Yorkshire Chess History



Edmund Arblaster











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



11/12/1851, Shrewsbury


26/01/1852, Shrewsbury


08/01/1937, Whitsbury, Hants.




Non-Chess Life


The parents of Edmund Arblaster were chemist Charles James Arblaster (b. 1824/25, Rugeley, Staffs) and Emma Arblaster (née Hargreaves, 1825/26, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffs), who married in 1849, at Newcastle under Lyme.  They had at least the following children:


Edmund Arblaster

11/12/1851, Shrewsbury

Charles Arblaster

1853/54, Shrewsbury

Helen Arblaster

1855, Shrewsbury

Lucy Arblaster

1857, Shrewsbury

Fanny Arblaster

1859, Shrewsbury

Edith Arblaster

1861, Shrewsbury

Alice Arblaster

1862, Shrewsbury

Minnie Arblaster

1864, Shrewsbury

Frank Arblaster

1865/66, Aston

Florence Louisa Arblaster

1868, Aston

Philip Arblaster

1872, Aston


Edmund, the eldest child, was born on 11/12/1851 [baptism register and grave inscription], in Shrewsbury, and was baptised on 26/01/1852, at St. Mary’s, Shrewsbury, by Rev. Vanden Bempde Johnstone, one of the two curates.  At the time, the Arblasters were living at Castle Street, Shrewsbury.


The family is elusive in the 1861 census, but a 1859 directory listed Charles James Arblaster, chemist, still at Castle Street, Shrewsbury.


In 1863, Edmund started at Shrewsbury School, leaving in 1865 or 1866 (according to which source you believe), and then went on to study at King Edwards VI, Birmingham, where he won the Howel James scholarship.  On 25/03/1871 he was admitted as a pensioner to Clare College Cambridge.  He matriculated in Michaelmas 1871.  He won an Open Scholarship at Clare, later exchanged for a Foundation Scholarship, and a year later became the Lady Clare Exhibitioner.  He was first classman and prizeman of his college in two years.  He got his BA in 1875 (Classical Tripos, first class, being 11th Classic), and MA in 1878.  [Venn, with extra detail from Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal and Salopian Journal of 31/03/1875]


Meanwhile, around 1865, the family home was moved from Shrewsbury to the Aston district of Birmingham.  A 1867 directory listed chemist Charles James Arblaster living at Acacia House, 113 Moseley Road, Birmingham, with the business 40A New Street, Birmingham.


The 1871 census found the family living at The Firs, Green Lane, Aston, Birmingham, Edmund being described as a scholar.


Edmund’s first post after leaving Cambridge was the headship of Birkenhead Grammar School.


On 26/08/1879, at Harborne, Staffs, he married Mary Maria Dixon, born 1851, Aston, daughter of Joseph Clarke Dixon.  The couple had at least the following children:


Edith Mary Arblaster

born 1880, Great Yarmouth

Reginald Arblaster

born 1881, Birmingham

Geoffrey Arblaster

born 1886, Carlisle

William Arblaster

born 1900/01, Worfield, Shropshire

Stephen Arblaster

born 1888, Carlisle

Marjorie Lucy Arblaster

born 1892/93, Birmingham

Richard Arblaster

born 1894, Birmingham


The 1881 census found the couple living as lodgers at 5 Buckingham Place, Great Yarmouth, Edmund being described as a schoolmaster without any specification of the school concerned.  Since the first-born child, Edith, was born was registered at Great Yarmouth in the 3rd quarter of 1880, it would appear the family was resident in Great Yarmouth for at least eight months, so maybe for a while Edmund had a teaching post at Great Yarmouth, though if so that was missed by Venn.


He became acting headmaster at Carlisle Grammar School in summer term 1885, and was ten appointed headmaster in September 1885, eventually leaving in 1890.  “Kid” brother Frank was an assistant master at Carlisle from 1888 to 1890.


It seems he then became assistant headmaster at King Edward VI Birmingham (though again Venn does not mention this), as the 1891 census found Edmund and an aunt living at Cumberland Villa, Glovers Road, Aston, Birmingham, Edmund being described as assistant headmaster, “Birmingham King Edward High School”.  His wife and children are elusive in the1891 census, so maybe the family was in the process of arranging the move from Carlisle to Birmingham, with Edmund living temporarily with his aunt, and mother Mary and the children either back in Carlisle still, or perhaps temporarily staying somewhere else.


Thereafter Edmund became an Assistant Examiner for London University, and Examiner for the Oxford & Cambridge Board and the Cambridge local Syndicate.


Edmund was one of five notable adults singled out for mention as attending the 1893 prize-giving at King Edward Birmingham, but whether he was there as a teacher, an examiner, or a parent is unclear.


The 1901 census found Edmund, his wife, seven children and a servant living at 35 Golden Hillock Road, Aston, Birmingham, Edmund being described as a school examiner and tutor.


Wife Mary Maria Arblaster died aged 53 in 1904, in Aston, and was buried at Witton Cemetery.


The 1911 census found Edmund, 30-year-old daughter Edith and 15-year-old son Richard (a scholar), living at 99 Floyer Road, Small Heath, Birmingham, Edmund being described as a university & school examiner for London, Oxford and Cambridge universities.


Over the next nine years Edmund made a major shift, from education to the church.  Presumably he underwent some kind of training, though this seems undocumented.  However it came about, Edmund Arblaster was ordained a deacon in 1920, then a priest 1921, at Birmingham.  Thereafter he was curate of Coleshill, Warks., from 1920 to 1928, then rector of Whitsbury, Hants., from 1928 to his death in 1937.




Edmund Arblaster died on 08/01/1937, aged 85, at Whitsbury, Hants. [Venn and memorial inscription/grave].




While at Cambridge University, he played in the Oxford v Cambridge match played on 19/03/1875 at the City of London Chess Club, I which he beat Charles Lewis Brook of Melham, Yorkshire.  (Click here to play through the game on screen.)


While in Carlisle, he played for the Carlisle Chess Club who were sometime winners of the Cumberland County Cup.  The Carlisle Patriot of 28/03/1890 reported the results in a friendly match in which the Workington club travelled to Carlisle to take on the current county Cup holders, Carlisle, winning the match 7-5 (6 boards, 2 games per board).  Edmund was playing on board 5, and won both his games with D Harkness of Workington.  During the interval, Edmund entertained the players to tea at the Grammar School.


While in Birmingham, he was a member of the St George’s Chess Club there.  He played in both North v South of England matches, in 1893 and 1994.





Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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