 1871 census found 36[38?]-year-old David Mede Salter, rector of Flambridge, lodging with Thomas and Elizabeth Haricot at 4 [something] Square, London. By the time he died, he was resident at Wood Cottage, Broadclyst, Devon. Probate records state that he was last seen alive on 19/10/1915 and was found dead on 26/10/1915. [Venn says he died October 1914.] Probate was granted 30/12/1915 to the Rev. Edward Pilcher Lewis, Clerk, DD. He left effects of £311 7s. 5d.
Semple, Thomas, (Stockton-on-Tees)
Thomas Semple is difficult to pin down. The name “Semple” gets variously confused with “Sample”, “Temple” and even “Hemple”. The census record which most convincingly looks like the chess-player is from 1871, representing 32-year-old Scotland-born Thomas Semple, a master clothier employing 4 men, living with his wife, 34-year-old Brecon-born Jane Semple, and their two Stockton-born children, 4-year-old Robert E. Semple and 3-year-old Ethel Semple, a 1 Bowerfield Terrace, Stockton-on-Tees. Apart from this, convincing census references are elusive. (There was a Thomas Semple born 1838/39 at Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, but he was still in Scotland in 1871. Also, there was a Thomas Sample born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1840, but he died in 1868. A different Thomas Semple got married at Stockton in 1872.) Thomas Semple’s chess-playing career in Co. Durham and Yorkshire spanned at least the period 1866 to 1869.
Skipworth, Rev. Arthur Bolland, (Bilsdale)
Arthur Bolland Skipworth had been vicar of Bilsdale, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, since 1860, and was the prime initiator of the event. His activities led to the formation of the Counties Chess Association. For more see Rev. Arthur Bolland Skipworth.
Staunton, Howard, (London)
Howard Staunton (1810-1874) requires no introduction for most people. He was England’s strongest player in the 1840s, and in 1843 beat the Frenchman St. Amant in a match, thereby becoming regarded as (unofficial) world championship. He remained a patriarchal figure in British Chess to his death. For more see Howard Staunton.
Thorold, Edmund, (Bath)
Lincolnshire-born Edmund Thorold went to school in Sheffield, where he got his first job after leaving Oxford. He moved to Bath, and it is as a West-Country player he is better known. He was one of England’s stronger amateur players. For more see Edmund Thorold.
Trevor, William Charles, (Guisborough)
Charles William Trevor was at the time a London-born solicitor in Guisborough. For more see Charles William Trevor.
Vere, Cecil De, (London)
Cecil Valentine De Vere was a promising young player of uncertain origins, being probably born illegitimately. The promise perceived by his contemporaries was never fully realised, due in part to the ill-health which led to his early death at age 29. For more see Cecil Valentine De Vere.
Wayte, Rev. William, (Eton)
William Wayte was a contemporary of Skipworths at Cambridge, being less than a year older than Skipworth. At the time of the event he was assistant master at Eton College. He was one of the top amateur players in England.
Wilson, Dr. William John, (Clay Cross)
Dr. William John Wilson became surgeon to a mining company set up by George Stephenson when he was involved with the construction of a railway tunnel under the Derbyshire village of Clay Cross. He was a strong amateur player. For more see Dr. William John Wilson.
Wisker, John, (Hull)
John Wisker (1846-1884) was at the time resident in his native Hull, but was soon to move to London, to become one of the top players in the country, as well as a chess journalist. For more see John Wisker.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann