Yorkshire Chess History
Robert Barr was a Leeds-born solicitor who was one of the players listed as involved in the Leeds consulting committee in the Leeds-Liverpool correspondence matches of 1838 to 1841, and was one of those who attended the first meeting of the original Yorkshire Chess Association.
Family and Public Life
Robert Barr’s parents were Richard Barr and Mary née Hargreave, who married at Leeds parish church (St Peter’s) on 21st July 1793. The couple had at least three children, all baptised at Leeds parish church:
The baptism register entry for Robert Barr gives his father’s address as Union Street, Leeds.
The only person of the name Barr to be listed in a Leeds directory of 1798 was Robert Barr, a joiner, of Union Street. This was not our man, but was clearly connected.
Richard Barr died at some time from 1799 to 1817, and Baines’s Directory of Leeds, 1817, listed Robert Barr as living at 35 St George’s Street with his widowed mother, Mary Barr. He was at that time Leeds Corporation’s “Deputy Town’s Clerk”.
On 20th June 1820, Robert married Mary Hargrave, spinster, at Leeds parish church, St. Peter’s. Mary Hargave was daughter of Robert Hargrave of Quarry Hill, Leeds. She was born on 10th April 1811, and was baptised at Leeds parish church on 5th May 1811. Mary was thus sixteen years and seven months younger than Robert. The similarity between his bride’s name and his mother’s name is remarkable. One of the witnesses was a Robert Hargrave.
Baines’s History, Directory & Gazetteer of Yorkshire, 1822, showed Robert and his mother still at 35 St George Street, presumably now with wife, Mary. Robert was still deputy town clerk.
Parson’s General & Commercial Directory of Leeds, 1826, lists Robert Barr, coroner of the Borough of Leeds, working 15 Call Lane, and living at Brunswick Place.
It needs to be checked whether he married Sarah Summersgill, 3rd March 1828, Leeds, seemingly implying Mary had died at some time from 1820 to 1828, perhaps in childbirth.
White’s Leeds & Clothing District Directory, 1830, lists:
Robert Barr, solicitor and coroner for the Borough of Leeds, working at 6 Park Row, and living at Lilac Grove, bottom of Skinner Lane.
Edward Barr, solicitor, working at 99a Briggate, and living at Lilac Grove, bottom of Skinner Lane. (Edward Barr was presumably Robert’s brother.)
Baines’s General & Commercial Directory of Leeds, 1834, lists:
Robert Barr, solicitor and coroner for the Borough of Leeds, working at 1 Park Row, and living at Mount Pleasant.
Edward Barr, solicitor, working at 16 Benson’s buildings, and living at Lilac Grove.
He is elusive in the 1841 census.
White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing District, 1842, lists:
Robert Barr, solicitor, and clerk to the borough magistrates etc, working at 1 Park Row, and living at Mount Pleasant;
Barr, Lofthouse and Nelson, solicitors and agents for Scottish Equitable Life Assurance Company, at 1 Park Row.
White’s Directory of Leeds & the Clothing Districts, 1847, lists Robert Barr of 1 Park Row as being Clerk to the Justices (one of whom was fellow chess-player John Darnton Luccock), and also lists:
Robert Barr, solicitor, and clerk to magistrates, living at Mount Pleasant;
Barr, Lofthouse and Nelson, solicitors, at 1 Park Row; still listed in the trades section as agents for Scottish equitable];
Robert Barr, solicitor’s clerk, 94 Byron Street [a son Robert Barr senior?].
“Lofthouse” was John Lofthouse; “Nelson” was Henry Nelson.
A Mary Barr is recorded as dying in the Hunslet registration district in the quarter April-June 1845, and in the 1851 census Robert is described as a 56-year-old widower living at Mount Pleasant, with two servants, and working as an attorney and solicitor.
White’s Directory of Leeds, Bradford [etc], 1854, lists Robert Barr of 1 Park Row as being Clerk to the Justices (still with JD Luccock listed among them), also:
Robert Barr, solicitor and clerk to Borough Justices, working as 1 Park Row, living at Mount Pleasant;
Barr and Nelson, solicitors, at 1 Park Row; still listed in the trades section as agents for Scottish equitable].
“Lofthouse” seems to have fallen by the wayside, while the other Robert Barr has moved on, it seems.
On 3rd December 1856, the 62-year-old widower Robert Barr remarried, to 32-year-old Grantham-born spinster Catharine Alice Rogers of Hillary House, at Leeds parish church. Catharine was daughter of Silvester Rogers of Grantham.
White’s Directory of Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield [etc], 1858, lists:
Robert Barr, solicitor and clerk to borough magistrates, working as 1 Park Row, living at Mount Pleasant (on Park Street);
Barr and Nelson, solicitors, at 1Park Row, and 1 Benson’s Buildings (2 Park Row); still listed in the trades section as agents for Scottish equitable].
The 1861 census listed Robert and Catharine living at Mount Pleasant, with two servants.
White’s Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870, listed Robert Barr as clerk to the magistrates still, also
Frederick Horatio Barr, solicitor, living on Mount View, off Headingley Lane
Barr, solicitor, and clerk to magistrates Magistrates’ Clerk’s
Office, Town Hall, Park Lane [now Headrow]; (Leeds Town Hall had been
completed in 1858, and Robert Barr had an office there),
Nelson and Barr, solicitors, at 4 South Parade
The second “Barr” in the solicitors’ firm, Frederick Horatio Barr, was the eldest son of Robert’s brother Edward.
The 1871 census listed Robert and Catharine living at Mount Pleasant with three servants.
The Leeds Mercury of Thursday 19th October 1871 reported his death as follows:
His will was proved at Wakefield on 15th November 1871 by his widow, Catharine, and his effects were described as under £60,000. He appears to have had no children.
Catharine went on to re-marry. On 14th January 1875 she married widower William Peel of the parish of Ackworth, Yorkshire, son of Samuel Peel, deceased. The wedding took place at All Saints, Langham Place, Marylebone, London, and was conducted by G. Rogers, vicar of somewhere in Lincolnshire, and presumably a relative if the bride (Rogers being her maiden name). Catharine was resident at the time at the District Rectory of All Saints, Langham Place.
Kelly’s Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1881, lists:
Frederick Horatio Barr, solicitor, living at 3 Mount View, off Headingley Lane,
Nelson, Barr and Nelson, solicitors, 4 South Parade,
Thus Robert Barr had been replaced in the solicitors’ firm by another “Nelson”.
Catherine Alice Peel outlived her second husband, dying as a 94-year-old widow on 24th September 1919, while resident at 46 Kensington Park Road, leaving £25,961 19s 8d.
Robert Barr was a member of the Leeds “committee” for the correspondence matches against Liverpool in 1838-41. He attended the first meeting of the original Yorkshire Chess Association in 1841. He was a subscriber to R. A. Brown’s book on problems etc (1844), and to the Bristol Souvenir book (1845). He attended to West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting of 1861.
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information