Yorkshire Chess History



William Wilfred Banham











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



20/09/1861, Worsbrough Dale


29/10/1861, St. Thomas, Worsbrough Dale


19/02/1945, Dronfield


23/02/1945, City Road Cemetery, Sheffield


Identity and Name of the Chess-Player


Though usually recorded in chess records simply as “Dr. Banham”, no other person in Sheffield, when he was active there as a chess-player, corresponded to that name.


He appears to have been known by his middle name, Wilfred; the 1901 census recorded him as “W. Wilfred Banham”, and he signed his 1911 census return as “Wm. Wilfred Banham”.  This would make sense in the sense of the parental home, as his father had the one forename William.


Non-Chess Life


The paternal grandparents of William Wilfred Banham were Cambridge tailor, Daniel Banham (born 1802/03, Upwell, Cambs.), of 69 Regent Street, Cambridge, and Harriett Banham (born 1804/04, Wisbeach, Cambs.), who were well-placed to educate their children, who included the following recorded by Venn as Cambridge graduates, all born in Cambridge:



Date of Birth


William Banham (2nd son)



Daniel Beales Redfarn Banham


teaching and priesthood

John Hill Banham



Henry French Banham (6th son)


medicine, then priesthood


Second son William’s first posting after ordination was as curate of St. Paul’s, Sheffield (since 1914, Sheffield cathedral), which post he held from 1855 to 1858.  This is what brought the Cambridgeshire Banhams to Yorkshire.  He next became vicar of the newly built (1859) St Thomas, Worsbrough Dale [not “Worsborough” given by Venn], holding that position to his death on 28/12/1920.  From 1899 to 1906 he was additionally Rural Dean of Wath.


In 1857, the Rev. William Bennett married Alice Waller Bennett (born 1834/35, Lewsey, Beds. – now part of Luton), at Cambridge, bringing his bride back to Worsbrough Dale.  The couple had at least four children, one a son with the middle name Gertrude?!:


Alice Jane Banham

born 1858/59, Worsbrough Dale

William Wilfred Banham

born 20/09/1861, Worsbrough Dale

Ernest Gertrude Banham

born 1868/69, Worsbrough

Herbert Arthur Banham

born 1870/71, Worsbrough


William Wilfred Banham was baptised on 29/10/1861, at St. Thomas, Worsbrough Dale, presumably by his father.


The 1871 census took place when the Rev. William Banham, vicar of Worsbrough Dale, happened to be visiting his father at 69 Regent Street, Cambridge, accompanied by 9-year-old William Wilfred Banham.  In that household, in addition to William’s parents, Daniel and Harriett, were William’s younger brother, Henry (then a B.A. Cantab., and medical student), a cousin, Edith Banham, and a servant.


At this stage, our man might have been provisionally destined for his grandfather’s profession as tailor, or that of his father and uncles Daniel and John, the priesthood.  More influential, however, seems to have been his uncle Henry, who accumulated the qualifications BA (1869), MA (1873), MB (batchelor of medicine, 1874), and finally MD (doctor of medicine, 1881).  Uncle Henry’s first medical post was as lecturer in medicine at Sheffield Medical School, from 1876 to 1885.  He was then a physician to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, from 1885 to 1890, before being ordained and entering the church.  Venn says he was an honorary consulting physician to the Sheffield General Infirmary, giving no dates.


White’s Sheffield Directory of 1875 listed our man’s uncle, Henry French Banham, MA, MD (though he was actually only MB), as a physician to the Infirmary, and lecturer to Sheffield Medical School, with premises at 219 and 461 Glossop Road, Sheffield.  Presumably he lived at one address and had a surgery at the other or at each.


The 1881 census found the Rev. William Banham, vicar of St. Thomas, Worsbrough Dale, his wife, children Alice, Ernest and Herbert, with a servant, living at Holly Gate, Worsbrough.  The same census found 19-year-old William Wilfred Banham as a resident medical student (the only one) at Sheffield General Infirmary, Infirmary Road, Sheffield.  Presumably uncle Henry had been influential in arranging William’s position as a pupil there.


In time William Wilfred Banham acquired the qualifications MRCS and LRCP (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians).


Kelly’s Sheffield Directory of 1883 listed our man’s uncle, Henry French Banham, MA, MB (though he was actually only MD!), as a physician at 3 Surrey Street, Sheffield, presumably his consulting rooms, and Taptonholme, 14 Taptonville, Road, where he was correctly given as “MD”, presumably his residence.


William Wilfred Banham was president in 1883-84 of the Sheffield Medico-chirurgical Society [http://medchi-sheffield.co.uk/2.html].  A report of the Sheffield Medico-chirurgical Society meeting of 06/03/1884 implies, en passant, that “Dr. Banham” and “Dr. Law” were in partnership.  This “Dr. Law” seems likely to be chess-player Dr Joseph Law.


The 1891 census found our man living at 115 Wolseley Road, in the Highfield area of Sheffield.  Living with him were his sister, Alice Jane Banham, and a servant.  Wilfred was a registered medical practitioner, while Alice was a schoolteacher.


In 1896, William Wilfred Banham married Katherine Agnes Howard (born 21/05/1858), in Sheffield.  The couple had at least the following three children, born in Sheffield:


Katherine May Banham

born 26/05/1897

Wilfred Howard Banham

born 1898/99

Christine Florence Banham

born 1903/04


The 1901 census found “W. Wilfred Banham”, wife Katherine, the first two children, and two servants, living as before at 115 Wolseley Road, Sheffield.  Wilfred was described as a physician and surgeon.


The 1911 census found the family of two parents and three children living with one servant at an address described by Wilfred himself as “Yarra House, Sheffield”, which was somewhere in the Sharrow area of Sheffield, seemingly on Cemetery Road.


In 1919, eldest daughter, Katherine May Banham, received a BSc in psychology and physiology at Manchester University, and then went on to get an MA in psychology in 1923 at Toronto, and a PhD in psychology in 1924 in Montreal, finally settling in the USA.  [http://www.pflyceum.org/221.html]


Besides playing chess, Dr. Banham appears to have played cricket, more specifically being a bowler, if local cricket results are anything to go by.


Wilfred’s sister, Alice Jane Banham, died on 02/03/1942, and was buried on 06/03/1842 at Sheffield’s City Road Cemetery


At some stage Wilfred may have moved to Dronfield, as that is where he died




Dr. William Wilfred Banham died on 19/02/1945, at May View, Hill Top Road, Dronfield, Derbyshire, not far south of Sheffield, and on 23/02/1945 he was buried in the same grave as his sister, at Sheffield City Road Cemetery.  (Click here or images of the grave.)




As “Dr. Banham”, he played for Sheffield Woodhouse Cup team at least during the period 1901-02 to 1907-08, usually on board 6 to 10, according to the strength of the team, but drew with Edward Albert Lassen on board 3 on 19/01/1907.





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

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

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