Yorkshire Chess History
Jackson family of Dewsbury
Identity of the Chess-Players
“J. Jackson” of Dewsbury attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings of 1876 to 1880. In the years 1877 to 1880 the meetings were also attended by “Master H. Jackson” in (1877) or simply “H. Jackson” (1878 to 1880). “W. E. Jackson” of Dewsbury appears at WYCA meetings in 1886 to 1889.
In the first appearance of James White’s chess column in the Leeds Mercury, on Saturday 27/09/1879, he gives a game played by correspondence between Henry Millard (by then blind) and “Master H. Jackson” of Dewsbury, who was said to have been about 15 years old, and is said to have acquired the epithet “Yorkshire Morphy”, presumably on account of advanced chess skill being exhibited at an early age.
Identifying “W. E. Jackson” is likely to be easy, but identifying “J. Jackson” and “Master H. Jackson” isn’t as easy, as the names are so common. Indeed, a number of boys called “Harry Jackson” were born around 1863/64. Even at Dewsbury alone, there were registrations of the birth of a Harry Jackson in the fourth quarter of 1863, the fourth quarter of 1864, and the first quarter of 1865.
The main clues are the initials “W. E.” and the age given for “Master H. Jackson.” The latter’s stated age implies birth around 1863/64. We can guess he was born in or around Dewsbury, quite probably in the Dewsbury catchment area for registration of births, marriages and deaths. We find in later references that his first name is “Harry”, which more formally may have been Henry. We can guess that the “J. Jackson” mentioned was his father, who looked after his son at the chess meetings. “W. E. Jackson,” who crops up later, can be guessed as a younger member of the family.
After a gap of four years, though “J. Jackson” never again appears at West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting, “H. Jackson” appears as a York player in 1885 to 1888. Indeed, he appears playing on top board, and giving simultaneous displays, in a manner consistent with his early promise as a chess-player.
So, If we guess the three are related, then we are looking for a J. Jackson, with a relative (probably son) called Harry (or Henry) Jackson born about 1863/64 in or around Dewsbury, and another probably-younger relative W. E. Jackson, with them all living in or near Dewsbury from 1870 to 1880, but with Henry/Harry then living in or near York from 1885 to 1888 and maybe later.
Such a family existed, and is here assumed to be that of the three Dewsbury chess-players, whose names on that basis were therefore John Jackson, Henry (“Harry”) Jackson and William Ewart Jackson, the first being the father of the other two.
The parents of John Jackson were John Jackson (senior) and Hannah Jackson, who had at least the following five children:
Joshua’s age was given as 4 in the 1841 census, and as 16 in the 1851 census, causing some uncertainty.
The birthplace of John junior was usually given in censuses merely as Huddersfield, but the 1881 census gave in more precisely as Fartown, about a mile to the north of the centre of Huddersfield.
The 1841 census found the two parents and the three boys living at 45 Fartown Green, Huddersfield. Neither Samuel nor Mary was mentioned in the household. Father John was by occupation a cloth dresser. The whole family were indicated as having been born in Yorkshire.
It would appear the father, John Jackson senior, died at some time from 1841 to 1851.
The 1851 census found mother Hannah and all five children living at Vicarage Road, Dewsbury. Samuel was an attorney’s clerk. Mary performed domestic duties at home, Abraham was a labourer, Joshua was another attorney’s clerk, and John (junior), the future chess-player, was a scholar.
At some time from 1851 to 1854, Mary Jackson got married, so acquiring the surname Stapleton, and in 1854/55 had a son called Joseph Stapleton. Then, at some time from 1854 to 1861, her husband died. The widowed Mary had by 1861 move with her son back into her mother’s household.
Thus the 1861 census found widowed matriarch Hannah Jackson living at 531 Vicarage Road, Dewsbury, with widowed daughter Mary Stapleton, Mary’s 6-year-old son Joseph, and Mary’s brothers Joshua and John. Joshua was now seemingly a solicitor, while John was a painter and paperhanger. (It’s difficult to believe there was a number 531 on Vicarage Road, it being so short. It maybe that the sequence of numbers included parts of Aldams Road, Webster Hill and Huddersfield Road, and/or parts of Rishworth Road and even Wakefield Road.)
Having established himself in the decorating business, John took a wife. Entry 153 of the marriage register of All Saints, the parish church of Dewsbury, records the marriage on 31/01/1863 of John Jackson, 24-year-old bachelor and painter of Dewsbury, son of John Jackson, clothier, to Hannah Brook, 20-year-old spinster of Hanging Heaton (about a mile to the NE of the centre of Dewsbury), daughter of John Brook, mechanic, with S. Pryer Field (?) officiating, and in the presence of Charles Brook and Paul Ward.
John Jackson (junior) and his wife Hannah (whose forename was the same as his mother’s) had at least the following eleven children, all born in Dewsbury:
Harry Jackson, who had been born on 16/12/1863 to John Jackson and Hannah Jackson, was baptised, with the name Harry, at Dewsbury on 03/04/1864. [England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.]
The second son’s forename was presumably his mother’s maiden name. While the marriage register endorses the spelling “Brook”, without a final “e”, census returns varied as to which way the name was spelt.
The birth of William Ewart Jackson was registered in the third quarter of 1867, at Dewsbury. One imagines his father was a supporter of William Ewart Gladstone!
White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870, listed John Jackson, painter, plumber, &c, Wakefield Road, Dewsbury.
The 1871 census found parents John and Hannah living with the first five children living on Wakefield Road, Dewsbury (the modern A638, running eastwards away from the centre of Dewsbury). Father John was by occupation a painter, employing an unreadable number of people working for him. Both future chess-playing sons were still living at the parental home. In this census Harry was recorded as “Henry”, which may have been an affectation on the part of the enumerator, feeling he was changing a familiar name to a formally correct one.
The 1881 census found parents John and Hannah still living on Wakefield Road (presumably the same house) with all the first ten children except Harry and Mary. Mary, who would have been 10, may have died; otherwise she was away from the parental home. Harry was still alive, but elusive in the 1881 census. It may be that he was living in London, where is is known to have played some chess around the early 1880s.
Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, seems not to have listed John Jackson.
We know from the chess records that Harry had moved to York by 1885.
The 1891 census found mother Hannah, described as married rather than a widow, but not father John, living all eleven children except Harry, Mary and John, at 46 Cliffe Street, Dewsbury. John’s whereabouts are unclear. Brooke (with an “e” in the census) was a painter and decorator, presumably working with his father, or having taken over his father’s business. William was a merchant’s clerk. Hannah was a blanket and rug weaver. “Sam” was a hairdresser’s assistant. Susan was another blanket and rug weaver. The remaining three children were scholars.
Harry Jackson seems to appear in the 1891 census in York, which is consistent with the chess records. A 29-year-old Dewsbury-born Harry Jackson was recorded as one of three lodgers in the household of 37-year-old widow Elizabeth Shepherd and her three children, at 21 Bewlay Street, York. Harry’s age as given was not the correct age of the chess-player, but census return data supplied for lodgers and the like was often incorrect, and also people sometimes lied about their ages for one reason or another. Harry was described as a clerk, without any indication of the line of business concerned.
Back in Dewsbury, William Ewart Jackson took a wife. His marriage to Agnes Lonsdale was recorded in the third quarter of 1891, at Dewsbury. The couple went on to have at least two children, both born in Leeds:
Harry Jackson isn’t obviously mentioned in Kelly's Directory of N & E Ridings of Yorkshire, 1893, suggesting he didn’t own his own home. (Mrs. Shepherd was still listed at 21 Bewlay Street.) Nevertheless, a reference in the Leeds Mercury of 11/02/1893 described the chess-player Harry Jackson as being of both the Leeds and York Chess Clubs.
It seems that Harry took a wife called Ellen in 1893/94, as described later.
White's Directory of York, 1895, listed Henry Jackson at 7 Bishopthorpe Road, described as a “private resident”, i.e. not a tradesperson or similar, but it seems unlikely that this would be “Harry”.
The 1901 census found William and Agnes, with their two daughters, living at 108 Linden Grove, Hunslet, Leeds. By occupation William was described as a traveller for a glass merchant. Harry is elusive in the 1901 census, though chess records seem to place him in York still.
The 1911 census found William, Agnes and the two daughters living at 18 Linden Grove, Hunslet, Leeds [108, 18?]. By occupation William was still a glass merchant’s traveller. Doris was a shorthand clerk and typist, while Lily was a boot dealer’s assistant.
The 1911 census seems to have caught Harry away from home. 47-year-old Dewsbury-born Harry Jackson and his 43-year-old Smethwick-born wife Ellen Jackson are found visiting 47-year-old Smethwick-born John Harry Leyland and his family at 4 Liverpool Street, Weaste, Salford. This might not, of course, be the former child chess prodigy from Dewsbury, but the telling detail is that his occupation is given as that of dealer in glass bottles, suggesting he was involved in the same business concern as his brother William. That Harry Jackson was the same age as his host, and the fact that Ellen Jackson and John Harry Leyland were both recorded as born in Smethwick, suggest Ellen Taylor was perhaps a sister of John Harry Leyland or of his wife.
The marriage of Harry and Ellen was recorded as having at that point existed for 17 full years, implying they got married in 1893/94. They were recorded as having had one child, still living. Identifying a record of their marriage and the birth of their child is difficult. Were they married in York, in Smethwick, in Dewsbury, or where? And, as mentioned earlier, Harry Jacksons pop up everywhere. There are numerous records of “Harry Jackson” getting married. At Dewsbury alone there were registered such marriages in the second quarter of 1891, the second quarter of 1895, and the fourth quarter of 1897, though none of those matches the 1893/94 marriage year.
Because of the commonness of the forenames, the deaths of father John Jackson and son Harry Jackson are very difficult to pin down without a plausible chess-related contemporary reference. William Ewart Jackson ought more easily to be pinned down, but the writer hasn’t addressed that yet.
“J. Jackson” of Dewsbury attended the annual meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association each year from 1876 to 1880 inclusive. He attended no such meetings after 1880.
“Master H. Jackson” of Dewsbury attended the 1877 meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, at which time he was 13 years, 4 months and 13 days old. “H. Jackson” of Dewsbury attended the succeeding meetings of 1878, 1879 and 1880.
On Saturday, 27/09/1879, Harry Jackson’s correspondence game with Henry Millard of Leeds (q.v. for game), in which Millard announced mate in 11, was published as Game No. 1 in the first appearance of the chess column in the Leeds Mercury.
Around 1880/81, a Harry Jackson won a prize in a chess problem-setting competition in the Boys’ Newspaper (the problem was published also in Brentano’s Chess Monthly of 1881). This problem was as follows:
White to move and mate in two.
After a gap of four years without any of the Dewsbury Jacksons attending the West Yorkshire Chess Association meetings, Harry Jackson, now of York, attended the meeting of 1885. Then in 1886, 1887 and 1888, both Harry (of York) and younger William (of Dewsbury) attended the meeting, and presumably later ones as well (details not immediately to hand).
“W. Jackson” of Dewsbury played in the 1884 Lancashire v Yorkshire match, on board 59.
“W. Jackson” of Dewsbury played in the 1887 Yorkshire v Lancashire match, on board 40.
Harry appears never to have played for Yorkshire. Nevertheless, he played matches for Dewsbury in the earlier years, and played for York while resident there, playing on board one, and also gave simultaneous displays, etc, in the 1890s.
An example of a match he played in is a Harrogate-Ebor match in 1894.
For a reference to him giving a simultaneous display, click here.
A few chess problems composed by “Harry Jackson” were published in various publications, as late at least as 1904. These were presumably by the former Dewsbury player, though without geographical qualification it’s difficult to be sure.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information