Yorkshire Chess History
James Henry Beebee & Frank Beebee
Identities for the Chess-Players
“J. H. Beebee” of Walsall played in both the 1893 and 1894 North v South matches. “Beebee” is a relatively rare surname, yet common enough in the Walsall area for there to have been two people answering to “J. H. Beebee” in Walsall at the time, James Henry Beebee and John Henry Beebee. James worked in a clerical capacity of a family saddlery business, his household contained a servant implying a degree of financial comfort, and he lived to the age of 91. John was employed as a caster, his household did not run to servant, and he died aged only 43. Thus James was more probably the sort of person likely to be the chess-player. Support for this comes from the fact that the 1894 North v South match also featured “F. Beebee” of Walsall, and James had an older brother called Frank. The two brothers described here are therefore assumed to be the Walsall Chess-players.
The parents of James and Frank were Henry Beebee (born 1832/33, Walsall) and Jemima Jane Beebee (née North, 1838/39, Bilston), who had married in 1856 in the West Bromwich district. They had at least the following children:
The 1871 census found parents and three children living at 1 Pinfold, Walsall. Father Henry was a plater, apparently employing three workers. This work could have been connected with saddlery, as an 1864 directory listed W. & J Beebee, brassfounders, coach harness platers, and spur manufacturers, 7 Dudley Street, Walsall, among other Beebee saddlery-related businesses including Benjamin Beebee, gig saddle manufacturer, Lyttleton Street East, Walsall.
The 1881 census found parents, Frank and James, and a servant living at 10 Walsingham Street. Father Henry was a master harness-maker employing six men and four boys. Agnes must have been elsewhere. Frank and James were clerks for a saddlers’ ironmonger, possibly working for their father and possibly not. Kelly’s 1896 Staffordshire directory listed:
Beebee & Beebee, saddle tree makers, Crown works, 138 Wednesbury road;
Beebee & Jeffries, gig saddle & harness manufacturers, Littleton street east;
Beebee (S.) & Nicklin, wholesale brown saddler & harness maker, Persehouse Street.
It also listed Mrs. H. Beebee living at 8 Walsingham Street, Walsall, which was probably the “10” of the 1881 census, as three households had been listed under “10”, without adjacent numbers being mentioned.
Father Henry died in 1886, aged 53, in Walsall.
In 1890, Frank Beebee married Eleanor Anne Roberts (born 1868/69, Coalbrookdale, Salop.), in the Madeley district. They had the following children:
The 1891 census found widowed Jemima Beebee, James, Agnes and a servant living at 8 Walsingham Street. By now the enumerator ascribed a different number to each household. Jemima was a gig and carriage harness maker, while James was a saddlers’ ironmonger’s head clerk.
Meanwhile the 1891 census found Frank and his wife living at 22 Mount Street, Walsall. Frank was a saddlers’ ironmonger’s clerk.
In 1896, James Henry Beebee married Louisa Mabel Haydon (born 1868/69, Stalybridge) in the Barton-upon-Irwell district of Lancashire. They had at least the following children:
The 1901 census found James, wife Mabel, two children, sister-in-law Frances H Haydon, and a servant living at 121 Sandwell Street, Walsall. James still worked for a saddlers’ ironmonger.
The 1901 census meanwhile found Frank, wife Eleanor, three children and a servant living at 82 Corporation Street West, Walsall. Frank seems to have moved out of saddlery, being now a merchant’s clerk.
The 1911 census found James, Mabel, three children and a servant living at 50 Glebe Street, Walsall. James was now a commercial traveller in saddlers’ ironmongery.
Meanwhile, the 1911 census found Frank, wife Eleanor, three children and a servant living at 20Jesson Road, Walsall. Frank was a manager for an export merchant.
The 1939 Register found James, a retired saddlery manager, living with son James junior and a paid housekeeper at 24 Belvidere Road, Walsall, They happened to be being visited t the time by daughter “C Marion Beebee” who worked in the housing department of Walsall county borough and was also in the A.R.P.
Frank was listed in the Register as living with daughter Winifred and a maid servant at 273 Broadway North, Walsall. Frank was director of in wholesale saddlery business.
Agnes was living at this time on her own as a householder at 88 Sandwell Street, Walsall.
Frank Beebee died aged 86, in 1947, in Walsall.
James Henry Beebee died aged 91, in 1955, in Walsall.
Agnes Jane Beebee, “sister of the late Frank and James Beebee,” died on 13/07/1960, aged 94, at Walsall Manor Hospital, and was buried on 15/07/1960 at Queen Street Cemetery, Walsall.
“J. H. Beebee” of Walsall played in both the 1893 and 1894 North v South matches. “F. Beebee” played in the 1894 N v S match. They were, therefore, presumably among the relatively stronger Staffordshire players in their day.
The Staffordshire Chess Association did not exist at this time, though there were both North and South Staffordshire Chess Associations in existence at the time. It was not until a meeting on 30/10/1897, at the Borough Hall, Stafford, that the idea of a county association be formed of “the large number of clubs already existing in the county.”
“J. H. Beebee” played on board 2 for South Staffordshire v North Staffordshire on 16/12/1899, at Stafford. (Lichfield Mercury, 22/12/1899)
Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information