sYorkshire Chess History
George Albert Roberts Askham
There was a Sheffield Askham family with a “George” in at least three successive generations.
In directories the grandfather was referred to as “George Askham” while his son was referred to as “George Askham junior”. The son of George Askham junior was in full known as “George Albert Roberts Askham”, but did not usually use his third forename, even as an initial. In all but one census after 1841 he was “George A. Askham” or George Albert Askham”. In chess contexts he was usually either “George A. Askham” or “G. A. Askham”.
The three are distinguished here as “George Askham senior”, “George Askham junior” and “George Albert Askham”.
George Askham senior was born 1802/03 at Monk Fryston. Birthplaces of the children suggest George Askham and his wife Fanny (born 1802/03, Sheffield) lived in Canterbury (around 1824/25), then Leeds (1826/27), but they had settled in Sheffield by 1841.
The 1841 census described George senior as a master draper living in Fargate, in the centre of Sheffield, with his wife Fanny and the following ten children, though none were here given any second forenames:
A number of the children prove to have second forenames, especially a middle “Unwin”. George Askham junior is even given a middle initial “A.” in the 1891 census, but that seems spurious, not appearing elsewhere, not even in his probate record or on his gravestone, which carries his son’s name in full. George Askham junior’s probate records refer to Fanny Unwin Birks, suggesting the above Fanny also has the middle name Unwin.
Of the above children, George Askham junior was the father of the chess-playing George Albert (Roberts) Askham, while John Unwin Askham appears possibly also to have been a chess-player.
White’s directories of 1849 and 1852 listed George Askham senior trading as a tailor, draper & clothes dealer at 10 High Street. In time the son followed his father into tailoring.
The 1851 census found the parents and seven of the eight children living at 1 Charles Street, Sheffield. George senior was a tailor and woollen draper. The sons were now in business, John as a merchant and steel manufacturer, Philip as a manufacturer. George junior was not listed at 1 Charles Street, and is elusive elsewhere in the 1851 census.
Brothers Philip Unwin Askham and John Unwin Askham went into partnership, their company being in time called Askham Brothers and Wilson, and their business was steel manufacture, crucible steel casting, tramway points and crossings, etc. The company’s premises were in 1890 at Napier Street, Sheffield.
In 1855 or before, George Askham junior married Caroline Roberts (born 1830, Sheffield), and in 1855/56 their only son George Albert Roberts Askham, the future chess-player “G. A. Askham”, was born in Sheffield. Caroline’s father was George Roberts, grocer of 30 Pond Street, Sheffield, and a Sheffield town councillor in 1851-52 and possibly at other times.
White’s General Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham, 1856 listed George Askham senior, still as a tailor, draper & clothes dealer, trading at 10 High Street, with his home at 1 Charles Street; it also listed George Askham junior as a tailor with his home at 58 Suffolk Road. The absence of specified separate business premises for George Askham junior suggests that he was working for/with his father at 10 High Street.
The situation depicted by Directory & Topography of Sheffield, 1862 was the same as in 1856 except the George Askham junior was now living at Thirlwell Road.
The 1861 census found tailor and outfitter George Askham junior, his wife Caroline, and 5-year-old son “George A. Askham”, living at Thirlwell Road, Sheffield, in the Heeley area of Sheffield, as well as two visitors, Mary Roberts (aged 62, and presumably Caroline’s mother) and Caroline Kinder (aged 58; Caroline’s aunt perhaps?).
The death of George Askham senior was registered in the first quarter of 1871, at Sheffield. He is no longer mentioned in the 1879 directory.
The 1871 census found tailor and outfitter George Askham junior, wife Caroline and 15-year-old son “George Albert Askham”, now living at Oak Villa, Crescent Road [about no. 52?]. The son was still a scholar.
White's Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham ..., 1879 listed George Askham, as a tailor and draper trading at 33 South Street (which is now known as The Moor), with home still at Oak Villa, Crescent Road.
The 1881 census found George Askham (junior), his wife Caroline and son “George A. Askham” now living at 390 London Road, Sheffield, presumably living over/behind a tailor’s shop. The family, including son George Albert (Roberts) Askham, continued to live at this address at least to 1901. George Askham (junior) was a master tailor, employing four men, but his son, our man, was a steel and file merchant’s clerk, and was clearly not following his father and grandfather into tailoring.
The 1891 census exceptionally gave our man his fullest of initials, calling him “George A. R. Askham”. More confusingly, it gave father George a middle initial “A” which is either spurious or something its bearer kept a dark secret to beyond the grave, as it doesn’t appear even on his gravestone. The father was still a tailor, and the son a merchant’s clerk.
George Askham junior’s wife, Caroline, died on 02/09/1904, aged 74, and was buried at Norton cemetery, Sheffield.
The 1911 census found George Askham junior, now an 81-year-old widower and retired master tailor living on private means, living with his son, George Albert Roberts Askham, at 49 Steade Road, Sheffield. The son too was now retired, living on private means.
George Albert Roberts Askham died 06/02/1916, at age 60. He was buried at Norton cemetery, Sheffield, in the same grave as his mother.
George Askham junior outlived his son by fifteen months, surviving to the age of 87. Probate records list George Askham of 49 Steade Road, Sheffield dying on 07/05/1917, leaving effects of £180 10s. Administration was granted at London to Fanny Unwin Birks, widow; this hints at a connection between this Askham family and that of John Unwin Askham who may have been the “J Askham” who was at one time a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club. The gravestone in Norton cemetery confirms the date of death, and that this George Askham was the father of George Albert Roberts Askham.
George Askham junior was buried in the same grave as his wife and son.
A “Mr. Askham” featured in the 1865 Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club’s internal tournament. This will have been “John Askham”, seemingly our man’s uncle, John Unwin Askham, or another John Askham.
“G. A. Askham” played for the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club in the 1883 match between that club and the rest of the newly-formed Sheffield & District Chess Association.
He managed a draw with Joseph Henry Blackburne in the latter’s 1883 simultaneous display at Sheffield. In the report on the event, G.A. Askham was described as “one of the most promising members of the [Athenaeum] club.”
In a similar display given by Henry Edward Bird at Sheffield in 1883, our man lost.
He played for Sheffield’s Woodhouse Cup team, in 1885-86, which was the second season of the competition, but the first season Sheffield entered. Sheffield won the Woodhouse that season.
In 1886 he won the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club championship, and his name appears accordingly on the “Athenaeum Trophy”.
George A Askham attended the West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting held at Huddersfield in 1886.
He was Sheffield & District Chess Association treasurer in 1889 and 1890, serving also as secretary in 1890, and possibly at other times. He was secretary of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club in the period 1889 to 1893, and possibly at other times.
He played for Yorkshire in the 1890 Yorkshire-Lancashire match.
He appeared for Sheffield in the Woodhouse Cup as late, at least, as the 1907-08 season.
Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information