Yorkshire Chess History
Samuel Redhead Meredith
Meltham Mills was a hamlet four miles south-west of Huddersfield, which arose around the mills of James Brook and Sons. The original Brook to move into the area was William Brook. James Brook was his son. The brooks were local benefactors, ploughing some of their gains into providing amenities for the locals. A need arose for a local church, so James Brook, then of Thornton Lodge, provided a building which served both as church and school, with residential provision for clergyman and schoolmaster, respectively, at each end. White described the chapel as a “chapel of ease”, costing nearly £4,000. It opened in 1838 and seated 250 people. The capacity of the church became not, however, equal to the needs, and soon a bigger church was built by James Brook, freeing up the old building totally for day school and Sunday school, that building closing only as recently as 1962.
The Reverend David Meredith, born 1812/13 at Cardigan, became the first licensed incumbent of the temporary church, but ill health forced him to resign in 1841, whereupon he was replaced by the Rev. H. P. Brancker. In response to medical advice, the Rev. Meredith sought to recoup his health with a trip to Smyrna. In 1845 he returned to this country, by which time the Rev. Brancker had given up the incumbency of Meltham Mills, and the fondly-remembered Rev. David Meredith resumed being the incumbent at Meltham Mills, at a new Brook-funded church, dedicated St. James the Apostle, which had meanwhile been built, to be consecrated in November 1845. The new church seated 730 people.
On 20th June 1848, at St.Wilfred’s, Calverley, the Reverend David Meredith, perpetual curate of Meltham Mills, married Bradford-born Frances Redhead, daughter of Samuel Redhead, late vicar of Calverley.
Around the 8th June 1849, the couple had their first child, Mary Margaret Meredith. All did not go well, however, and the baby died at the age of only one week, on 15th June 1849, and was buried at her father’s church in Meltham Mills. Her gravestone reads
The couple’s second child, Samuel Redhead Meredith, was born 5th May 1850, and was baptised by his father at St. James the Apostle, Meltham Mills, by his father, on 2nd June 1850. The child’s two forenames were the forename and surname of his mother’s father. The family home at the time was Harwood Cottage.
Later in 1850, the Rev. David Meredith was moved to be the incumbent at Elland, between Halifax and Huddersfield, in the parish of Halifax, where, in 1851/52, Arthur E. Meredith was added to the family. Their home was in South Gate, Elland.
The reverend gentleman’s health was presumably still not all it might have been, as the Reverend David Meredith died at Elland on 28/01/1853, at the age of 40. He was buried at his former church, St. James the Apostle, Meltham Mills, and a commemorative plaque was placed inside the church.
Meltham Mills parsonage was built in 1856, so will never have been occupied by the Merediths.
The widow Frances Meredith, and her two sons, moved to 14 Park Place, Leeds, which remained Samuel Redhead Meredith’s home for roughly thirty years.
In time, roughly 1873, Samuel Redhead Meredith was at Brasenose College, Oxford, which he left, roughly 1876, with a BA. While at Oxford he both played chess and rowed representing the university.
He returned to Leeds to work as a solicitor, living as before at 14 Park Place, Leeds, with his widowed mother.
White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield &c, 1866, and Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870, listed Mrs. Fanny Meredith at 14 Park Place, Leeds, suggesting Frances becomes Franny, then becoming Fanny?
In the 3rd quarter of 1880, he married Janet Elizabeth Clark(e?), who had been born at Cowick, which is adjacent to Snaith, and a mile north of the Yorkshire-Lincolnshire border. The marriage was registered at Goole.
The married couple lived initially at 14 Park Place, Leeds, with the widow Frances Meredith, but in time moved to The Cottage, Hill Top, Bramley, Leeds. They appear to have had at least four children:
Kelly's Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, listed Samuel Meredith at 14 Park Place. Henry Snowdon, solicitor, was listed at 13 East Parade, Leeds. Our man was in due course to enter into partnership with him at this address.
Kelly's Directory of Leeds, 1888, listed Snowdon and Meredith, solicitors, at 13 East Parade, Leeds, with Samuel R Meredith’s home at the Cottage at Hill Top, on the east side of Leeds Road, Bramley.
On 11th May 1890, his mother, Frances Meredith, died, at the age of 79. She was buried at St. James the Apostle, Meltham Mills. The inscription on her gravestone reads
White's Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1894, listed Snowdon, Meredith and Hubbertsy, solicitors, at 13 East Parade, Leeds, with Samuel R Meredith, BA, still at the Cottage as before.
For some reason, perhaps because one or other of their children had emigrated to Australia, the couple in later life seem to have taken a trip to Australia, as they are recorded as arriving at London, on 9th July 1920, on board the Ormonde, of the Orient steamship line, from Sydney. He was 70 at the time, by then seemingly retired, and she was 66.
Samuel Redhead Meredith died on 3rd October 1926, when his residence was Holmcroft, Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey. Probate was awarded 3rd December 1926 to Janet Elizabeth Meredith, widow, and David Francis Meredith, merchant. He left effects of £35,797 7s. 4d.
Though his sister and parents were buried at Meltham Mills, a little surprisingly in three separate graves, our man doesn’t seem to be buried there.
Janet Elizabeth Meredith died on 27th February 1949, at Saunton in North Devon, at the age of 95.
His documented chess activity seems to have started at Oxford University where as an undergraduate he was a contemporary of Huddersfield’s Walter Parratt who was organist at Magdalen College.
He was secretary of the Oxford University Chess Club from 4th December 1872 to 12th March 1873, and was then president from 27th May 1873 to 3rd December 1873 (when he was superseded by Walter Parratt). He was treasurer from 14th April 1875 to some date in December 1875.
He played in the first Oxford-Cambridge annual chess match, under the captaincy of Walter Parratt, on Friday 28th March 1873, and played subsequently in the matches of 1874, 1875, and 1876. His aggregate score over the four matches was 7-4.
He attended the meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in 1876, and again in 1889.
He played in the 1899 match against Lancashire, beating C. Coates, but lost to F.C. Carroll in the 1900 match against Lancashire.
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann
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