Yorkshire Chess History



Frederic Fearnley Ayre











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1831/32, Hull



16/02/1917, Beamaris, Anglesey



Non-Chess Life


Frederic Fearnley Ayre was a son of William Ayre junior (born 1800/01, King’s Lynn) and Mary Jane  Ayre (born 1798/99, Hull).  The couple had at least the following five children, all born in Hull:


Julia Ellen Ayre

born 1829/30

Frederic Fearnley Ayre

born 1831/32

Horatio Harriman Ayre

born 1835/36

Algernon Sydney Ayre

born 1839/40

Walter A Ayre

born 1842/43


Frederic (without a “k”, and sometimes listed as “Fred”) Fearnley Ayre and Horatio Harriman Ayre were destined to be chess-players.


The father of William Ayre junior was William Ayre senior who was a doctor.  F. White’s General Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull, and York, 1851, listed William Ayre [senior], M.D., 38 George Street, off Charlotte Street, Hull, and William Ayre [junior], solicitor and clerk to the Borough Magistrates, with his home at 2 (incorrect) Leicester Place, Hull.  Elsewhere it listed the Borough Magistrates’ Clerk’s office as at 14 Bowlalley Lane, with William Ayre junior as the clerk.  In the street section, William Ayre junior was listed at 1 Leicester Place, and William Ayre [senior] at 2 Leicester Place.


The 1851 census found the parents and first four children living with four servants at 1 (rather than 2) Leicester Place, West Sculcoates, Hull.  Father William was a solicitor, and clerk to the justices, while 19-year-old Frederic was an attorney’s clerk, possibly working for his father.


A 1859 Poll Book listed Frederic Fearnley Ayre as residing in Wellington Lane, off Beverley Road, Hull.  Our man was probably still resident at this address in 1861, though the 1861 census found him visiting his future wife and her family at Alma Street, Owthorne, which is at the north end of Withernsea.  The said family consisted of 47-year-old Owthorne-born John Fewson, his 49-year-old Greenwich-born wife Jane Mary Fewson, their daughter 19-year-old Preston-born Sophia F. Fewson (born 1841/42), and 18-year-old Preston-born son William H. Fewson.  “Preston” in this case is Preston, Yorkshire, 4 to five miles east of Hull, and 4 miles north of Hedon.  There were three servants.  Father John Fewson was described as a gentleman but could perhaps be better described as a gentleman farmer.  The bride’s first name appeared elsewhere uniformly as “Sophia”, and there was no further reference to the “Voase”.  Frederic Fearnley Ayre was now described as a solicitor rather than merely a solicitor’s clerk.


Within 18 months of the 1861 census Sophia had moved to Grosvenor Terrace, Headingley, Leeds.


Entry number 487 of the marriage register of St. Peter’s, Leeds, records the marriage there on 30/09/1862 of 30-year-old solicitor Frederic Fearnley Ayre of Charlotte Street, Hull, son of solicitor William Ayre, to 20-year-old “Sophie Frances Voase Fewson” of Grosvenor Terrace, Headingley, Leeds, daughter of farmer John Fewson.


Frederic and Sophia had at least the following four children:


Fearnley Fewson Ayre

born 1864/65, Hull

Reginald Fewson Ayre

born 1867/68, Hull

Cecil A. Ayre

born 1871/72, Sutton

Frederick S. F. Ayre

born 1876/77, Notton‑under‑Edge, Glos.


Around 1869, give or take a year or two, the family moved to Sutton, Yorkshire, which was presumably Sutton-on-Hull, as it is known today.


The 1871 census found parents, the eldest two children and four servants living at Sutton.  Father Frederic was described as an attorney and landowner.


At some time from 1871 to 1877 the family seems to have moved to Notton-under-Edge (or somewhere of a similar name), Gloucestershire, where the fourth of the above children was born.  This was perhaps near Siston.


By the time of the 1881 census the family had moved to Siston, Gloucestershire (now Avon), which is a village 7 miles ENE of Bristol.  The parents, four children, widowed mother-in-law Jane Mary Fewston and five servants were living at Warmley House (on Warmley Road?), Siston, Glos.  Father Frederic was a solicitor and the boys were all scholars.


The point of the move to Gloucestershire is unclear, and Frederic had apparently returned to Hull by 1883, as he played in the Yorkshire-Lancashire match of 1883.


The 1891 census found him living on his own, apart from a servant, at 4 Victoria Terrace, Anlaby Road, Hull.  His occupation had taken a slightly quaint twist; he was described as “solicitor and proprietor of business for the sale of fish direct to the consumer.”


Kelly's Directory of Hull, 1899, listed Frederic Fearnley Ayre as a “solicitor and commissioner to administer oaths and perpetual commissioner”, working as “Ayre” in Ayre & Son, solicitors of 9 Scale Lane.  The “Son” in Ayre & Son was Fearnley Fewson Ayre, who lived at 83 Linaeus Street, Hull.


Around 1900, give or take a year, he moved to Doncaster.  Accordingly, the 1901 census found our man, still a solicitor but no longer selling fish, as one of two boarders in the household of the widow Redding’s family, at 52 Spring Gardens, Doncaster.


The 1911 census found 79-year-old Frederic F. Ayre, a married (not widowed) retired solicitor, boarding with 44-year-old unmarried son Reginald F. Ayre, who was a retired “encaustic” (?) tile manufacturer.  There were two servants.


By the time he died, Frederic Fearnley Ayre had moved to 6 Margaret Street, Beaumaris, Anglesey.




Frederic Fearnley Ayre of 6 Margaret Street, Beaumaris, Anglesey, died on 16th February 1917.  Probate was granted to son Reginald Fewson Ayre, “gent”.  The effects he left were originally declared as £3,402 10s, but were later re-sworn as £3,922 9s. 6d.




Fred/Fredk T. Ayre attended the 1851 chess meeting at Caistor.  Whilst there were Ayres in Lincolnshire, there was a contingent of Hull players present, so “Fred T. Ayre” was very probably 19-year-old Frederic Fearnley Ayre.


Fred F Ayre attended the 1852 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting at Hull.


That he did not play against Edmund Thorold when the latter gave a simultaneous display in Hull in 1880 is explained by the fact that he was living in Gloucestershire at the time, where he would possibly have contact with Edmund Thorold at Bristol Chess Club or Bath Chess Club.


F. F. Ayre played for Yorkshire in the Yorkshire-Lancashire match of 1883, and the 1884 Lancashire-Yorkshire match.


F. F. Ayre was one of those who drew with Edmund Thorold when the latter gave a simultaneous display in Hull in 1888.





Copyright © 2012, 2013 Stephen John Mann

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

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