Yorkshire Chess History



Rev. Thomas Hewan Archdall











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



12/04/1843, Clonmell, Co. Tipperary, Ireland




23/06/1924, Tanfield, Co. Durham




The Name of the Chess-Player


The surname when written cursively was seemingly sometimes transcribed as “Archdale”, due to the second “l” being written smaller and so looking like “e”.  It appears he was known by the forename “Hewan” rather than “Thomas”, as he signed his 1911 census return “T. Hewan Archdall”.  (Even here the “ll” looks more like “le”, and it looks intentional, contrasting with his rendering of “Clonmell”.)  Independent evidence for “Hewan” as preferred forename comes from a hand-written log of comings and goings at a school, which records a 10-minute visit, at 3 p.m., on 25/11/1896, by “Rev. T. Hewson Archdall” – purpose unrecorded.


The origin of “Hewan” is unclear, but another “Thomas Hewan Achdall (there were at least three in all) got married in the same year as this one’s father, and so was perhaps the chess-player’s uncle.


Non-Chess Life


Thomas Hewan Archdall’s Irish-born parents were the Rev. William Rowley Archdall (born 1803, Waterford, son of Rev. Henry Archdall) and Catherine Coldclough Archdall (née Archdall – they were cousins – 12/09/1811), who married in October 1833, and had at least the following children:


Louisa Hewan Archdall

born 1835/36, Ireland; married 1864

William Archdall

born 1840/41, Ireland; married 1864

Thomas Hewan Archdale

born 12/04/1843, Clonmell, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Mervyn Archdall

born 1846/47, Ireland

Helen Frances Archdall

born 1848/49, Ireland; died 1892, Leeds, age 43

Josephine Antonia Archdall

born 1852/53, Ireland; married 1882


William Rowley Archdall was a graduate of Dublin University, getting his M.A. in 1832.


An 1839 directory listed the Rev. William Rowley Archdall living at 19 Anne Street, Clonmel.


An 1846 directory listed a Rev. William “Archdale” living in Gory, Co. Wexford.


An 1849 Poor Law meeting minute mentions Rev. William Archdall of Tipperary.


It appear that from some time from 1849 to 1861, the family moved to Co. Durham, where William Rowley Archdall became the incumbent at Southwick, a district of Sunderland, then in Co. Durham, now in Tyne & Wear.


The 1861 census found the family living at Southwick Trinity Church parsonage, the household consisting of parents, the above six children (all but Louisa being scholars), and two servants.


Father William Rowley Archdall died 19/04/1863, and was buried on 23/04/1863, in Southwick.


Thomas Hewan Archdall went on to be educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Durham University, getting an M.A. (presumably at Durham having got a B.A. at Dublin).  He became a priest in 1869, and became curate at St. Paul’s, Bath.


The 1871 census records him as curate of St. Pauls’, living as a lodger at 10 Old King Street.  Actually, he should have been excluded from that particular census return, as he was elsewhere at the time.  Thomas H. Archdall, curate of St. Paul’s, Bath, was recorded as visiting the household of John Harrison Guy of 41 South William Street, Workington, Cumberland.  This visit may have had something to do with his marriage two years later.


On 17/04/1873, in Workington, Thomas Hewan Archdall married Mary Alexander, born 1867, Workington, daughter of James Alexander.  The couple had the following children:


Mervyn Alexander Archdall

born 1874/75, Gateshead

Irene Archdall

born 1876/77, Gateshead

Hewan Archdall

born 1877/78, Tanfield

Rowley Archdall

born 1879, Tanfield

Mary Archdall

born 1881, Tanfield

Leslie Archdall

born 1882, Tanfield

Kathleen Archdall

born 1883, Tanfield

Nora Archdall

born 1885, Tanfield

Ruby Archdall

born 1887, Tanfield


The places of birth of the children rather imply that the father’s second cure was at Gateshead.


In 1877, Thomas Hewan Archdall became surrogate vicar of Tanfield (letters via Burnopfield), Co. Durham, where he remained to his death.  The 1896 Clergy List confirms the date of 1877.  Kelly’s 1890 directory for Co. Durham gives the following regarding the Tanfield living:


The living is a vicarage, average tithe rent-charge £61, yearly value £300, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Durham, and held since 1877 by the Rev. Thomas Hewan Archdall M.A. of Trinity College, Dublin, and surrogate.


Tanfield is a village a little over a mile from what is now the A692, which goes to Gateshead, the centre of which is about a further 10 miles.  Gateshead is, of course, on the south bank of the Tyne, opposite Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where there was a chess club.


The 1881 census found parents and first five children living with as yet unmarried sister Josephine Antonia Archdall, along with two servants, at Tanfield Vicarage.


Mother Catherine Coldclough Archdall died in October 1881, and was buried on 20/10/1881, at Southwick.


The 1890 Kelly directory for Co. Durham listed the Rev. T. H. Archdall M.A. as one of the two acting chaplains for the Durham Light Infantry Regiment, 5th Volunteer Battalion.


The 1891 census found the eldest two children had flown from the nest, and the household at Tanfield Vicarage consisted of parents, seven youngest children, a governess, a gardener, and two domestic servants.


On 12/03/1895 in feel to the Rev. Thomas Hewan Archdale to conduct the funeral of a chess-playing friend, George Cann Heywood.


The 1901 census found Tanfield Vicarage occupied by the parents, Irene, Mary, Leslie (a bank clerk), Kathleen, Nora, and two servants.


In 1909, son Mervyn Alexander Archdall died in London, aged 19.


The 1911 census found Tanfield Vicarage occupied by the parents, Irene, Kathleen, Rowley (a cycle agent), father’s brother Mervyn (who was also a clergyman), and three servants.


The man himself appears to spell his surname “Archdale” in the census return, as though he had chosen by then to adopt that spelling instead of “Archdall”.  The end of his recurrent rendering “Archdale” contrasts with the end of his recurrent rendering of “Clonmell”, supporting this idea.


For a period of time he had (according to an obituary) been Rural Dean of Chester-le-Street, which is relatively near Southwick.  In the Same obituary he was described as "Canon the Rev. Thomas Hewan Archdale, M.A.” – with the recurrent compositing mistake in the surname, which thus followed him to the grave.




Thomas Hewan Archdall died in the afternoon of Monday 23/06/1924, in Tanfield, at the age of 81, following a short illness.




Due to the proximity to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, it is probable that he was a member of the chess club there.  In the Challenge Cup Tournament at the 1875 Counties Chess Association congress held inGlasgow, “Rev. Hewan Archdall, Newcastle” came 4th-5th equal, out of 12.  In an “England Provincial Amateurs v. Scotland” match held, during the event, he played on board 4 for the England team, beating R. S. Moffatt of Glasgow.


He played in the North versus South match of 1894, drawing with H. F. Lowe of London.  It newspaper reports of the match he was variously reported as “Rev. T. H. Archdale, Durham”, “Rev. T. H. Archdall, Newcastle” and “Rev. T. D. Archdale, Newcastle”.  There are a total of eight variations to choose from.  He was in fact the Rev. Thomas Hewan Archdall, resident in Tanfield, Co. Durham, and probably a member of Newcastle chess club.





Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

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

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